How to bring your cop­per back to life

Pawtucket Times - - HOME & GARDEN - By JEANNE HU­BER

I have about 60 feet of cop­per pipe rail­ings that are very tar­nished. Some are black now, but oth­ers aren't so bad. I have tried Brasso and all the other on­the-shelf clean­ers. Some work OK but are time-in­ten­sive for an area like mine. My rail­ings are the twoinch-di­am­e­ter cop­per pipes found in the plumb­ing sec­tion of Home De­pot. Is there any kind of in­stant cleaner that I could douse them with?

A mild acid will re­move tar­nish from cop­per, es­pe­cially if you back it up with a lit­tle el­bow grease and a scrub pad. Ap­ply­ing a clear fin­ish once the cop­per is bright goes a long way to­ward keep­ing the tar­nish from re-form­ing so quickly.

A thick tar­nish-re­mover, such as Everbrite HD Cop­per Clean­ing Gel, might be most suit­able for your project be­cause the gel for­mula is de­signed to stay where you brush it on, rather than drip off. Wait about an hour in warm weather or even longer if it's cold, un­til the tar­nish looks like it is melt­ing. If the gel dries be­fore you see this, re-wet it by brush­ing it with water. When the tar­nish rubs off eas­ily, wipe off the residue with pa­per tow­els.

In all like­li­hood, the sur­face will still look un­even, with patches of tena­cious tar­nish. Rub those away and make the sur­face evenly shiny with su­perfine or fine steel wool (la­beled 0000 or 000) or with a syn­thetic scrub pad.

Neu­tral­ize the gel for­mula's acid by rins­ing the pipe with a spe­cial neu­tral­iz­ing so­lu­tion or bak­ing soda in water. Fol­low with a plain-water rinse and dry the pipe with a cot­ton cloth. Pre­pare the sur­face for a clear fin­ish by wip­ing with a sol­vent such as de­na­tured al­co­hol or xy­lene. Then ap­ply a clear coat­ing, such as Everbrite Pro­tec­tive Coat­ing. Use a sponge brush, a clear-coat ap­pli­ca­tor pad, a nat­u­ral brush or a pad made of lint-free cloth. For coat­ing hor­i­zon­tal pipe rails, a cloth pad might work best. Wear pro­tec­tive gloves, such as ones made of ni­trile.

To cal­cu­late how much sur­face you need to treat, dig out a ge­om­e­try for­mula from high school. The sur­face of a cylin­der, not count­ing the ends, is 2ðr x height, where the value of "ð" is 3.142, "r" is the 1inch ra­dius of your pipe, and "height" is the to­tal length. Everbrite Kit 4oz with Gel, $43.95 from the com­pany's web­site, everbrite­coat­ings.com, con­tains enough gel cleaner, neu­tral­iz­ing so­lu­tion and pro­tec­tive coat­ing to treat 25 square feet, or about 48 feet of pipe like that used on your rail­ings. Given that you have about 60 feet to treat, you could buy two of the four-ounce kits or get the next size up, 16 ounces, for $89.95. Given that the price is vir­tu­ally the same ei­ther way, go for the big­ger kit, be­cause it gives you more lee­way in case you want to ap­ply mul­ti­ple coats of cleaner or fin­ish.

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