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Changing appearance of brass to satin chrome without plating?

adv.   M and M Metallizing


Q. I'm trying to find a chemical compound or other solution to change the color of a 2" wide, 40" long brass bar that runs the length of my fireplace to a color and finish more like a satin chrome or nickel. Most of the metal plating companies in my area have closed, and the one or two that I have located do not accept jobs as small as mine. Can anyone offer any advice?


Carri O'Neill
homeowner - Corte Madera, California, USA


A. Unfortunately, Carri, brass is brass and chrome is chrome, and one is goldish while the other is silverish.

You may have to ship the item to get it plated. Labor is the biggest part of the cost of most things, and to replate a single item, spending a couple of hours in the process, will make it cost more than most consumers think it's worth. But if it's special to you, a plating shop can certainly do it.

Something that is dirt cheap and may or may not impart the look you want is a metallic wax rub [ wax rub [linked by editor to Rub 'n' Buff product info at MisterArt]], probably only applicable if this is a decorative feature far removed from the fire and doesn't get hot. Good luck.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Plating of a single item can be very expensive. You could try a can of high temperature aluminum paint. It can be moderately close to a satin finish.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. You can try with paste silvering or tinning!

Paste silvering recipe:

10 gm silver chloride
20 gm salt
20 gm cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)

It must be rubbed on grease and oxide free object (with piece of leather or cork) and you must lacquer or wax it!Good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

September 9, 2011

Q. Hello! Wow, I ran across this page while Googling and what a terrific resource it is!

I'm purchasing a new coffee table (Thomasville Stiletto) that is absolutely perfect for my new living room, however, it is made of brass and finished in a dull, gold-ish metallic color.

I'd like to make it more silver than gold to match the rest of the room concept. I was thinking of using a product that could be rubbed on so that it overall takes more of a silver color than just painting it solid silver.

Does anyone have recommendations for the best product, paint or method to accomplish this?



Chris Westfall
Hobbyist - Orlando, Florida, USA

December 25, 2011


I saw this on the Nate Burkus show and they used oven cleaner to change the color of brass to chrome. the chemical in the oven cleaner alters the brass color and it looks just like chrome without painting and looks much better.

Marianne Reile
- Evanston, Illinois, USA

December 26, 2011

Hi, Marianne.

That is an interesting possibility. Thanks! It is true that a lot of brass toned stuff is not really brass but actually nickel plating with either a flash of brass plating over it, or a brass tone tinted lacquer over it. If you can remove that top layer, yes, you can be left with the bright nickel plating. Or maybe left with a mess if it wasn't what you thought it was :-)


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 17, 2013

Q. I have a solid brass, queen-size bed (headboard and footboard) that I would like to change to a silver-tone. It looks like an old-fashioned, Victorian brass bed. At present, the brass is coated with an anti-tarnish finish. I've had the bed for 25 years, and simply want a change of color.

Can you recommend what should be done with this bed? Should it be electroplated with chrome or nickel, or a nickel-chrome combination. Are there any specifications for how thick the coating should be for this type of application? Thanks in advance for your help! :-)

Noreen Wensley
- Saskatoon, SK, Canada
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^

February 17, 2013

A. Hi Noreen. I'm not here to discourage you from bringing a plating shop a $2000 job if that's what you want to do, just to warn you that such a project would be very expensive :-)

Nickel plating should be fine for indoor use in a home. No need for nickel-chrome unless you like the extra flash and freedom from tarnishing (some people find the faintly yellow tarnish of nickel attractive). I don't think a consumer should try to write specifications for a one-time job, but just tell the plating shop to do a good job.

It may be more practical to simply paint the bed a metallic-looking color =>
rather than actually have it plated. Try some on an inconspicuous place on the inside of a rail. You'll almost surely need a self-etching primer coat first for good adhesion though. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 22, 2014appended

Q. Just moved into a 30 year old home and most of the fixtures are gold; we're updating to a satin nickel finish. my sliding door is no longer made, and the handle is a special part you can't find in stores. So, I'm looking to take the gold to satin nickel. What would you recommend for looks and durability?

brad mock
- omaha, Nebraska, USA

February 2014

A. Hi Brad. If price were no object I'd recommend taking it to a plating shop for satin nickel plating. But if $100 or a little more sounds excessive to you, there's always nickel colored spray paint. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
June 25, 2014

Q. My mom is downsizing her house and is offering me the solid brass head and footboard that I used as a teen. The piece is beautiful - almost like a cloud design (so soft arches), however it's brass - thick shiney bright gold. The gold style is dated and while originally quite expensive, I don't want to take it if I can't update it to go in my almost 9 year old daughter's room.

I'm not in a position to spend a ton of money having it refinished professionally (came across one site that charged $1700 for this size bed), so what, if any, DIY options are there?

Even if I could get it to an antique/brushed brass that would be an improvement over the current very bright/shiney gold.

Nicole Souther
busy working mom who loves crafts - Dallas, TX USA

June 2014

A. Hi Nicole. Just paint it. You'll need a self-etching primer to get good adhesion, then spray on a color or a metallic tone.


pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Self-etching primer

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