Brass has long been the dominant material in architectural ironmongery, it’s gold like appearance, relatively low melting point and softness means it is ideally suited to handle manufacturing. It is only recently that the upsurge in the price of copper and the abundance of stainless steel has led to a reduction in it’s use.
Brass is a metallic alloy made from copper and Zinc along with other materials. Varying the proportions of these components gives the different performance characteristics and variation in colour associated with it’s different grades.
Polishing is still the most common treatment for Brass hardware; the surface of the material is highly buffed to create an almost golden mirror like finish, which is then lacquered or waxed to prolong its life, or left unsealed to naturally tarnish. Other surface treatments are now becoming more commonplace, satin brass now makes up a larger part of the UK market, with more specialist treatments such as bead blasting and sand blasting, now considered mainstream.
It is well known that brass oxidises when exposed to the air, creating a thin patinated coating that deepens over time with subtle shades of green and brown. Often described as a living finish, the patinated antique brass layer will lighten where regularly handled and darken where it is left untouched, creating much sought after variations in colour.
The patination process can be chemically accelerated, so that new products can be manufactured in an almost limitless number of shades, ranging from mild antique brass, all the way through to Ebony bronze.