Bold, smart and antibacterial; brass and bronze handles have made an unexpected return to interior fashion.
Our clients adore their deeply sophisticated and stylish homes, so we’re usually quick to spot new interior trends based on their requests. In recent years we have noticed a surge in homeowners choosing brass and bronze handles in their garden rooms. The rising popularity is largely due to the metal’s antibacterial properties.
According to research (outlined in more detail below), copper, and its alloys brass and bronze, are highly effective at killing bacteria – sometimes within minutes. These surfaces can also prevent antibiotic resistance in bacteria from spreading.
Our hands carry bacteria, which we spread around by touching different things in our homes. By using this material on door handles, which is something we often touch as we move around the house, can we help in the fight against germs?
Brass and bronze handles are proven by science to kill bacteria
As a naturally occurring metal, copper has been used by humanity for hundreds of years, and many ancient cultures and civilisations have been aware of the material’s health and sterilisation benefits long before scientists knew anything about germs. However, in recent times, stainless steel surfaces have risen in popularity in the home, with brass and bronze becoming less prevalent. Due to its lighter shade and reflective nature, we generally consider stainless steel to be cleaner-looking, but in fact, bacteria can survive on this material for weeks.
Professor Bill Keevil, the Director of Environmental Healthcare Units at Southampton University, began to explore why people used copper as a healing material in the past. In research published in the journal Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, Keevil explains that copper ions penetrate bacterial cells and inhibits their respiration. Compared to stainless steel, he discovered that bacteria on copper surfaces rapidly degraded at room temperature, and the copper ions also attacked the DNA of the cell, stopping the transfer of toxic genes and antibody resistance.
COVID-19 lives on brass and bronze door handles far less than half the time of other materials
According to research conducted by The New England Journal Of Medicine, COVID-19 lives on copper surfaces for just four hours, while managing to live on other surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.
Of course, there is no substitute for regular hand washing and antibacterial cleaning throughout your home, but copper, brass or bronze door handles will help to stop or slow down the transmission of germs. So popular has the metal become, even our hospitals are looking to replace handles with brass and bronze.
Style and quality still matter
When it comes to door handles and ironmongery, you can’t get away with scrimping and cutting corners on quality. We always buy British to ensure the best quality for our customers. Handles are a functional, interactive part of your home – every day, you take hold of them in your hands, grasping, pushing and pulling them as you move about between rooms. They need to feel stable and sturdy, with a smooth movement as you open a door, but they need to look good, too.
To find out more, we spoke with Paul Clifford, Director at Croft Architectural Hardware Ltd. Croft are a British family-run manufacturer based in the West Midlands, who make fine, quality ironmongery for high-end clients. We source a majority of our ironmongery from Croft, who have a heritage that stretches back over 150 years.
‘It’s all about the copper content due to its antibacterial properties,’ explains Paul. ‘With 86% copper in our bronze castings and 65% in our brass, choosing the unlacquered option allows regular cleaning, maintains the appearance, and retains the natural virus-fighting ability.’
Often Brass and Bronze is lacquered, but it’s the unlacquered versions that you need to opt for to take advantage of the antibacterial properties. This is will give you traditional looking handles with nice wear on them.
Like all businesses, we’ve been looking for new ways to protect our working environment and do things differently at the Westbury head office and showroom. To help keep our employees safe, we’ll be changing all our door handles over to brass ones, just like our clients are doing.
Westbury Garden Rooms design and build exceptional bespoke garden rooms and orangeries. A glazed timber garden room can transform your home into something extraordinary. Contact us today to discuss your ideas in more detail, or you can also arrange a time to visit one of our showrooms in Essex or London.