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Copper Patina Finish, but NOT Green

Quickstart: Liver of sulfur [on eBay or Amazon affil links] darkening is probably the simplest non-green finish for copper, but a patination book is suggested with hundreds of formulas and color plates ...

Q. We are Architects completing a retail project. We will be using textured copper on the exterior of the storefront. The storefront itself is statutory bronze with a navy blue canvas awning. How can we "patina" the copper to be complimentary to the bronze? We do NOT want a green patina. Any suggestions, or information would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Heidi Cunningham
architect - Leonia, New Jersey
March 26, 2008

"The Colouring, Bronzing & Patination of Metals"
by Hughes & Rowe

on AbeBooks

or eBay or


(affil links)

A. Check out "The Colouring, Bronzing & Patination of Metals" by Richard Hughes and Michael Rowe, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991 ⇨
This book has an incredible number of formulae with colored plates showing the various colors achieved. Whatever you apply, a lacquer would be an appropriate post-coloring finish.

Tom Rochester
CTO - Jackson, Michigan, USA
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.
supporting advertiser
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A. I would suggest getting in touch with a plating shop that can produce "antique" finishes on copper. They will probably have samples of some of the colors they can chemically create on copper plate or metal. If they do not, they can probably get same from a supplier.

The copper will need to be lacquered, powdercoated or have some other protective finish applied.

Another approach is utilizing a colored lacquer to get a "antique" finish. The lacquer manufacturers can advise you on processes and if you should do it on site or in advance.

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York

Q. Can you post a picture of the Statutory bronze. The finish can vary widely. We have finished bronze to look like aged copper many times (doors matching copper clad windows) but not the other way around - yet.

A. Sulfurated potash will produce hues of brown, black, & deep purple in copper that are colorfast. (5+ years in Colorado's weather!) Sprayed will give you dots, rubbed in varying concentrations will yield the varied browns I think you are after. Wax only, no lacquers and I've tried many times but never had a powder coat or plating approximate the richness of age or patina on metals. Warning, the potash will darken bronze and it most always continues to slowly darken. To purists and in reality: green is an active tarnish, a simple sign of lack of maintenance, thank you for avoiding that.


Steve Ingram
- Snowmass, Colorado
April 8, 2008

thumbs up sign Sometimes 'lack of maintenance' might be the look you're going for :-)

asbury park carousel_bldg
"Carousel Building", Asbury Park, NJ -- 1929 beaux arts structure
designed by architect Whitney Warren & Charles Wetmore
(designers of Grand Central Terminal in New York).
Considered a world treasure by many of us :-)

Luck & Regards,

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

Liver of Sulfur

on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Try 2 oz/gal "liver of sulfur" ⇨
dissolved in 1% v/v aqua ammonia [on eBay or Amazon affil links] . This will give you a nice nut brown color. You do have to apply a protective lacquer afterwards.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

adv. Anybody who wants to make his own copper patina liquid, email to us. You can dilute and make color from dark to light.

Anna Berkovich
Russamer Lab
supporting advertiser
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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