Copper vs Brass: What's the Difference? (+ Which is Better?)

Tom Volpe February 26, 2023

Are you planning a renovation and confused about the differences between brass and copper for your project? It can be confusing trying to figure out which type of metal might work best for your needs. It isn’t as simple as asking which one is the prettiest.

With metals, things such as strength, resistance to corrosion, colour consistency over time, and etching process compatibility among other deciding factors should all be considered. Today we are breaking down the details to help you make an informed decision between copper vs brass when it comes to choosing materials for your project.

copper and brass pipes next to eachother


What is the Difference Between Copper and Brass?

The key difference between copper and brass is the composition of their elements. Copper is a pure metal element that exists in its natural state, while brass is an alloy made from copper combined with different metals such as zinc.

This combination results in various visual, mechanical, and physical characteristics for each material; for example, brass is shinier and softer than copper, which has more of a reddish-brown colour and can be formed into stronger metals when shaped. Copper also has better electrical conductivity than brass, making it more valuable in industrial applications requiring electrical conduction.

Both materials have been popular throughout history for decorative purposes due to their beautiful colours, however, their distinct differences make them ideal for different usage across various industries.

Old-Fashioned Copper Baking Pans Hanging on Wall in Kitchen


Visual Appearance of Copper and Brass

Copper and brass are two closely-related metals that have been used for a variety of purposes for centuries due to their properties. While both possess strength, electrical conductivity, and resistance to corrosion, they differ slightly in visual appearance. Copper is a peculiar reddish-orange colour naturally, though its hue can vary depending on the level of oxidation.

Brass on the other hand has a much more gold-like colour, which results from mixing copper with zinc or tin. It also tends to be slightly shinier than its counterpart. The distinct colours of these two metals make them perfect for uses like artwork or decoration, where aesthetics are important.

Metallurgic Properties of Copper vs. Brass

Copper and brass are very similar in many ways, but they also have some distinct differences. From a metallurgic standpoint, the two metals contrast significantly. Firstly, copper is a much softer metal compared to brass given that it is an alloy of zinc and copper. With this configuration, brass has the added advantage of greater strength and durability than pure copper. Additionally, the melting point of brass is much higher due to its alloy components; in contrast, pure copper melts at relatively lower temperatures.

Furthermore, relative to heat resistance, brass performs better because it forms more protective oxide layers than copper when exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, taking into account the metallurgic properties of copper versus brass yields different results which can be beneficial depending on the project or manufacturing needs.

Uses for Copper and Brass

Copper and brass are two extremely useful metals due to their malleability and electrical conductivity. Copper is an essential tool in countless industries, from electronic manufacturing and telecommunications to architectural installations and sculptures. Copper piping is the standard for both residential and commercial plumbing systems. Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, is lauded for its colourful visual qualities and widespread application in musical instruments and curved sculptures primarily due to its acoustic properties.

In addition, brass is a popular material choice for lamp fixtures, hinges, doorknobs, locks, furnishings and decorative items as well as being used across multiple medical fields including implants or instruments. Clearly, these two malleable metals possess several practical uses across a vast array of industries.

The Durability of Copper and Brass

Copper and brass have qualities that make them highly sought-after materials for both decorative and functional pieces. They have been used throughout history for tools, jewellery, weaponry, coins, and more. Both metals are resistant to corrosion, making them extremely durable and long-lasting. Copper in particular is considered one of the longest-lasting materials known to man - a 2,000-year-old piece was found intact!

With proper care and maintenance, these metals can be kept looking beautiful despite their age. For this reason, they are still popular today when it comes to producing both aesthetic items like jewelry as well as functional products such as plumbing supplies.

photo of a copper faucet


Cost Comparison: Copper vs. Brass

A kg of each metal will generally cost:

  • Up to £6.50 for high-quality copper
  • Up to £4 for high-quality brass

When deciding on the perfect material for a project, costs must often be taken into account. Copper and brass can be both appealing, yet their price points vary greatly. Copper is often considered the more expensive option due to its abundance of uses such as plumbing, roofing and electric wiring.

Brass has interesting attributes that make it unique such as its versatility when melted and moulded into many forms along with its ability to resist corrosion effectively. Both materials have their purpose in modern daily life, depending on what your needs are; copper may ultimately be a better choice due to its broad applications and long-lasting effects while brass may be the preferred answer when considering affordability.

Common Alloys Combining Copper and Brass

Copper, a heavy metal found naturally in the ground and sea, is popularly used in a variety of products due to its excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, strength, malleability, and corrosion resistance. Whenever more strength is needed than pure copper can provide, it is often combined with brass to form an alloy.

These alloys are a significant component of modern industry because they bring together brass’s attractive yellow colour along with the durability of copper. Commonly studied alloys include Muntz Metal (60% copper, 40% zinc), cu-ni (copper-nickel) Monel (67% nickel, 23% copper) and Cupronickel (90% copper, 10% nickel). Each has its own unique properties offering advantages for whatever purpose it is used for.

For example, cu-ni alloys have extreme marine environments resistance making them well-suited for submarine components. With ever-increasing technological innovation requiring materials that blend insight from various areas such as metallurgy and chemistry, finding successful combinations will be key to further advances.

Choosing Copper or Brass for Your Project/Application

Whether you are looking for something practical or even decorative, both copper and brass have great benefits for any project or application. Copper is a highly versatile material that offers great electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance. It can be used in plumbing, roofing, and even jewellery. On the other hand, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, which gives it a higher tensile strength than pure copper, making it a good choice for machining and moulding applications. Both materials come in various sizes and grades depending on your specific needs.

photo of a brass sink tap

Brass is typically shinier than copper, making it suitable for decoration as well. Ultimately, your decision as to whether to choose copper or brass depends entirely on the specifics of your project and application – selecting the right material will help ensure success!

Which is Better, Copper or Brass?

Choosing between copper and brass can be a difficult decision as both metals have their own advantages. Copper is more durable than brass and it is highly resistant to corrosion, which makes it suitable for many marine environments. Brass, on the other hand, has a great polish that provides an attractive shine and its malleable nature makes it easy to work with.

Copper is slightly more expensive but provides better protection from the elements, while brass is cheaper but weaker than copper. Ultimately the decision between copper and brass should come down to what end-use you intend for your project – if you need a robust metal for an outdoor environment then copper may be the best option, whereas if you want something beautiful and decorative then brass would be perfect.


Both copper and brass have their own unique benefits that make them ideal for different applications. If you need a metal that is strong, durable and has a high resistance to corrosion, then brass is the better choice. But if you need a metal that is softer and more malleable, then copper would be the better option. No matter what your needs are, there is sure to be a metal out there that can meet them.

Ready to upgrade your kitchen? Our boiling water taps come in both brass and copper finishes. Find out more about how a boiling water tap works today.