Finishing is the process of treating the exterior of a metal by applying a protective layer or unique aesthetic touch to its surface. There are numerous types of metal finishing processes that attain a variety of results -- many of which can add architectural value.
Let’s look at some of the most common options for:
- Brass trim moulding
- Copper trim moulding
- Bronze metal trim
As a designer, it’s always fun to buy architectural metal mouldings in their “raw” form and add your own unique touches. Benefits of interior finishing your metal architecture include:
- Greater decorative appeal
- Higher resistance to dulling
- Increased durability
- Creating an aged look
Bronze, Copper, & Brass Moulding and Finishing Ideas
These luxury red metals are pretty amazing on their own. All three turn a gorgeous blue-green once exposed to the elements for a few years.
1. Brushed or Burnished Moulding Finishes
(Finishes, including brushed options, available on door hardware & more at Rocky Mountain Hardware)
Brushed metal finishing is a simple and effective method of getting rid of surface imperfections on metals. It involves using an abrasive wire brush or belt to create a uniform grain pattern on the metal surface. (Yes, metals have grains just like wood.)
2. Polished Moulding Finishes
(Polished brass, with no lacquer, from Classic Brass in Jamestown, N.Y.) →
You can achieve polished finishes with a cloth wheel to buff your metal’s surface and attain a smooth, ultra-shiny, non-textured finish. Polishing luxury red metals results in a sleek patina finish that is exceptionally smooth and bright.
The procedure is commonly used on decorative products such as outdoor light fixtures and door & cabinet hardware.
In the doorknob example above, the polishing lines are smoothed together to display a bright, radiant finish. A wax coating protects the finishing while allowing the brass to age naturally.
Buff polishing machines round out a product’s edges. As such, this type of finishing is not best for applications with features that are:
3. Antiqued Moulding Finishes
(An example of a finishing product from Modern Masters)
This is a type of metal finishing that makes your work appear to have stood the test of time, usually by tarnishing or darkening the entire surface or certain parts of it. Antique brass finish is especially beloved among architects.
This finish is an excellent choice for metal architecture that has engraved or embossed details:
- Antique door trim mouldings
- Antique furniture mouldings
Antique brass moulding finishes make the embedded features appear highlighted and pop out because of their darker background. "Darkening" is most common in oil-rubbed bronze trim. The oil agent is available in many stores.
Tarnishing red metals, or intentionally exposing them to rapid oxidation, gives them that famous blue-green patina effect. All you need is a patina aging solution, which helps oils build up on the surface to create a "living finish."
4. Matte Moulding Finishes
← (A matte oven range hood by CK Metalcraft)
OK, so this example is in stainless steel and is cheating a little. But you can apply the same look to copper, bronze, or brass.
Matte finishes are achieved by blasting your metal with sand, glass, or steel shot, then coating it for protection. Think of it as a really aggressive power wash that aggressively removes surface impurities.
This process leads to a smooth, uniform texture, especially on softer materials. Copper and brass are quite hard metals; brass a little less so.
Any Other Moulding and Finishing Ideas?
You’re a designer -- you’re probably full of other ideas for how to finish crown mouldings, baseboard mouldings, and more. Maybe you've even got a new look in mind for bronze window trim. We’d love to hear about all your big plans.
If you’re not in the market or don’t have the budget for red metals, you can always check out what else is trendy in metal mouldings.
(This article was originally published in October 2018 and was recently updated.)
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