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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989

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How to Paint brass headboards and chandeleirs?

Gentle Readers:

This meeting place welcomes Q&As, photos, history, & interesting tidbits -- but it's not a consultancy.

Please engage with others

• When people show interest in each other's situations, the forum quickly gets informative & fun !

• When people just introduce their own issues, paying no attention to others' postings, it quickly becomes a string of unanswered questions smiley

Q. My husband and I are remodeling our bedroom in antique style. The problem is we have a brass headboard that does not fit in. Can we paint over it? Is there a special paint or process required?

D. Major
- Clinton Twp, Michigan
2003


A. I found this Q&A regarding painting brass (I wanted to paint some old brass lamps). Hopefully this can be helpful to you.

I have a brass bed that I adore, but I am tired of polishing it. I am thinking of painting it. How do I do it?
If you must, how to paint brass bed ... I hope you don't go through with this. Even a tarnished brass bed will probably look better than a painted one. If you are determined to paint it, here is the procedure:

Scrub the metal with mineral spirits [on eBay or Amazon affil links] (flammable) to remove wax and polish.
Sand the metal thoroughly with 100-grit sandpaper [on eBay or Amazon affil links] to roughen and de-gloss the surface.
Apply a coat of Rustoleum Clean Metal Primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links]
When dry, apply one or two coats of Rustoleum Stops-Rust Enamel [on eBay or Amazon affil links] in the color and gloss of your choice. The primer and enamel are available in spray cans or brush-on containers.


Kendra C [last name deleted due to age of posting]
- Sacramento, California
2003


Vintage Brass Beds & Parts on eBay





Q. I have a brass chandelier and would like to paint it and make it darker, possibly black or very dark dark brown. How would I go about this?

Thanks,

Gay R [last name deleted due to age of posting]
hobbyist - Paris, Texas
2004


A. Hi, Gay.

After you remove the lacquer or clear coat (hopefully possible with lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon affil links] ), you can use brass darkening solution [on eBay or Amazon affil links] or brass black [Brass Black on eBay or Amazon affil links] to blacken the brass. It's potentially noxious, so read up first, and always wear goggles [on eBay or Amazon affil links] and chemical gloves [on eBay or Amazon affil links] .

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




Hello,

Q. I have a shiny, lacquered brass bed frame from 1988. I don't want to paint it, but to give it a more natural look, or a shabby chic look. It looks very dated. Can you help? I have searched the web, but am only finding refinishing help for an antique brass bed.

Thanks so much!

Bo

Ms. Bo G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Grand Rapids Michigan
2004


A. Hello, Bo. The biggest difference between antique brass beds and newer brass beds is that it's not easy to be sure what material the newer one is because we have so many artificial finishes today. An antique brass bed is either made of solid brass or of brass plated steel (determinable with a magnet), and if it has any clear coat on it, the coating is almost surely brass lacquer.

But a newer one may be solid brass with either lacquer or polyurethane or baked powder clear coat on it, or it may be brass plated steel with the same choice of clear coats ... but it may also be nickel plated steel with a brass-tinted electrophoretic lacquer on top of the nickel, or it could be the new high-tech reflective paints or even brass-colored anodized aluminum -- in these last three cases although it may look like brass, it actually contains no brass.

So, what you need to do is try to determine what it's made of and/or coated with. As the old truism goes, work on a non obvious area first in case you wreck it. Try to remove the lacquer in a small area with lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon affil links] ; if it works, that area will tarnish quickly. If your effort removes the brass coloration, forget it, it's tinted lacquer on nickel plating. If you can't get the clear coat off with lacquer thinner , you can try fine sandpaper or very fine #0000 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil links]

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




Can semi-gloss house paint be used to paint a brass bed if I'm sanding/distressing later?

Q. I have read the comments about painting brass beds. I have a feeling that mine is not truly brass as it is a newer bed and very light weight. My question is whether you think it would be fine to paint the headboard with standard semi-gloss house paint. I have several pieces of furniture in my daughters room that are painted with this same paint and distressed and want this old, ugly headboard to match. I will sand once the paint is dry but want to make sure before proceeding that the paint will not peel or chip excessively -- a small amount would probably be fine -- just add to the aged look. Should I spray with Rust-oleum first and then paint the semi-gloss on top? THANK YOU.

Breezy Bowes
Home Owner - Raleigh, North Carolina
2006


A. If the bed is very light and non-magnetic, it's probably anodized aluminum. Many of us have brass colored aluminum shower doors. Light sanding and cleaning with detergent may be good enough for your needs, but safer to pre-paint with a self-etching primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , which should stick whether it's aluminum or brass or whatever.

