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Clear coating brass, copper and bronze furniture, sculpture, and jewelry

Some clearcoating solutions (adv.) pointer   


Q. Could you recommend a high quality clear coat to be applied to brass, copper and bronze. The furniture I will be fabricating is of high quality. I would like to apply a low gloss or medium gloss clear coat that is durable and scratch resistant. I have tried brass lacquer. Powder coating is too thick. The finish will be mirror polish and brush finish (180 to 240 grit). I will take as many suggestions as you can provide. Thanks for your help.   

David S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Canada


A. Hi David. Brass lacquer was designed for this purpose, and is used by many high end manufacturers, so one possibility may be that you need a specialty lacquer -- a better one than you previously used.

adv. Maybe the site's supporting advertiser G. J. Nikolas can offer you a specific product.

E-coating is another possibility. UV cured coatings can be exceptionally hard, but I don't know if any are suitable for copper and its alloys. I think, but do not know, that merely covering copper doesn't work well; rather, the coating or pretreatment should probably incorporate or be preceded by a preservative like benzotriazole. Best of luck.

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


A. There are several water borne coatings for brass, copper and bronze but we would require some additional info such as any other film properties desired, i.e ., weathering or chemical resistance, hardness. Semi Gloss clarity control requires absolute application control to maintain sheen appearance.



A. Dave, there are catalyzed water borne polyurethanes available for your purpose that have been used successfully on brushed aluminum passenger rail cars and other non ferrous substrates. There are some limitations on highly polished surfaces because clear acrylics are slightly opaque and are not water white clear but they do provide an acceptable sheen.

Pete Bagley
- Reno, Nevada


Q. I have a question similar to Dave's. My product is a high market end solid brass light indicator for scuba divers. I need to protect the brass against tarnishing following dips in salt and fresh water. I heard that a flexible silicon oxide coating could be very good in that type of application. Do you have any other suggestions? I will use naval brass 464. The product is in two pieces, one of 100 grams and the other smaller with 15 grams. Some areas must be masked.

Robert Turcotte
- Canada


Q. I am in quality control at a brass hardware factory. One of our products is high quality door hardware. Some is polished brass, some is antiqued brass. We send the product to California for a lifetime coating (Vitrinite). Before we send the hardware we dip it in a chromate dip. By the time it reaches Calif., it has a white hazy pattern to it and is rejected for the lifetime finish. We wrap the hardware in a white cotton cloth to protect it and then in a plastic pouch.The parts are cleaned with trichlor beforehand. What are we doing wrong? What temp. should we be using on the dip and rinse waters?

joe mula
- New York, New York


Q. I have Two large brass and copper bird sculptures from Mexico. I would like to know what type of clearcoat I should use to preserve the metal and reduce tarnishing? Thank you !

Patrick Mooney
Pat Mooney
- San Diego, California


A. Hi guys,

I am not talking about the copper or brass pieces exposed to salt water. etc., for but ordinary copper and brass items, if it is not cookware, a good coating of regular, clear hair spray will prevent them from tarnishing for a long time. This will work very well for Pat Mooney's copper and brass Bird sculptures. :)

Yasemin Ataker
- Concord, California


thumbs up signYasemin,

Thanks for the hair spray trick, just what I was searching for here in South Carolina!

Brian Dressler
teacher - Simpsonville, South Carolina

March 18, 2008

thumbs up signThank You Ms Ataker. I am on a tight budget, and I need to protect the surface of a porthole. Hairspray will fit my budget just fine.

Margie Parrish
Hobbyist - North Augusta, South Carolina


Q. I am currently searching for a clear coat for plated brass on steel. The light fixtures being produced are gas and their temperatures can rise above 500 degrees. Is there any coating that will not yellow or discolor under these conditions? Best regards,

Chad Kusner
- Euclid, Ohio


A. Chad,

PVD coating on stainless steel might do the trick. I've tested titanium colored stainless in a home oven and found 550 °F (max on a conventional home oven) to be no problem. Color can be gold or light gold (brass).

Michael Liu Taylor
   specialty stainless steel distributor

Dallas, Texas

Brass Lacquer


adv. Clear coating brass, copper and bronze Please visit and search for "lacquer" and ask the vendors for help on your problem.

A. On coating with vitrinite, I don't believe that trichlor will remove a chromate conversion coating. But especially, see J. Hosdowich's field report filed in 1955 on wiping with solvents, "Barney the Buffer"

The Brass Bird Sculptures: If supporting advertiser G.J. Nikolas doesn't have a better suggestion, you could get a can of clear lacquer from a hardware store. I believe that you would need to start with a clean surface, so I would use a brass polish. I am afraid to offer Barney the Buffer's use of solvent wiping afterwards, but you might test spray a piece of copper to see if and how you should clean the sculpture before painting. On brass plated steel for lamps, you don't design a fixture so the fixture itself is heated to 500 °F? Regards, Tom

tom pullizzi monitor
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township,


adv. My company has a product called Tuffcoat that will clearcoat brass, etc. It is nearly invisible and has survived up 1300 hours in salt spray. Tuffcoat can be dyed any color.

