What are the best bar-top materials?

Customised Sheet Metal looks into what types of metal and materials are best for producing a bar top. We weigh up the benefits of  stainless steel, pewter, copper and wood.

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re thinking of having a bar installed in your business. Or, if you’re pushing the boat out, in your home. Either way, you’ll want a bar top that’s durable, looks great and has a timeless style.

Here we’ll look at some popular choices of metals used for bar surfaces, and weigh up their benefits. We’re concentrating on the bar top itself, as opposed to surfaces used for preparation. Suffice to say, prep surfaces need to be durable, will be exposed to more liquid… But don’t need to be made from the same material you use for the bar top. As the showpiece, the bar itself should be more stylish.

Using sheet metal fabrication, we can craft bespoke bar tops from any of the following materials.


In our opinion, pewter is the ideal choice for a bar top. It’s an alloy mostly comprised of tin, and is more malleable than steel, so it’s much more versatile in terms of design. Pewter’s relative softness allows for more intricate shaping and patterning, and it can be easily stamped.

It also looks less clinical. While being silvery, it has more of a matted appearance which darkens slightly over time. It can look modern or classic, and can be made to suit almost any style of bar. As an example, take a look at the pewter bar top we made for London’s Sky Garden.

Pewter can be a little more expensive than some of the other options. However, we strongly believe you get what you pay for and it’s definitely worth the investment in the long run.


Copper is easily stretched, molded, and shaped, meaning it is an ideal material for creating bespoke products. It is often the material of choice for the construction industry, industrial machinery and as a component in motors. When it comes to bar tops, copper can be produced in one of two ways; finished or unfinished.

A finished copper bar top will be treated with a synthetic lacquer to give the illusion of a rich mirror-like appearance, whereas unfinished will provide a dull reflection and may even appear to have a wavelike look to it. But don’t let this fool you – the metal will be completely smooth.

Over time, copper will darken and change colour as a result of oxidisation, creating an antique patina look. Most people find this to be an attractive element of copper that is stylish and fashionable.  

Stainless steel

A stainless steel bar will be extremely strong, hard to damage and impossible to scratch or stain (the clue’s in the title). It copes well with heat too, meaning that it’s a pretty sturdy material. Although its strength is arguably better suited to prep surfaces rather than the bar top itself.

Stainless steel is also a visually appealing metal that can have a number of finishes applied to it. So no matter what type of style you’re looking for, this material can be finished to suit your requirements.


Wood is classic. And if you’re building a bespoke bar, it’s also endlessly versatile. It can be made into more-or-less any shape or style, with a range of colours and patterns. Plus it doesn’t have to be too expensive, although different types will vary widely in cost.

One thing to bear in mind with wood is that it’s easily damaged. Unless it’s properly sealed, it can be very sensitive to damage by liquid and is easily scraped and dented. This is well worth bearing in mind if your bar’s going to get a lot of use. It’s also the reason we’d always recommend a customised metal bar top that’s sure to be durable, long lasting and timeless.

Want to know more?

Here at CSM, we’re happy to produce any bespoke metal for your requirements. And we’re particularly fond of making architectural bar tops, so we’d love to talk you through your options.

If you’d like to speak to us about getting a bar made, or any of the other services that we offer, please get in touch.


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