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topic 50942

Changing chrome bathroom to oil rubbed bronze

An ongoing discussion from 2003 through 2015 . . .


RFQ: I am looking to find a plater/coater to put a oil rubbed bronze finish on some plumbing hardware (two single valve handle shower faucets and two towel bars for a shower door).
We are building a new home and the plumbing valves for our shower stalls have been installed, walls plastered and painted. Unfortunately we have changed our mind about going with chrome and now want oil rubbed bronze (a finish the valve manufacturer does not make).
Rather than putting large holes in the wall to replace the valve we are looking to refinish the trim/handle for the shower faucet.

Lisa F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rochester, Massachusetts
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RFQ: I have three (3) single-lever bathroom faucets in that I would like to change from a chrome finish to oil rubbed bronze. Is this a possibility?

Jolene D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
consumer - Houston, Texas
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A. Hi, Jolene.

Unfortunately, economy of scale means it usually costs more to replate objects like this than to buy replacements. If they are special for any reason (replacements don't fit, heirlooms, sentimental value) there is no problem having them plated. But if they take a couple of hours each, and the plater has to charge what a plumber or mechanic charges, it can cost more than you are comfortable with. Good luck.

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

June 26, 2008

RFQ: Need a chrome faucet and handles refinished to oil rubbed bronze. Need ASAP

Matthew N [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
homeowner - Morrisville, Pennsylvania, USA
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January 8, 2009

Q. We have a fairly new bathroom with chrome fixtures. I would like to change them all to an oil rubbed bronze look. We have 2 light fixtures, two sinks, a shower set and a tub set. Is there a way to do this? I have seen a lot of paints available, but think that this is not the way to go.

Travis Chillemi
hobbyist - Castle Rock, Colorado, USA

January 16, 2009

A. Hi, Travis. Anything can be done, but some things aren't very practical. Paint should hold up on the light fixtures, but is more questionable on the towel racks, and might prove almost worthless on the faucet sets. Stripping and re-plating these items is a labor-intensive manual process at domestic labor rates, whereas new items are manufactured thousands at a time on automated machinery at Asian labor rates. So sending them to a plating shop for replating will usually exceed the cost of replacements and is generally restricted to heirlooms, exceptionally expensive items, or components with special dimensions that can't be obtained today.

I am not encouraging you to landfill your stuff and import replacement junk from China, but neither would I want you to waste your time and the plating shops' time without understanding that there is probably no money to be saved by replating your existing fixtures. Best of luck.


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

April 5, 2015

Q. I have just moved into a new house. The shower has the usual chrome around the door. I am switching the faucets to a burnished bronze. Is there any treatment that would let me turn the chrome to this color?
Thank you

Janice Smith
- saraland, Alabama

April 2015

A. Hi Janice. You say "chrome", but when you say "usual" that tells me you probably mean bright aluminum rather than chrome plating. Paint has little chance of sticking to real chrome; but I think a self-etching primer followed by a burnished bronze decorative paint probably has a good chance of sticking to clean, lightly sanded, aluminum.


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

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