Terry Collins
Gold Touch Inc.
Cleveland, Ohio



A. My experience with copper sculptures and clear coating these to protect the color patina has been 34 years so far. I can tell you that Rust-o-leum clear seal that is sold today [Rustoleum Crystal Clear [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]] is the fast dry formula and is sufficient for 5-8 years, the older formula 1 1/2 hour dry time expect 12- 14 years indoors, but Incralac will survive for 8-10 years outdoors with bi-yearly waxing. The biggest problem with outdoor exposure is the expansion of the copper and the clear coating inability to keep up with this. Failure occurs at 3 years more or less with most store bought sprays. Aircraft coatings in clear are very hard and fail on copper doors at 3-4 years. So the key to finding a good finish a difficult one but not impossible. Fluxes used during brazing WILL break through the finish and should always be removed prior to any coating.

Kevin Jenkins
- Homosassa, Florida

September 15, 2009

I just wanted to add this about finishes. I just received a sculpture into my studio that I made in 1974. It was in for a repair. It had been slightly damaged on one corner and needed straightening. First I cleaned it with warm soapy water and dried it and was really amazed at how well the finish had held up. It had been applied some 35 years ago and it still had great sheen and no crazing. When I first started working in my craft I used Rust-o-leum clear and in fact had used it for about 30 yrs. when the makers of Rust-o-leum changed the formula and it was never the same. Seems they went to a fast dry and to get good coverage it wasn't the finish I needed to use any more so I switched to Incralac and haven't looked back. The sculpture was indoors for its whole life so far.

Kevin Jenkins [returning]
- Homosassa, Florida

Patinas for Silicon Bronze


Q. I am working on an outdoor silicon bronze sculpture. I needs to be protected against the elements. Most sculptures have a patina. This one is freshly sanded to the bright bronze color which I like to keep. I know that other sculptors coat their pieces with Incralac but usually that is after they have already a darker or patina color which is easier to protect than the bright shiny bronze.
Any recommendation?

Madak Kadam
sculptor - Sedona, Arizona


A. Try Everbrite [a supporting advertiser] coating! Good luck

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

replica pot still

Q. I make replica pot stills and have tried, in vain, to lacquer the highly polished products.

I am looking for alternative techniques and would like to try the patina methods.

Does the copper still tarnish after application, and where can I purchase the raw materials?

Andrew Scott
replica stills - Elgin, Scotland


A. I believe the ultimate in clear coatings for ferrous and non ferrous metals is a product called Permalac. It's development history includes Incralac, which is used by major art institutions to protect bronze sculpture. Permalac is made by Peacock Labs and distributed by Sculpt Nouveau [and others].

I am not an agent for either business.


David Thomas
- Chesapeake, Virginia

Ed. note: Although you're not an agent, David, shills using fictitious names often post here claiming the same. This forum is good for many things but, considering its anonymity, testimonials to brand name proprietaries just isn't one of them because it leads to spam, phony testimonials, and ticked-off salespeople from the competitive companies :-)
Readers: to the extent possible, please try to restrict suggestions to the type of product: wax, lacquer, one part clearcoat, two-part clearcoat, electrocoating, PVD, UV cure, benzotriazole, chromate, etc., rather than suggesting particular brands. Thanks.

February 25, 2008

Q. Many years ago I purchased in Canada a product called Sheffield Clear Metal Lacquer. It was made in England, was water white and came in a 4 oz bottle. I coated everything in my home that I would normally have to polish. One coat and, indoors, it seems to last forever. The finish is absolutely flawless. Items I coated over 20 years ago are still as shiny today as the day I coated them. I just need to wipe them with a damp cloth occasionally.

I don't know if the company is still in business but I do know I can't find it in Canada. I have no idea why a product like this is not available everywhere. Surely there is enough polishing of brass being done to cause an entrepreneur to do the necessary.

Bernard Swain
- Mill Village, Nova Scotia, Canada

A. Thanks, Bernard. We're not familiar with that particular brand, but sometimes older brands contained stronger but more dangerous chemicals and they can't offer them anymore. If you are having trouble sourcing it you could speak to the site's supporting advertiser G. J. Nikolas, who would surely be familiar with what type of lacquer was offered by Sheffield. Good luck.


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

July 21, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have several solid brass articles in my home (candlesticks, bells, figurines, etc.) which I must polish frequently. Is there a protectant that I can apply once I finish polishing that will prevent the need for frequent repolishing?

