Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print
circuspeanutgw

I did it! DIY copper countertops

Circus Peanut
14 years ago

Background: this is my first house, and I am doing an extreme DIY kitchen using recycled cabinetry and refurbishing many already existing aspects of the 1920s bungalow kitchen.

I've never been a granite fan and wanted something warmer that would fit in just right with the well-used, modest coastal bungalow style of my place. So ... I made my own copper countertops! For a price just under $21/sf, this was even more reasonable than plastic or butcher block, and vastly more durable. It's green, it's recyclable, and has the right historical feel to it for the house.

We used mdf as a substrate and basically "laminated" heavy-gauge copper onto it. This took many steps (I detailed the process in the metalworking forum), but I think the results are really stunning and wanted to share some pics for anyone else interested in exploring copper. Well, OK, I did need to brag, just a little. ;-)

Not quite all done yet, but hopefully enough to post a teaser. They look a little rough in the pix; I will be cleaning and buffing the copper smooth again when I've mounted the sinks.

On the advice of other copper countertop owners (ahem! you know who you are), I plan on simply waxing them and letting them patinate to their little hearts' content.

Then .. on to tiling the backsplash and refinishing the fir floors. *whew!*

Comments (100)

  • lyno
    13 years ago

    Wow! Circuspeanut, you did a fantastic job and the copper is so gorgeous! A couple years ago at a home show I saw a copper counter on a buffet cabinet and I fell in love with copper; they had allowed it to patina, it was beautiful. I recently heard it is naturally antibacterial, too. I'm building a case for copper in attempts to get my DH on the same wavelenght. Maybe if I show DH your pic's I can get him interested. Maybe we can at least do the powder room in copper.

    Again, fantastic gorgeous job!

    Oh, I had done a search on your name after seeing your comments in the "how to save a buck" thread. I was hoping to see your kitchen if it is to that point yet.

  • danielle00
    13 years ago

    awesome work! congratulations!

  • Related Discussions

    Copper Sinks

    Q

    Comments (2)
    We have put them in "low use" bathrooms when the client "really wants it", but for a kitchen I would try to steer you away from it. It scratches, it is fussy to maintain and truly will not look beautiful after a few years of use. A kitchen (especially if you cook alot) is a very high use space that needs to have pots and pans dropped in their and washed and subsequently will scratch. I have used the Blanco silgranite sinks in the last few high end kitchens and the clients love them. They are beautiful, come in lots of colors and configurations and are not fussy at all! The second photo below is of a copper vessel in a very low use "mancave" bathroom we did. The first photo is of the Blanco sink from our recent project.
    ...See More

    Copper countertops, yes or no?

    Q

    Comments (31)
    purpleproject - Mine was a close to cookie cutter home in the 1970s. (I'm not the original owner). As you can see, I've done all the backsplashes in stainless steel with copper trim. The hood and Bluestar wall oven also have copper trim. The thinking behind the backsplash was due to an estimate of about how often the grout in a tile backsplash would be cleaned. Came up with zero. The wood countertops were chosen because if they get burnt or stained, they will just look used and loved. Granite or other countertops just look ruined if stained or cracked. (The crack could be fixed by using gold to fill the cracks the way they do with broken pottery in Japan--might be a bit pricey for a large crack.) To tag, just copy and past the name from the header of one of their posts.
    ...See More

    Help! I don't think I like my new countertops. Esp. the island!

    Q

    Comments (78)
    You can always change it if you don't like it! just get the size that's avail in both. I like both. but if you go w/the black, I'd consider bringing in a runner w/black. (unless you plan on getting a black wall oven?? I just feel like you need more black in there if you want the black handles. try the black/white runner. this one would be nice.
    ...See More

    Counter help! Prefer natural stone navy cabinets with copper sink

    Q

    Comments (23)
    Oh and I’m not doing blue subway tile, the contractor just put that in there, we haven’t chosen a backsplash until we choose countertops. I agree I don’t want “busy” countertops - are there any natural stone slabs that are known to NOT be so busy? I’ve come to terms that the beautiful fantasy macaubas counter won’t work here, maybe I can find a remnant for my powder room 😉. I need two slabs for the kitchen and one for the laundry and powder room so i could do something different in there. I’m a beekeeper so i wanted to do a little something different in the laundry where I process my honey anyway….And yes I agree sometimes the unseen expensive things give us the most joy! For example, there is a York wall coverings blue jellyfish wallpaper I’ve fallen in love with, now where to put that in my house? Lol
    ...See More
  • Buehl
    13 years ago

    I don't know how I missed this the first time...but I love those counters! Wonderful job!

