The Durable Countertop Material That Could Drive Potential Homebuyers Away

Kitchens are often referred to as the heart of the home, and a recent study conducted for Bosch Home Appliances found that Americans spend over an hour a day in their kitchens on average. Considering the kitchen's emotional and practical importance, it isn't surprising that it can make or break a home sale more easily than any other room. Stainless steel countertops, unlike stainless appliances, can easily turn off potential homebuyers thanks to their cold and industrial look and the amount of cleaning and maintenance they require.

Stainless steel is still the top choice for appliances – Houzz's 2024 Kitchen Trends Study found that 77% of respondents favored stainless steel appliances during kitchen remodels, but the same cannot be said for counters; survey participants preferred both engineered quartz and granite to stainless steel. Considering most of these respondents ranked the look and feel of the material as their top concerns for countertops, it follows that stainless steel — with its association with commercial kitchens and sterile workspaces — might not be a top choice.

Advantages and disadvantages of stainless steel countertops

Of course, stainless steel has its fans and The National Association of Realtors reported that Google searches for the phrase "stainless steel kitchen islands" were up over 200% from the previous year in 2023. Not only is stainless steel hygienic and corrosion-resistant, but it can also last for extremely long. A nonporous counter surface like stainless steel not only helps with cleaning, but it also prevents the counter from staining and picking up lingering odors.

Despite their advantages, there are also some major downsides to stainless steel countertops. In addition to the industrial aesthetic that is not to everyone's taste, stainless steel is also notoriously prone to scratches and smudges. Anyone with a stainless steel refrigerator knows the annoyance of constantly wiping fingerprints off the handles and doors, a problem that is exponentially worse when every surface in the kitchen is made of stainless steel. Not only does stainless steel show fingerprints and smudges easily, but it is also easily scratched — a major downside for a food prep surface.

Selling a home with stainless steel countertops

Of course, homeowners who have no plans to sell should go with whatever countertop material best fits their personal needs and style, but owners remodeling with resale in mind should think twice before installing stainless steel countertops. Not only can these counters be just as expensive as more popular granite counters, but potential buyers may be turned off by the industrial appearance and the amount of cleaning required. While smudge-resistant stainless steel is becoming more available, many potential buyers may still be reluctant to purchase a house with an entire kitchen of stainless steel surfaces.

If you're trying to sell a house that already has stainless steel countertops, make sure the surfaces are clean and the stainless steel shines like new before prospective buyers visit. Additionally, consider adding some subtle touches to make the kitchen feel homey. This could include using warm dynamic lighting, bringing in a few houseplants, and adding in different textures.