Stainless steel kitchen cabinets offer a sleek, modern look for contemporary kitchen designs. With their smooth, streamlined appearance and resistance to water, heat, and stains, stainless steel cabinets provide both aesthetic appeal and practical functionality in the heart of the home.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Stainless steel kitchen cabinets offer numerous benefits that make them a smart choice for many homes:
Stainless steel is extremely durable and rugged. It won’t chip, peel, crack, or scratch easily. Stainless steel cabinets can withstand years of regular use while still looking new. The material is designed to be resistant to damage.
Easy to Clean
Stainless steel has a nonporous, smooth surface that makes it very easy to clean. There are no cracks or crevices for grime to build up. You can simply wipe down stainless steel cabinets using a soft cloth and gentle cleaner to keep them looking spotless. The material will not absorb stains.
Stainless steel contains chromium that forms an invisible passive layer of protection from oxidation and rust. Quality stainless steel cabinets will not corrode, rust, or oxidize even with regular exposure to water. This makes them perfect for humid areas like around a sink.
The anti-bacterial properties of stainless steel prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Germs have nowhere to thrive and multiply on the nonporous surface. This resistance to germs makes stainless steel cabinets highly hygienic for areas like kitchens.
Stainless steel kitchen cabinets hold up well against heat. You don’t have to worry about scorch marks from hot pans right out of the oven. Stainless steel provides the ideal surface for a kitchen that sees a lot of cooking action.
Dent and Scratch Resistant
Quality stainless steel alloys are reinforced to make them extra resistant to dents, dings, and scratches from daily wear and tear. Though not completely impervious to damage, well-made stainless steel cabinets will stand up quite well over time.
Stainless steel does not amplify sound. This gives it natural sound dampening properties. Closing stainless steel cabinet doors and drawers will be less noisy and jarring compared to many other materials.
Aside from occasional cleaning, stainless steel cabinets require little to no maintenance over their lifetime. You’ll never need to paint, stain, seal, or wax stainless steel. It simply looks good year after year with minimal upkeep required.
Recyclable and Renewable
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and renewal at the end of its lifecycle. This makes it an eco-friendly cabinetry option since none of it will end up in a landfill. Stainless steel material can be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality.
Brightens the Room
The clean, reflective surface of stainless steel cabinets helps reflect light around the room. This can make kitchens feel more open and airy. The light bouncing off the cabinets creates a brighter ambiance.
Styles of Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Stainless steel kitchen cabinets are available in a range of styles to complement any kitchen decor, from modern to traditional. Popular styles include:
Frameless stainless steel cabinets have a minimalist, contemporary look. These feature full access to contents without a front frame getting in the way. The hinges mount directly to the interior cabinet sides.
Framed cabinets have a face frame around the front of the cabinet boxes for an added decorative element. Doors mount directly on the frames. This style works well for more traditional kitchen designs.
For a super streamlined look, many stainless steel cabinets utilize discreet integrated handles that sit nearly flush with cabinet fronts. This creates an ultra-smooth, seamless appearance.
Modern designs often utilize exposed hinges as an intentional visible design element. Matte black, silver toned, or matching stainless hinges coordinate with cabinet finishes.
Glass front cabinet designs highlight contents while maintaining the sleek stainless steel aesthetic. Frosted, etched, or patterned glass obscures contents slightly.
Open stainless shelving makes a dramatic design statement. It provides easy access to glassware and dishes while reflecting light.
Stainless range hoods complement stainless cabinets nicely while venting steam, odors, and smoke. Stainless chimneys extend all the way to the ceiling for a bold look.
Mix and Match
Many kitchens combine stainless steel cabinets just for certain areas like around sinks or appliances. Mixing stainless with painted cabinets adds appealing contrast.
Finishes for Stainless Steel Cabinets
Stainless steel cabinets are available with various surface finishes to alter the look and feel:
A brushed finish displays linear brushing grains running in the same direction. This gives the steel a noticeable texture while minimizing smudges and prints.
Lightly sanding the steel produces an ultra-smooth satin finish with a soft sheen. Fingerprints don’t show as readily as other finishes. Durability may be slightly less.
Highly polishing and buffing creates a shiny mirror finish. This reflects the most light for maximum brightness but also shows any marks.
Unique textured finishes like a hairline square pattern add visual interest. Textures camouflage fingerprints for low maintenance.
Coloring the stainless steel through PVD (physical vapor deposition) produces finishes like bronze, copper, gold, and more. Colored finishes expand design options.
A matte look has a flat, low reflective quality. It offers a classic stainless steel look with a subtle industrial vibe. Fingerprints blend right in for easy care.
Choosing the Grade of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel grades indicate the alloy recipe, with different amounts of steel, chromium, nickel, manganese, titanium, copper, and other metals. Common grades for cabinets include:
304 is a versatile, economical stainless steel for cabinets. It contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel for enhanced corrosion resistance and durability.