  • kitchendetective
    13 years ago

    Circus,
    Don't know if this interests you, but I use Matfer-Bourgeat Bistro Pate a Cuivre to polish my copper cookware. It takes no elbow grease, which is why I like it. I don't polish after every use, but my pots hang in open air, so they do tarnish quickly. Anyway, I don't recommend this as a daily thing because it's expensive and not food safe, of course, but if you need to remove verdigris every now and then and don't want harsh abrasives or to use lots of elbow grease, this stuff works. The copper needs to be rinsed off with soap and water and dried after application of the polish.

  • napagirl
    13 years ago

    Great countertops ... would love to see more pics!

  • budgeteer_s
    13 years ago

    Just laid eyes on your BEEAUTIFUUULL copper counter when this thread came back up. I was not a member yet when yu DIY'd it. Now I'm interested to follow the progress of your kitchen remodel. Saw video of your potato/onion drawers (next to fridge) in another thread and saw how talented you are! Just look at the copper corners and that sink, WOW. You know, there is something so sexy about a woman with a tool belt strapped on to her hips!!!

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Ha! OK, that does it -- calling me sexy is the best way to get more pictures. :-)~

    Seriously: thank you, everyone, for your lovely support and good feedback.

    Here are some shots taken this morning, 5.5 months after initial installation.

    It has taken me a while to adapt to the rhythm of the copper -- it does mark up/blotch/discolor very easily and then you have the choice of either scrubbing it raw again or leaving the marks as patina. Of course I'm a patina kind of gal, and love how used/functional the counters look - hopefully the following photos can help others decide how much natural discoloration they are willing to tolerate in their own setting.

    Close-up:
    {{!gwi}}

    It does bang and dent, but not easily. Ignore the unpainted breakfast room to the left, I'm having the devil of a time matching yellows:
    {{!gwi}}

    The discoloration is particularly strong where water hits the metal or sits, as around the faucets and sink rims. It's not ugly, just takes getting used to as the entirety of the counter slowly ages to catch up:
    {{!gwi}}

    More sink. Disregard the World's Cheapest & Ugliest⢠Vinyl Replacement Windows; they're not my fault and I keep hoping they will just slink away in shame some night:
    {{!gwi}}

    The corners have held very tight; they feel solid as iron and I doubt there will be any trouble there:
    {{!gwi}}

    {{!gwi}}

    {{!gwi}}

  • salmon_slayer
    13 years ago

    Beautiful craftsmanship, did you make the cabinets as well?

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    hi salmon,

    I recycled cherry cabinets I got for a steal at Habitat for Humanity -- a local magnate remodelled and donated their old ones. They're from 1993, custom from Heritage, a PA manufacturer that has since gone under. But you'd really never know that they are as old as they are, they're in excellent condition. The knobs are not original to the cabs, they're vintage copper that I scored on eBay, 27 of 'em for $5.

    We made new cherry end panels (designed to match my bungalow doors) and some drawers/shelves/fridge box from cherry and birch ply -- my one issue was how difficult it was to exactly match the toner the commercial folks used in their catalyzed varnish. If you look closely at the pictures above, you can see that I hit the color bang-on in some cases and not quite so in others.
    In all honesty, though, I think the home-grown end panels and drawers with stain and satin varnish look better than the commercial finish; lots more depth. Some day I would love to make my own cabinets...

    Have you made cabinets? We have a few incredibly talented members on here with very impressive kitchen carpentry work.

    Speaking of tools (other thread), my carpenter friend took payment in the form of a new Festool Domino joiner which we both really enjoyed playing with. :-)

  • russellrobertson
    13 years ago

    Circuspeanut,
    Let me start by saying thank you for the inspiration that led to my installing my own copper countertops. You and Aliceinwonderland on another thread have put together a wonderful resource on this topic. I followed your step by step directions, and could not be happier.

    Looking at your finished pictures, I noticed you made a pot rack out of some of the left over copper bar. I have been considering doing the same thing with my left over bar stock. May I ask where you found the hooks/hardware for your pot rack? So far, I have had very little success trying to find similar material.

    Again, thanks for showing the way with copper counters. I would do them again in an instance.
    Russell

  • PoorOwner
    13 years ago

    circuspeanut, how deep is your sink? Do you find it too low sitting under a full 1.5" counter top?

