1- The 4 basic options available to you as a consumer. $70-$700

As countertop fabricators, it’s important to convey the difference between products on the market. The zinc countertop industry faces a challenge in explaining the variations in fabrication methods, their limitations, advantages, and costs. Not all zinc products are created equally!

It seems that every technique is trying to mimic another, so what is the consumer to believe? Here, I break down the basics of these 4 techniques: Sheet Metal, Cold Cast/Artisan Cast, Slip Cast/Deposition, and French Foundry Cast.

Sheet Metal:

The most common and economical method is sheet metal. Small shops bend sheet metal around a substrate of plywood, usually built up to 1.5″ thickness, using metal brakes.

Sometimes the two are bonded together with adhesive, but often times they are not. Decorative nails can hold the sheet in place or add visual interest. However, using this traditional method to create complex shapes with sheet metal can be challenging. This is because the metal can only be bent in straight lines or be laid flat to form curves.

Break form sheet metal severely limits design options to basic extrusions or square profiles that make up curves. Many customers think all metal countertops are made like this, but brake form sheet metal can’t create complex curves.

It may appear to be an affordable option, but it’s the most dissimilar from the other three methods I’ll discuss. If you receive a sheet sample with rectangular corners, know what this sample is trying to say.

This sample cannot transform into something it is not. Sheet is great for square edge tables, and basic profiles, but even then, other methods may outshine this basic technique.

If a bar top curves in plan and an entire edge has to be soldered, this detail will look much different from the surrounding metal once it goes through the patination process. This imperfect and rustic look sometimes perfectly suits a project’s aesthetic.

Be careful with galvanized sheet steel for food safety. I will discuss this further in a future post.

Cold Cast/Artisan Cast:

A fabrication method that has gained popularity in the last six years is a process called “cold cast”. It was created as a cheaper option to “slip cast” and is also known as “artisan cast” or other trade names. I will explain slip cast soon.

This misleading description makes you think it’s about a mold made from the core of the planet Krypton. However, like the old frost brewing ads of the 1980s, in the end the product leaves the user disappointed.

Alas, it is just an epoxy resin with metal flake mixed in, sprayed onto the surface of a substrate or core. It doesn’t react like true genuine metal, but more like plastic. Placing something hot on this material with a heat deflection temperature of 120°F may not end well.

You should not use it for everyday surfaces, but it has a place in decorative accents. Once you touch this material, you can feel that something disingenuous is going on. I don’t recommend its use for counter tops. If you get a sample that seems too good to be true, ask about the qualities I mentioned.

Slip Cast/Deposition:

Other metallizing deposition methods popularized in the past decade, sometimes referred to as “cast” or “slip cast”, fail to take full advantage of the strengths of this technology. These metal tops emulate the original French products, which we will discuss shortly. This is the process that we use at 3 Spark Design.

This process gradually layers deposits of real metal onto a core to achieve a desired thickness. Casting into a negative mold, as some manufacturers would lead you to believe, is not a part of this process. This is the most expensive of the current American manufacturing techniques, but it is also the most versatile. Some advertise these products as “cast pewter” or “cast zinc”.

In future posts I will discuss this method further, but of all 4 methods discussed here, this one has the most promise. 3 Spark Design is leading the way with advancements in this technique.

French Foundry Cast:

The last method is the technique that produced the original bistro tops in France. By using dangerous foundry work molds, small sections of real pewter trim are cast and joined to larger sheets. These cooled pieces are then soldered together onto a wooden base in a labor-intensive process.

To create a new trim, a new mold must be made. Often these beautiful projects are smaller and require two to three times the amount of lead time to receive. Ordering can be difficult if you’re even able to place an order.

Modern bar tops have specific technical requirements. Coordinating with French manufacturers and long lead times make this option less accessible for customers who need quick support.

It’s not as flexible as metallizing deposition, but some people like the charm of this unique technique.

The French produce gorgeous tops, which has led to a Renaissance of metalworking ideas in the United States. These tops are the most expensive, but they only come in one metal, Pewter, which is extremely soft.

When discussing zinc counters, understand the fabrication method and the limitations and strengths associated with it.

Each product is very different, and clearly understanding that 4 different products are available to the market will help you ask the right questions to specify the best product, eliminate inferior methods, and decoding pricing.


Pricing is done several ways for different projects. Some companies price by the job, while many use a range per square foot. While no one option is best, know what is included in the price you receive. These prices also vary by metal type, installation costs, and the intricacies of your design.

Are zinc countertops expensive?

Using generic guidelines, sheet metal and cold cast options are on the low end of the cost spectrum. These options can range from $70-$150 per square foot. These prices are comparable with many high end stone slabs.

Deposition or cast tops occupy a higher rung than this on the value ladder. Many manufacturers charge between $200-$700 per square foot. This value increase is related to the incredible amount of work that goes into each custom component, which can display exceptionally complex geometries in a variety of metals. Zinc is more affordable than bronze, which has a much greater value because of its hardness and copper content.

French foundry cast tops in pewter also occupy a higher rung on the value ladder. Prepare for larger installation costs as a team must travel internationally to complete your project. Expect prices anywhere from $350-$600 per square foot.

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