Keeping or Restoring The “New Penny” Look to your Copper

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When copper is exposed to air, it begins to age and change color. This is both normal and useful, since the patina coating serves as a protectant for the raw copper underneath. Some people, however, prefer the shiny, “new penny” appearance of raw copper, or wish to restore their copper to a new appearance. To do this requires nothing more than polishing the roof to the desired appearance, cleaning off all traces of the polish, and then applying a specially formulated clear coating to keep the copper looking new. Of these three steps, cleaning & polishing accounts for 95% of the successful results, and most failures are due to skimping during this necessary step.

1.) POLISH THE COPPER TO ITS DESIRED APPEARANCE: Using supermarket copper polishes may work well enough, but professional polishes often produce better results. Check with a paint or hardware store for recommendations. We have had good results with Tarn-X® and Wenol® . Make sure to use a polish that is non-abrasive. Any cloth that you use should be 100% cotton, so as not to scratch the copper. Never use steel wool or metallic abrasives on copper - they may contain rust inhibitors that may turn the copper black.

2.) CLEANSE THE COPPER THOROUGHLY: Immediately after polishing the copper, wash the roof with a weak solution of ordinary kitchen-sink type dishwashing detergent and water. Again, use of a 100% cotton cloth or clean chamois is recommended. After washing, rinse the copper very thoroughly with fresh water - and lots of it! Dry the copper using a clean chamois or cotton cloth. A hair dryer can be used for those “hard to reach” spots. After drying the roof, be careful not to touch the copper with your bare fingers, as the oils on your hands will discolor the copper.

3.) APPLY COPPER SHIELD ®: This coating is specially formulated for use on copper, and actually enhances the natural beauty of new copper. It contains no substances that will react chemically with copper. Copper Shield® is crystal clear, and formulated from a blend of acrylic resins specifically designed for use on copper. Copper Shield® also contains a UV inhibitor that prevents darkening due to sunlight exposure, and an agent to prevent corrosion from occurring underneath the paint. Normal clear enamel or lacquer paints will not prevent the aging of copper. Copper Shield® will protect the new copper for a period of up to 10-12 years in an exterior application.


visitor's picture

Copper Shield

Thank you for your information on copper. I found it quite useful. Is there a comperable product that is a little less than $32.+ a can? And do you know if we can get it anywhere else? Is the marine copper shield similar?

Thank you for the info.
Jennifer Cooper


visitor's picture

Top coat for copper

G-Plasticoat is a fantastic alternative, it is a clear coat that will stand up to UV and keep copper from oxidation. Cost is around 35$ a gallon, and can be brushed, sprayed, rolled, or dipped to apply.