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Russell -- thank you so much! Imitation is the best form of flattery, etc etc. :) Seriously, it's great to see others benefitting from my experiment - and I in turn owe everything to aliceinwonderland. But you can't tease like that without providing some PICTURES of your glowing new tops! Please please please.

    The potrack hooks are Rogar 5" copper plated bar hooks. I ordered 8 and wish I had a few more -- I can recommend the closed design, since they never come off no matter what direction you twist your pots. The eye screws are stainless (for strength) from the hardware store, and the connector hooks are additional open-hook copper potrack hooks. I just hacked off a piece of the bar, sanded the edges down a bit, drilled two holes, and went to town.

    Poorowner -- the sink is a Whitehaus fireclay and it's 8" deep. At 5'7" I find that perfect with the undermount, wouldn't want a deeper one as a main sink. The round prep sink is a vintage find, probably from a hospital (?), and is slightly deeper, which works because it's placed where I don't want a lot of splashes.

  • russellrobertson
    13 years ago

    Circuspeanut
    Thanks for the link to Rogar. I will certainly try them if I decide to make a pot rack. I can't decide whether to make a pot rack or an accent table for a sun room with my left over copper.

    I will try to get some pictures up in the next couple of days. I am in the middle of repairing plaster and painting a living room, so hence the rest of the house is a disaster. I am not even sure I can see my counters at the moment.

    Russell

  • ma-bookreader
    13 years ago

    Absolutely stunning!!!

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Selfishly bumping just so as not to lose this thread off the forum (I link to it occasionally). :)

  • megsy
    12 years ago

    Holy mackerel circuspeanut!! I'm in love. It makes me want to cover my butcherblock countertops (which I LOVE) with copper. Amazing job!

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thank you, Megsy, I appreciate it. We still love the counters and they just get better with the passage of time.

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    For the person who asked me how they look now, I can't reply to your email because of your GW email settings (you need to check the 'allow email' box), but here's a photo from last week if it helps:

  • clg7067
    12 years ago

    That looks great!

  • clg7067
    12 years ago

    Hmm, I've been trying to decipher your maintenance routine. So, did you go with the beeswax in the end?

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks, clg.

    Maintenance. Ha. When I'm good, I use beeswax and lots of elbow grease to rub it in and buff it. When I'm in a hurry (and my eco-neurotic guy isn't around), I use the Pledge in the brown can or OrangeGlo wood care spray. The drawback to both of the latter, of course, is that they aren't particularly food safe, and the water-resistance doesn't last nearly as long as the waxing. But they do give it a great rich gleam, esp the OrangeGlo.

    I always wonder whether I should/could have used an industrial metal coating like Incra-Lac to maintain the fresh copper look... But it just seems crazy to use something so toxic in the kitchen (even if wooden cabinets regularly have equally bad stuff on them, like catalyzed lacquer finishes). I guess if I didn't obsess, even retroactively, I wouldn't be on this forum to begin with. ;-)

    Are you considering copper counters?

  • clg7067
    12 years ago

    After seeing how yours look after time, I really like them. I have no real preference but am considering mahogany, ceaserstone, and now copper. I always prefer a DIY option. I still have a year to make my decision because I'm remodeling my kitchen in phases. That last phase is the most expensive. :)

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Yes, they just keep getting better over time. If you don't mind the drawbacks (they ding relatively easily and there is that bothersome green verdigris when you leave some liquids to sit for too long), the pros are very worth it.

    DIY is truly the way to go. We did our kitchen in phases too, and paid as we went, using largely recycled and salvaged materials. (I still crow over my score of 27 vintage copper cabinet knobs for $5 on eBay.) It's so gratifying -- I support your plan wholeheartedly.

    FYI as I recall, the copper cost me about $1200 total for c. 58 square feet. Not too shabby. And at that price, should they ever fail me, I won't be heartbroken to have to replace or renew them. We've easily enjoyed them enough to be worth it already.

  • ladyamity
    12 years ago

    First time seeing/reading about DIY copper counters.

    I am never at a loss for words....Chatty Cathy, that's me.

    But....

    I'm in awe, total AWE at the beauty of these counter tops....no words, just in awe.
    *jaw hanging open*

  • rookie_2010
    12 years ago

    I'm just seeing this post for the first time and I'm also in awe of the counters and even more so at the fact that they were a DIY project. I LOVE the look of the patina, it's really beautiful.

