Countertop Education: 5 Things to Know Before Buying Corbels

Kitchen renovations can be stressful; full of decisions and choices.  In the past we’ve gone over a few of them, such as choosing your countertop and sink materials and even the edge design that will work best in your home.  Depending on the design and style of your new kitchen, you might also have to choose a corbel.

So what is a corbel?  Corbels are a type of bracket, often used to support countertop overhangs or decorative shelving.  They come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials so below we’ve broken it down into a few simple steps to make this process easier for you.


What’s Your Style?

Start here.  It may seem obvious, but the amount of choices available can be overwhelming.  Corbels can come in sleek, streamlined designs, mission style, wooden, metal…the list goes on and on.  By deciding which you like and which you don’t first will give you a smaller pool to choose from in the next few steps.


What is the Purpose of Your Corbels?

Do you need them for support, want them for a specific aesthetic, or both?  While corbels are functional in that they support your countertop they can also be used as a design element.

You may simply want corbels to adorn your home, but keep in mind that their main purpose is utility.  So even if your corbels aren’t supporting something, they should appear as if they are.


What Size Do You Need?

If the corbels will be supporting your countertop the rule of thumb is that they must be at least half the depth of the overhang.  If you’ll be using them to support shelving it’s best to use the 2/3 rule.  The corbel should be 2/3 the depth of the shelf because they will be the main support system.

If they are simply a design element keep them in proportion to whatever surface you’re working with.


What Material Should You Use?

Wood is the most common and classic material when it comes to corbels but there are many more choices.  For a more modern look you might choose stainless steel brackets.  Corbels may also be made of polyurethane and resin.

If you want to choose polyurethane, keep in mind that these are intended for decorative purposes only.  Low grade polyurethane is more susceptible to heat, moisture, and other factors so it’s best to choose a higher density/grade polyurethane.


Which Wood is Best?

If you decide to go with the classic, functional, and stable choice of wood corbels you still have one more decision to make: which type of wood.  The typical wood choices are hard maple, red oak, white oak, cherry, alder, or white hardwoods.

If you plan on painting your corbels a solid color you should go with alder, maple, or white hardwood.  The tight grains of these woods make them the most cost effective choice for painting.

If you want to stain your corbels to match an existing stain (perhaps your cabinets or woodwork) maple and alder are the wisest choices.  With lighter colors and minimal grains, these woods allow you to stain multiple times to achieve the correct color.

Cherry and oak corbels are best used when matching existing cherry or oak hardwood features in your home.  Finish in a clear varnish or minimal stain to achieve the correct color.


If you have any questions or concerns never hesitate to contact the countertop experts at McGrory Inc