We’re sometimes asked, “is brass better than bronze?” However, it should be noted that there are perfectly suitable applications for both materials. Brass and bronze are both metal alloys, which means they are a combination of two or more different metals. Compositions vary, but most modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Bronze may also contain manganese, aluminum, nickel, phosphorus, silicon, arsenic, or zinc. Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. The proportions of the copper and zinc are varied to yield many different kinds of brass. Basic modern brass is 67% copper and 33% zinc. However, the amount of copper may range from 55% to 95% by weight, with the amount of zinc varying from 5% to 45%.
Brass is believed to have been used since around 500 BC, mostly for decorative purposes. Bronze dates back even further to around 3500 BC and has largely been used for sculpture. Today, both are used for a multitude of purposes.
As both have attractive qualities, both bronze and brass are used prominently in a lot of interior design styles. They both have warm, welcoming hues, making them the perfect addition to homes or hotels. However, they do differ, particularly in color. Brass is lighter in color, with more yellow and gold shades in it. Bronze has warmer, reddish hues than brass, giving it that traditional and welcoming feel.
In recent years, bronze has become very popular in interior design. Bronze brings warmth and depth to a room, so it is often used to warm up minimalist, neutral color schemes. Typically, bronze is used as an accent material, being utilized in accessories like cookware, furniture and lighting.
What is the Difference Between Brass and Bronze?
So, how does bronze differ from brass, exactly? There have been times that both materials have been marketed in the same categories but, in actuality, they are quite unique. This is true not only in their makeup but also in appearance. The differences between bronze and brass, especially when it comes to material composition, results in varying characteristics that make them suitable for different use cases. For instance, bronze’s higher level of resistance to saltwater corrosion makes it a better choice for ship components than brass. Meanwhile, brass’ exceptional workability and machinability make it more suitable for tubing and pole applications.
Table 1 below outlines some of the major differences between the two materials.
Is Brass Stronger Than Bronze?
Regardless of the elemental addition, bronze demonstrates greater hardness than pure copper. On the other hand, brass mainly contains copper and zinc, the latter of which allows for enhanced strength and ductility. It was found that some brasses were harder than any of the metals composing them, and strange to relate, this hardness is due to the softer metal, known as zinc. Thus, an alloy of zinc 50, copper 49, was in hardness as compared with cast iron -604; while an alloy of copper 66, zinc 33, was only 472 in hardness.
Details of Brass and Bronze Clad Doors
Decorative brass and bronze clad doors and frames combine outstanding visual appeal with rugged performance in the field. By cladding in brass or bronze over a steel substrate core, we obtain the beautiful appearance desired but add the strength and structure of steel. This permits the use of far less brass or bronze keeping both cost and material weight lower. Brass clad or bronze frame cladding is fastened to a heavy gauge steel sub-frame with a touch of craftsmanship.
The steel sub frame (i.e. jambs, head and mullions when required) is formed as full frame profiles, and these are clad with brass and bronze in two or three parts to completely cover the base steel frame. The corners are made with the head butting between the two jambs, creating a beautiful vertical butt seam connection. The decorative door face material is fastened to a rugged steel core with care and attention to detail. Doors can be manufactured in either a stile and rail configuration (when full or double lite glass is required) or full face clad construction (with flush door(s) or those with narrow or half-vision lites).
The gleaming appearance of polished brass or bronze clad products projects a beautiful appearance at a surprisingly moderate cost. The antique finish of satin brass or bronze clad products suits the design requirements of historical renovation projects. The relatively light weight offered by this type of construction permits the use of traditional builder’s hardware. In addition, it offers the same ease of operation as traditional steel exterior door openings, including where accessibility is required.
What Types of Applications are Suitable for Brass Clad Doors and Doorframes?
Any opening that requires an elegant appearance can be supplied with a brass or bronze clad door or doorframe. The use of bronze material has been historically more common than brass. It was especially common in the neo-classical and art-deco era of the early 20th century. Common applications include entrances to lobby areas in hotels and casinos, and lobby or common areas in posh corporate headquarters or prominent government buildings.
Are Brass or Bronze Clad Units Fire Rated?
Yes, both brass and bronze clad units have a fire rating. Contact the factory for more information.
Decorative Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is defined as a series of steel alloys that include at least 10% chromium. Stainless steel can offer a brilliant shine and appearance without compromising the integrity of the product. It is often used for decorative purposes due to the multiple finishes available. These include mirror finishes, satin finishes, as well as colored and patterned finishes. Because of this, stainless steel is often found as jewelry, on vehicles as a decorative finish, and in architecture, whether it is on the inside or the outside of a building. Stainless steel is especially important in architecture as it can provide a beautiful accent or finish to a building while providing corrosion protection against weather and air pollution.
The three most common finishes are:
- The #2B “mill finish”- Mill finish (#2B) is used in industrial applications where corrosion resistance is the primary concern and when stainless steel finish is not a concern or if finish painting the openings are being considered.
- The #4 “satin finish” – This brushed finish (#4) is obtained using 150 grit mesh abrasives and used in a wide variety of architectural and manufacturing environments. It is very similar in appearance to the BMHA USC32D finish.
- The #8 “mirror finish”- This polished finish (#8) or (#10) is produced by polishing with successively finer abrasives and buffing extensively until all grit lines from preliminary grinding operations are removed. It is used when an outstanding polished decorative finish is the primary objective.
AMBICO designs and manufactures stainless steel doors and frames for multiple uses across industries. The durability and range of use of AMBICO stainless steel solutions are reflected in the many areas where you can find our products. Our stainless-steel applications have been found in universities, hospitals, bus and train stations, office buildings, airports, wastewater treatment facilities, laboratories and casinos. We have designed and manufactured stainless solutions based solely on their decorative purposes as we did for the New England Insurance building in Kansas City or the Casino du Lac-Leamy in Quebec. We have also supplied assemblies for more practical applications like the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport and several port authorities in the United States and Canada.
You can trust AMBICO’s expertise in specialized doors, frames, and windows to find you the right stainless-steel doors and windows for your next project. Visit our gallery to see how we have brought character and durability to buildings with our stainless-steel doors and frames.
AMBICO’s Completed Projects
While we may be known for our engineered products, our decorative products have been used around the world on historic buildings and restorations. Our brass and bronze assemblies are visually stunning with enduring performance, our stainless-steel assemblies combine corrosion protection with outstanding design and beauty, and our recessed panel steel doors offer an old-world aesthetic with modern materials.
In 2017, AMBICO Limited was approached to lend its expertise to an ambitious plan to replace the original solid bronze doors at The Cadillac Place, in central Detroit. The place was worn and failing after close to a century of use. Today’s modern door and frame assemblies would meet the stringent building codes while still respecting the aesthetics of the venerable building.
AMBICO’s designers incorporated aesthetic details that included stunning mitered corners and worked closely with the architects on the project to address heritage concerns while ensuring that the bronze cladding on the new doors was as close a match as possible to the original bronze doors. Today, the new bronze doors and frame assemblies at the Cadillac Place are in modern spirit, but with an old-world finish that harkens back to the 1920s. Similar to the Cadillac place, AMBICO has successfully completed several signature projects such as Phoenix LDS Temple and Lafayette Building in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The West Block in Ottawa, and Winnipeg’s Victory Building among several others.
Learn more about our projects on brass and bronze clad doors and assemblies at: