Does Oil Rubbed Bronze Rust?

Metals containing Iron and copper are susceptible to corrosion, although to different levels. Because bronze contains copper, it primarily corrupts; that leads to the question, does oil rubbed bronze rust?

No, oil-rubbed bronze does not rust. Despite the use of bronze in some household wares, such as faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms, due to its lesser corrosion susceptibility, compared to Iron, it still corrodes. Oil rubbed bronze fixtures are adopted to address the issue of corrosion in bronze, and technically, they don’t rust.

This article will learn more about how bronze does not rust. You will also understand how oil-rubbed bronze, just like its parent material, does not rust. Also, you will get to know how to effectively clean an oil-rubbed bronze fixture to prolong its life.

Difference Between Bronze And Oil-Rubbed Bronze

Bronze is a metal that comprises copper and tin – the latter is usually about 10 to 15%. It is not easily corroded and technically, it does not rust since it does not form ferrous oxide when it reacts with oxygen and moisture. However, it corrodes to form a green patina that is sometimes valued for its aesthetics, especially in antique objects.

Difference Between Bronze And Oil-Rubbed Bronze

On the other hand, oil-rubbed bronze is a type of metal finish that does not really tell if the base material is bronze or not. Manufacturers of oil rubbed bronze metal fixtures use different types of metals, usually copper, and finish them off with a shiny brown patina finish that resembles bronze but has some luster.

True oil rubbed bronze fixtures should be dark brown and have some of their metal base material visible to our eyes, but that is not the case with the common oil rubbed bronze we see. The common ones get their oil-rubbed-bronze finish from being dipped in chemicals that coat the base metal with the oily brown tone we see. The tone is uniform around the fixture and provides protection against the elements of weather.

Does Oil Rubbed Bronze Rust?

Technically, no; oil-rubbed bronze does not rust. Oil rubbed bronze is majorly copper and a finish that looks like bronze but isn’t bronze. The base metal is coated with a chemical that provides some sort of protection to the base metal against corrosion. However, if the protective layer is rubbed off, the base metal begins to corrode.

Does Oil Rubbed Bronze Rust


Bronze is a combination of copper and tin and is consequently not easily corroded. However, oil rubbed bronze is usually only copper – although other types of metal can be coated with oil rubbed bronze finish – and it corrodes faster than bronze, however, one condition has to be met.

The oil-rub finish on the base metal has to remove before any corrosion of such metal can take place. Therefore, as long as an oil-rubbed bronze finish on any metal is intact, there can be no rust or corrosion, prolonging the life of the fixture with oil rubbed bronze finish.

Does Oil-Rubbed Bronze Rust Outdoors?

The conditions for rust and corrosion are more pronounced outdoors than indoors, where the metal fixtures and materials have some level of protection. However, with oil-rubbed bronze, they do not rust even when used outdoors. The chemical coating of the oil-rubbed bronze finish is resistant to weather elements, especially water, as the droplets do not adhere to its surface.

Does Oil-Rubbed Bronze Rust Outdoors

When you add water to oil-rubbed bronze metal fixtures, you will notice that it stands in droplets on the fixture and easily falls off. This helps the base metal avoid contact with moisture since its coating is water-repellent.

This makes it a common option for outdoor signs and plaques, door handles, faucets, and various outdoor uses. However, it can’t be used forever.

Does Oil Rubbed Bronze Tarnish?

As durable as the oil-rubbed bronze metal finish is, it wears off and tarnishes, exposing the base metal to conditions of corrosion. Usually, the metal fixtures that have oil-rubbed bronze finishes require some top-up after some years, to keep them shiny, attractive, and protected from the weather elements. When the top-up is not provided, the coating begins to peel, and the base metal, after some time, begins to corrode.

Does Oil Rubbed Bronze Tarnish

However, as long as the oil-rubbed bronze finish is renewed periodically, you can expect your kitchen and bathroom faucets with this finish to last as long as you want them to.

How to Clean Oil-rubbed Bronze Fixtures?

Since oil rubbed bronze finish on metals is achieved by dipping base metals in chemicals, the finish is susceptible to removal by some other chemicals, even though it is unreactive with water and salt. To clean your oil-rubbed finish fixture, use a dry, clean cloth to wipe its surface.

Under no condition should you use any bleach, detergent, or organic chemical to clean such fixtures as you’re not sure with which chemical it’ll react. The use of some bleach has been known to remove the oil-rubbed bronze finish, exposing the copper to corrosion, and the subsequent green coloration that comes with it.

Final Thoughts

Oil rubbed bronze does not rust as it is a metal finish that is dark-amber toned and provides protection to the base metal, usually copper. However, the oil-rubbed bronze metal finish can tarnish over time and expose the base metal to corrosion. To avoid this use a dry, clean cloth to clean the metal fixtures with oil-rubbed bronze finishes, and avoid bringing them in contact with bleaches and organic chemicals such as vinegar.

Evan Cooper

Evan Cooper

Hi, I’m Evan Cooper, the founder and an editor of this site, Doesitrust. I’m a chemical engineer and working in a rust-eliminating paint manufacturing company. Besides this profession, I’m a researcher and blogger.

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