How to Make a Copper Bartop, Countertop, or
You can make a copper bar top, countertop, or table top from just about any thickness of copper that we offer, and your cost will vary depending on which you choose. The thickness you go with really depends on the look you are going for, the use the counter top will see, the installation plan, and overall personal preference.
5 Mil (36 Gauge) Copper Foil is one very popular choice. It is a thin material, and for that reason it is easy to cut and easy to bend. However, it can dent or wrinkle so installation has to be done carefully. You would want to attach the 5 mil to a very smooth substrate such as MDF or possibly plywood. Keep in mind that any lumps and bumps on the board will be embossed onto the copper sheet, so the smoothness is essential. The 5 mil is usually attached using a contact-type adhesive. The brush on varieties are popular, and some others will use Spray 90 or Super 77 by 3M. Typically, the adhesive is applied to both surfaces, then dowels will be placed on top of the substrate, across the width and extending over the edge a bit, and then the copper sheet placed over the top of the dowels. This allows you to line up the copper with the edge because once the copper is glued, it cannot be replaced without damaging it. One by one the dowels are removed and the copper is rolled with a rubber laminate roller. This is an essential step to setting the adhesive and removing any air bubbles. Some people will add tacks or nails, for a decorative effect and/or extra security, though these are optional. One of the most important distinctions about working with the 5 mil is that you really want to cover it with a heavy duty sealant. This will create a durable counter that is easy to maintain. Without it, the 5 mil may be damaged. Most people will use a two part epoxy in order to create the most durable surface. Some people who are using the counter less frequently, will opt for a brush on polyurethane sealant, but several coats would need to be applied.
Sometimes people will prefer the thicker material, such as the 16 Mil (26 Gauge) Copper Sheeting or 22 Mil (24 Gauge) Copper Sheeting. This material is sometimes preferable if you are hoping to achieve a less shiny and smooth look, such as if you'd like to hammer the copper or have it appear somewhat distressed. It is also preferable if you want the surface to be either sealed more lightly, or to go with no sealant at all and plan to let it age and develop a natural patina over time. Going without a sealant also allows you to benefit from the antimicrobial qualities of the copper. This material is typically attached to a plywood substrate, or other surface, using a heavy duty construction adhesive such as liquid nails or contact cement, often with nails as well. The smoothness of the substrate is not as essential because the material is not so thin that it will emboss the imperfections. You can apply a sealant to this material if you want to protect it from scratches, want to create your own patina and preserve it, or don't want a patina to develop at all... but you would not necessarily need something as heavy duty as you would with the 5 mil. A spray-on or brush-on polyurethane or lacquer with out a two part epoxy may be fine in this case.
People also use the 10 Mil (30 Gauge) Copper Sheeting which is in between these options in terms of durability, as well as how to handle the installation. If you have a high use counter top and you prefer the 10 mil, you would probably want to use a heavy duty two part epoxy coating or at least several layers of a poly or lacquer. If it is counter top that is not used so frequently, or prefer a more rustic look where dents and dings only add to the character then it may very well be fine if you treat it as the 16 or 22 mil.
You can see several examples of copper bar tops and counter tops in our Photo Gallery and on our Project Ideas page. Below are links to a few of these:
A nice example of a counter top made from 5 mil, where the customer created her own patina design, and sealed with a two part epoxy: