The color of bronze fasteners, what to expect and how to change it.
We get a lot of questions about the color of our silicon bronze fasteners from customers that are using them for aesthetic purposes. Let's face it, bronze is sexy whether it's on a boat, being used for antique architectural door hardware, as an accent on furniture, holding on light switch plates, or really anywhere you can put it. Nothing quite looks or ages like solid bronze hardware.
But what color is it?
Well... It's bronze of course! But bronze has many shades depending on the environment it's subjected to and the age. When I order my fasteners from the manufacturer that are hot off the thread cutting machines they are a beautiful, shiny, golden color. Think halfway between copper and gold. But when they have sat on the shelves for a while they slowly turn to a deep brown with hints of shine here and there. On a boat, especially in a saltwater environment where they excel, they get a beautiful green patina within just a few days. So the answer to "what color is it?" is long and varied.
Will our fasteners match your hardware?
If your hardware is truly bronze, then yes, they will over time if not at first. Bronze changes color through an oxidation process over time. Shiny new fasteners will look like your older bronze hardware given the right amount of time. However, the market is flooded with something the big box stores have taken to calling "antique bronze" which is just a finish that is put on a chintzey nut, bolt, or screw to give it a fake looking bronze color. In my opinion they don't look like real bronze at all, but to each their own. We don't sell any "antiqued bronze" fasteners, only good quality solid silicon bronze here. If your hardware has that faked bronze color our fasteners will look close and BETTER but will never really match as ours are all really and truly proper silicon bronze and not coated in a coloring finish.
What will the fasteners I ordered at Fair Wind look like when I receive them?
That varies. Again, some are shiny and new because the production run was recent, while others will have aged a bit. To the left here you can see a photo I just took of two random machine screws that I pulled off the shelf. The shinier screw on the left was manufactured recently, while the more brownish screw on the right has been on the shelf for a while. The color of the fasteners we have here varies, whether you are buying carriage bolts, wood screws, machine screws, or nuts. The good news is that you can polish your fasteners to either speed up or remove the aging process entirely!
How do I make my bronze fasteners shiny?
The photo above is actually two photos of the same fastener. Hand model agents feel free to get in touch here. On the left is what I pulled off my shelf, and on the right is after I put it on a polishing wheel for all of 10 seconds. It's hard to see in the photo, but it came out to a near mirror finish with very little effort. If you want your bronze fasteners to have a bit more shine then a good polish will do it. For what you see above I used a 10" bench grinder with a fabric wheel and some hard polish, but the same can be achieved with a polishing paste and a rag albeit with much more of a time commitment. Once you're done polishing a bit of wax will help keep that shiny look longer, but some people will even go so far as to coating with a clear polyurethane. I personally stray away from that due to the need to maintain the poly finish which will flake off over time, but some just love to keep that deep shine!
How do I make my bronze fasteners age faster?
If you're after a more dull brown finish and don't want to wait for time to do it's thing then you most certainly can speed up the aging process of your bronze hardware and fasteners. Of course seawater, time, rain, humidity, and the environment in general will add that patina on it's own but it's hard to argue with faster!
Make an "aging solution" out of vinegar and salt. Mix 1 tablespoon of normal table salt in a cup of vinegar and stir or shake the solution to dissolve the salt. Either soak your fasteners in the solution or apply with a paintbrush and then wait. You'll see a color change in less than an hour, and it will continue to darken over time. Once you've achieved the color you want rinse well with fresh water and enjoy your quickly patinaed look! Again, you could apply wax or a clear coat to lock that color in for longer if you so desire.
Color ≠ Quality
Quality, solid silicon bronze fasteners come in all different shades when it comes to color. Garbage "bronze" fasteners do too. Just because a nut, bolt, or screw looks like it's made of a quality bronze does not mean that it is. But just the same, a different color doesn't indicate that the alloy is any different. I have shelves brimming full of 651 and 655 silicon bronze and if you were here to look you'd see every color on the spectrum. The only true way to know is to put your bronze through 3rd party chemical analysis testing, a process we pay for when choosing manufacturers.
Know that you're getting the best from us here at Fair Wind Fasteners! We take pride in having the best silicon bronze fasteners around and I think you'll agree when you get your hands on them!