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Zinc Countertop Cost Guide

If you have an eye for detail and love the industrial loft look, then you may consider looking at zinc for your next renovation. Zinc has the clean, metallic look of stainless steel, yet unlike the harsh edges and more clinical austerity of steel, zinc surfaces emanate a warmer, richer tone due to its naturally aging patina which will eventually weather to a soft, pewter gray. Zinc has been traditionally used throughout Europe, especially in highly-esteemed French kitchens but has caught the eyes of many ambitious renovators. However, there are also factors to consider before jumping on the zinc bandwagon. Such items would include cost, care and maintenance, as well as the pros and cons of using zinc for your upgraded countertops.

The Costs

One of the bigger considerations is the cost of zinc. Depending on the size of the countertop area, you may be looking at prices into the thousands of dollars. Your location and square footage for the project will determine the price variances for differing grades of zinc. For example, an area of 64 square feet can range anywhere from

  • Cheapest: $3,600 – $3,700 for the lowest grade

  • Middle Grade: $3,900 - $4,200 for middle grade

  • Most Expensive: $4,300 - $5,100 for the top of the line zinc product.

Installation is another cost to factor in to your bottom line and you should prepare to pay anywhere from $350 - $500 again depending on the grade of your zinc.

Care and Maintenance

Due to zinc’s inherent malleability, it can easily become scratched and dented, something to consider if you cook and entertain often. A soft scrub brush is recommended for the smaller blights and you can polish your countertops with a healthy amount of beeswax to keep that glossier sheen. However, if you are so inclined, the zinc will naturally age due to acidic foods like citrus fruits or little oily fingertips producing an aged look that is more reserved for a Parisian kitchen.

Zinc’s elemental properties will ensure a long lasting luster and a durable surface that will stand the test of time. Natural materials like metal, stone, tile or wood products will need to be periodically polished, and sometimes just shining the zinc countertop with a little beeswax can maintain the glossy surface as well as keeping it more water resistant.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Zinc Countertops

Zinc is a natural product that is coveted by those who love the warmth, luster and durability of a metal product. Zinc has attributes like antiseptic properties (similar to copper) that can kill bacteria upon contact without the use of sanitizing agents. Perfect for a busy kitchen with many messy cooks! Due to its softer composition, zinc can be carved into beautiful intricate motifs, a feat that is nearly impossible on stainless steel countertops. It will also naturally develop a soft, pewter gray that warms with age and use.

However, because of its malleability, zinc is very prone to dents, dings and scratches and cannot tolerate the high heat of a saucepan if placed directly atop the surface. The extreme heat could cause the zinc to warp or even worst case could cause the zinc to melt.

Another consideration to think about is that zinc cannot have contact with any bituminous membranes, non-galvanized steel or copper. Even some wood or wood products can be considered incompatible with an element like zinc. Larch, oak, chestnut or any wood that has a ph balance that is <5 can be problematic with zinc. In such cases, consider woods like pine, spruce or poplar.

Zinc is also incredibly dense and heavy and could be burdensome on a spouse who may lack the familiarity with working on such a cumbersome material. Not only does zinc have challenges with its weight but can be easily dinged and dented during the installation process.

Hiring a contractor who specializes in zinc installation might behoove the savvier weekend renovator. Challenges might also arise if your countertops come out a little off in the measurements.  This might result in needing an extra sheet of zinc to be welded together. Never a perfect scenario but in renovations, miscalculations do happen.

Other Information

Traditionally used in the finest European kitchens, zinc has made a splash on this side of the Atlantic. Though it may not be common to find in most kitchens, for those who cherish its unique warmer tones and softer edges, zinc is a perfect finish for a high-end kitchen. Homeowners who truly enjoy preparing gourmet meals and look to their kitchen as an extension of their lifestyle may want to use a natural product like zinc as opposed to a laminate or plastic composite material.

Do not forget to double check the choice of your materials. As the cost of zinc countertops can range greatly between size, thickness, labor and shipping. Each layer will not only add to the price of the product but will increase the overall weight (and shipping) cost as well. Before you begin to make a phone call to order your new zinc countertops from your local contractor, do your homework online. Be prepared to add a little cushion to your budget for any unexpected issues. Sometimes a higher width may require two sheets of zinc to be welded together which will add to that already heftier price tag.

Also keep close tabs on seasonal sales. If you check often, prices will drop during the slower fall and winter months, which could help you save big dollars on that tight budget. Zinc is not for everyone, but if you are drawn to its unique attributes, be prepared for the extra cost, care and maintenance. Of course, none of that may matter once you turn out the kitchen and savor the glow from your zinc countertops as it reflects off your stainless steel appliances. A match made in heaven.

Last updated on Mar 31, 2015

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