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"How to restore oil rubbed bronze finish to sink drain that's turned brassy?"

Current question and answers:

April 30, 2021

Q. I have a master bathroom issue. My oil based finish on my faucets looks awful. The metal base is corroded & blue. My 3 faucets look brand new but the bottom base that holds the 3 faucets looks awful. What kind of paint can I use? I would prefer paint not spay paint.

Cheryl Dietrich
- Tampa, Florida

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April 2021

A. Hi Cheryl. Please mail a photo of it to mooney@finishing.com for posting here if you can so we can better understand exactly what you are confronting. A blue coloration means the base is probably copper or brass, which is a good thing. But getting good paint adhesion in such circumstances is difficult. You should apply a primer made for metal before you think about the finish coat ... but you might try what we suggested to previous readers: cleaning the blue and any other corrosion, darkening the brass, then lacquering it.

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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Q1. My wife inadvertently used an abrasive sponge to clean my new oil rubbed bronze bathroom sink drain. It now has a "whitish" look to it. As a homeowner, is there anything I can do to restore the original finish or do I have to replace the drain?

Stephen Newman
Homeowner - Spring Valley, New York

Q2. The person who cleans my house scoured the oil-rubbed bronze finish sink drain so that it now looks like brass. Is there some way to restore this finish, or even come close in looks? Thanks.

Howard Pollack
Home owner - Richmond, California, USA


A. We consumers rarely know what a finish actually is in this age of high technology finishes ... only what it "looks like"; and many finishes can't stand up to scouring like the old nickel-chrome plating did. Your finish may not actually involve oil, or rubbing, or bronze :-)

The finish might be a vacuum-applied PVD coating, or even a tinted electrophoretic lacquer which is no longer there -- in which case it's really not fixable. But statistically speaking, it's most probably brass that has been darkened with a brass darkening solution like liver of sulfur, followed by a lacquer or other clearcoat. So hopefully it will be possible to restore the dark color either with a darkening chemical, or maybe even by laying a few broken hard boiled eggs on the drain overnight, covered by plastic wrap. If you get it a likable shade of dark, you can polish if you wish to get lighter highlights, then apply brass lacquer or other clearcoat to give it at least a bit of wear resistance.

If you like to play and learn, success may not be impossible :-)
But if you want a rapid sure-fire solution there probably isn't one. Be careful to keep the darkening solution and lacquer off the rest of the sink. Good luck.


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

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