Most of us are familiar with the copper patina process. Over time, the copper gets a dazzling green look to it. That much we know is constant. The interesting thing is, we have found that many of our clients are not in agreement as to what the ideal copper patina is. Like art, the perfect copper patina is subjective to the individual. Some prefer the bright manufactured state, others enjoy slightly rustic and brown, and some just cannot wait for the rich green patinas to set in years down the road.
Although there is no right or wrong here, the important thing to know is that we can somewhat control and direct the patina process. The reason copper turns green is from the oxidation of the chemicals within the metal, brought on by water and other elements, which produce the patina coat and protect the copper from corrosion. This process can be prevented or stopped at any given time with the proper sealant.
Artificially producing patina is something we at CopperSmith have never encouraged. Although some experts have what it takes, we have found that the only way to truly get a vibrant and consistent patina is to let nature and time take control. For exterior products, we typically recommend that installing copper in its raw form. If you like the copper bright, in its pre-finished state, you can seal it right there for a lasting look. If you want a more rustic look, simply let nature do its job, and treat the product with sealant once you have achieved patina perfection! Remember, plan on resealing exterior products every 5-10 years. Sealing copper is only stopping the oxidation process from taking place. A compromised seal will send you toward a green patina look.
For those looking for the all-natural look on their exteriors, which we highly recommended, it will take approximately 40 years for your copper to get turn bright green. Years three to twenty is categorized by a dark rustic brown color with a subtle green patina streak, a fantastic look! We have noticed on exterior projects; specifically, copper gutter system installation, areas with a sprinkler system nearby may show green streaks sooner. CopperSmith and customers alike have agreed in all cases that it adds character and improves the overall look!
Interior products are entirely different. We typically choose to have sinks made in raw copper sheeting, or a hand hammered fire finish. For our custom copper range hoods, we opt to lock in the patina. By closing in the patina and creating a more precise finish, we can avoid hand prints.
The next time you are in a neighborhood filled with historic homes, take a second and enjoy their copper exteriors. You will see a combination of dark rustic exteriors and bright green copper in its full patina state. The next time you are at a resort, restaurant or friends home, take notice of the interiors copper décor and ask them about the sealant process. The important thing to realize is that one color can not categorize copper patina, and what you think looks best is exactly that. With the proper planning and technique, you can achieve the perfect copper patina.