The key differences between copper, brass and bronze
Copper, brass and bronze are popular metals used throughout industry but also in interior design. A combination of malleability, flexibility and an inherent depth of colour and character lend themselves well to design.
Add the material’s longevity and robust nature, you have a series of features that’s too good to ignore!
Copper, brass and bronze are known collectively as ‘red metals’. However, only one is technically a metal. It’s only copper that’s a pure metal. Brass and bronze are actually metal alloys. Brass is made from combining copper and zinc and bronze is a combination of copper and tin.
As the three metals are used extensively in architecture, art and design, how about we learn a little about each of them?
Copper is a natural metal that can be mined straight out of the ground. It’s a flexible metal known for being thermally and electrically conductive and for being flexible enough to form into shapes with little effort. Copper is also corrosion resistant, which just adds to the appeal!
The four most common grades of copper are 101, 110, 122 and 145. Each lends itself to different uses. For example: copper 101 is often used in electrics as it’s oxygen-free and has high conductivity.
Copper is well known for being malleable enough to form into pipes, fixtures, wire and even copper table tops.
We love it for its depth of character, rich patina and ability to be artificially aged in a number of creative ways.
Brass is an alloy made up of copper and zinc. Depending on the alloy, there may also be small amounts of tin, iron, aluminium, manganese, zinc or silicon in the mix. Brass is naturally corrosion resistant, which makes it ideal for outdoor or frequent use areas.
The amount of zinc added to brass influences the colour, the ductility and strength of the metal. The more zinc added, the stronger the brass becomes.
Brass is not only decorative and used in art, it is also used in industry for fixtures and fittings, pipes, taps, joints and other uses.
We love brass for its light but deep colour, ability to reflect light in interesting ways and the willingness to be artificially aged to deliver lovely deep colours.
Bronze is another alloy made with copper. This time it’s around 88% copper and 12% tin. Other metals such as manganese, aluminium, phosphorus and silicon may also be present.
Two common grades of bronze are 932 and 954. Bronze 932 is often used for washers, fixtures and fittings in low pressure environments. Bronze 954 is often found in high pressure fixtures and fittings including plumbing and in industry.
Bronze is also used in art, sculpture, medals and other uses.
Bronze is also naturally corrosion resistant and has excellent thermal conductivity and ductility. Bronze can also be brittle and difficult to handle.
We like bronze for its lovely colour and finish. It’s an ancient metal with timeless appeal and is still used for decoration and more practical purposes.
All three metals offer a unique colour, patina and appeal. They can be easy to work with, be cut and shaped in all manner of ways and be used in interior design, art, sculpture, architecture and many more practical purposes.
If you’re looking for a statement piece or a work surface that survives the test of time, copper, brass or bronze delivers!