Wood corbels have been manufactured for centuries as an architectural design feature and as a support for all types of overhangs including shelving, counter-tops and fireplace mantles. In the last couple hundred years, metal corbels have been created to offer the same type of architectural design. Both provide the necessary support to any overhang that is six inches or longer.
The biggest difference between metal corbels and wood corbels is the way that they are manufactured. Both offer stylish designs and are used in a variety of applications. Wood offers the ability to be customized, and carved into nearly any type of style or figure.
Many old-fashioned style wood corbels are chiseled to resemble carved leaves, fruit, angels, horses and other decorative images. Wood corbels can be stained in a variety of colors and finishes to provide a lustrous, flat, semi-gloss or high polished look.
Alternatively, metal corbels can add an ornamental effect to any type of heavy material including stone counter-tops, or those manufactured out of concrete, granite and even wood. A metal corbel is usually a poured or welded piece and typically crafted in a contemporary, and sometimes, classic traditional designs. Due to their increased popularity, many manufacturers are offering metal corbels in a variety of finishes including brushed aluminum, black, copper, pewter, brushed nickel and even chrome.
Corbels fashioned out of wood can be hand carved with intricate shapes, basket weave designs, or in many classic styles. They offer traditional texture and can be customized into any width, length and depth. Overall, they add beauty, grace and flair to the shelving, fireplace mantel or counter-top.
Differences in Installation
There are only minimal differences between the installation of a metal and wood corbel. Both types of corbels can be installed from a front location, where a screw or nail is positioned in the substrate behind the corbel, and another into the counter-top above (in most applications). However, a wood corbel can be secured from behind, where screws can be driven from the inside of the cabinet into the back of the corbel, removing any telltale sign of the installation process.
When installing a corbel underneath heavy materials including concrete, granite or marble counter-tops, both wood and metal corbels are typically glued in place. However, it is still necessary to screw or nail the corbel into the back substrate to add the proper structural support to the counter-top.