Properties of Metals and Non-Metals

The table below summarises the general properties of most metals and non-metals. 

Electrical conductivityGood conductors of electricityBad conductors of electricity (electrical insulators)
Thermal conductivityGood conductors of heatBad conductors of heat (thermal insulators)
BondingMetallic bonding between metalsCovalent bonding between non-metals
Type of oxideBasic oxidesAcidic oxides
Melting and boiling pointGenerally highGenerally low
DensityGenerally highGenerally low
State at room temperatureSolid (except mercury)Different states (solid, liquid and gas)
Malleability and ductilityMalleable and ductileBrittle

The following definitions describe some of the different physical characteristics of substances.

  • Density – The mass of a substance relative to its size. A substance with a high density has a high mass and is compact, while a substance with a low density has a low mass and takes up more space.
  • Malleability – The ability of a substance to be hammered or bent into different shapes without breaking or cracking. This property is typically found in metals and is a measure of their flexibility.
  • Ductility – The ability of a substance to be stretched into a wire when pulled. This property is also commonly found in metals and indicates their strength and durability.

However, there are always exceptions and some metals and non-metals may exhibit unusual properties.

For example, mercury is a metal that has a low boiling point and is a liquid at room temperature. On the other hand, the non-metal graphite has a high boiling point and is a good conductor of electricity, which are properties usually found in metals.