What is Copper Siding?

B. Turner

Copper siding is a construction material used to finish and protect the exterior walls of a building. This product consists of natural copper shaped into thin sheets and polished to create a shiny finish. The smooth surface of the siding effectively displays the copper's unique natural coloring, which includes tones of gold, pink, and brown. Installers may use this material on either residential and commercial siding projects, depending on the budget and design specifications of the building owner.

Copper oxidizes, leaving a natural patina.
Copper oxidizes, leaving a natural patina.

Designers and building owners can choose from a wide variety of copper siding products to create the desired finish. Some copper siding can be installed in interlocking horizontal rows to mimic the style of traditional vinyl or aluminum lap siding. Other products include copper shingles, or copper siding embossed to look like wood or other popular finished. Commercial buildings often use larger copper panels to create a seamless siding look. The edges of these panels are designed to interlock with adjacent units to minimize the size and appearance of joints.

Some installers may use copper siding to over the entire exterior of a building, but it is more common to use this material in conjunction with some other finish material. For example, the upper portions of the walls may consist of copper siding, while lower surfaces are made of brick or stucco. Copper gutters, downspouts and flashing can then be used to visually tie the different materials together.

Natural copper features a bright, shiny appearance. Over time, the surface of the copper changes appearance due to oxidation. Oxidized copper develops a patina, or verdigris, which gives the siding a gray or green finish. Some building owners may prefer the natural patina of the copper, and simply allow it to oxidize. It's even possible to apply certain acidic products to speed up oxidation. Owners who prefer a shiny finish can apply protective coatings to slow the oxidation process, but regular maintenance and polishing will also be required.

Copper siding offers a number of advantages over other types of finish materials. It is completely recyclable and contains no harmful materials. Copper is also lightweight, but very durable, allowing it to resist damage from wind, rain and even fire. Unlike other metal siding products, copper won't rust and requires no maintenance for those who enjoy the material's natural patina.

One of the primary drawbacks of this material is its high cost. Because of copper's many benefits, it's in high demand in a variety of industries, which keeps its price fairly high. Copper siding costs much more than vinyl or composite siding products, but its long lifespan makes it a good value over time.

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