Living With Waxed Finishes - Andrew Nebbett Designs

Designed and beautifully handmade by our craftsmen in England

What to expect when living with patinated / finished metal surfaces

Metals such as brass, nickel and chrome have featured on fixtures and fittings for years, but metal surfaces such as cupboard doors and frames are becoming an ever-increasing choice for many parts of the home. As well as tables and worktops, this hard-wearing material lends itself to a multitude of other purposes and uses; doors and door frames, wall panelling and splashbacks, kitchen cupboard doors and drawer fronts to name a few. A flash of metallic in any room adds a touch of sophisticated luxe. While a full suite of metal cabinets might overwhelm, integrating metal elements adds an intriguing accent to an interior.

Uniquely hand patinated metal surfaces are akin to highly polished and crafted antique cabinetry. Both require care and attention to keep them looking their best. They need treating as one would a family heirloom – the relationship requiring long term commitment so that it may continue to be passed down through generations.

We talk a lot about patination and for many people, while they might have an inkling as to its meaning, they may not fully appreciate the treatment and how this is achieved. Let us explain: patina is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of copper, brass, bronze and similar metals. It appears as tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes and over time will acquire further changes through age and exposure.

Through the expertise of applying various chemical recipes (yes, these are our ‘secret’ recipes) our team can ‘force’ the various material surfaces to change much quicker than if they were left for the process to happen naturally.

We regularly provide samples to demonstrate the finishes we can achieve on the metals we use. What we must make clear however, is that the surface you see when your items arrive will not be the surface you see once the natural oxidisation process has enabled the surface to evolve to what we call its final skin. To have metal surfaces in your home requires an open mind and a willingness to embrace the beautiful changes that will eventually occur.

A coat of wax can add a layer of protection to your metal surfaces, but over time will be absorbed into the metal. Conversely, in situations where a coat of lacquer is required (and we can provide guidance on this), it will sit on the surface, creating a protective barrier that will slow down (and in some cases, stop) the natural aging process of the metal.

The journey this process takes the surface along will depend on a number of factors: location, exposure to sunlight, daily use and maintenance being just a few.

Cupboard doors, drawer fronts and also splashbacks, will no doubt see daily use and therefore are subjected to our usual and unconscious interactions: finger prints, spillages and scratches. These areas of high use will develop and evolve differently to other parts of these specific surfaces, but such is the beauty of having metal in your home – you get to enjoy the journey along on the fascinating pathway of patination as wear and tear play their part in shaping and honing the surface. Dings and scratches, marks and buffed areas come together, each leaving their mark over the years, to culminate in the final surface patina – a surface that will be totally unique.

As with our previous article about metal worktops and tables – Living with Patinated and Finished Metal Furniture – we have some guidelines (dos and don’ts) to help you care for your waxed metal surfaces:

 Dos & Don’ts

When living with a patinated metal cupboard door or drawer front (for example) DO…

  • take care to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur with a damp cloth and dry gently, patting the surface with a dry cloth/towel
  • ‘feed’ it now and then, with a specialist wax (please ask us for more information)
  • keep it out of direct sunlight
  • protect the surface from direct heat/abrasive objects
  • fundamentally, think of the surface as you might if the piece of furniture was a family heirloom or antique wooden piece

When living with a patinated metal cupboard door or drawer front (for example)  DON’T…

  • don’t expect the surface to remain  ‘as you bought it’ for long – it will start to change (very subtly) from the moment it is delivered / installed
  • don’t use chemical cleaners or abrasive cleaning products/sponges (such as Cillit Bang / Brasso etc.)
  • don’t leave any spillages on the surface – wipe them off immediately (some ‘everyday’ substances such as lemon juice, HP Sauce etc., can react with the metal, leaving marks on the surface)
  • don’t allow any hot dishes or saucepans etc to be placed directly onto the surface (these can cause the metal to expand rapidly, resulting in unsightly changes)

In summary, metallics as functional surfaces are popular and fantastic design choices. However, the commitment to care for these surfaces is indeed long-term. As aforementioned we have likened the care required to that taken when becoming the custodian of a family heirloom or antique piece of cabinetry – there are guidelines to follow in order to keep it looking its best.

And while the metal surface you see today will change as time passes, the approaches and measures you take can help to ensure its beauty and longevity.


On a final note, with so much focus on the impact of climate change, resource depletion and general ‘wastefulness’ within our world, we design all of our pieces with longevity in mind. Our aim is to provide our clients with pieces that will be loved, used and kept for many, many years and even passed down through generations to come. In choosing a piece from Andrew Nebbett Designs, almost 100% recyclable/renewable materials will be used, thus we are all achieving something sustainable and vital for our planet’s health.  

Metal Surfaces

Our team of craftsmen have decades of experience in patination techniques. We can create unique surface finishes for your projects. Talk with our team today to find out more.

Kitchen with Metal Cabinets

Whether you have a desire for a brand new custom-made kitchen table with a unique surface finish or whether your project requires a specific finish for the metal trims, plinths, door furniture and hardware etc. Our team have a wealth of knowledge to be able to help and advise. Please call for more information.

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