Copper offers both advantages and disadvantages when used as a table top material. Here are some quick answers to key questions:
Is copper durable for tables?
Yes, copper is a very durable metal that resists scratching, denting, and warping. Copper table tops can last for decades with proper care and maintenance.
Is copper easy to maintain?
Copper requires some regular maintenance to keep its luster. Fingerprints and water spots need to be wiped away quickly. Occasional polishing is needed to maintain the shine.
Is copper expensive?
Copper is more expensive than many common table top materials like wood or laminate. But it is less costly than premium surfaces like stone or stainless steel.
Does copper add style?
Yes, the warm reddish glow of copper provides a unique, artistic addition to any room. The metal’s natural elegance can enhance furniture and decor.
Below we’ll explore the pros and cons of copper table tops more in depth.
Durability of Copper Table Tops
One of the biggest advantages of copper as a table top material is its durability. Copper has been used for decades in countertops and table tops because it stands up extremely well to daily wear and tear. Here are some of the reasons copper is so resilient:
- Scratch resistant – Copper has a tough surface that resists scratches, scuffs, and abrasions better than many alternatives. Only something extremely sharp could scratch copper.
- Dent resistant – Copper is not easily dented or marred if struck with heavy objects. Its resilient surface holds up to bumps and impacts.
- Heat resistant – Copper can withstand heat up to 900°F before it starts to melt. So it won’t scorch or burn from hot pots and pans.
- Stain resistant – Copper does not easily stain or discolor from spills, foods, and liquids. Proper cleaning prevents staining.
- Rust proof – Since copper does not contain iron, it cannot rust or corrode like steel table tops can.
With proper care, a copper table top should easily last for decades without significant wear and tear. The metal develops a patina over time that adds to its vintage character.
The lifespan of a copper table top depends on a few key factors:
- Thickness – Thicker table tops (16 gauge or less) last longer than thinner ones (20+ gauge).
- Quality – High quality copper with 99% purity will have greater durability.
- Care – Following proper cleaning and maintenance extends lifespan.
- Sealing – Applying sealants helps protect the copper surface.
With the right thickness, purity, and care, a copper table top can realistically last anywhere from 20-80 years before replacement is needed. Many antique copper table tops are still going strong after a century or more.
One downside of copper is that it is not ideal for outdoor table top use. Here are some issues with outdoor copper tables:
- Oxidation – Copper reacts with oxygen to form a patina. This occurs more rapidly with outdoor exposure.
- Temperature shifts – Copper expands and contracts more than some materials. Temperature changes can cause slight buckling.
- Rain and snow – Copper can corrode from precipitation faster outdoors than inside.
For outdoor applications, materials like stone, stainless steel, or weather-resistant wood are usually better choices. But for indoor table tops, copper’s durability is excellent.
Copper requires some regular maintenance and cleaning to keep its signature shine and luster. Here are the key maintenance needs:
Over time, copper can develop a patina and lose some of its shine. Gentle polishing is required periodically to restore the luster and shine. A copper polish containing mild abrasives can buff out discoloration and oxidation. Follow the product directions closely.
Applying a sealant is recommended for copper table tops, especially for the first few months after installation. The sealant forms a protective barrier that helps prevent scratching, staining, and fingerprint marks. Reapply sealant whenever it starts to wear. Wax sealants need reapplication more often than polymer sealants.
Frequent cleaning keeps copper table tops looking their best. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe away spills, water spots, fingerprints, food and grease residue. Avoid harsh cleaners or scrubbing that could scratch the copper. Mild soap and water is usually sufficient for routine cleaning.
Expect to pay $50-100 for copper polish and sealants for an initial application and periodic touch-ups. The labor for professional polishing may cost $100 or more each time. So maintenance does add to the lifetime cost, but protect your investment.
With regular polishing, sealing, and cleaning, a copper table can maintain its warm glow for many years before refinishing is needed. Proper care preserves both the appearance and durability.
Cost and Affordability
One downside of copper is that it tends to be more expensive than many other common table top materials.
Copper prices can range widely based on:
- Thickness – Thicker table tops (14 gauge or less) are more expensive.
- Purity – 99% copper is more costly than lower purity alloys.
- Coating – Some copper is coated with enamel or tin which adds cost.
- Fabrication – Hand hammering, custom shapes, and detail work adds expense.
Expect to pay approximately:
- $50-$150 per square foot for basic copper sheeting
- $200-$500+ per square foot for high end custom copper
So a 4×6 table could range from $1,200 on the low end to over $10,000 for premium custom copper work.
Comparison to other materials
|Material||Cost per square foot|
So while basic copper may be comparable to stone or stainless steel, the price can easily escalate for premium grades. And laminate or wood are significantly less costly options.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of copper for table tops is its unique, artistic aesthetic. The warm reddish-orange glow of copper adds style, elegance, and interest to any space.
The rich color palette of copper provides virtually endless design possibilities. Here are some of the ways different copper finishes can complement your decor:
- Warm golden brown – Has an earthy, rustic feel
- Reddish orange – Exudes artsy, Bohemian style
- Oil-rubbed black – Sophisticated, industrial look
- Verdigris green – Organic, antiqued style
As copper ages, areas develop a patina ranging from dark spots to a overall greenish hue. Many people enjoy the “living finish” of copper that evolves naturally over time.
Hammering copper by hand creates intriguing dents and divots in the surface for added visual appeal. Other textures like quilted patterns can be pressed into copper for interest. The malleable metal takes beautifully to artisan texturing.
Copper table tops complement many design aesthetics including:
- Modern – Sleek metallic shine
- Farmhouse – Rustic, earthy tones
- Industrial – Bold metal accent
- Vintage – Aged patina
The unique color, finish, and texture of copper bring artistic flair to any room or decor. A copper dining table or desk can become the focal point of your room’s style.
So is copper a good choice for your next table top? Here are some key takeaways:
- Extremely durable – Withstands scratches, heat, stains, and impacts for decades
- Requires regular maintenance – Polishing and sealing needed to protect finish
- Relatively expensive – Pricier than laminate, wood, and some metals
- Stunning aesthetics – Warm hues, artistic patinas, and textured detail
- Best for indoor use – Not ideal for outdoor tables
Copper makes a gorgeous, long-lasting table top material. But the higher price and maintenance requirements mean it may not be practical for every situation. Consider both your budget and decor goals before deciding if copper is the best fit for your next table project.