Traditional Oil Rubbed Bronze

Solid bronze is an alloy made from mostly copper and other metals (usually tin, zinc & nickel). Bronze has been around for centuries and historically been used to make a wide variety of items from weapons to ornaments and homeware products. As a non-ferrous metal, it will not rust, however it will oxidise when exposed to the air. An outer layer, or patina, forms which can be brown, black, red, blue or green in colour. This coating is considered to be an attractive feature and is a desirable factor when choosing bronze for your home.

An oil rubbed finish gives the bronze a dark chocolate colour, or sometimes even black. This surface finish is applied to simulate aged bronze. There are two types of oil rubbed finishes - "living" and "non-living". We will be discussing the living finish today. With this type of finish, the dark colour will not remain static and is intended to transform over time to reveal lighter coppery highlights in areas of high wear. Read on to find out how to care for your living finish oil rubbed bronze door knobs, door handles and cabinet knobs, from unboxing onwards.

Oil rubbed bronze door knobs

Unboxing Your Bronze Ironmongery

When you first unpack your oil rubbed bronze, you may notice a pale bloom has developed in patches across the surface. This is caused by oxidisation of the oil rubbed finish during storage and can be easily removed before fitting.

Oil Rubbed Bronze Door Knob with oxidised bloom


You can see the pale patches of oxidisation here on this bronze door knob. Do not be concerned if you see this coating when you unbox your new items - it is not a fault. This can also happen with door knobs, handles or cabinet furniture that are not in regular use.

Oil rubbed bronze finish restored with oil


The oxidised coating has now been removed, restoring the oil rubbed finish and your door knob can now be fitted. Over time, and in areas of highest wear, the dark chocolate colour will change to reveal copper highlights. This is one of the desirable features of a bronze "living finish.

How To Remove The Oxidised Coating On Your Bronze

You will need a soft cloth and a light oil such as WD40. The example shown here is our classic medium bronze cup pull. Spray the oil and buff to remove the pale coating. As with the example of the door knob above, these cup pulls will also patina over time, and the dark chocolate colour will change to reveal copper highlights. Although the darker colour cannot be restored, you can maintain your bronze with an ocassional spray of WD40 and buff with a soft cloth.

Bronze cup pull before treatment
Oil Rubbed Bronze cup pull after treatment
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We hope you found this helpful. If you would like more information about oil rubbed bronze please see our accompanying article What is Oil Rubbed Bronze?