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Dec 23, 2012 11:58 PM

Why stainless steel?

I will probably replace my dishwasher and microwave this year. I see a lot of people want stainless steel for the finish, and I wonder, what is the reason? Is it the look or an operational reason? I actually prefer a clean, light look so would likely consider a white finish. But what am I missing if I don't choose stainless steel?

Thoughts, comments anyone? Thanks!

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  1. In a non-commercial kitchen, it's personal taste. I have stainless (long story) -- and it absolutely shows as much dirt as any other finish I've ever had (at least the harvest gold didn't show just plain schmutz from dirty fingers quite so much)

    If I could afford them, I'd have SS work surfaces, because they're darned near indestructible, which would pretty dictate that I have SS appliances....

    1. To me the chief reasons for SS are that it is very hard to mess it up and if it has a good interior it will do a lot of things firly well...No lining to chip, scrape, or melt. It will show use, especially water spots and anything oily that gets cooked on. It takes well to scrubbing with Bon Ami. Even the clad stuff does not seem nearly as heavy as cast iron, steel, or copper. It will, unlike nonstick, produce nice fond. If the bottom is thick enough it will sear alright, and with a little butter and oil you can cook eggs in it. In general I'd say clad SS will do most things pretty well. If you want absolute optimal performance for each use, no matched set will get you there IMHO. That said SS brands vary a fair amount in the areas of design and what is sandwiched inside. All Clad has notoriously poor handles.

      So what are you missing? Well I have never found saucepans or sauté pans that come close to the responsiveness of very heavy tin lined copper or anything as good for searing as heavy steel or cast iron. For a double boiler I love Pyrex or ceramic inserts. The list could go on, but I am a big fan of buying each piece for its own merits and intended uses. Also, a lot of folk talk about the benefits of trying things before buying them. I think that applies to pots and pans, too. For example as I noted on another post the handles of French steel pans are, at least to me, much more user friendly than the handles on most cast iron, being longer and sloped.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tim irvine

        I think the OP is talking about the exterior of appliances, not the cookware.

        1. re: paulj

          I am unfortunately inclined the same way on appliances. Mine don't match. Sigh.

      2. Hi, alwayshungry:

        It's just the look. At one point that look conveyed modernity, cleanliness and even ruggedness, but it's always been in the eye of the beholder. If you're actively shopping, you have probably seen that at least one major manufacturer has started a transition away from SS.

        SS actually scratches fairly easily, and tends to spotlight small dents and dings. IMO, it is worse than enamel or powdercoat in these respects.

        I'm sure there'll come a time when to have SS will bring whispers of derision from fashionistas about how "dated" the look is.

        The problem with "white" appliances is that they usually stand out from every other "white" surface you have--never quite match. And it's been my experience that white appliances usually have some "white" plastic trim pieces that match with the enamel to start with, and then age and discolor into something different.

        I've solved the clashing problem by (a) getting rid of my DW; and (b) moving the reefers and MW out of the kitchen and into the stillroom/pantry. But another way (at least for the DW and reefers is to buy models with front panels you can paint or swap as fashions and decoration changes.

        Mele Kalikimaka,

        1. For a microwave, the stainless steel finish is for look. There is not a whole lot of difference in term of function. Your regular microwave exterior is made of steel anyway -- with a coating. Your white finish microwave is fine.

          1. Thanks for all the responses. I can see SS is really just a decor choice which I don't agree with but to each their own I guess. I might not go with white as the comment by Kaleo makes sense to me.

            I haven't started actively looking yet and probably will soon. Nothing is "broken" yet; a circular piece came off the bottom rack of the DW which makes it hard to slide in & out. The microwave is still good tho the buttons stick sometimes. The range/oven still works well. All the major appliances (DW, MW and range, all Whirlpool) were standard issue with the kitchen when I bought the place brand new 25 years ago. As noted in another thread, they don't make them like they used to...

            My fridge, about 10 years old, has been repaired once (replaced the motor) and probably needs to be repaired's leaking fluid from the bottom tho the insides are still quite cold.

            I'm not looking forward to shopping for any of these items and will probably be back a few times for further advice.

            Thanks again!