Home /
Search 🔍
the Site

Problem? Solution? Chime right in!
(one of the world's very few 'no registration' sites)


"Damaged the finish on copper table -- HELP!"

January 8, 2009

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 15, 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

February 21, 2012

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 11, 2009

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

September 9, 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 26, 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

July 26, 2021

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 24, 2011

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

March 31, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

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

July 31, 2014

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

March 23, 2015

Q. Hello, My name is Raesha.

50888-2 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 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 onto the wood pedestal ... but at least you'll know :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

"Clearcoats/Lacquers for Brass from G.J. Nikolas"

March 25, 2015

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 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 almost surely will ... but this is very toxic and should not be used unless necessary, and only outdoors & upwind, wearing rubber gloves and goggles with no children or animals around.

G.J. Nikolas [a finishing.com 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
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Abraded away an area on zinc table. What now?

January 1, 2016

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

February 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
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 22, 2018

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

finishing.com is made possible by ...
this text gets replaced with bannerText
spacer gets replaced with bannerImages

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread SEARCH for Threads about ... My Topic Not Found: Start NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
Consult'g, Train'g
& Software

About/Contact    -    Privacy Policy    -    ©1995-2021 finishing.com, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA