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topic 59682

Can you change oil rubbed bronze finished electrical fixtures to look cast iron black?

July 30, 2014

Q. Hi,

I am redoing a bathroom, and I really like the design aesthetics of a lighting fixture, but they only come in an "oil rubbed bronze" finish that I don't want. I would like them to look black, like cast iron.

59682-1a 59682-1b

My first question is, is it possible to know what actual metal is underneath the finish, and secondly, can they be refinished so that they look like cast iron? Thanks.

Kim Shaknis
an absolute neophyte to this stuff - Belmont, Massachusetts, USA

August 2014

A. Hi Kim. If a magnet is drawn to the item it is almost surely steel. Sometimes you can see hints of what material it is from the inside of the electrical boxes, looking into tubes if one end is open, etc. If not magnetic, then tubular items are either aluminum (most likely if cheap or light) or brass alloys (most likely if expensive or heavy). Pieces that look like they are cast, but aren't magnetic, might be zinc if not aluminum or brass.

But in the end, you'll probably find that paint is the only practical way to color them black anyway -- so maybe spend your time investigating all the different textures and sheens of black paint rather than the metallurgical nature of the fixture. And if you want something to convincingly look like cast iron, remember that it is heavy and thick and made by pouring molten metal into sand; it's not delicately thin. If your selected lamp has thin items with delicate detail, it's not going to look like cast iron. Best of luck!


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

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