Chip & Joanna Gaines' Bizarre Hack For A Rustic Copper Finish

It's no secret that Chip and Joanna Gaines are fans of a rustic, lived-in finish. As Joanna has previously told Homes & Gardens, her go-to aesthetic is inspired by farmland features like the weathered metals of industrial equipment, alongside the natural world. The only thing is, finding pieces that reflect that isn't always as simple as nipping down to a store. Luckily, as the couple demonstrated in one of their "Fixer Upper" episodes, there's a DIY fix for that. 

As fans of HGTV show are likely to have seen, a 2018 episode featured the husband and wife thinking about how they could fast-track the aging process for a copper accent. Chip pointed out that he'd heard vinegar was one way of doing it — and sure enough, some experts say that just a few applications of household vinegar is all it takes to achieve the desired effect. However, it proved not to pan out as well as intended, and the team tried several different things before finding the real solution: pickle juice. 

That said, the couple didn't go into detail as to why pickle juice was the best option. So, just what is it about the liquid most have in their kitchen that makes it so effective in creating a patina? And, what do we need to know about putting it to work in our own DIY projects? 

Pickle juice promotes a faster patina

The idea of washing real copper in pickle juice may sound bizarre, but as it turns out, it's similar to another hack many have used over the years to get a patina going fast. As weathered metal enthusiasts may already know, a combination of salt and vinegar is often recommended as a way to speed up the process. Pickle juice — which contains both ingredients — has the same effect. 

Speaking of Chip and Joanna Gaines' hack to Country Living, contractor and Founder of Stonehurst Group, Inc, Justin Krzyston explained, "The reason it works is because of the salt and vinegar in the pickle juice itself." Krzyston added that the key to getting the desired outcome lies in just how long the pickle juice is left on the metal. "The longer you leave the solution on the copper then the more aged your copper will begin to look," he told the outlet. 

The Gaines' didn't go into much detail as to how they applied the pickle juice to the copper they used. However, Chip hinted that they'd applied it to the metal by rubbing it into their test sheets. 

... but it's wise to proceed with caution for the best results

In light of the differing approaches recommended, the pickle juice patina hack is certainly one to approach with some caution. After all, as Joanna Gaines had pointed out in the episode where they discovered the technique, copper can be pricey. In other words, not something you'd want to run the risk of damaging in one fell swoop. 

Faye Friedman, Quality Bath's marketing director, is one expert who noted that she wasn't a fan of the idea and pointed out the risk. Speaking to Country Living, she explained, "It's very difficult to control how much the copper will age." Moreover, she noted that any copper was guaranteed to develop a patina in due course, anyway, so it wouldn't be necessary to do anything to it. 

Having said that, if you, like Chip and Joanna Gaines, are determined to get a head start on the effect, there are ways to try it out before making any commitment. As was seen in the "Fixer Upper" episode, the couple and their team tested out a variety of DIY solutions on separate sheets of copper before naming pickle juice the victor. Follow their lead, and try it out on smaller pieces, both soaking in and rubbed on, to see what works best. This hack certainly sounds bizarre, but if it worked for the HGTV stars, it's definitely worth a shot.