Joe Summers
homeowner - Fort Wayne, Indiana

July 26, 2009

A. Whatever coating is used, Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will clean the surface of copper nicely prior to clear coating. Incralac is probably the best for exterior use. Permalac is also good. If you spray the coating, cut it with lacquer thinner 3 to 1.

Sean Biello
- Voorhees, New Jersey

February 18, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We are having a table built, and had a patina finish professionally applied to a sheet of copper we intend on using for the table top. What do you recommend we protect the copper with for use as a kitchen table?

Valerie Neff
buyer - Lakewood Colorado

August 29, 2010

Q. I am refinishing a wood door. Prior to starting this I carefully covered the brass threshold with a drop cloth and tape. During the prolonged stripping process the stripper loosened the tape and the protective coating on the brass threshold has been partially removed. It shouldn't be difficult to get it the rest of the way off but now I need know what type of protective coat to put back on it. It will need to be weather resistant plus stand up to foot traffic.

I will appreciate any assistance you can give.

Paula Cates
Home Owner - Lanesville, Indiana USA

November 7, 2010

! Hi everyone, why isn't there much of a mention of clear powder-coating? Wouldn't that be one of the best methods?

Thanks, Benjamin

Benjamin Storch
- Powys, Wales, UK

Ed. note: Hi, Benjamin; the inquirer, correctly or incorrectly, started out with: "Powder coating is too thick."
But some of the inquirers who added their questions to the thread may want to consider powder coating for their applications.

April 11, 2011

Q. Hi everyone!!

I am based out of Southern California and have come across this forum whilst googling ways to help prevent bronze and brass JEWELRY from tarnishing against the skin (turning skin green) and also from the piece tarnishing itself. While there seems to have been a lot of great methods suggested here, I am wondering if these suggestions are good enough for things that will come into contact with the skin? Our casting house out here says they have a "clear coat varnish," but I'm afraid I don't exactly know what they mean. Does any one have a fairly inexpensive, non-abrasive, but efficient way of helping prevent the tarnishing of jewelry? Or can someone explain to me what this technique might be when it comes to jewelry?

Thanks so much!

Jesse Southern
jewelry designer - LA, California

July 21, 2011

Q. Hi. I am new to jewelry making with brass and copper. I've been etching and adding patina to the pieces. Liver of sulphur is used to add patina, however, when I scrub the piece with steel wool, ALL of the patina comes off. I am looking for a contrast between the etched and non etched surfaces. Any ideas? Thanks so much. I'm also having problems with the metal sealant. I've been using a water based Seal Lacquer. As such it wears off when it comes in contact with moisture. What should I use?

Gail Duve
Hobbyist - Clearwater, Florida, USA

High School Ring (to illustrate relieving)

July 21, 2011

A. Hi, Gail. I have no jewelry-making experience or aptitude so I can't presume to advise on good practice. But I think that darkening the recesses and relieving the high points makes for a good living finish (picture the ubiquitous high school ring) =>
If you were to try to do things the opposite way, retaining brightness down in recesses and darkness on the high spots, it won't work and will look unnatural anyway -- so maybe the fact that the patina readily wears off isn't wrong.

If the traditional clearcoats don't work because you are looking for a more abrasion-resistant coating, you might need a 2-component system like automotive clearcoat.


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

July 27, 2011

thumbs up signThank you for your suggestions. I'm more than happy darkening the deeper recesses and keeping the non etched surface shinier. I'm thinking maybe I'm not etching the metal deeply enough. Perhaps if I do that, it will be easier to avoid scrubbing off the patina on in the recess. Thanks so much for your time.

Gail Duve
- Clearwater, Florida, USA


October 6, 2011

A. We are currently field testing a new product called BronzeShield. It was developed specifically to protect bronze, although we are also optimistic about its ability to protect copper, brass and other metals that make up the bronze alloy.

Holly Anderson
- Fargo, North Dakota USA

Readers: This site is for camaraderie and technical information exchange (further, it's made possible by supporting advertisers).
Every technology has advantages & disadvantages. If you wish to technically describe a technology which you feel is good for the problem, that's what we're here for! But we discourage postings like "Brand Y, and we can't tell you what is in it because it's secret, is better than Brand X" :-)
Please feel free to promote technologies but not brands: hairspray, PVD, waterborne polyurethane, wax, brass lacquer -- fine; but Incralac/Permalac brand brass lacquer (for example) over other brands of brass lacquer, not so fine :-)

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

Hi Ted, I'm a bit surprised by your post. Are you saying you don't mind people popping in just to say "We make X-brand super lacquer, and it's great!" just so long as they are a paying advertiser (will you make this commercial connection transparent in each post?) but are not allowing comments like "I'm in the trade and have been using Y-brand for 20 years on this type of work in this type of environment with good results" because Y-brand are not a paying advertiser? This policy would make your site redundant for people looking for impartial advice. Taking this thread as an example, the post above yours seems like one to censor, it adds nothing more useful to the debate than adding a untested product name to what is available to try, but the Incralac posts came across as benefit of experience (inevitably inherent risk of shilling accepted). I think this would be quite a self defeating policy for your site as I for one won't come back to a place that only promotes its paying advertisers products and discourages the benefit of experience of other products. Regards,

J Broski
- London, England, UK

Hi, J. My note was directed at the same posting you're complaining about, but I didn't want to pick on BronzeShield by name on their first-ever mention on a site where Incralac/Permalac have been promoted more than 80 times. How fair would that be? With 7 mentions of Incralac/Permalac on this one page, they were simply the obvious name to use in my example.

BronzeShield is *NOT* an advertiser here -- we have no "secret advertisers" -- we just don't want "testimonials" because they encourage companies to shill their products with a lie. Salespeople constantly post phony testimonials on this and all forum-style web sites, as we've verified many times by finding that the IP address of a supposed "satisfied customer" is the IP address of a company's website.

Another thing that happens is that readers (and ourselves) are afraid that a company's lawyers will knock if negative remarks are posted; so we end up with completely unbalanced, wildly disproportionate favorable responses to any product named. Please remember that you're looking at only one page of a 60,000-page site, so the continual issues we've had with "testimonials" for over 18 years may not be instantly apparent to you on the first page of your first visit.
We were simply reminding our gentle readers that this is a technical site dedicated to technical discussions about the science of metal finishing -- it's not for testimonials to the hocus-pocus and secret ingredients or particular brands. Thanks.

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

May 7, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I'm venturing into the hobby of metal jewelry crafting and Im looking to find out what a good over all protective coating I should be looking at. I found a few suggestions of "Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax" [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] but wasn't sure if this was the best option. I'd like a few different options if possible. Thanks

J. Phelan
- Chicago Illinois, USA

September 27, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. My name is Jim Cook and I have been building copper sprinklers for 13 years and have struggled with maintaining a polished finish on my product. I sale these at art shows and usually demo them by running several,the water tends to discolor the finish and I would like to know what I can use to maintain a polished finish against the elements.

Jim Cook
- Fremont Michigan USA

October 1, 2012

A. I am 5 years into restoration of a 1938 fire truck with a whole boatload of brass. I tried to clear powder the bell after polishing it to a high shine. The heat from the oven destroyed the polish job and profoundly discolored the brass @ about 400 deg. The heat left the metal surface with a "sandblasted" feel to it. The repair was not cheap. I am currently using a clear lacquer that is one of the 3 or 4 top sellers for in/outdoor use on polished brass and I am so far, happy. My advise is: make sure it is lacquer, not an enamel. Enamel stays liquid longer and raises the odds of drips and runs, and tends to turn milky white as it absorbs the moisture (humidity) while it dries. Whichever brand you use, spray it and use a fast thinner so that the lacquer does not turn milky from humidity. I am not a trained professional, just a lot of expensive tuition to the school of hard knocks. I hope this helps, John K.

John Koppelman
antique truck restoration - Inglewood California USA

October 5, 2012

Q. After reading all the postings about products for maintaining brass and copper after polishing, does anyone have a definitive, best-there-is product? I usually apply a spray aerosol, mostly lacquer, sometimes enamel with some sacrifice in sheen. Perhaps using bulk product, with ample thinning would be better, but for small projects it doesn't seem worthwhile to fire up the compressor, then clean the spray gun each time. I was always curious what the high-end brass door hardware manufacturers (Baldwin, for instance) use to get their finish....anybody know??

Larry Creveling
- Milford, New Jersey USA

October 8, 2012

A. Hi Larry. Is a Honda or a Hyundai the "definitive, best there is" car? In fact, since there are waxes, lacquers, one part clearcoats, two-pack clearcoats, epoxies, polyesters, cathodic electrodeposition coatings, UV cured lacquers, physical vapor deposition coatings, preservatives, conversion coatings, etc ... we could ask whether a Porsche or a Peterbilt a "better" vehicle. Sorry, but there just isn't any answer to the question.

It depends on interior/exterior, temperature range, whether UV resistance is important, whether the coating needs to be removable, whether you want to be able to be able to add another layer without stripping, how free of yellowing it needs to be, how much it costs, how quick it cures, and (as you imply) how much work you are willing to put in.

High end door hardware "lifetime finishes" are not wax, lacquer, or clear coat at all. What you are seeing is not the brass (although the handle may be made of brass). What you are seeing is zirconium nitride or a similar ceramic hardcoating which looks like brass but isn't brass, and is applied by the PVD (physical vapor deposition) process. This requires a very expensive (say $1M+) machine.

