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Cleaning copper roofs




Q. Help, I thought it would be easy to clean this copper cupola roof -- wrong! I have tried vinegar, salt and flour, Brasso, and two other commercial cleaners plus 000 steel wool to rub it in. I also tried acetone because I thought it might have a coating on it.

31806-2a   31806-2b  

The picture shows what a few hours of trying got me. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Carolyn Casey
- Byfield Massachusetts
October 10, 2023


A. I found something that really works! I used Everbrite [a finishing.com supporting advertiser] HD gel copper cleaner. I had to reapply it multiple times to get it this clean but it was worth it.

31806-3

I also got their protective UV clear coat which will keep it from turning black. I haven't used that yet.

Carolyn Casey [returning]
- Byfield Massachusetts
October 15, 2023




⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩



Q. I am bidding on sealing a copper roof and copper fascia at a doctors office. The roof and fascia have turned brown and green in places with some oxidation. I am trying to find a cleaner/restoration product that will bring the copper to its original color. Then I need to seal it so it will maintain its original color.

Greg Pelt
- Dallas, Texas
2003


Q. We have a small copper roof over our semi-circle bay windows and need to find a way to clean the small copper roof. Roof is 15 to 20 years of age and never been cleaned. Suggestions appreciated. Thanks

Freda Shumate
home owner - Vanceburg, Kentucky
2004


A. I have some experience with copper roofs. I assume someone has attempted to paint or (horrors!) tarred over your copper? Anything you use in a chemical line will require careful control of the runoff, and may leave the copper rather streaked or spotted unevenly. Good luck.

Carl Erickson
retired metallurgist - Vernon, New York




Q. I too have the situation.

Brass Lacquer

on eBay or

Amazon

(affil links)

My infinitely wise builder PAINTED over my new Colorclad metal roof that is over my study bay window! Small area maybe 5 foot by 4 foot or so. I told him to stop right there before he ruined it even more, and wonder what is the best way to get the paint off the colorclad roof?

Jay Adams
- Dallas, Texas
2004


A. If a roof has not been painted I would suggest a stiff brush and a mildly acidic solution, there are a great number of things available that will work just fine provided you are willing to put in the elbow grease (ketchup is an unusual example, but it does work!) If you are looking for something that will not ruin the lawn or plants around the roof I suggest Kool-Aid or some other powdered drink mix, mix it with a bit of water, rub it on and scrub with a will, it's mildly acidic and non-toxic to the plants that you may have below the roof, the first rain will remove the sugary coating that is left when it dries (or just rinse with water). If you are intent on the copper staying bright I suggest looking for a clear spray on lacquer ⇨
(test it somewhere it won't be seen first).

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


Q. How well does the Kool-Aid work on the copper roof? I do not want bugs coming into the house.
Thank you.

Joan Detrick
- Phoenixvile, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
June 23, 2010


thumbs up sign Hi Joan. I'm confident that Kool-Aid on your roof and in runoff into your garden won't attract bugs into your house.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey




Gentle Readers:

This free meeting place offers heavy search engine traffic and unlimited room for a community of enthusiasts to post Q&As, photos, history, commentary, & interesting tidbits.

Whenever readers show interest in their fellow enthusiasts' questions & situations, it turns informative & very interesting! :-)
But when people show no interest in anyone else's items, jumping right into asking about their own, it's becomes a boring string of unanswered questions :-(
similarly

Q. I have a copper roof over a bay window. What is the best cleaner to use. It looks like something spilled on the upper portion of it (or perhaps a bird left droppings) and it is now discolored.

Thank you.

Lisa Buick
homeowner - Keller, Texas
2004


Q. Is there a household product for cleaning a 4 yr old copper roof?

Thanks, Jen

Jennifer Davis
self employed - Harrisburg, North Carolina
2005




Q. We purchased a house with a copper hip roof over the front door of the house (top of the hip roof is rubber). The problem is that the copper has rust streaks instead of the true patina look running down the sides.

