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"Copper Kitchen Counters"

An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2002 ...


Q. I'm remodeling my kitchen, would like to hear about copper counters if any one has them. How do they look, wear. Are you happy with them? How do they look with stainless steel appliances? Any sources I should investigate?

Astrid Lacitis
- San Francisco, California


A. Hi Astrid,

One sees a lot of queries about 'scratched' countertops. Just have a gander in the archives.

You might want to go and see # l0932 in the archives.

Aesthetically copper, ie. NEW copper will look nice. If it develops a patina over time, maybe it will still look nice but ONLY IF you never use it, ie. slide pots and pans over it. It is a relatively soft metal!

You call the shots ... and you pays de price if it gets scratched and unsightly. De gustibus nihil disputandem est. ... it's all a matter of taste, eh?

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).



A. Astrid,

Copper counters are something you should be prepared for. Since the metal is so soft and so reactive, it will definitely show marks, scratches, etc. is this a defect? It depends on your aesthetic. If you want something slick and perfect avoid it. If you can live with it while it mellows and ages, it can look warm and fantastic. I always use this analogy with clients: think of a copper top like a pair of jeans. Brand new they are awkward and uncomfortable, but with age and use they soften and take on a character all their own. scratches, discolorations, and other "defects" are what give it it's character.

Carson Maddox
- Chicago, Illinois


A. Astrid,

I just received my custom copper backsplash which will install behind the range/micro hood. I needed something to brighten the room using copper, which I love, and it does! I was talked out of copper counters/sinks for functional reasons you have already heard, (easy to scratch, hard to care for unless finished) and I wanted a "rough" look. This offsets the green/pink/brown hues in my laminate countertop with easy care. Find a plumbing/builders showroom in your area which may display some neat ideas using copper.

Joyce Johnson
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Q. I have a copper countertop which I love, but is not sealed. Can anyone suggest a sealant to cut down on the constant polishing required? The patina looks like but lifts off onto object that we place on the counter and is unsightly. Can these things be sealed permanently and how to do it?

Julie McDonald
- Oakland, California


Q. I am remodeling my home and had copper countertops installed. They are beautiful but are tarnishing at a faster rate than I had anticipated so I am seriously thinking of sealing them. What can I use that is safe around food?

Nancy Ieradi
home owner - Morgantown, West Virginia


A. Dear sir,

I have copper countertops and have had them for over 3 years. I absolutely love them! You need to get a copper that is at least 1/8" thick. We wanted an aged copper, so I had them put a black wax on them then wiped down to speed up the aging process. They get a nice brown color like a beautiful worn piece of leather. To clean them, I use either soap and water or Soft Scrub [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] followed up with an orange cleaner. Certain items, especially acidic foods will bring back that shiny copper again, but within a few days, they are back to the nice brown. We do not have scratches probably due to our finish and variations in color are what we like. We are building a spec home and are putting them in there.

Good luck,

Suzanne Kobel
- Manhattan Beach, California


Q. Hmm ... what is the finish that's keeping your counters from getting scratched up? Do you mean just the black wax that you used?

also, why is 1/8" important? I was told 1/16 would be okay....


E Johnston
- Portland, Oregon


A. I purchased a house with copper countertops that have a dull kind of patina finish. They are absolutely beautiful. If I leave acidic food or water on them it turns back to its original shine but within a few days its back to its patina color again. It doesn't have any scratches on it but don't drop anything on it. I made the mistake of dropping a can on it and dented it. I read an article which stated that recent studies suggested that copper, not stainless steel, is a better surface to protect against certain bacteria such as E.coli and Listeria. Imagine that!

Angela Jones
- Paradis, Louisiana


Q. We have a similar questions to several of the posts -- but didn't see the answers. We just purchased a home with copper countertops. Very pretty but a lot of work keeping them up with the constant tarnishing. Any suggestions on what we can seal them with that will prevent the tarnishing? Thanks for your advice.

Mike and Marilyn

Mike Weinberg
- Chappaqua, New York


Hi, Mike & Marilyn, re. "but didn't see the answers" --

This site isn't an Ask Heloise or Bob Villa style site where there are "official answers". It's a public forum where people exchange ideas. But I've already seen a number of helpful responses just on this thread, and you can use the search engine for more. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 9, 2008

Q. I was inquiring on the "black wax" method you used to patina your countertops. Is it just ordinary black wax or something specifically for aging copper? (i.e. brand, method) I love my copper island, however, it is tarnishing in an ugly and non uniform manner. Please let me know your trick to making it pretty.

Ann Derise
home maker - Lafayette, Louisiana

July 2008

A. Hi, Ann. I'm not sure whether it's "food safe", but www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/patina/ColoredWax.htm offers brown, black, and other color waxes for copper, brass, and bronze. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 13, 2010

A. Julie,
Lacquer is frequently used to protect copper counters. We have many customers who seal their counters with 4-5 coats of lacquer. We also have people that have great success using a commercial epoxy coating. This will give it a glossy look and it does protect the copper very well.

Don Angelo
Spring Hill, Tennessee

November 10, 2018

Q. I'm making a basement bar with a copper top, and am planning on using 16 mil (26 gauge) copper. I want it to tarnish and make its own unique look, but I do not want water rings or fingerprints. Do I need to use a sealant, or will I be ok with just leaving it be? Any help would be much appreciated.

Andrew Kollitz
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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