2K Clearcoat

If you don't want to fire up the compressor and then have to clean it up, but you otherwise like the two-pack clearcoats, they are now available in spray cans with 2-in-1 heads (although it's probably an expensive way to go, and I'm not vouching for rattle cans reliably mixing two-pack chemistry =>

Luck and Regards,

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

November 6, 2012

Q. I have copper countertops in my home kitchen that I would like to keep shiny and untarnished. The counters get light to normal use, no children in the home, cutting boards always used. They polish up fine to a shiny satin finish using a cleanser with oxalic acid in it but I have not found a clear coat that lasts more than a month or so.
After the clear coat has been applied I only clean with a liquid household cleaner with no abrasive in it but the copper still tarnishes after a few months.
What in your opinion will work the best for me on my countertops?

Thanks, Albert

Albert Reinhart
- Minneapolis, Minnesota

November 6, 2012

A. Hi Albert.

You can try the automotive clearcoat. Because this is a two-part solution that cures rather than dries, it leads to a quite hard surface.


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

November 7, 2012

Q. Thank you for the swift response. Is there a particular type or brand you recommend?

Albert Reinhart
- Minneapolis, Minnesota

November 12, 2012

A. Hi Albert. Sorry, we don't print particular brand recommendations here, but two-part clearcoats don't "dry", they "cure". That is, there is a reaction that occurs when the two components meet. This requires mixing the two components together and spraying them quickly, which is not possible without spray painting equipment, unless you buy the special rattle cans (like the one shown from Amazon) which mix the components just before spraying. I am not recommending or dis-recommending those special cans, but I don't know any other spraying alternative open to consumers who do not have spray painting systems. I imagine you could brush the two-part coating on though.


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

June 12, 2013

Q. I am making in Jaipur India a lot of silicon bronze 15 ft high lamp posts bronze patinated and some gold plate they are going to Israel, 100 yards from the sea, a desert with big temperature swings from night to day, subject to big sandstorms, some ash outfall from a power station.
I thought of E-coating but too difficult to repair, I need a coating that can be stripped off and reapplied on site if necessary.
I thought of a sacrificial wax coating to be applied every year or after a storm -- will wax evaporate in the heat?
Any ideas how we can protect this for 25 years ?

Norman Morison
manufacturer - Jaipur, India

July 15, 2013

Q. I saw a suggestion to use hairspray instead of lacquer to protect polished brass household items. Will this work? If so, what are the pros and cons, please? Many thanks to all the expert help offered here!

M Hollis Hutchinson
householder - Dallas, Texas

July 19, 2013

A. Hi Hollis. Hair spray is formulated to hold human hair in place; brass lacquer is formulated to protect brass from corrosion and help retain it's polished look. They are very different and there can be no question which is better. Would you spray brass lacquer on your head? :-)

The issue really becomes how much brass do you need to lacquer and how important is trying to save $10 and the inconvenience of ordering it? I am not making fun of the hair spray suggestion, I'm just saying: while it may be appropriate for someone who has an old brass spoon and a half-used can of hair spray on hand, please don't go out and buy hair spray instead of brass lacquer for the purpose ... that would be silly. Good luck.


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

July 19, 2013

thumbs up signThank you very much for your reply. It sounded a bit "fishy" to me, too.

:> H.

