What is Brass?
Everyone knows what brass looks like: it’s gold-coloured and used to make things like musical instruments and door-knockers. But what are the main benefits of working with brass? And how can you use it in your home?
Brass is an alloy, which is a type of metal made by combining two different metallic elements together to utilise the properties of both. In the case of brass, these two elements are copper and zinc, which are generally combined at a ratio of approximately 66% copper to 34% zinc. The result of this pairing is a gold-coloured metal that’s extremely malleable, conducts both heat and electricity and is tough and long-lasting. Brass is also prized for its low-friction properties, which is why it’s the metal of choice for scores of everyday objects like zips, plugs and hinges. In fact, if you’re reading this from inside a building, you’re probably not very far away from something made of brass. Brass takes the malleability and softness of copper and combines it with the strength of zinc to create a versatile metal that’s been being used by human beings for millennia.
The earliest type of brass, calamine brass, was made in the Neolithic period (approximately 2000BC) from a combination of copper and a zinc ore. It may have been made earlier than this, but probably by accident by those blending copper and tin to make bronze. By Roman times, brass was widely used for jewellery, coins and vessels, and was popular because it was stronger than copper but easier to work with than bronze.
The corrosion-resistance of brass is excellent, and it is especially resistant to corrosion by salt water. This is why brass is often used in shipbuilding and for components in maritime tools. Brass won’t rust, because it doesn’t contain iron, and only metals that contain iron, such as steel, can develop rust. Whilst brass won’t turn orangey-brown when it oxidises, it does age in its own unique way. Over time, brass will turn from golden and shiny to matt and mottled with darker, bronze-coloured flecks. Think of a brass letter box or door knocker and you’ll probably be able to visualise the sort of marks we’re talking about. This distressed brass is no less structurally sound than the shiny new stuff; it’s just developed a tough exterior that protects it from the elements.
Although patina on brass is a sign of age and exposure to moisture, there’s no denying that in the right environment, it can look good. That’s why many interior designers and home improvers want to buy ready-oxidised brass, and it’s why we developed our aged brass sheets. Using our secret ageing formula, we take our Cz108 brass sheet and work with them carefully to create bespoke, vintage finishes. Surface patterns vary from large, crackled ‘stained glass’ effects, through to more muted speckles. And because brass is malleable, we’re also able to offer a hand-brushing service, producing brushed brass with a matte, grained finish.
When it comes to using brass in the home, there are endless options. We particularly like the richness of the golden hue of brass against deep colours like forest green and navy blue. Brass kitchen splashbacks can instantly update a kitchen, giving it a luxurious edge. Choose from brass in its original, glittering gold tones, or order a bespoke aged brass splashback for a vintage look. Many taps and door handles in existing kitchens are made of brass, so the swift introduction of a brass focal point can really bring out these features. You can add to the brass theme easily, too, with vintage accessories like scales and weights, jelly moulds and engraved brass plates on the walls. If you prefer your brass to look shiny and new, pair it with gleaming brass accessories such as light fittings and bar stools.
Kitchen splashbacks might be one of the most popular and easy uses for brass, but there are a host of other uses for this gorgeous metal. Designers have used our brass sheets, both aged and new, for a long list of inspiring projects including cladding, wall features, bar tops, table-tops, bathrooms and more.
Brass allows you to bring all the glamour of gold into a space, without the enormous price tag. Whilst its technical benefits mean it will always be used for fixtures and fittings like bolts and screws, its bold good looks make game-changing statement pieces that can convert a room into something really spectacular.