Bar & Table Tops
- Sheathing over counter tops and objects is
all dependent on the base it is mounted on. If you have a smooth
even base the result will be better. Wood must be sealed for
it to remain more stable and for glue to adhere if used.
- The lighter 30 gauge for light
wear areas may conform better to shapes and adhere better with
less expansion and contraction. The best adhesive we are hearing
about is "Liquid Nails" It holds better if applied
in a thin even layer. It apparently does not react with the copper
over time and holds longer.
- In smaller applications
spray adhesives may work, such as the ones 3M company makes that
are available at hardware and auto parts stores. For example
premium auto trim adhesive which is sprayed on both surfaces
and allowed to semi dry before attaching.
- While small areas are easy to cover with
copper or brass sheet using adhesives; making counter, bar and
table tops with sheet metal is a bit more complicated. All metals
expand and contract with changes in temperature. A 10 foot length
of copper sheet may shrink in length as much as 3/8 inch when
a room's air conditioner is turned on. Because of this and in
our experience, large sheets of thick copper or brass cannot
simply be glued or laminated to a plywood or particle board substrate.
Successful countertops that we have seen rest on top of and float
freely on their substrate with a minimum of attachment to allow
the sheet metal to expand and contract, even with the heavy 23
gauge roofing weight copper.
- We attempted to circumvent the expansion
problem by using a flexible contact adhesive on a long bar project.
We were very careful to seal the plywood with sanding sealer
and rough up the underside of the copper so the glue would 'grab'.
Unfortunately, the repeated shrinking and elongating of the copper
caused by changes in temperature eventually caused the copper
to release it from the glue. We ended up having to nail the copper
to the plywood base using bronze boat nails. The nails gave our
bar top a rustic maritime look which was OK but not what we initially
- On a beautiful 12' by 24' bar that we subsequently
studied, we noted that the craftsman used a large bending and
forming machine that would normally be used for making copper
roof gutters. From the outside in, the bar had a raised lip that
abutted the mahogany elbow rest. Contiguous with the lip was
20 inches of flat space and then 4 inches of sunken 'mix rail'
that also had a raised lip. The entire bar appeared to have been
formed off site in 10 foot sections. The individual lengths were
then brought to the site, set on top of the bar base and then
trimmed to length and soldered to each other. The entire surface
simply rested on top of its base and was free to expand and contract.
However, it needed daily polishing and even the best professionally
installed tops are subject to denting, dimpling, and scratching
because of the softness of copper.
- Copper is very reactive to anything that
is spilled on it. It will also continuously oxidize or tarnish
when exposed to the air. Keeping a copper or brass surface shiny
and bright is ongoing and intensive. (see our article on finishing).
If a low maintenance, polished copper surface is required, there
are new copper Formica-type laminates available by special order
in the kitchen cabinet departments of home building supply stores.
These laminates appear to have an actual layer of metal foil
sandwiched in the material and are engineered to have the same
expansion properties as the plywood or particle board that they
are intended to be laminated to.
- If you have a large area that
you would like to cover with copper or brass, consider attaching
it by other means than adhesives. We have heard that flexible
epoxy adhesives 'could' be successful, but we have not had any
experience with them. A table top could have a metal or wood
trim that holds the sheet metal in place. Bronze boat nails,
brass nails or tacks could be used along the edges for that wonderful
- Most large professionally
made tops are made as a floating surface. Hidden Tabs that are
soldered underneath every 9 inches are attached over the top/behind
and underneath to the sub material. Then the whole counter top
is placed and attached to cabinets. See our soldering article.
- Counter top contractors
and ever Copper roofing contractors quite often do countertops
and can advise as well.
- We have heard some success
mounting on a semi smooth plastic laminate with a flexible adhesive
-the adhesive holds better.
- In the 70's copper was
often embedded in epoxy on tables and the thick top layer kept
the copper fresh- though the epoxy itself yellows.