M Hollis Hutchinson
- Dallas, Texas

July 24, 2013

Q. Thanks all you for bright minds information!

~~~~~ Man did I take notes!~~~~~

I am asking a similar question again... :)

Is there a *non-toxic-coating* for *COPPER* jewelry worn on the *SKIN*? ... besides the Renaissance Wax?

I did hear of a MagicGloss with decent results. It's only cause it's a NEW 2 yr. Old product for crafts

Therese Timm
- Petaluma, California

November 27, 2013

Q. I've used Incralac on my sun-dial and found it barely lasted 12 months before needing redoing. I only used it on the inside of the armorial ring, which is of brass - where the sun's shadow highlights the time. The stand, a pedestal of bronze, has, after 8 years in the weather, acquired a patina of bird droppings, which I've attempted to clean off with only moderate success with soap and water as recommended on another site. Is there a product I could use to protect the bronze in all weathers? I've found Incralac fine for indoor use but not outdoors. I'm in New South Wales, Australia where the sun can be fairly fierce.

William Power
- Terranora, NSW, Australia

December 2, 2013

A. Try Everbrite coating (USA product). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

December 4, 2013

Q. We have coated some interior polished brass handrails with Incralac and after 6 months they do not look good anymore, and continue to get worse. They are in traffic areas. The maintenance program is to just dust/wipe the handrails down, no solution or waxes. What can the problem be?

Dave Nowlan
- St Francis, Minnesota, USA

February 22, 2014

Q. Also, the work area was contaminated by an outside contractor who drilled holes in concrete walls and dust covered all brass, not sure how they cleaned the dust from railings, but could that have caused some deterioration problems?

Dave Nowlan [returning]
- St Francis, Minnesota, USA

Non-toxic long-life dip for copper-brass valves

May 27, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

We are making valves (copper pipe brazed into brass body). Our problem is the finishing touch to our products. Looking forward to some non-toxic dipping method which could give good results and good look/finish stays quite long.

Ali Hussain
product designer - Lahore, Pakistan

June 2014

A. Hi Ali.

" 'Toxic' is a matter of statute, not opinion" as a former New Jersey governor sagely remarked. If these valves will carry drinking water, the brass as well as the coating must comply with standards depending on who will be using them and where. If not, a benzotriazole dip, followed by a rinse, will last a short while -- but will require brass lacquer for longer tarnish-free life. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

July 3, 2014

Q. Hello,

I've just purchased a metal marquee light that should be sealed to prevent the red rust dust from getting everywhere. I've been told to use hairspray or clear spray paint. Can you please tell me if either of those products will work fine or if I should use something else instead.


The light will used indoors only. Also, whatever I use to seal the sign needs to withstand the heat from the lights.

Thank you

Traci King
- Atlanta, Georgia USA

July 2014

A. Hi Traci. Clearcoat is not shrinkwrap which you can expect to hold powdery rust in place. If the rust doesn't adhere, although the clearcoat may adhere to the powder, they'll just come off together. So you have to hope that your clearcoat can "wet" the solid metal and adhere to it, holding the intervening rust dust in a suspension. I think your best bet is always something formulated for the purpose (a real clearcoat) rather than something re-purposed (like hair spray).

I don't know what size the marquee lights are, and how much of a heat problem they cause, but maybe you can go retro-modern chic by using LEDs, which won't get hot :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

November 12, 2014

Q. I have a large Elektra espresso machine about 10 years old. It's made of copper and brass. There is a clear coating that has been damaged by the use of some aggressive cleaning compounds. The machine has surfaces that are heated to greater than 150 °F. I tried spraying lacquer on one of the surfaces that is constantly heated. The surface fogged immediately. Any suggestions for me?

Dan Anderson
- san jose California

How do I make polyurethane lacquer and acrylic lacquer?

November 14, 2014

Q. Hey, can anyone please tell me how to make polyurethane lacquer and acrylic lacquer? What is the chemical process for it? Please tell me.

ritesh parmar
plating - rajkot gujrat india

Formulation of Organic Coatings

November 2014

A. Hi Ritesh. I have no experience in formulating such materials, so I may be wrong...
But I have a whole shelf of books on the topic, and I think you need to get a book on the subject, as I tend to doubt that anyone could answer such a question in a paragraph or two. But we'll see.

Luck and Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Antique cash register (brass/bronze) tarnishes quickly!

December 14, 2014

Q. Hi ... my 100+ year old NCR register is brass or bronze with various surfaces -- smooth, pebbled and decorative motif. It's a beast to clean but even worse, it seems to start tarnishing almost immediately after cleaning. I've never put a finishing coat on it but would like to try something to stem the return of the tarnish. Should I consider a clear spray lacquer? Can this be removed at a later time if desired?


Kevin Cody
hobbyist - Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada

February 25, 2015

Q. Hello,
I am looking for a lacquer which can be applied to copper (patinated dark), and which can withstand constant immersion in water.
I am making copper vessels that will have water flowing from one to the other constantly. When it is switched off (overnight) it will also have some water sitting in it.
The reason for a lacquer instead of embracing copper natural water resistance is that there is a very particular colour/patination i am after, which would change if unsealed/unprotected.
I look forward to your ponderings...
Many thanks,

Edward Robinson
- London, UK

To lacquer or not lacquer an antique brass door knocker exposed to elements?

June 3, 2015

