Uses: Kitchen/Laundry/Bath Countertops, Backsplashes.
Stainless steel, a classic look that never goes out of style, is the choice for countertops by professional cooks, restaurant and food service facilities. Above all other materials, it identifies the owner as someone who takes cooking seriously.
Super-strong, hygienic and resistant to water and heat, stainless steel has long been considered an ideal surface for food preparation. Today's kitchen designers are pairing this cool classic with other materials, such as warm wood and hand-painted tile.
Steel is iron alloy that has a low carbon content (up to 1.7%), and low sulfur and phosphorus content (less than 0.04 %), making it malleable (capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers).
The addition of nickel, molybdenum, niobium, and chromium enhances the corrosion resistance of steel. But it is the addition of chromium (a minimum of 10%) that makes steel stain "less" and resist rust.
The chromium in the steel combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form a unique, thin, invisible film of chrome-containing oxide. If the metal is cut or scratched, more oxide will quickly form and recover the exposed surface, protecting it from oxidative corrosion. (Iron, on the other hand, rusts quickly because iron's molecular structure is much smaller than its oxide, so the oxide forms a loose rather than tightly-packed layer and flakes away.)
This chrome-oxide film requires oxygen to self-repair, so stainless steels have poor corrosion resistance in low-oxygen and poor circulation environments. For example, chlorides from the salt found in sea water will attack and destroy the passive film more quickly than it can be repaired in a low oxygen environment.
Stainless steel countertops are fabricated off-site from a template, much the same way as are solid surface materials. Sheet metal is mounted to a substrate of plywood or MDF, and usually reinforced with sound deadening coating. If the sheet metal is not applied to a stong base, it will dent and produce unacceptable noise levels.
The typical sheet steel used for counters is heavy-duty 16ga thickness with high nickel content, type 304 stainless steel. Most counters can be built from a single sheet of metal, requiring no seams.
Layouts of any length or configuration (including kitchen islands) may be produced. However, the longest sheet of steel material generaly available is 10 feet long, but some of that length is required for the ends of the counters.
Counters longer than 9' 6", or counters that have bends or angles have to be made in sections. Joints are made in the middle of the sink area wherever possible, for the smallest possible seam.
Hairline seams allow shipment of very large counter top systems and permit easier installation in your kitchen. These joints can be sealed with silicone caulk under the joint applied before setting the countertop.
Bolt seams are another type of joint that is held tightly together using bolts through flanges attached to the bottom of the counter. This type of seam is sealed using silicone caulk between the bolt flanges before setting the countertop.
Custom welding & finishing will make a hairline seam "invisible".
Stainless steel's reflective qualities make it the "universal-neutral" material, reflecting both natural and artificial light as well as any color hues existing in the kitchen.
o Outside Edges
Edges are available in any thickness but 1 1/2" is a standard. Square, bullnosed, angled back, and marine (no drip), are very popular. Sides have rolled edges. Corners are welded and polished. Finishes may be brushed, highly polished ,sandblasted, or custom ground.
o The Backspash
The stainless steel backsplash is attached to the counter by welding and/or screwed to the wall (for heights over 4"). Higher backsplashes up to 18" are available in many custom finishes for a custom appearance. Backsplashes may be made of thinner steel, i.e. 18 guage.
o The Sink
Tops are precision cut to accept ANY make or model sink selected.
However, the most common type of sink used in stainless steel tops is an integrated stainless steel sink, welded into the top for a totally seamless installation. The integral sink can be one that is purchased "off-the-shelf" or can be can be fabricated to customer specifications and welded in.
Integral and Farm style (drop-front) are typically designed with 1" radius bottom and sides. Bottoms are patterned and may be creased for drainage. Any sink configuration may be used such inlcuding: Double, Triple, Uneven pairs, Uneven depths, Farm Front, Undermount, Integral, Square, Rectangular, Circular, or Oval. Most have a sound deadening coating on the back. Faucet holes are provided according to sink or customer specifications.
Custom welding & finishing will make hairline seams "invisible".
· Durable but not Indestructible
Stainless steel won't stain, rust, chip, or fade. It is durable, heat-proof, completely water-proof, and resistant to gouging and denting.
Although it is one of the hardest materials around, but it does scratch. Eventually all the scratches run together and the surface develops a softer finish.
Stainless steel actually requires very little maintenance. Frequent cleaning actually keeps the surface looking new.
Smooth stainless steel shows watermarks and fingerprints, and needs more cleaning than a brushed finish.
When preparing food, use a cutting board rather than the top. Not only will the surface scratch, but the metal will dull knives. Minor scratches can be polished out.
To clean a stainless steel surface, use mild detergent, or baking soda or vinegar diluted in water. Clean and rinse well, then dry with a soft cloth.
Most stainless steel has a "grain" created when the steel is polished. If abrasives are used on a stainless surface, they should always be rubbed in the direction of these polish lines, not against them.
Things to Avoid:
o Do not use any cleaner that contains chlorine.
o Do not use steel wool unless it is the absolute last resort.
The tiny iron particles can lodge in the surface will rapidly rust, giving the appearance that the stainless itself is rusting.
o Do not let the following food items (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, salad dressings) remain on your stainless surfaces for any length of time, or they will leave a "white" stain. A very fine Scotchbrite pad can remove this mark.
o Do not scrub stainless steel across the polish lines, always scrub in the direction of the polish lines.
If bacterial contamination of the kitchen countertop is a concern, granite or stainless steel are good choices according to a recent study. This study was conducted by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based organization that develops educational materials and research for the retail food industry.
The study measured the bacteria-resistance capacity of six common countertop materials. Each surface was contaminated with E. coli (nearly 2 billion of the microorganisms), washed and rinsed with soap and water and then sanitized with a vinegar-and-water solution. The results are shown in the table below.
Surface Microorganisms Eliminated by Cleaning
Stainless Steel 85,113,804
Ceramic Tile 293,765
Dr. O. Peter Snyder Jr., who conducted the study, says, "We hope our research will help consumers make healthy decisions when selecting a countertop surface for their kitchens."