What Is Oil Rubbed Bronze?

A Brief History Of Bronze

Bronze was the first metal alloy ever made and was created by mixing mostly copper with a small amount of tin. History tells us it was invented around 3300 BC, and began the period of human history that became known as the Bronze Age. The mixture of copper and tin created a versatile metal, considerably harder than its constituent metals and its use became widespread. Archeological digs have uncovered many domestic and military items such as swords, knives, coins and bowls. It is well known for being used to cast sculptures.

Bronze Statue

Ancient Bronze Coins


Patina is the name given to the layer which forms on the surface of certain metals, stones and woods. It can be thought of as a tarnish that appears over time. A great example of a natural patina is the green colour of the Statue of Liberty. Decades of exposure to moisture and elements has caused this beautiful patina.

The natural colour of bronze is actually quite golden. High quality bronze is usually made from as much as 90% copper and it is the high copper content that reacts with the atmosphere to give the different coloured patinas.

See the difference below with the famous bronze Holy doors of the basilica in Rome, compared to an ancient bronze door, also found in Italy.

Basilica Doors, Rome

Ancient Bronze Doors

 Oil Rubbed Bronze

In recent years there has been an increased trend in the use of bronze for interior design projects. Items such as bronze door knobs, cabinet knobs, bathroom & kitchen hardware are now a popular choice for homes.

It takes many years for bronze to darken and patina. To simulate the natural patina of aged bronze, finishing oils are used to darken the metal. Oil rubbed bronze is ideal for period properties and traditional homes wanting to re-create authentic antiqued details.

Oil rubbed bronze is also known as a "living finish". A living finish will wear over time and the darker surface will begin to reveal lighter, coppery highlights.

See below how our oil rubbed bronze cabinet knob has worn compared to the new one. With constant use, the dark chocolate colour reveals beautiful lighter coppery tones for an authentic aged look.

Oil Rubbed Bronze Patina

Classic Cabinet Knobs



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  • Suffolk Latch Company on Oct 06, 2023

    Hello! To reveal the copper on oil-rubbed bronze quickly, consider these methods: Chemical Wear: There is a mixture of white vinegar, household ammonia and salt which can reveal deeper layers however, please be extremely careful as it can go to far and start to show the green patina of the bronze if left on too long. Physical Wear: Gently sand with fine-grade sandpaper, first testing on a hidden area. Buffing: Use a soft cloth to buff desired areas for controlled, less aggressive wear. Please proceed with caution and test methods on inconspicuous areas first. We hope this helped, there are some YouTube videos available on the topic to act as a visual guide. Suffolk Latch Company

  • Cheryl Vistnes on Oct 06, 2023

    Loved the article Can you speed up the process of wear on the oil rub to reveal the more golden layer of the copper below ? If so what’s the best method? Thank you Cheryl

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