My wife swears it's normal but I'm not too convinced. Is there a way to power wash the roof back to its original state or would that look ridiculous since the cedar roof has aged with it (about 18 years old)? Also, if we can't do that, is there something we can do to get a real patina look instead of the rust streak look?

Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Bob Thompson
- Richmond, Virginia
2005


A. Bob,

I'm willing to bet that those rust streaks are caused by the nails holding your roof in place. Copper and alloys with a high quantity of copper in their mix usually oxidize into either a brown or green color.
I would suggest looking at the nails that were used on your roof, if they were steel I would suggest you leave it be. If they are something else (like copper), pressure wash the roof with a mild citric acid [on eBay or Amazon affil link] (5%) solution.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Shiloh, North Carolina




Gentle Readers:

This free meeting place offers heavy search engine traffic and unlimited room for a community of enthusiasts to post Q&As, photos, history, commentary, & interesting tidbits.

Whenever readers show interest in their fellow enthusiasts' questions & situations, it turns informative & very interesting! :-)
But when people show no interest in anyone else's items, jumping right into asking about their own, it's becomes a boring string of unanswered questions :-(
similarly

Q. I have a cupola atop my barn and the cupola has a copper roof that has become tarnished (black). I was wondering what is needed to bring copper back to original shine.
Thank you,

Mike Gershom
hobbyist - Newark, Ohio
2006


Q. I've been searching the net for a product that will remove 4 years of tarnish off of my copper roof. It's going to be a big job (approx. 2000 s.g. f.t. ) so I was hoping there would be a product that I could spray or brush on and with just a mild scrubbing remove the tarnish and get that nice "new penny" look back. I just got a sample from a company that claims they had just the thing, but it took some intense scrubbing with a emery-cloth sponge to remove the tarnish and it didn't really get it completely clean. Is there ANYTHING out there that really works? Or should I just give up? Thanks

Raymond Pieren
consumer - Sherwood, Oregon, USA
2006


Q. I have a copper roof over my bay window that is just about 2 years old and just browned and the birds perch on the roof above and poop drops on the copper. The poop has greened on the copper while the rest is still a dark brown. Is there a way I can clean the bird poop off successfully without messing up the whole thing?

Catherine Gombotz
consumer - Berlin, Connecticut
2007


Q. Want to restore copper roofs over bay windows to former brightness.

William Hopkins
- Raleigh, North Carolina
January 3, 2008


Q. How do I get rid of the green oxidization from the metal. What is a good method using a liquid that elements can be "steeped/soaked in" over a period of time?
Many thanks

Emery St. Claire
homeowner - Copenhagen, Denmark
March 12, 2008


Q. I have a copper cupola that is only one or two years old that has darkened a lot since I Installed it. What can I use to clean the copper. Don

Donald james Lewis
- Bracebridge Ontario Canada
July 22, 2009




Rubyfluid Flux

on eBay or

Amazon

(affil links)

Geocel Brush-on Sealant
on
Amazon

(affil links)

A. If you've tried multiple products and found that they still weren't effective enough, you probably should change tack..

But if you are willing to try a two-step or three-step process instead of a one-step one, you could try lacquer thinner to remove any lacquer, followed by vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon affil links]/salt/flour and that worked a little bit - say a few speckles of copper showing through after several hours of brushing/rinsing and repeat. Graduated to Comet and a Scotch Brite sponge and not much better. Got really brave and got out the 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil link] and rubber gloves and gave it some elbow grease. A few more specks, but nowhere near shiny copper.

Next reached for the palm sander and fine sandpaper - wholly smokes did that do the trick. Sanded for a few hours and got into the corners with a wire brush wheel on my drill. Cleaned it all off with mineral spirits [on eBay or Amazon affil links] and just gave it a coat of Minwax lacquer - looks like a brand new roof! I know the palm sander left a few circular sanding marks, but the roof is 7 foot from the ground, so unless I invite Shaq over for a BBQ, I don't have any worries.

Kenneth Hall
- Geneva, New York, USA
June 4, 2016


thumbs up sign I saw on TV how much Shaq eats. Nice enough guy, and we hope he's not lonely, but I can't afford to invite him to my BBQs either :-(
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey





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