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Refinish shiny brass into antique look


How can I use oven cleaner (or another product) to refinish a shiny brass chandelier into an antiqued finish?

Suellyn [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Georgetown, Kentucky


Unfortunately, Suellyn, unless you are sure it is solid brass you are probably better off painting it.

Most 'shiny brass' isn't brass these days because there are so many alternative finishing methods designed to imitate it at lower cost. It could be brass plated, it could be a zirconium nitride topcoat, it could be tinted electrophoretic lacquer over nickel plating, it could be anodized and dyed aluminum, it could be a factory-applied metallic paint.

Aircraft Stripper

If it is solid brass, the fact that it is still shiny means that there is an antitarnish coating on it--which again brings up variations; it may be lacquer, a powder clearcoat, or some other finish. If it's lacquer, then lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will remove it. Don't use oven cleaner! Aircraft stripper =>
will very likely remove whatever the coating is without harming the metal, but it's really noxious stuff to be used only outside, with good ventilation, wearing protective gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and goggles [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] (don't even think about using aircraft stripper (methylene chloride) in situ!)

Unless you want to take it to a plating shop for professional refinishing, the best approach is probably to find an attractive paint of the right shade, or maybe a Rub'N'Buff [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Good luck.

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

similarly (2004)

How can I change a polished brass finish on bathroom fixtures and shower frame to oil rubbed bronze?

Diana Keyes
hobbyist - Georgetown, Texas


I bought a light fixture for a hallway that exactly matches an older fixture in our entry except for the finish. The entry has an antique brass finish (which I like) and the new one has a polished brass finish. Is there something I can do to change the polished brass finish to an antique brass finish?

Becky Donnici
hobbyist - Gladstone, Missouri


I am redecorating our master bathroom. All the fixtures are currently brass and I want to know if there is a way to make them look "weathered" or old & tarnished as opposed to bright & shiny. I don't want to go to the expense of replacing everything if possible.

Stephanie Hyman
homeowner - Laguna Beach, California

If the item is real brass (first clue is that it's not brass if it's magnetic; second clue is if it's the same weight as aluminum, it's aluminum), and if you can remove the lacquer with lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], or Aircraft Stripper you may be able to darken the brass with Liver of Sulphur [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or Brass Darkening Solution [linked by editor to product info at Rockler]. letter 32897 may help as well. Good luck.

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


I have a brass mantle lamp. I would like it to be brushed gold to match the picture frame it is illuminating. How do I change brass to brushed gold ?

Patricia A Reinhardt
Hobbyist - Aurora, Illinois


Hi, Patricia. The best way would be to send it to a plating shop for brushing and gold plating. But if you want to experiment with very low cost approaches, I'd suggest trying a Rub'N'Buff [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Good luck

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


I'm remodeling my house and using "oil rubbed bronze" fixtures. The door knobs are not magnetic. Is there a way to give them the look of oil rubbed bronze? The hinges are magnetic, but I somehow gave them the oil rubbed look, by using paint remover and "goo-be gone" to take off paint that was left by the previous owners. Now if I can turn the handles, I'd have a consistent look.

Thanks so much for your help.


Rebecca Adams
homeowner - Leawood, Kansas


I am making a jewelry box and I got the hasp and the hinges. Now the hasp is a antiqued brass but the hinges are more of a buffed brass. Would there be any way to give the hinges an antique look?

Age: 17
Grade: Sophmore (Grade 10)

Matt K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Woodworker - Washington, New Jersey

June 3, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Hello! My name is Teresa. I am new to this site. 5 years ago we purchased a new house. We bought new brass chandeliers throughout our house. I guess at that time we didn't know that brass was 'out' and the new look of silver or finish was now 'in'. Well, we have too many to replace plus we don't have the money. Does anyone know how to change that brass finish to something more updated? I saw it done on HGTV but don't remember how they did it. I would appreciate any suggestions. And to think I was so proud of those beautiful brass chandeliers! :) Hey, I just remembered another thing. We also have med/dark oak cabinets. Now I see that they are also outdated! Any suggestions? Would painting them white hurt the resale of our house if we ever choose to sale? Or should I just change finish w/out painting? Please remember I can't afford to have it professionally done. Sorry, wish I could.

Teresa Dedman
hobbyist, homemaker - Georgetown, Kentucky

October 9, 2008

I have outside brass lighting, five fixtures, they are not magnetic, so may be brass, but seem rather weathered and not in a good way. I would like to clean them up and maybe darken them, but don't want to make a mess because I can't afford to replace all of them. I'm sure there is a factory applied lacquer that is not holding up.
I have tried to clean them, but a lot of sort of pitted tarnish remains. What can I use that will hold up in medium mild weather?

Louise Gumbinger
- Rancho Murieta, California

October 26, 2008

Hi, Louise. Remove any remaining lacquer with lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Remove the tarnish with something strong like Revere copper cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or vinegar plus salt. Polish with Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or Flitz [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and spray several thin coats of brass lacquer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Good luck.


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

November 21, 2008

Hi My name is Judy. I replaced all the knobs in my kitchen a few years ago with oiled bronze knobs. I absolutely love the look. Unfortunately the knobs on the cabinets that we use most frequently have lost that oiled look and appear more bronze. Is there a way to restore them back to their nice oiled finish? I would appreciate any insight you can give me on this.

Judy Hilla
home owner - Brielle, New Jersey

February 16, 2011

We have a shiny brass (a la 1980's) entry hall lamp which we would like to use in a new house. But we'd need to change that bright shiny finish to the matte bronzy-brown finish that's popular today. How can we do that? Could you please supply branded product names? Thank you so much.

Linda Deahl
Homemaker - Waterford, Michigan, U.S.A.

June 20, 2011

Hi. I have two (2) dark brown chairs with brass legs. These chairs are contemporary, so they look somewhat like a five, only with a straight top. Anyway, they are great chairs and I would like to make them look better. You have mentioned painting over plated brass, but how do I get rid of the pits? And, what kind of paint is used. Thanks, Linnie

Linnie Cole
Hobbyist - Windham, NH USA

June 21, 2011

Hi, Linnie.

There are "fillers" like Lab-metal [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], but I'm not certain that the pits are big enough to justify filling that way. Getting paint to adhere to brass is a notorious difficulty, so make sure you use a self-etching primer first, and then your finish coat. Good luck.


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

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