  • gsciencechick
    12 years ago

    Still looking as beautiful as ever!

  • clg7067
    12 years ago

    Just stopped to take a closer look at the cabinets. Also, very nice. :)

  • stjamesb
    12 years ago

    Just absolutely stunning, both the counter and the work went into it. So if I use copper for the counter that are not normally in contact with water, I should have easier time with cleaning and such? Our kitchen probably will be DIY totally. DH wants to make his own cabinets. Wait until he sees copper counter :)

  • ajard
    12 years ago

    I love it!!! what a great look.. so inviting and unique

  • surface-encounters
    12 years ago

    Surface Encounters, who has over 100 years of accumulated experience, utilizes state-of-the-art machinery, which combined with a price assurance guarantee ensures the highest quality finished product. Surface Encounters specializes in fabricating and installing granite and marble countertops. Surface Encounters is dedicated to making a difference in your world, one surface at a time.

    Here is a link that might be useful: www.Surface-Encounters.com

  • judyoso
    12 years ago

    Here are photos of the copper countertop done with enchantment color copper against black cabinets.

    Here is a link that might be useful: www.ColorCopper.com

  • zenstella
    12 years ago

    BEAUTIFUL JOB!!!!

  • areilla10
    12 years ago

    Thank you so much for posting this thread. I'm brand new to the forum, but I've been thinking about finishing our countertops in either copper or zinc. I wondered if I would like the patination of copper as it aged and it's really nice to see a real countertop go from shiny-penny-new to "antique" in a realistic way. I'm 100% convinced to do one or the other. They're both gorgeous. Maybe the copper in the kitchen and zinc for the bar countertop, or in one of the bathrooms. They're just gorgeous!

  • dyno
    12 years ago

    I bow before you. Beautiful and best of all, unique.

  • bill_vincent
    12 years ago

    Wow!! This thread keep coming back..... like a GOOD penny!!

    (Get it? Good penny? Copper?)

    I crack myself up. :-)

  • EATREALFOOD
    10 years ago

    Bump---this thread needs to be available to new DIY's

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Unfortunately, I think this thread is too old to be "bumped" any longer, but it's linked via my clippings page if anyone wants it.

  • deedles
    9 years ago

    Just trying to see if this is bump-able?

  • Circus Peanut
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Apparently so, Deedles - I just got the notification of your response.

    *sigh* How I loved those counters. The new owner of my bungalow likes them, too, so all is well that ends well. I'm now debating between copper again or trying Maine slate for my new old house kitchen counters.

    Here's how they looked after 4 years, with the kitchen finished (real estate photos):

  • Donaleen Kohn
    9 years ago

    This is such a cool thread. I think I need it for my Time Capsule.

  • deedles
    9 years ago

    Such a beautiful kitchen, Circuspeanut. You sound sad? Do you miss your old place? Have I missed any recent posts about your new house and kitchen project? Just think how beautiful this one will be as you build on what you learned/executed in your last one.

    If my kitchen ends up ONE TENTH as gorgeous as your last kitchen, I'd call it a huge success and be happy.

    I enjoyed the thread... it was a fun read esp. knowing how it all turned out.

  • jerzeegirl
    9 years ago

    CP I love this thread. Your countertops are gorgeous! And I think your kitchen is beautiful.

  • Bunny
    9 years ago

    CP, your counters are utterly awesome. As beautiful patinated as they were brand new. Something I keep wondering, did they have a distinctive smell? I keep imagining old pennies but that might not be accurate. :)

  • Donaleen Kohn
    9 years ago

    The surfaces are wonderful but so is the light...that kitchen has great light.

  • deedles
    9 years ago

    Yes, the light in that kitchen looks so 'comforting' is the word that comes to mind. The glowing floors. Gorgeous and warm.

  • Missi (4b IA)
    4 years ago

    Did you end up doing copper counters again?

  • sosha68
    2 years ago

    Hi there - looks gorgeous! Please can i ask how you get the copper on the sides of the counter top - id you get a strip cut or mould them on? I am worried that on my worktop there will be bumps and wonder how to get as flat as yours? Did you glue on to the mdd? Thanks

  • sosha68
    2 years ago

    OOPs sorry - MDF

  • Missi (4b IA)
    11 months ago

    I wonder how many times over the years we’ve looked at this thread just to sigh over the pictures. I’ve wanted white solid surface counters and a copper sink for a long time, but ohhh my word, that third picture in the last set posted…gives me shivers, its so beautiful.