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topic 1759

Restoring Hardware For Cupboards



1998

Q. We are remodeling our kitchen. The old hardware on the cupboards is antiqued brass with a lacquer coating that has worn away. The old hardware has turned green in some places. Is there something we can use to paint over it to give it the appearance of shiny brass. I'd love to be able to save the cost of new hardware. Thank you.

Linda Persing


1998

A. If you really want to save the hardware, either because it was very high quality, or it has sentimental value, or you can't match the dimensions, it is certainly possible for a plating shop to strip and refinish.

But, as for doing it to save money: unfortunately, for certain items like hardware, the cost of finishing is a substantial portion of the cost of manufacture, and the cost of refinishing small lots (specialty, hands-on) is far higher than the cost of finishing large lots (automated). You can guess the conclusion: it often costs more to refinish hardware than to replace it.

There is nothing that you are going to be able to do at home with a paint that is really going to look metallic. But if you can strip the old lacquer, and the brass plating or the solid brass is sound, you may be able to shine it up a bit and re-lacquer it.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


1998

thumbs up signThank you very much for your information, Mr. Mooney. I am guessing I would use lacquer thinner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] to strip the lacquer and then what would I use to shine the brass with, Brasso [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]? I'm a complete novice at this type of thing.

Linda Persing


A. Yes, after you've stripped the lacquer with lacquer thinner, you can clean up the corrosion and dirt with Brasso or something like that. Getting a mirror-like finish involves many iterations of using ever finer abrasives, and may be far too much work for you; also, if the finish is only plated, you don't want to wear through it. But if a bright, metallic, but somewhat matte finish, rather than mirror finish, will suffice, there is no reason you can't quickly clean up the hardware with an old toothbrush and a scotchbrite scouring pad and just about any of these products.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


1998
Revere copper cleaner

A. You can remove the lacquer and polish the brass with any of the available products listed in the other letters. There is also a product called Revere copper cleaner [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]. It will leave a slightly dull surface. There will be no visible scratches. Just a smooth luster. And there is a brightener in the cleanser which actually etches off the tarnish and activates the surface. It will tarnish.

If you want to produce a more realistic "Antique" finish, try this: After stripping and polishing the hardware, suspend the clean hardware over a pan of ammonia. You will have to check periodically to watch the progress of the tarnish. When the color is to your liking, you can use a very mild abrasive like Soft Scrub [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] on your fingers to wear off the tarnish where it would be touched in normal daily use. When the effect you want is achieved, bake them in an oven at 375 °F. This will bring out the yellow in the brass. Then finish the parts with lacquer. Use an epoxy lacquer!

This will give a real "Antique" look rather than a brushed tarnish look. Eric Morris
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


--

Thanks, Eric. I had enough background to give Ms. Persing some general guidance, but there is no substitute for your exacting hands-on knowledge.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


2002

Q. My wife and I are remodeling our home and want to change the hardware on the doors. The hardware is brass, as of now, and we were wondering if it is possible to strip the levers and handles down to achieve a worn black iron look without too much cost. Is this possible without the purchasing of new hardware? If so, we could use your help and ideas on how to do it.

Seth Etherton
- Dana Point, California, USA


2002

A. First you need to know what it is, Seth--solid brass or brass plated steel. Only brass plated steel could be stripped and blackened even in theory (brass plated steel would be magnetic).

But even then it's not a do-it-yourself job to do a real black oxide finish (although you could paint it black); and while a plating shop could fix it anyway you like, this often costs more than new because there is an awful lot of manual labor involved in onesy-twosy stripping and plating. But good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


August 16, 2012

Q. I bought all new brushed nickel hardware 2 years ago. This summer, I took it all off to clean it - in warm water with dish soap. When I went to dry them, a light lacquer finish came off! It is not totally off - so it looks terrible. Can I somehow get all this lacquer finish off and then re-lacquer them? If so, what products to get off and what products to re lacquer?

Deborah Wendt
- Rochester, Minnesota


affil. link
Lacquer Thinner


affil. link
Brass Lacquer

August 16, 2012

A. Hi Deborah. Hopefully it is lacquer; if so, lacquer thinner will remove it and then you can re-lacquer them. If lacquer thinner doesn't work, Aircraft Stripper will, but it absolutely demands goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], and working outdoors with good ventilation. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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