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Damaged finish on copper table

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Q. My copper table has a beautiful brown tinted finish. My housekeeper spilled commode cleaner on it -- the chemical seems to have totally removed all of the finish. Help!

Debby Carli
- Lake Mary Florida
September 21, 2023

A. Hi Debby, You can try copper and brass darkening solution [on eBay or Amazon].

Luck & Regards,

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

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. Hello! I came across this site as I was looking for help to restore a table I just damaged today, and this site looks wonderful for help!

I have a copper-topped coffee table from Crate and Barrel. It has rings of intricate, hand-hammered etch marks and it consists of a wood top that's wrapped in copper sheeting. A special finishing treatment is applied by hand to achieve a rich, mottled patina. There is a clear, protective lacquer over the copper tabletop.

copper table

Recently, I spilled an oil aroma diffuser on it, which is basically a vase filled with oil that had reeds sitting in the scented oil that diffuses fragrances throughout the room. I wiped it up and that's it, but today I sprayed the normal cleaner I use on it, which is Swiffer Dust & Shine spray. It's a clear shine conditioner with no wax. It's not conventionally for copper but it is for wood, including finished sealed wood, wood laminate, marble, leather and granite. I figured it would be safe on the copper table, tried a it few times..and it worked great. However, when I used it today, I guess the interaction of the remnant of the spilled oil caused a bad reaction. The dark, marbled patina of the copper faded in the spots where the oil was and now there a light-colored big noticeable blotches on the copper table! Like the color got removed....

Any ideas as to why this happened and what can be done about it, if anything? Also, I didn't buy the table from the store - bought it of a neighbor who moved - so I don't have any warranty or anything, so calling the store is not an option, really. Finally, if there is nothing I can do by myself, what type of service-person/shop should I be looking for?

Thanks so much for your help!

Dana Wigdor
bought a copper piece and need help. - Jersey City, New Jersey
January 8, 2009

A. The chemical reaction appears to have lifted the patina as you suggest. This patina is delicate to say the least.

We have just developed a Copper Patina Repair kit for just this type of problem though usually associated with highly popular copper sinks.

You will also want to apply and maintain a superior copper specific wax to protect this finish for years to come.

Barry Feinman
Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

A. To answer the person about how the stains appeared after the oil spill, many scented oils, including plug ins, tend to attack lacquer, liquifying it. If you wipe it up while still wet/soft, the lacquer will usually be removed. Now your copper is exposed to air and whatever chemicals you use to clean the table. As I tell all of my customers, if you spill scented oils, nail polish remover, etc., on a table, do not touch it, or try to wipe it up. Just let it dry. Many times, if you let it alone, it will dry back fairly close to its original condition. This is especially true with nail polish remover/acetone. Unfortunately, people panic, grab a rag, and start trying to remove the offending chemical. This will usually remove whatever finish is on your table, and maybe the underlying color. I do several repairs a month where I recolor, and then build the finish back up to level in such areas.

Randy Buchter
furniture repair - Longmont, Colorado, USA
February 21, 2012

Q. To Dana Wigdor:

Did you try the Restore-It-Yourself Product?

Did it work?

I just bought a different Crate-and-Barrel copper sheet patina table and following someone's advice tried to darken a scratch w/lemon juice (just the wrong thing to do it turns out.

In searching for the solution, I came upon the Restore-It-Yourself video.

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out. (I, too, am desperate; we just bought the table two days ago!.)

Jeff Bloomfield
- Berkeley, California, USA
February 11, 2009

Q. I also need help with Crate and Barrel copper table. I've tried to be extra cautious with this table and now I've ruined the finish in one spot.

Jeannie Cimiotti
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 9, 2009

A. Jeannie and Jeff,

The RIY Copper Patina Repair kit is really very simple to use. Please give it a try. You will be amazed at just how simple the solution is. We are experts in the field of metal refinishing and have made this process very easy and friendly for all. You can call me personally to discuss.

Barry Feinman
Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

Q. The Crate and Barrel copper table that I have had brown, circular spots (like raindrops), with the brown being darker at the edge of the table. Simply some water left on the table removed these decorative spots and the light copper "stain" have remained. There is no restoring, as in bring back the patterns, since they are completely gone, leaving water glass rings, etc. What could be applied to copper to achieve darker and not lighter discoloration?

Irene Zarechnak
- Oakton, Virginia
July 24, 2011

Q. My cleaning lady spilled toilet bowl cleaner in my copper bathtub! It turned the dark patina into a bright orange color. I tried using Palmolive liquid on it, but it didn't work at all. I am at a loss as to what to use. I would like something that could be safely applied to the whole tub since there is such a large area that was affected and I don't know if I would be able to spot-treat it. HELP!