Q. I have a brass "sphinx" antique door knocker that is being professionally sanded and polished right now; the refinishing includes removing copper plating so that just the brass shows. The door knocker will be on a door that is totally exposed to the elements here in New England, and we live about a quarter mile from a bay. I need to buy a new door handle set that will look good in terms of finish with the door knocker. I'm torn between having the antique door knocker lacquered by the professional and then buying a "lifetime finish" on a new door handle set OR instead keeping the antique door knocker unlacquered and buying an unlacquered door handle set so that they hopefully acquire a similar patina over time.

It would help me make my choice to know how long lacquer, if applied to the antique door knocker, is likely to hold up well when exposed to the elements.

One other question--once the copper plating is removed, if I keep the brass antique door knocker unlaquered, what color is it likely to tarnish to? (The copper plating in the past tarnished to a red; as I am going to have a red painted door, my hope is that the brass would tarnish to a different color).

Thank you for any help you can give.

Colleen Murphy
- Bristol Rhode Island

August 18, 2015

Q. Hi

After reading a few US postings mentioning Incralac (presumably made in the US?), after enquiring upon a UK product called Incralac (Rylard - claims of military development) and now seeing a German product called Incralac I wonder if anyone can shed light on this "family" of similarly named and purposed products?

The copper org....

Suggests to me that perhaps incralac is an "open source" solution developed by interested parties and maybe now manufactured at different locations by different companies?

This is not purely accademic as readers cannot be sure as to the universality of recommendations unless we know exactly what product we are talking about.

I take on board Ted's comments about discussing technologies rather than brand names but on this particular thread I do feel it is hard to avoid

@ Ted Mooney

"coating or pretreatment should probably incorporate or be preceded by a preservative like benzotriazole."

Ted, as I understand it benzotriazole forms a passive layer on copper. Do you happen to know whether this layer is compatible with e-coating methods, in particular whether it creates an appreciable electrical insulation that would undermine the e-coating process?

Jon Light
- Ireland (was Denmark)

September 2015

A. Hi Jon. The INCRALAC name stems from INternational Copper Research Association LACquer, and it refers to certain lacquer formulas which contain benzotriazole ... but that doesn't tell us the formula they developed, nor whether you need permission to formulate it yourself, nor how you get a license to use the name. My suspicion is that it is NOT "open source" but I think you would need to contact INCRA's successor, the International Copper Association to find out. I would assume, although I haven't tried it, that one can dip copper into benzotriazole and then apply a conventional brass lacquer, and obtain rather similar results.

I do not actually know what would happen if you tried to electrocoat a copper surface that was passivated with benzotriazole, but I do know that the compound is used to protect copper masters which are electroformed upon, so I doubt that it is a problem.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 18, 2016

Microcrystalline "Museum Wax"

Q. We purchased a statue of Sisters from auction over 20 years ago. We lived in Ca at the time and I noticed some pitting on the arms and decorative areas. We inquired and were told it was due to moisture and to use Lemon Pledge spray. We have and it does seem to arrest partially. What can we do to protect this inside piece of art that will one day be willed to family?

Sylvia miller
- Battle Ground, Washington USA

January 2016

A. Hi Sylvia. If it's a really important piece you should contact a metal conservator, especially if you don't know exactly what it's made of. But if that's not realistic, and assuming it's metal not wood, I don't think wood polish is the right stuff. I'd either go with museum wax or brass lacquer. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Clear Coat Failure on Buffed Brass Parts

January 29, 2016

Q. We rattle can finish our small brass parts that have been buffed to have a satin brass finish. We clean them with acetone before we paint them with Rustoleum satin clear enamel. Our little shop processes over 10,000 brass parts a month and we're always fighting with clear coat failure. We experience white haze and cracks. Are we missing an important step? or could it be a temperature or metal expansion problem?

Thank you so much for your insight.

Sarah Wolfe
Quality Control - Phoenix
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^

January 30, 2016

A. Using rattle can coating is really never advisable on production type jobs. I had the same issue long ago, I and stopped using rattle cans and started to dip them on more industrial type protective coatings.

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua, Nicaragua

February 4, 2016

A. I have worked in non ferrous metals for half a decade and have researched many options, I have been following this conversation for a few years. So thought I would chime in. I have come across a good reference at
for comparing finishing options for copper and alloys.

I make brass lighting components. The best coating for my application in my experience, is a 2 part epoxy, some parts I have made are sealed by a factory I work with and is very robust and hard wearing and seals with a slight gloss. 2 part applications be it epoxy, acrylic, or silicone etc will have different properties so research what suits you best.

I don't have a dedicated spray booth, so I use Sculpt Noveau clear guard, and its better than the depo bought cans, but is not as tough as the epoxy. If you hit the item with a few coats, it comes out pretty good. Take your time though, as it can cloud over and will need another coat.

Also, surface rust is possible to seal, if its not flaking too much. After sealing it will have a tendency to leech if used out doors, after a good rain, but will 'purge the excess surface rust and the sealer will kick in after a few downpours. 2 part polyurethane is what I used.

