What is Copper Cladding?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Copper cladding is cladding material for the exterior of a structure which is made from copper or a copper alloy. Cladding serves a number of functional and aesthetic functions in a structure, and copper is one among many choices available to builders. Firms which specialize in cladding metals can install copper cladding, as can experienced contractors who are familiar with working with copper cladding products.

Copper changes appearance with age.
Copper changes appearance with age.

Cladding shields a building from the elements, acting as the first line of defense against wind, dust, water, and other intrusions which can damage a building or make the space inside unpleasant for occupants. In the case of copper cladding, the building can be covered in sheets, shingles, or prefabricated panels made out of copper. Cladding is installed towards the end of the exterior construction phase. Depending on the style of cladding used, it may be easy or difficult to repair or replace as the building ages.

As a cladding material, copper have several advantages. It is very lightweight and durable, which can be especially important on large buildings. Other cladding options may add significant weight, making the building more challenge to engineer, and they can also be difficult to install because of their weight. Copper also resists many forms of corrosion, forming a protective patina which will keep it in good condition, even though the bright color will dull.

Some people are also intrigued by the appearance of copper. Copper's color, which develops and changes with age, can add to the visual interest of a building. Metal cladding materials are especially popular with modern architecture, and architects can play with features such as embossed or shaped metal cladding, or a carefully designed mixture of metals. Visual interest can be just as important with function, and choosing the right cladding material from a visual perspective for a building is important.

Installing copper facing on a building can be costly. This metal is used in numerous industries and it is highly prized in some regions of the world, which can add to the cost of copper cladding products. However, on the plus side, copper is fully recyclable, which is something important to think about when people are considering the lifetime impact of a building. It is also sometimes possible to obtain used copper cladding from buildings which are being remodeled or destroyed, which can cut down on costs in addition to being an environmentally sound choice of building materials because it does not require any new materials for construction.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Is there anywhere you can buy replica copper cladding? Some type of other metal that is made to look like copper.

I really like the look, and think I have a good way to use it on our house. I have looked into buying it, and real copper cladding is too much. I don't know of any buildings anywhere with copper cladding, let alone any that would be getting torn down so that I could try to reclaim it.

I wonder if a scrap yard would have any. Does anyone have an idea? I don't know how many people would be recycling scrap copper cladding there.


The article doesn't mention it, but I have also seen copper wall cladding used as an accent wall in some buildings. Of the ones I can remember, one was an art museum, and the other was a normal office building.

I don't know how old the copper was, but it was old enough to start developing the natural patina. It was really beautiful. It had a lot of the original color, but some of it had gotten almost black, and some of it was greenish. It is hard to explain.

If I knew somewhere to get recycled copper sheet metal, I would definitely be able to use it for something decorative.


@ - I have never seen copper cladding used on a residential building. There is a large university where I live, though, and they recently built a new building that has copper cladding on the outside. It does give a very striking design. In my opinion, it looks especially good with a brick facade, since the colors complement each other.

Although I've never seen it used residentially (I assume because of cost), I have seen other copper fixtures like gutters and copper vents. I've never looked, but I'm sure you could buy them at a normal building supply store.


I'm having trouble thinking of what copper cladding would look like. Is it just like normal aluminum siding, except made out of copper?

I really like the look of copper sculptures, so I'm sure it would look very nice on a building. Like the article mentions, though, copper is one of the most expensive metals, so I doubt it will ever be common on regular residential homes.

I would think that, with the price of copper, people tearing down a building with copper cladding would want to sell it.

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