Main House Eavestroughs – Hardware Verdigris

As previously stated, we really wanted to install copper eavestroughs.  But, due to the high cost, it just wasn’t feasible.  So, we came up with an alternate plan.  We would purchase the eavestroughs and hardware in aluminum, and then make them look like they are actually made of copper.

Anyone that’s familiar with copper knows that it doesn’t stay nice and shiny for very long.  After it’s exposed to air for a while, a chemical reaction occurs.  This oxidation is called “verdigris” (or “vert-de-gris” in French).

The proper definition of verdigris is as follows:

  1. A blue or green powder consisting of basic cupric acetate used as a paint pigment and fungicide.
  2. A green patina or crust of copper sulfate or copper chloride formed on copper, brass, and bronze exposed to air or seawater for long periods of time.

So, since the bright shiny copper will eventually develop this patina, we figured why not just try and replicate it and save a ton of money.

If you examine and old copper penny, you will notice that it’s basically a brown color with a slight hint of red.  So, we did a lot of looking at the local home improvement stores and found a spray paint (Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer) that was very close to the same color brown as an old penny.

We used this as the base coat in the verdigris process.

The next step was to re-create the many years of oxidation.  Copper oxidation is usually greenish and bluish in color.  So we headed to the local craft store and found some acrylic paints (the inexpensive “Apple Barrel” type stuff) in a blue and green that looked similar to photos of oxidized copper.  Also, while there, we bought a small bottle of metallic copper acrylic paint (the same inexpensive stuff).  The last thing we picked up was a bag of natural sea sponges to use to apply the paints.

To create the verdigris, first we added some of the metallic copper, full strength by using quick strokes with a piece of the sea sponge.  The intent was to add some “bare metal” accents, mainly on the top edges to simulate minor damage or scratches.  We were hoping that this would give the illusion that some of the patina had been scraped off here and there, revealing the shiny copper underneath.  This technique was done VERY sparingly, because we didn’t want to overdo it.

Next, we squeezed out a large blob of the blue and a large blob of the green paint on opposite sides of a metal pie tin.  Then, we added just enough water to cover the bottom of the pie tin.  A sea sponge was then used to pick up a bit of the blue and bit of the green and some water, and then it was applied to the pieces of hardware.

If you look closely at aged copper, you will notice that the patina is vertically streaky, due to the long period it took to develop and elements like water flowing over it and the forces of gravity.

To try and duplicate this effect, I attached a small nail to a piece of wood and each bracket was hung on the nail so that it would be in same position as if it were attached to the fascia on the house.

First, we generously sprayed the entire surface of the piece of hardware with water from a spray bottle.  Then, using a sea sponge with some slightly watered down (I must stress the word, slightly, because you just want the paint a little bit more runny than what it is straight out of the bottle; too runny and it won’t show up at all on the brown base coat)  blue and green paint we splotched some of the paint on to the hardware parts.  Immediately after the paint was applied, we then used a spray bottle, with plain water, and lightly sprayed the upper parts of the piece of hardware.  This causes the paint at the top to run down to the bottom, creating that true weathered effect.

The process is a little tricky to master, but if you practice on other items before you try it on the real thing, it becomes fairly easy.  You just need to figure out the proper amount of watering down, application pressure, final water misting, to get the results that you are happy with.

One of the angle brackets, with the verdigris process completed.

The decorative bird.

Some of the regular brackets completed.

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