How to Seal Copper

by Genae Valecia Hinesman

The beautiful sheen of copper makes it a popular choice for both building and for art/craft projects. Unfortunately, copper can easily lose its luster and sheen to oxidation from the elements, especially when used outdoors. The solution to this problem is to seal it properly to maintain its beauty throughout the life of the metal. Before you begin, it is important to clean the metal’s surface and also remove any residue that will remain from the cleaning product. Even buffing may leave behind undesired residues that will prevent sealant coatings from adhering. To eliminate this problem, it is best to use xylene to clean and denatured alcohol to wipe the surface with afterward. Once the surface is dry, a sealant can be applied.

Put on your mask, gloves and protective goggles.

Assemble everything that you will need within easy reach. Use the xylene to clean the copper’s surface and then wipe the metal with some of the denatured alcohol. Dry the surface thoroughly with a heat gun or hair dryer.

Pour enough of the sealant coating into clean, dry metal pans to be able to completely wet your applicator.

Dip the applicator completely into the coating in the application pan. Squeeze out any excess. Your applicator should not be dripping wet. If you are applying sealant onto a vertical surface, keep an eye out for drips. If you get drips or runs on the surface, simply wipe them out with your applicator.

Apply a thin coat in smooth, even strokes. Applicator should glide smoothly. If it starts sticking, dip the applicator into the coating again and wring it out. Everbrite will cover up to about 1,000 to 1,200 square feet per gallon at 0.5 mil wet-film thickness. Allow the surface to dry between coats. (More than one coat may be needed.)

Items you will need

  • Metal cleaner of your choice (OR)
  • Xylene (found at hardware and paint stores)
  • Denatured alcohol (do not use isopropyl alcohol!)
  • Clean, lint-free cloths
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Copper/metal sealant (we used Everbrite Protective Coating for exterior applications)
  • Applicators, rollers, or brushes
  • Chemical protective gloves
  • Protective eye goggles and mask (to cover your nose and mouth)
  • Disposable metal pans

Tips

  • Make sure that there is good ventilation in your work area.
  • Any missed or thin areas can be remedied after the first coat is dry to touch.
  • Apply the coating to small area, make sure the coating does not "fish-eye" or bead up and that it flows out smoothly and evenly. If the coating beads up or has a fish-eye, the surface is not clean. Stop and re-clean the surface with clean solvent and a clean cloth.
  • If the surface looks streaky, your applicator is probably not uniformly wet. This causes the dry and wet parts of the applicator to apply the coating unevenly. Dip the applicator completely into the coating and wring out the excess so it is not dripping. Re-dip when needed. This product will dry to the touch in 5-15 minutes (depending on the ambient temperature). The coated surface cleans up fast with just soap and water.

Warnings

  • Do not dilute the sealant with anything. Use it undiluted for best results.
  • Keep the products that you will be using from coming into contact with unprotected skin and avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth.

About the Author

Genae Valecia Hinesman, former banking executive, entrepreneur and fashion model, began writing professionally in 2002. She is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied business, finance and exercise physiology. Her articles featured in Living Healthy: 360, Life 123, the American Chronicle and Yahoo Voices.