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"Brass plating on aluminum"

Current question:

September 14, 2021

RFQ Looking for someone to Brass Plate 2 aluminum Frames. Can send drawings by email.

Steve Schmidtlein
Purchasing - Overland Park

  ^- Privately respond to this RFQ -^

Ed. note: As always, gentle readers, technical replies in public and commercial replies in private please ( huh? why?)

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:


Q. I'm building a custom chopper bicycle which is now at the point where it needs parts plated. Many of the linkage pieces and decorative parts are 6061 aluminum. I would like to have a brass or similar finish on the aluminum if possible. My concern is that the parts don't corrode after all this hard work. What are the steps from bare aluminum to brass finish?


Eric Paulson
hobbyist - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA


A. There are at least four alternatives. The least expensive is anodizing the aluminum and using a brass colored dye. This will be highly corrosion resistant, but is not real brass and won't look like real brass to a knowledgable person. The steps are brite dip, desmut, anodize, dye, seal.

The second alternative is actual brass plating. This requires prep steps including etching or brite dipping, then desmutting, followed by zincating, followed by nickel plating, followed by brass plating, followed by lacquering or clear coating (without which, the brass will tarnish immediately).

The third alternative is to follow the steps described up through nickel plating, then apply a brass tinted electrophoretic lacquer instead of the brass plating (this will look like brass even to an expert).

The fourth idea is to simply apply a brass tinted lacquer or electrophoretic lacquer to the polished aluminum; but I don't have any experience on that, and can't say whether it is durable or would fool anybody. But you might speak to lacquer suppliers about it.

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

Can Aluminium can be Electroplated with Brass by Same Procedure as for Stainless Steel

April 24, 2015

Q. Whether Aluminium base metal can be electroplated with brass by applying same procedure for stainless steel?
What is the average durability of brass plated items? Is there any difference if items fixed at toilet,bathroom or sunlight exposed area.

Imthiyas chanath
- Sharjah UAE

April 2015

A. Hi Imthiyas. I think you are actually asking whether aluminum will be a good substrate for brass plating, rather than whether the pretreatment steps for aluminum substrates are the same as for stainless steel substrates. They're not, and we have lots of threads devoted to both topics. Aluminum must be zincated and nickel plated before the brass plating ... but yes, it can be brass plated.

Please recognize that brass plating will quickly tarnish unless protected with a lacquer or clearcoat. So, while the brass plating itself won't care about the sunlight, the lacquer or clearcoat probably must be UV resistant. And moist/wet areas are invariably more corrosive than drier areas.

With a good clearcoat/lacquer I think brass plated aluminum will be okay for bathroom stuff like towel racks and light fixtures.


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

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