Oil Rubbed Bronze

A Living Finish

Posted:  Feb 06, 2017
US10B, colloquially known as oil rubbed bronze, is a hardware finish that's fortune has risen and fallen over the years. Recently, it appears to have an uptick in popularity once again. Owners and builders tend to have very strong feelings about good old US10B. How can a simple hardware finish cause so many feelings - many of them bad?

Oil rubbed bronze is a "living finish."  This means that over time, oxidation will occur on the surface of any piece of metal that is exposed to heat, moisture, but especially the oils on people's hands.  On a piece of door hardware, that means that there are certain areas that are going to end of looking very different that the original finish!

In the right application, oil rubbed bronze and the patina that it will develop can look very nice.  But it is defnitely something that owners and maintenance people need to be aware of.  The biggest compalint we hear about US10B is that there must be something wrong with it, that the finish is rubbing right off. 

According to ANSI and BHMA, oil rubbed bronze is a category "B" finish: "Category B finishes are those that are unstable and are applied to the base material or are the base material defined by the description in 5.2. These finishes shall be compatible with the BHMA match plates, but these finishes cannot and do not match from one alloy or form of material to the next and from one manufacturer to the next." (A156.10-2012)

That's right, not only will individual pieces of hardware take on different colors, but hardware sets from piece to piece will take up the oil differently, and different manufacturer's processes of applying that finish will end up with different looking products.  Owners with a mix-and-match of different hardware on one opening might be in for a suprise in how that looks!

In the end, US10B has its place.  It can look very eye-catching and matches more "rustic" or eclectic styles.  If someone is expecting a uniform look, all in a sleek black finish, it can come as quite the surprise. 

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