Text by Pat Gerbrandt

The gleam of stainless steel is hard to ignore. You see it in magazines, you see it in showrooms, and lately you see it shining in many a Canadian kitchen. Walter Fostey of Fostey Stainless Steel maintains that the appliance industry can be credited with starting this trend.

Since stainless steel can be custom crafted, its uses are almost unlimited. While Walter’s work is primarily for the commercial sector, (restaurants and hospitals), he is seeing a significant growth in the residential part of his business. “In the last two or three years we’ve really seen an increase in people wanting to do something with stainless steel.” Some of this is due to building code requirements. For example, those who choose to install gas stoves will find that their insurance stipulates the installation of stainless steel cladding on the walls surrounding the appliance.

That may lead to using more stainless steel in the kitchen so the one piece does not look odd. Some homeowners choose stainless steel (or stainless steel-look) light fixtures, or a solid or tubular shelf, and want to carry the theme throughout the kitchen or bath décor. If your major kitchen appliances, like refrigerators and dishwashers do not have stainless steel fronts, they can be changed.

Stainless steel backsplash and edging give a nice finishing touch to popular granite countertops. In one home, a stainless steel insert in the lower section of the granite counter reflected the glass and stainless steel chosen for the dining room table. As well, the weight of granite is such that any extension of the counter top past the base cabinet requires a sturdy support. Stainless steel legs can meet that need. Some choose to line drawers or cabinets with stainless steel. End corners and all seams are welded and polished to give a seamless look.

Window and door trim can also be of stainless steel. Kick plates can easily be crafted as well. Often, a canopy (range hood) is stainless steel. This works best in a contemporary style kitchen. In more traditional kitchen plans the canopy can be made of steel with a wooden exterior and just a border of the metal edging it.

In addition to the most popular satiny look of silver or grey, stainless steel can also be gold, bronze, black, champagne, or blue. Mirror (called XL Buff) and satin finishes are only two of the choices available. There are also a good variety of burnished and embossed textures and patterns, so that the creative designer has many options for use of this durable material.

If a customer is not sure how to incorporate stainless steel, Walter and Joanne Fostey are willing to work with them, giving design ideas and recommendations. They will even do the measurements if asked, because details are critical. For example, once the opening for a light switch or an electrical outlet has been cut, it cannot be changed. For renovation projects, it is important to ensure that everything is square. Special spray cleaner is available from restaurant supply stores but soap and water will do just as well.

“XL Buff” stainless steel lends itself to mirrors for community clubs and campground bathrooms. There you may also see sinks that are welded into stainless steel countertops, providing a seamless application. Even though these countertops wear longer than arborite, Fostey does not recommend them for home use. Counter tops do get scratched. The overall effect has to be considered too. “You’ve got to be careful how much you put in. You don’t want it to look like you’re walking into a commercial restaurant.”

Fostey has filled small orders like wedding rings and an urn for ashes, to large orders for commercial installations. He says a regular order for backsplash, trim and kick plates can be completed in about three days.

Walter and his production staff of five can make almost anything that is needed. They have even put together a corner shower stall for someone who is confined to a wheelchair. By creating a gentle “speed bump” to prevent water from splashing out of the pan, they were able to fashion something that the wheelchair can navigate. Upper panels overlap the edges of the pan, ensuring that no water can get behind the enclosure. Silicone beading and a carefully crafted molding to cover the raw edge lent a classy finish to the project.

The sophistication of stainless steel is one of its shining advantages, ensuring that it is quickly becoming the popular choice of discriminating homeowners.

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