For highly corrosive areas like around a sink, 316 grade adds more nickel and 2% molybdenum for improved protection. It resists salty and acidic environments.
430 grade is more affordable stainless steel composed of just chromium with no nickel. It works for lower corrosion areas of the kitchen farther from sinks.
444 & 441 Grades
Added silicon content gives these grades a smoother, shinier surface than 304 grade. They offer good affordability and brightness.
201, 202, and 301 grades offer affordable options too. Look for 18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel for optimal corrosion resistance and durability.
Higher grades generally increase corrosion resistance and durability but also increase cost. Consider where cabinets are installed and how much water exposure is expected when selecting grades.
Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Like any material, stainless steel cabinetry comes with both advantages and disadvantages to weigh:
- Extremely durable
- Resists scratches, dents, heat, and stains
- Easy to sanitize and keep clean
- Stylish modern appearance
- Brightens up the kitchen’s ambiance
- Minimal maintenance required
- Hygienic and nonporous
- Recyclable and eco-friendly
- Can show fingerprints, smudges, and water spots if not cleaned
- Susceptible to chloride corrosion and pitting
- Can dent from impacts and drops
- Noisy doors and drawers when slammed
- Limited color and finish options
- Higher cost than some materials
- Can develop mineral deposits from hard water
With regular cleaning and care, stainless steel’s positives often outweigh the negatives for most homeowners. But consider the downsides too when deciding if they are the right choice for your home.
Cost of Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
On average, expect to pay $100-300 per linear foot for quality stainless steel kitchen cabinets. This cost depends on:
- Grade of stainless steel – Higher grades cost more
- Gauge/thickness – Thicker steel costs more
- Construction quality – Fully welded cabinets cost more than screwed
- Features like soft-close hinges and shelves
- Brand name – Premium brands charge more
While pricier than stock cabinets, stainless steel falls around the middle price-wise for cabinet materials, costing less than exotic solid woods but more than laminates and painted finishes. The sleek contemporary look stainless provides often justifies the higher cost for many homeowners.
Should You Choose an Integrated or Independent Sink?
With stainless steel cabinets, you can choose an integrated sink that fits flush into the countertop or an independent sink that sits on top. Considerations include:
- Provides a streamlined, seamless look
- Allows for a nearly flat countertop surface
- Stylish and modern
- Sink bottom may be harder to clean
- Replacing the sink means replacing the whole counter
- Often easier installation
- Allows more flexibility in sink choices
- Sink bottom stays exposed for easy cleaning
- Provides a decorative ledge that can catch water
- Replacing the sink doesn’t require a new counter
Installation feasibility and personal style preferences should guide your choice between integrated or independent sinks with your stainless cabinets. An experienced kitchen designer can help you select the best option.
How Durable Are Stainless Steel Cabinets Compared to Wood or Laminate?
Stainless steel cabinets are significantly more durable than either wood or laminate:
- Wood – Can chip, crack, scratch, stain, and warp from moisture. Requires careful cleaning.
- Laminate – Prone to chipping, peeling, scratching, and swelling from water damage.
- Stainless Steel – Resists chips, scratches, stains, heat damage, and corrosion. Stays moisture-resistant.
The rugged stainless steel material outperforms more delicate wood and laminate options when it comes to withstanding daily use and potential accidental abuse. Stainless steel cabinets will maintain their integrity and appearance far longer than wood or laminate versions before needing replacement.
However, even stainless steel can become scratched or dented from extreme direct force. But it holds up remarkably well for kitchen cabinetry seeing heavy usage over time. The extra cost of stainless steel cabinets pays off thanks to their extreme durability and longevity.
Caring for Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Caring properly for stainless steel kitchen cabinets will help them retain their original beauty and resist damage:
- Use a soft, lint-free cloth or microfiber towel to gently wipe cabinets down
- For routine cleaning, use a mild soap and water solution applied with a soft cloth
- Rinse off any soap residue using a separate damp cloth, then immediately dry
- Avoid harsh chemical cleaners, abrasive pads, steel wool, or bleach
- Use a stainless steel polish occasionally to restore shine and fingerprint resistance
- Immediately wipe up any spills to prevent possible pitting of the surface
- Install a water filtration system if in a hard water area to reduce mineral deposits
- Use coasters underneath hot pans or pots to prevent heat damage
- Be gentle when closing doors and drawers to avoid denting
- Touch up any stainless scratches immediately with touch-up paint
With regular, gentle cleaning and extra care taken around possible damage sources, your stainless steel cabinets can maintain their flawless factory finish for many years.
What is the Best Way to Clean Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets?
These tips will help keep stainless steel kitchen cabinets looking their best:
- Use a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water to remove basic dirt and fingerprints after each use.
- For more thorough routine cleaning, use a mild dish soap and water solution. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.