Sher Krenek
- Eagle Lake, Texas, USA
March 31, 2013

Q. I have the same problem with a very large copper drum table from India that I purchased at Mohr & McPherson in Boston. I unwittingly used copper polish on the table, and that seems to have removed the original protective finish. The copper patina product advertisement that is attached to this thread doesn't seem to be appropriate for refinishing an entire large piece -- it appears from the video at the website to be more of a spot repair kit for small areas. I am unsure how to refinish my table, which starts to oxidize shortly after wiping it off.

Sarah Morison
- Swampscott, Massachusetts
July 31, 2014


Q. Hello, My name is Raesha. I purchased a table from World Market last year. It is called the Copper Round Dining Table. I've included a picture.

I wrecked the top by spilling acetone on it. It is quoted as being a steel top table.

Not sure what my options are if any for repairing the top. Any suggestions/solutions welcomed.

Thank you,

Raesha Penwell
- Gresham, Oregon
March 23, 2015

A. Hi Raesha. Acetone is lacquer remover, and that table was apparently lacquered. World Market advises that repair is a job for a professional, but I don't necessarily agree. If you are handy & patient I think you can remove the rest of the lacquer and re-apply new lacquer.

If you're not handy & patient, you'll probably drip the acetone/lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon] onto the wood pedestal ... but at least you'll know :-)


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

Q. My husband could handle the job. What would you recommend removing the finish with (acetone & sanding)? And, could you recommend a lacquer we would use for this type of surface? Wondering if it is easily found at Home Depot or Lowe's.

Thank you very much in advance!

Raesha Penwell [returning]
- Gresham, Oregon, USA
March 25, 2015

A. Hi again. We don't know exactly what the clear coat is, and the manufacturer probably won't tell you, so we don't know what the best remover is. But, since acetone destroyed the finish, it's probably a lacquer that is soluble in acetone, and removable with acetone. If acetone will not remove it, methylene chloride based aircraft stripper surely will ... but this is very toxic and should not be used unless absolutely necessary, and then only outdoors & upwind, wearing rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon] and goggles [on eBay or Amazon] with no children or animals around.

G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser] are lacquer experts and can help you; but if you only want a spray can or two, yes, they're probably available at hardware stores.


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

Abraded away an area on zinc table. What now?

Q. We recently purchased a textured Arhaus zinc table top. Milk was spilled on it and not cleaned adequately, leaving a white spot. Cleaning the spot with an abrasive removed the color and lacquer- making it worse. What do we do? We did not get a warranty.

Saber VanDetta
- Cleveland, Ohio USA
January 1, 2016


A. Hi Saber. An inconspicuous patch repair sounds quite unlikely if this Ahhaus description applies to your table.

It sounds like you're going to have to remove all of the lacquer, hope for a consistent finish under it, and re-lacquer it. Whether you can do this or whether you'll need to find a craftsperson to do it for you is something I wouldn't know. Good luck.


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

Q. I am a cabinetmaker and finisher specializing in wood finishing and repairs. I have a regular client (a furniture and design store) that I do in-store and in-home repairs for. In front of me now, and more frequently of late they are selling metal furniture with tarnished or anodized finishes. Frequently the finish is partially rubbed off after delivery to the store. Can anyone give me some advice on how to touch up or refinish issues like these?

50888-4b   50888-4a  

Thanks in advance.

Jake kuenzli
tjkuenzli fine woodworks - morin heights, Quebec, canada
March 22, 2018

Q. I had flowers on my table, as I normally do for the last year, and all of a sudden as I was cleaning up the table now how these spots.


They look like water spots, but it's not water. Something from the flowers dripped and damaged the table. I am heartbroken. This was my pride and joy. Can you help?

Aimee May
- Port Hueneme, California
July 26, 2021

Q. Hi Raesha! We just bought a used version of this same round copper table. It has some discoloration, small scratches and a deep scratch. Any ideas on how to fix those? I was just wondering how your acetone repair was also.

Victoria Sowko
- New Philadelphia, Ohio
November 13, 2021

Ed. note: Raesha's posting was from 2015 so we don't know if her e-mail will work, but we'll try to advise her of your followup.

Q. Thanks for trying to help. I just realized that I had a typo -- it's a Cooper model table (not copper) and I was told it had a zinc or some other metal top. Thanks.


