Copper Buying Guide


  Copper is a very soft, malleable metal which makes it extremely adaptable. It can be molded and shaped without the risk of cracking, allowing artisans to create unique designs in a variety of shapes and textures. Pieces are available in smooth finishes, which are created in a mold or press, or hammered finishes, which are created by craftsmen hammering small dents in the metal's surface by hand.  
  Consider your style preference and existing decor when determining a design to go with. A smooth surface lends more to modern, industrial designs. Hammered surfaces take on more of a rustic or traditional look and feel. Lifestyle is another important factor when selecting a finish. If installing a sink in a heavily used area, you may benefit from choosing one with a hammered surface. Hammering copper can have a hardening effect on the metal, so it will be able to withstand heavy use.  
  The most accurate way to measure copper is by weighing it per square foot, in ounces. The greater number of ounces per square foot, the thicker and heavier the item. This process of measuring copper is extremely reliable and has become the preferred method in American industries.

Copper is also measure by its thickness, using a term called its gauge. The lower the gauge number is, the thicker the metal. Typically, copper sinks and bathtubs will range from 20 gauge to as thick as 14 gauge.

Since copper is a soft metal, the thickness of a fixture can have a considerable effect on how well it wears over time. This is especially true for kitchen sinks, because they are one of the most frequently used fixtures in a home. Items with a thicker gauge are typically costlier, but the higher quality, the longer it will keep.
  Patina, often referred to as a “living finish,” is a naturally occurring tarnish that develops over time as copper is exposed to natural elements, such as water and air. When your copper begins its patina process depends on where, how, and how often the copper is used. For example, a copper kitchen sink which is used countless times daily will patina a bit differently than a copper soaking tub which is only used on occasion. Copper living outdoors will also patina differently than indoor copper, developing a pale green tint over time due to chemical reactions with rain and/or salt water. The great benefit of copper is that it will never rust or corrode. The look of the copper will change over time; however, its rigidity will stay intact.  
Copper happens to be a registered antimicrobial material, as registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This means that copper is naturally resistant to bacteria, and kills greater than 99.9% of common bacteria that comes in contact it its surface. Studies have shown that these bacteria live no more than two hours on copper surfaces, as compared to days or weeks on other surfaces such as acrylic, porcelain, and stainless steel. This makes copper an ideal material for use in kitchens and bathrooms, where the spread of bacteria occurs the most.

Copper also happens to be present in many foods that you eat, and is essential to survive. Copper stimulates the brain, boosts energy, and rids of joint pain to restore movement. This makes copper especially desirable to those with arthritis, who may be prescribed medication to promote copper formulation within the body, or take copper vitamins. When your skin meets a copper surface for a period, your body will naturally absorb trace amounts of copper as well. This makes a long, relaxing bath in a copper tub the perfect supplement to ingesting it.

Finally, copper is also a desirable recyclable material. This makes the use of copper fixtures environmentally friendly, as they can be melted down and reformed for various other uses in the future.
  To protect a copper finish, it is recommended that a coating of wax is applied to the surface. Most wax products have natural and added UV filters that help guard against color and finish degradation. Wax should be applied as often as necessary, depending upon usage..

It is recommended that you use a cleaner or polish that is designed specifically for copper products. You may use a gentle soap, such as dish washing liquid and warm water. We recommend the use of a soft sponge or microfiber washcloth. Do not use any abrasive cleaning pads or materials. Rinse with warm water and dry with a clean, soft cloth.
  Acidic cleaners, such as lemon juice, will strip any applied finish from the copper. Mixtures containing acidic chemicals should be avoided to preserve the finish. Epsom, or bath salts, should not be used in copper tubs, as they will tarnish and corrode the copper's appearance.

For nickel plated copper, the same general cleaning methods will apply—a gentle soap, warm water, and a soft cloth. Waxing nickel-plated copper is not necessary, as it will not patina like exposed copper will do. However, the nickel plating may develop a milky-white tarnish over time which is natural. To restore its shine, use a non-abrasive metal cleaner such as chrome polish.