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Pewter: The Better-with-Age Metal

Pewter: The Better-with-Age Metal

Pewter is one of the oldest metal alloys in existence, with its use in the production of household items dating back further than 2,000 years. An alloy of predominantly tin and copper, pewter is used in all types of modern designs including counter and bar tops, kitchen islands, tables, mirror frames and light fixtures. 

If you're thinking of using pewter in your home, consider our list of pewter characteristics to help you decide if pewter is right for your project:

Characteristics of Pewter 

  • Pewter is a soft metal that has a bright silver tone when new but will develop a softer, warmer tone as it ages and oxidizes.  
  • The oxidation is most notable with fingerprints but will evolve with exposure to the air. Water alone does not typically affect it as much. 
  • Acidic items can cause a slight change to the color of the pewter if not wiped up in a reasonable amount of time. However, the amount of time for a reaction to happen with the acidic elements on pewter tends to be longer than some other materials such as zinc.  
  • Pewter can be easily restored back to its original color where the oxidization (aging) process happens. To do so, we usually recommend letting the natural aging process occur, while periodically cleaning with water and a pH neutral dish soap. 
  • Pewter can also be formed, welded and blended into the shapes required by your project with nearly invisible weld seams.  
  • Pewter can stand up to approximately 470° Fahrenheit (243° Celsius) before warping. 
  • Pewter is a soft metal and therefore can easily be marked or dented. Minor scratches and dings will, over time, add to the character of your countertop.
  • A pewter surface will naturally patina and burnish as it ages. This is to be expected and will enrich its beauty and add to its charm. 

pewter with a satin orbit finish

Achieving a Distressed look with Pewter

For those that would like to use pewter on a project, but also desire the more organic, aged appearance more commonly associated with materials like zinc, we generally recommend pewter with a satin orbit finish. This finish starts out shiny but then takes on character from your interacting with it, especially in pieces that are used often, like countertops. The marks from the wear add a unique and personal imprint. 


Cleaning and Caring for your Pewter

Pewter, by nature, will last for generations and gracefully absorb the effects of continued use. Below are some guidelines to maintain its beauty and ensure its longevity.:

To clean, we recommend using only mild, pH neutral soap and water such as Ivory® dish soap. Simply wipe down the entire surface with the soapy water using a soft cotton or microfiber towel. Then, rinse thoroughly with water and dry with an additional clean soft cotton or microfiber towel. Do not use abrasives, abrasive cleaning pads, or strong chemicals.

If you have hard water, it may leave visible spots on the surface of your countertop. If this happens, just use distilled water for the rinse. Most Municipal supplied water does not cause spots.

pewter countertops

Things to Avoid

  • Because pewter is a soft metal that can easily be marked or dented, please take care not to cut directly on the pewter. 
  • Avoid placing extremely hot cookware on the pewter surface. Damage, such as blistering or melting, could occur. Always use a trivet of appropriate size when placing hot cookware on the countertop.