Victoria Sowko [returning]
- New Philadelphia, Ohio
November 14, 2021

A. If your table is made of zinc/zinc alloy you can try zinc primer or zinc dust mixed with two-part epoxy adhesive [on eBay or Amazon]. I think that Kremer Pigments Inc. from NY sells that stuff.

Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

RFQ: Something was left on my copper table and left a perfect square that lightened the copper. What can I use to bring back the color?

karen lovely
- chillicothe, ohio
March 15, 2022
    privately respond to this RFQ   ^
Ed. note: As always, gentle readers: technical replies in public and commercial replies in private please (huh? why?)

A. Hi Karen. Please send a pic to for posting here. It is not clear if a dark brown patina was removed, leaving a new penny look in that area, or if the whole table had a new penny look and the coloring has come off, or if sun fell on the table and a UV stain developed everywhere else but that covered square, or what. Thanks.

Luck & Regards,

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

Q. Hi Karen,
Were you Able to figure out how to fix your copper table issue? It sounds like exactly the same thing that happened to mine.

ES sanders
- Nyc, New York
May 30, 2022

Q. We purchased a copper table (we believe to have had a clear shiny finish years ago). We see lots of scratches, one spot of water damage even though a copper lotion was applied often to it. Looking to restore, clean, and if possible eliminate water damage :-). Thanks.
Mrs Cooksey

John and Provi Cooksey
House wife and spouse looking for advise - New Mexico
May 31, 2022
    privately respond to this RFQ   ^
Ed. note: As always, gentle readers: technical replies in public and commercial replies in private please (huh? why?)

Please see our Copper Patina Rescue Homeowner Kit to restore the patina back from water damage etc… In the kit is also a wax to help protect the surface going forward. Our YouTube Channel has videos of the kit in action to help understand the process. Thank you!

Barry Feinman
Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

Q. How do you get the green off the table first before buying your kit.

Kaylene Avery
retired - Green Valley Arizona
February 7, 2023

Q. Hi! We have a copper table that came with a beautiful dark brown patina. Over the years it's become stained with watermarks and we can see in (at least) one spot where the lacquer has been rubbed away. We'd like to remove the water marks and restore the lacquer without losing the patina.



My DIY research is yielding lots of conflicting results. Can someone here help?

Kate Greene
- Fairmont, West Virginia
January 1, 2023

A. Hi Kate.
The first step is getting the "lacquer" or clearcoat off. If it actually is brass lacquer, then lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon] will remove it. But if it's something more robust, the only thing that I know of that will remove it without damaging the copper and its patina is "aircraft stripper" (methylene chloride), but this is truly noxious stuff; strippers based on caustic will probably ruin the patina (read the contents of the strippers you see at the hardware store or online before you buy it).

If you do elect to use methylene chloride, you absolutely must work outside, preferably upwind, and wear goggles [on eBay or Amazon] and rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon] as a minimum.

If the watermarks were in the lacquer, they'll be gone. If the watermarks are in the copper, unfortunately chemicals aren't mind-readers and won't know which colorations in the copper you like and don't like. If they can't be easily removed with steel wool without messing the patina up too much, you would probably have to sand away the patina and start over :-(
Luck & Regards,

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

Water Damage to copper Table

Q. Is there any way to repair this table?


Sandy fisher
- Mars, Pennsylvania
February 12, 2023

A. Hi Sandy. Some people would die for that verdigris pattern, so I assume you're speaking of the area of cloudiness, not the verdigris? Any idea what caused it?

On wood tables, hot things or wet things cause such a problem ... and what it is actually is an emulsion of water plus the oil of the clearcoat, like you might see in a kitchen flask when you shake oil and water. On wood tables it can often be removed with a hair dryer [on eBay or Amazon] or an iron on a towel on the spot (the heat drives out the water). Whether that is what the marking is, and whether a hair dryer can remove it, I don't know. But where's the harm at this point?
Luck & Regards,

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

Q. It is an iron table that has been water damaged.
I wasn't sure if it could be refinished to get rid of the cloudiness.
Thank you

Sandy Fisher [returning]
- Mars Pennsylvania
February 17, 2023

A. Hi again. Refinishing a complex aesthetic like this copper plating, selective verdigris, and new top coat would be fabulously expensive ... probably far more expensive than a replacement table. Unfortunately there are few guarantees, but topic 10575 relates dozens of successes on wood tables by heating with an iron & a towel or a hair dryer, and I suspect that the cause of the problem is the same despite the table being metal, so the cure may be the same.

Good Luck

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

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