I brazed a mild steel rose flower for my now wife while I was studying and sealed it with hairspray, it turned a lustrous black and stopped any further rust and that was 10 years ago! So big fan of hairspray too!

Hope this is of help to someone.

- Sydney, Australia

thumbs up signThanks for the very informative posting and the excellent link, Ben!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

June 15, 2016

Q. I make jewelry and such with various wires. Most of the wire I work with is precoated, but lately I've come into possession of bare copper (house electrical system grade) wire. Perks of remodeling a house. As such, I've started making stuff out of that wire (waste not want not), but I've noticed it tarnishes/oxidizes quickly (my neck stays green). Is there anything I can coat it with that won't wear off after a few days of constantly wearing it? I've tried acrylic coat, and high gloss lacquer coat. Neither work. Any help would be nice and thoroughly appreciated.

Chryssta Lewis
- Charlotte Court House, Virginia, USA

UV Nail Lamp

June 2016

A. Hi Chryssta. It may be that you just need multiple coats of whatever you apply. But if wear resistance is the single most important property for you, I suspect that a 2-component automotive clearcoat (see my posting of Oct. 8, 2012) , or a UV-cured clearcoat (nail lacquer) will prove more durable than coatings which air-dry like lacquer (and probably your acrylic coat).


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

June 16, 2016

Q. I have tried coating it with the acrylic clear coat, then the lacquer coat (and vice versa), but in a couple days, the coats peel off. Would the nail lacquer (nail polish?) or the UV coat peel after a few days? I should mention that it's moving pieces. There's the pieces I bent and hammered into shape, and the chain links that hold them to the necklace, so when I move, they move against each other. Does that change how the coat must be applied? Would that change what must be used to coat them with as well?

Chryssta Lewis [returning]
- Charlotte Court House, Virginia, USA

June 2016

A. Hi Chryssta. Peeling off is a very different thing from wearing off. Peeling off means you do not have proper adhesion, which usually means the article was not truly clean.

You can try very fine sandpaper or brass wool, or scrubbing with a tampico brush and pumice, followed by wiping with acetone. If you can't get to all surfaces you can try dipping into acetone and then allowing to dry, but obviously that doesn't do much real cleaning. In industry, the cleaning of non-scrubbable surfaces could be done via electrocleaning (immersion in very hot and strong caustic soda with electricity applied in order to generate scrubbing bubbles of hydrogen), followed by rinsing with water, followed by a dip in dilute sulphuric acid to remove any tarnish, followed by rinsing again.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

KBS Diamond Clear

July 15, 2016

A. KBS coatings make a specialised clear coat for bare metal... it cures extremely hard but remains flexible.
I am about to use it on brass plated motor bike springs.
Gregory Buttle
- tootgarook australia

September 30, 2016

Q. I have read a lot of the posts in this thread (on polishing brass/copper) and am really perplexed why it is that supplies for finishing/lacquering brass (or any metal for that matter) are so hard to find.

Everbrite ProtectaClear

I have spent the majority of today (Friday) trying to locate a supplier of loose cotton, 1/2" thick, 6" dia' buffing wheels and some jewelers rouge buffing compound as well as brass lacquer. I have found a supply for the Everbrite lacquer (that I have to travel 100km/62 miles by bus and public transport to get to), but I still have not found the polishing stuff in the same area as the lacquer and am quite frustrated that something that I would consider easy to find has become so damn difficult. I live in St Catharines, Ontario, and to get the Everbrite lacquer I have to travel to Toronto, then take public transport to Woodbridge (NNE of the downtown core). I find this quite extraordinary and really perplexing. I can't find anything local that has what I need.

Does anyone know of a supplies business that is in St Catharines or nearby? Using the internet is no use as I have been unable to source a place close to me. Port Colborne, 40km away by bike, is the closest place that has what I need at the moment, but their prices are excessive.

Which brings me to another point.... 4 oz of Everbrite is $31 plus tax = $37.20!! Why are these products so expensive? I purchased some rusto-leum (?) clear varnish (oil based) from Canadian Tire which I took back, because I felt it wouldn't last too long, which is why I have gone on the search for something better. But that product was 960 ml and cost $15 + tax = around $18.

The brass pieces I am trying to lacquer need a durable finish.

These were all made by me on a milling machine or lathe.

Any help would be appreciated.

Christopher Sagajllo
- St Catharines, ON, Canada

January 2017

A. Hi Christopher. Even common things like clothes are getting very hard to stock and sell from brick & mortar stores. Macy's is closing numerous stores, so is Sears, so is The Limited. There is one major mall under construction in all of America, and that one only because the government has promised outrageous tax breaks. It's changing times; everything you want is readily available on line though.

I certainly don't fault you for returning a product you felt inadequate, but time is money and people have to be paid; so the other products we buy have to be priced high enough to absorb the time spent on the original sale, the cost of the wasted product, the time spent on the return, etc. Things can't be sold at cost, and allowance must be made for returns, liability insurance, etc.

If you contact Everbrite [a supporting advertiser] directly to buy in volume you'll find it is currently only $1.70 per ounce when bought by the gallon. It probably would cost even less if you needed a 5-gallon container. Best of luck!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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