Copper is a very popular awning material, not just for its many unique properties, but also for its distinctive beauty. Often, copper awnings are deliberately aged and weathered with a signature patina look. Of course, many people prefer the sleek, polished look of new copper.
To prevent any unwanted color changes, copper awnings should be regularly cleaned and polished. Follow these tips to help you efficiently clean your copper awning, and maintain (or restore) its original shine.
Clean your copper awnings often. The cleaning process isn’t very labor-intensive, as long as you do it fairly often to keep any tarnish at bay.
Get all your supplies ready beforehand.You’ll most likely need to use a ladder to access the entirety of your copper awning. Gather everything you need ahead of time so you can finish the job all at once, rather than climb down repeatedly to fetch additional items. Make sure you have a bucket of water and/or a hose nearby. Bring plenty of soft cloths, and any other cleaning supplies you’ll need.
Be smart about ladder safety. Don’t climb a ladder without a helper to hold it steady for you. Ladders can tip easily, particularly when set in dirt, grass, or slippery concrete.
Soap and water can work wonders. Begin with the basics. Use cloths or sponges to wash the awning with warm soapy water before rinsing thoroughly. This step should knock down much of the surface dirt and debris. If an awning is still fairly new, and has not had the chance to weather, this step may be all that is needed.
Use vinegar on tarnished awnings. If you already have tarnish on your awnings, make a paste using equal parts vinegar, salt, and flour. Using a soft dry cloth, apply the paste to any tarnished areas. Let it sit on the surface for 15 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly, using a hose or bucket (if you’re using a bucket, you’ll likely need multiple refills). Then, buff the surface with a new, soft dry cloth until your awning shines.
For severe tarnish, try lemons (or tomatoes). Severely tarnished copper can be restored using a simple solution of lemon juice and salt. Just mix the two ingredients at a 1:1 ratio, and rub it into the tarnished areas with a soft dry cloth. Rinse well, and let dry. Then use a soft cloth to buff the copper to a shine. You can also use tomato juice in the same way. Both of these methods work well, due to the acidity of the fruit.
Wear gloves. You may want to use some protective gloves for your awning restoration project. Even natural cleaning products, like lemon juice and vinegar, can produce dry, cracked hands.
Choose commercial products carefully. If your homemade formulas aren’t getting the job done, you can purchase a ready-made copper cleaning product. Many of these products contain ingredients that can prevent tarnish from developing so quickly, giving you more time between cleanings. Educate yourself about any chemicals these products contain, and take the proper safety precautions when using them.
With proper care, your copper awnings can regain the brilliant shine they had when first installed!