Stainless Steel vs Copper. Which Metal is Right for You Next Project?

By Cindy
Posted . Filed under Design Inspirations.


Stainless steel and copper are ideal materials for custom fabrication as they are high-end metals that will hold up well over the products lifetime and also maintain its appearance without fading, cracking or peeling. Both products are ideal for indoor and outdoor applications as they can withstand nature’s elements without fading or cracking like traditional outdoor products. Both metals are sustainable with the ability to be recycled after the life of the product. Stainless steel is one of the most recycled materials and is recycled more than paper or glass. Copper has the ability to be recycled over and over without any loss in performance.

Both materials can be formed and stretched into complex and intricate surfaces without breaking. Both metals hold their own qualities, but they have many unique benefits that homeowners are sure to love.

Finding differentiation in these materials can be difficult because there are more similarities than differences, but they do have some differences that buyers should take into consideration.



Copper and its principal architectural alloys are relatively active metals which, when left unprotected, tend to oxidize (humidity and water). Long term atmospheric exposure generally results in the formation of the naturally protective gray-green patina.


  • Copper can be expected to last many decades. With minimal maintenance, copper should last well beyond its lifecycle.
  • It’s almost impossible for these metals to rust, but copper resists rust just a little better than stainless steel. At the same time, the vast majority of homeowners won’t even need to worry about rust with these materials.
  • Copper is made up with natural antimicrobial properties that repel 99.9% of bacteria within 2 hours of exposure.
  • Copper has the highest thermal conductivity of any engineering material.
  • Copper will naturally patina over time.Our clients love the unique look of copper and its natural patina. Some may find this a con but we think it is definately a pro! Many factors affect the patina process including water, humidity and bath products. The colors of patina can vary from rich browns, pinks, greens to even turquoise blues.


  • Copper is often more expensive than that of stainless steel.. This may sometimes change based on the current market value, but you should expect to pay on avergage about 25% more for copper.
  • Maintenace of copper is a bit more time consuming if you want to maintain its finish. If you want to have the raw copper or “new penny” look, we recommend Wrights copper cleaner to restore the copper finish.
  • Copper is highly reactive. Copper will have reactions to certain substances (ie. acidic) but can be restored.


 Stainless Steel


  • Stainless steel will shine and remain a consistent color for many years maintaing its appearance over the lifetime of the product.
  • Stainless steel is often called “indestructible.” It’s slightly more durable than copper, which is beneficial in harsh environments.
  • Easy to install as it’s light weight and easy to work with.
  • Stainless steel is self-healing. This is why no coating is required for corrosion or protection.
  • Highly resistant to tarnishing and rusting.
  • Stainless steel is recognized as the premium material for marine applications due to its luster, strength, stiffness and corrosion resistance.
  • Most durable out of all the steel metals in the market.


  • For some, stainless steel is a cold look.
  • Can be dented with extreme force.
  • Water spotting will occur when not towel dryed after each use, although a quick swipe of vinegar over the spot will remove the spots.


Both copper and stainless steel are ideal for indoor and outdoor applications. The look of metal in aquatics brings a fresh unique look to the design and adds luxury to every installation. 

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