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




Q. I have brass light fixtures. I am not sure they are real brass, but would like to paint them. Can I just rough them up with sandpaper then prime them with rust-oleum? I want to eventually paint them flat black with a brown glaze to simulate iron.

Thank you.

Sandy McGuckin
- Irmo, South Carolina
2006


A. Hi Sandy.
Getting adhesion on brass is tricky and definitely requires a self-etching primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] . Rust-oleum is a brand name rather than a type of paint -- if the "rust-oleum" that you are considering is a self-etching primer, then fine.
Luck & Regards,

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




Q. I would like to spray paint dining room chairs and table base made out of brass tubing. I have not had to polish this brass so I'm assuming it's covered with some type of varnish coating. Help!

Ann Hofer
home owner - St. Louis, Missouri
2007


Q. My wife and I would like to paint our fireplace "brass" insert a black color to match everything else in the room. How do I know if it is really brass and not an impostor? Then, what's the best way to paint whatever this insert is made of? Thanks!

Al Esquilin
- Raleigh, North Carolina
2007


Q. We have a heirloom queen size brass headboard and foot board, that we love the lines of but hate the brass color. my husband and I were wanting to paint it an oil rubbed bronze color or use Brass Black [Brass Black on eBay or Amazon affil links] . The bed is patina-ed and pitted in a few places. If we paint it we hear that we should use Hammerite Special Metals Primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] but we can not find it in the states and if we have it shipped we can only find it in a paintable form and we prefer spray can form. Help please! We have no idea how to use brass black but hear it can only be used on new brass. What can we do?!

Kiliki DiKahpelli
Hobbyist - Washington
April 8, 2009


Vintage Brass Beds & Parts on eBay

thumbs up signHi, folks. I administer the site, but I certainly don't claim expertise in all of its 50,000 topics, so I hope readers will correct me :-)
Further, as noted earlier, this is a public forum where you're encouraged to engage with other readers, not just ask your own question. Since repetitive questions demonstrate a lack of trying to engage, they may be discarded :-(

Ann: I think you're right that is has a protective coating. Remove it with lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon affil links] and #0000 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil links] if you can. If that doesn't work, you'll need to remove it with Aircraft Stripper, but only with great ventilation (preferably outdoors), goggles [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , and rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon affil links] -- it's very nasty stuff.

Al: If you're only painting it, it doesn't matter much what it used to be :-)
Prep it well with sandpaper or steel wool and then apply Self-etching primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] .

Kiliki: I'm not saying other brands of etching primer are precisely identical to Hammerite Special Metals Primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] -- nor that Pepsi and Coke are identical :-)
But if it's inconvenient to find in your area, many good brands are fairly easy to find.

Regards,

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




Q. I have a 1988 solid brass bed that has a protective finish on it. I have tried the lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , but got no results. Besides the Aircraft product, is there anything else I should try, like 5F5 or Strip-ez? Some spots on the brass have no lacquer on it as they have worn off, and I would like the entire bed to be natural brass. Please help if you can, thanks!

Beth Piemonte
home owner - Benicia California
April 28, 2011


A. Hi, Beth.

Aircraft stripper is methylene chloride. I don't know offhand the ingredients of the specific products you named, but you can google for their SDS or MSDS, and if they contain methylene chloride it will be listed on the label, in which case they will be pretty much the same thing as aircraft stripper -- the strongest but by far the nastiest stripper. Methylene chloride ... yuk!

Regards,

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




Q. I want to paint over my brass plated metal lamps, could you tell me how to do that effectively?

Pamela Beachum
- Marston, North Carolina
March 9, 2012


A. Hi Pamela. Get the lacquer or clearcoat off (if applicable) as described on this page, then rough up with steel wool, then prime with self-etching primer [on eBay or Amazon affil links] , then paint with whatever you wish. Good luck!

Regards,

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




Painting brass umbrella stand

Q. My mother passed and I got an old brass umbrella stand from her that I would like to paint. Can you give me specific instructions. I need the steps set out in a 1,2,3 format because of the way my head works. Thanks!

Glenda Bazen
novice - Greenwood, South Carolina USA
October 10, 2016


A. Hi Glenda.
Any reader is welcome to try a 1-2-3, but apologies because I'm not going to :-)
As noted, it may be brass or brass plated or something else; it may have lacquer, or other coating, or none; any step may go smoothly, or may not, or may require experiment on an inconspicuous area; there are too many "ifs, but ifs, but ifs, but ifs" already described on this page.
Luck & Regards,

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




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