The use of zinc and other metals for countertops and a variety of kitchen surfaces is an emerging trend. It provides a warm appearance to the kitchen. The color of zinc is more similar to pewter and not like stainless steel at all. The finish is actually reminiscent of the duller look unique to bullet metals. Over time, zinc oxidizes and takes on a patina like that of an early American cup. Even though it is softer than stainless steel, zinc will resist dents. However, it will scratch with frequent use. Luckily, many people find that it adds to the rustic charm. Trivets and cutting boards are recommended to prevent heat damage and scratching.
At any rate, it is a nice change from the cold and institutional look of stainless steel. For those who prefer a cleaner and more polished look to their zinc counters, a clear coat can be applied to maintain a smoother finish. If anyone is unhappy with seeing so much wear and tear, another option would be to polish the zinc regularly to brighten the appearance. Also, the process of sanding to eliminate unwanted scratches and wear is not difficult.
Since zinc is a necessary mineral for the body, it is an absolutely safe material to use for countertops. Because the zinc oxide that forms on the surface is a natural inhibitor of mold, mildew and bacteria, it is highly recommended to use on chopping blocks and for food preparation areas. Keep in mind that different foods and beverages may make their own mark on a zinc countertop, but because zinc is naturally nonporous, it is virtually stain resistant. Cleanup and maintenance is a breeze since zinc can be easily wiped down with warm water and a mild detergent. Cleaners that contain abrasives should not be used. If the natural tarnishing process is undesirable, it may be somewhat controlled by waxing the surface with beeswax.
Just like every other material used for countertops, zinc counters can accommodate any under mounted sink of your choice. Another popular option is to have a custom zinc sink welded to the counter so it becomes an integral piece without any seams. In addition to countertops, zinc can be used to fashion other surfaces. Metal tiles and patterned back splashes also are available for a customized look. Range hoods, cabinet doors and wall panels are other options offered to enhance the rustic charm of any kitchen.
The price of zinc starts at about $120 per square foot. Although it is about the same cost as granite, the look is entirely unique and designer. Stainless steel may be durable and look sleek in a modern kitchen, but metals like zinc and copper are able to blend in beautifully with more traditional or old world style kitchens. One benefit that metal countertops have over all the other materials is that they are totally recyclable. As an added bonus, the edges of the softer metal counters can be decoratively shaped in almost any design you can imagine.