One of the world’s most ancient alloys is becoming an increasingly popular option for modern door furniture because of the aesthetic variety it provides as well as its enhanced corrosion resistance in harsh environments.
In the modern era, stainless steel has firmly established itself as an enduring trend. The popularity of stainless steel can be attributed to the general perception that it's the most durable and resilient of metals, particularly given its widespread use for consumer products such as kitchenware and electrical appliances.
But when it comes to door furniture - those exterior components of a door, such as handles and hinges, which serve both functional and aesthetic ends - other metals are now becoming increasingly popular as options for door furniture on the grounds of both functionality and appearance.
Andrew Williams, Product Category Manager, ASSA ABLOY Australia, notes that customers are increasingly requesting door furniture that's made from brass. The copper and zinc alloy has been employed by human beings since time immemorial, and was once one of the most popular options for metallic home embellishments.
"Brass has a long history when it comes to door furniture," said Williams. "You often see it in heritage buildings in Australia, and we often get calls from people trying to match an aged bronze or brass product because that's what those older buildings originally used."
While stainless steel has since emerged to be a widespread choice for door furniture, Williams said a big part of brass' increasing popularity lies in its ability to achieve a distinctive aesthetic for buildings or homes, particularly as an alternative to stainless steel.
"There's an aesthetic shift towards those warmer metals - copper and bronze finishes,” said Williams. "We're seeing them come back into fashion, with more customers asking for these finishes because they feel that they work well with timber and provide a warmer feel, while steel can look clinical."
Consumers have other reasons to turn to brass as an option for door furniture, as it possesses a number of advantages over stainless steel in terms of workability and resilience. Williams notes that the strong durability and functionality of brass makes a popular option for interior door mechanisms.
"Brass is one of the materials we use to make our key cylinders, because it's durable and can move against itself without requiring a lot of lubrication," he said. "It's also a readily workable material that lends itself to more precise machining, which means you can make a more resilient product with less wear."
The chief advantage of brass compared to other metals is its high level of corrosion resistance. Because brass doesn't rust the way steel does, it performs far better in harsh, highly corrosive environments common to many parts of Australia due to their close proximity to the ocean.
"Brass door furniture with a satin chrome finish significantly outperforms stainless steel in extremely corrosive environments like aquatic centres, where even marine grade stainless steel doesn't achieve the same kind of performance as brass," said Williams.
"No metal is completely impervious to the environment - they all oxidise - but brass doesn’t contain steel so it can’t rust or suffer from brown discolouration.”
Stainless steel, when it succumbs to mild corrosion, takes on a brown discolouration called tea staining from patches of iron oxidising and rusting.
Customers who want the contemporary stainless steel look in combination with the enhanced corrosion resistance of brass can still be satisfied because the addition of a satin chrome finish to brass door furniture can deliver a surface appearance equivalent to that of stainless steel.