- Make sure to rinse off all soap with a clean damp cloth. Allow cabinets to fully air dry.
- Every week or two, polish cabinets with a stainless steel cleaner or polish to renew shine and fingerprint resistance. Apply a small amount to a soft cloth using gentle circular motions.
- Olive oil also works well to restore a lustrous shine. Rub a thin coat into the steel and then buff off residue.
Preventing Water Spots and Streaks
- Immediately wipe up spills and splatters on cabinets to avoid mineral deposits forming.
- Use a squeegee on cabinet exteriors after cleaning to prevent streaks.
- Consider a water filtration system if you have hard water. This will minimize stubborn spotting.
Removing Grease and Oil Residues
- Degrease cabinets as needed using a stainless steel degreaser and a nylon scrubbing pad if residues occur. This removes tough grease buildup.
- Use cabinet door buffers and edge guards to prevent impact dings and nicks to the stainless surface.
- Take care not to gouge the surface with sharp objects or drag cookware across the finish.
What are the Best Brands for Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets?
When investing in stainless steel kitchen cabinets, purchasing from a reputable brand ensures the highest quality construction and materials. Recommended brands to consider include:
- Avanti Systems – Offers custom sizing and storage options at reasonable price points. Known for good customer service and warranties.
- ReNew Cabinets – Specializes in recycled stainless steel for an eco-friendly option. Very durable products.
- SageHill Designs – Focuses on combining beautiful design with functionality. Provides custom sizing.
- Belmont Kitchen Cabinets – Constructs cabinets with meticulous precision and consistency. High-end luxury designs.
- Snaidero – An Italian brand creating modern, European-styled stainless cabinets. Seamless integrated sinks.
- Caesarstone – Uses premium thick stainless with gorgeous finishes. American-made.
- Dura Supreme – Commercial-grade 304 stainless steel provides extreme durability. Easy to customize.
- NewAge Products – Leading company for affordable, high-quality stainless cabinets and sinks.
- Kabinet Pro – Specializes in stainless cabinetry specifically for commercial kitchens. Very heavy duty.
Always inspect cabinets closely before purchasing. Be sure welds are smooth, hinges align properly, doors sit flush, and corners fit tightly. Top brands price higher but deliver exceptional quality and longevity.
FAQs About Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Does stainless steel scratch easily?
Quality stainless steel is quite resistant to scratches, but not impervious. Heavy scratches can occur from extreme pressure or sharp objects. Light surface scratches blend in well and naturally heal over time.
Can you paint over stainless steel cabinets?
Painting over stainless steel is not recommended, as paint will likely chip off the smooth nonporous surface. Most experts advise against painting stainless cabinets.
How do you polish out scratches on stainless cabinets?
Use a stainless steel polish and buff the cabinets in the direction of the grain lines. For deeper scratches, try a stainless steel scratch removal pad designed for the kitchen. Touch up paint for stainless steel can also hide scratches.
Can stainless steel rust?
Stainless steel is highly rust-resistant but not completely rust-proof. When the chromium oxide layer is compromised from damage or extensive wetness, stainless can develop corrosion and rust. Higher nickel content helps prevent this.
Do stainless steel cabinets dent easily?
High-quality stainless steel provides good dent resistance but is not completely dent-proof. Severe dents can occur from forceful impacts. Using door buffers helps prevent dents from cabinet fronts slamming.
Can you have stainless steel cabinets just in certain areas?
Definitely. Many kitchens mix stainless steel only in select areas like around the sink or behind ranges. Stainless can be combined with cabinetry of other materials for a unique look.
Do stainless steel cabinets show fingerprints?
All stainless steel shows fingerprints to some degree, but certain finishes like brushed and satin show far fewer prints. Routinely cleaning also reduces their appearance. Stainless handles often show the most prints.
How do you attach hinges to stainless cabinets?
It is best to allow the cabinet manufacturer to install the hinges to ensure proper alignment. For DIY hinge attachment, use self-tapping or machine screws along with thread lock. Take care not to over-tighten screws.
What thickness stainless steel is best for cabinets?
14, 16, or 18 gauge stainless steel all work well for cabinets. 18 gauge is the most heavy duty at 0.05 inches thick. Increasing thickness boosts durability and dent resistance.
With their alluring modern look and practical resiliency, stainless steel cabinets offer an ideal choice for contemporary kitchen designs that can stand up to the demands of daily use. Choosing top quality materials and finishes ensures stainless steel cabinets that will retain their flawless beauty for many years down the road with minimal maintenance required. Their sleek, lightweight appearance belies the rugged durability stainless provides for cabinets.
Investing in premium stainless steel cabinetry from a reputable brand results in an eye-catching, long-lasting kitchen suited to even the busiest family lifestyles. The metals contemporary styling and easy-care nature explain its popularity amongst modern homeowners. Stainless steel delivers the perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality.