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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


How to Refinish Brass Lamps

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Q. I have two 48 year old brass Stiffel lamps. I thought they were solid brass until I started polishing them years ago. I obviously used the wrong polish and many parts of them aren't gold(ish) any more, but more like steel. There are also pitted areas. What can I do to fix them up? I doubt that an antique store or charity will take them.

Patti Seitzman
Retired, modernizing, downsizing. - Miramar, Florida
January 24, 2022

Modern Masters paints
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi Patti. Doing brass electroplating yourself won't be practical, and the cost to get them electroplated won't be practical either. Brass or gold colored spray paint or brush-on paint, however, may be 'good enough'.

Luck & Regards,

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

Q. Hi Patti,
I am wondering if you did anything with the lamps? I too have 2 Stiffel table lamps that have tarnish spots. I tried cleaning tips I found on the internet but it doesn't help. I am thinking of spray painting them brass. Curious if you were successful in any type of refinishing.

Thank you,

Dottie Weremeychik
- Wantagh, NY
June 14, 2022

Q. Hi! I need some guidance with restoring an old brass (I think it's brass -- a magnet does not stick to it) small side table. I first stripped the table of its paint.

all the pieces of the table being stripped of paint

The wood top with a brass heart railing unscrews from the stand and base of the table. There is a detailed ornate brass piece of the stand that fits over a metal rod that the wood top screws in to. Currently, I am having the most trouble with the base/bottom of the table that I *think* is brass as a magnet does not stick to it.

after the stripping and some cleaning, before the Brasso polish

I have cleaned it and polished the heck out of it with Brasso. The more I clean the more silver spots appear.

7229-3c   7229-3d
(after the Brasso polish and ketchup clean.; I also tried cleaning with peroxide & baking soda, and salt & lemon juice)

After having no luck with Brasso, I covered it in ketchup after doing some googling. When I took the ketchup off, it had a pink hue. I am wondering if the base/bottom of the table is made from a different material than the other pieces that are on the table? As I'm not having as much difficulty with the other parts.

7229-3e   7229-3f
(other pieces of the table that I've been cleaning)

I've tried googling but am having a tough time. Let me know what you think! :)

January 28, 2022
Kelsey Lang
Hobby - Austin, Texas

A. Hi Kelsey. I doubt that the base is solid brass. It's probably a brass plated zinc die casting. The brass plating is gone in part, so that part is not cleanable. I think you should paint it with a nice brass colored paint.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 2022

thumbs up sign Thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate the help!

Kelsey Lang [returning]
Hobby - Austin, Texas
January 29, 2022

Q. I did the magnet test and my lamp is solid brass. The base has dark spots on it and I would like to refresh the lamp. Please advise. Thank you.


DJ Tritschler
- Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
April 5, 2024

A. Hi DJ,

Being non-magnetic does not prove it is brass, only that it is not iron or steel. However, the corrosion doesn't look to me to have the crusty, salty, mini-volcanoes typically associated with zinc or aluminum corrosion so, I guess I'd have to assume it is solid brass in the absence of any additional info. But, as they ask on Antiques Roadshow, what can you tell us about this item? -- that might assist in telling us what it's made of.

Assuming it is solid brass (again, I'm not yet convinced) then mechanical polishing can't permanently hurt it. An actual power buffer is dangerous for an untrained person, but I think you could more safely use a buffing attachment [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] in a low power cordless drill [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] , and try power buffing it with jeweler's rouge [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and see what you get,

Luck & Regards,

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

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. Dear Sir,

I have two brass lamps that I would like to make bright again. I think they have a lacquered finish that has worn off. Can I remove this finish with a good brass polish and put another lacquer finish on them? Would I use a spray lacquer or paint a finish on? Thank You, Marion.

Mrs. Marion S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Milton, Pennsylvania

Mineral Spirits
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. If the old finish is a varnish, yes, a polish will remove it.

However you might also find that the finish is removed a bit faster with a couple of drops of ammonia [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] added to the polish. The ammonia aggressively penetrates most paints and varnishes and help loosen the paint or varnish. Do this in a well ventilated area and wear rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. A Tooth brush might help reach into tight spots.

Do not soak the lamp in ammonia or anything else that might make the electrical works wet.

After the lamp is polished, wipe the surface with a dampened cloth dipped in mild detergent water to remove possible waxes that the polish may have.

Wipe again with a dampened cloth having only clear water to remove the detergent.

Dry with a clean cloth and at this point try not to touch the brass with your hands, hold it with a clean cloth.

Now, you can apply a thin coat of clear spray-on varnish of a type that will dry in 1 or 2 hours (but do not touch them for about 12 hours so the paint is dry and hard).

Do not use the 'satin' varnish just the plain bright shiny kind. Try your hand on spraying something else first to determine how much to use for good coverage. Do not spray if the brass is very cold.

Remember when you paint metal the paint has nothing to 'soak' into and can pool and run easier than painting wood.

If the painting goes poorly, wipe all the varnish off immediately with mineral spirits [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] (paint thinner) and a clean rag and after it dries for an hour try again.

Thank you and good luck.

Jaye W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Burbank, California

Q. Hi,

I have an old floor lamp that my grandmother has given to me. It is really old because it has cloth covered wire. It is a bronzy, goldish color but it has tarnished. How can I find out how to refinish it? How can I tell what type of metal it is or if it is a painted goldish color? Help!

Thanks to all who respond.

Jolene H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Wetmore, Michigan

A. The simplest test is a magnet; if it's magnetic, it's iron-based, that is, steel or cast iron. In that case it could be either painted or brass/bronze plated. If it's plated, it's unlikely you can restore it yourself because the plating is probably gone in spots. So if it's magnetic and you don't want the expense of plating you would probably have to paint it.

If it's not magnetic, then it's probably solid brass/bronze and you can restore it with metal polishes. Try a mixture of vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and salt on an inconspicuous area; this is a very aggressive tarnish remover. Then try finishing up that area with Brasso [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)].

It goes without saying that if you suspect an item is really valuable that an amateur shouldn't fool with it for fear of spoiling its value. Good luck.

There are dozens of threads on line here about restoring brass and bronze items if you have the patience for a search.

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

Q. I have 3 old brass lamps and want to polish them. However, the brass is pitted. One won't shine at all and I am using a good brass polish. Any help would be appreciated.

Also, one standing tall lamp has 3 places for bulbs (about 8") Can I do anything so I can put a Victorian shade on it? One one of them the bulb would hang down and I want a Victorian shade on it also. Thank you.

Wanda C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Roseburg, Oregon

Q. Dear Sir

I have an inexpensive brass coloured chandelier that I want to refinish to make it look like antiqued brass or pewter. Do you have any suggestions how to go about doing this?

Penny Vine
homeowner - Delta, BC, Canada

A. Hello Penny. We want to help, but it's complicated because these days things are not necessarily what they look like.

Your chandelier might be solid brass, but also could be brass plated steel or a brass plated zinc diecasting. There could be brass lacquer on that, or a polyurethane clear coat, or something else. But it also could be nickel plated, then coated with a brass-colored electrophoretic lacquer (organic finish), with no brass actually involved at all.

If you found a canister of white powder in your basement that you'd forgotten the origin of, experience would tell you that you can't mix eggs with it and expect to make a cake if you don't know whether it's baking soda or pancake mix or arsenic. Similarly, many things can look like brass, and there's no one chemical that can react with any and all of those possibilities and leave a predictable finish.

The good news is that both Krylon and Rustoleum (and probably other brands) now offer paint finishes that look quite close to pewter and antique brass. That's probably a good way to go on a relatively new and "inexpensive brass colored chandelier". Good luck!

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

Krylon Brass Metallic Paint [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]
Krylon Spray Enamel - pewter gray [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]
Rustoleum #7277 Brushed Nickel Metallic [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]

Q. I have two brass lamps that were in my parents house when it burned. I am trying to restore them, but have tried everything. Some of the finish is pitted. I think they have some type of coating, not sure. I've tried Brasso, but they still need a lot of work. Any help would be great!


Terrie L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
teacher - Newnan, Georgia

A. Try vinegar, with salt added and dip the offending objects in that, leaving for a while, then cleaning in fresh water. Continue until brass is clean. Also works on copper, etc..

Trevor P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Kent, England

Q. I have two large barrel shaped brass lamps that do not match my decor. I would like to age them to look either like old copper or aged brass, but I am afraid of the electrical cords and any process that is toxic or messy due to the fact that I have a young child in the house. Any information you can offer would be helpful.

Thank you

Theresa Kucuk
teacher - Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

A. Get the lamps up to a high shine, make sure that the lamps are clean, then it's time to make the patina. Boil water, add salt until it doesn't dissolve anymore, let it cool, then brush it onto the metal let it dry overnight and apply the next day, continue until you have the color you want, then seal it with a clear spray lacquer [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] .

Good Luck

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina

"Renovating a Bathroom"
on AbeBooks

or eBay or


(affil links)

Q. My name is Nancy. I am a homeowner from Raleigh, NC. I have bathrooms that have been outfitted with "brass look" fixtures including the shower door. Glass and brass. I would like to treat these surfaces to change the look to nickel or pewter or silver. Can anyone help me learn the products and or someone who can perform the service. My home was built in 1996.

Also I would like to know how to change my solid surface counter tops that are blue. Can they be covered with a metal product such as an industrial brushed steel? Thank you for your interest.

Nancy Armstrong
homeowner - Raleigh, North Carolina

A. If the shower doors were very expensive they might actually be lacquered real brass, but it's far more likely that they are anodized aluminum with gold or brass colored dye. The case with dyed anodized aluminum is that the dye was absorbed into a honeycomb like structure during manufacturing, that was later capped off, and there is no practical way to do anything with it except replace it. It could be painted, but the paint may not stick really well. Get it spotlessly clean, then prime with a self-etching primer for good adhesion.

A plating shop could refinish the plumbing fixtures, but it's unlikely you do do anything with them yourself except paint them (which isn't promising considering the wet and difficult environment). The reason you don't read much about how to refinish faucets and fixtures in renovation and handyman books is that there probably isn't a practical but robust way to do it. Sorry.

Industrial brushed steel will be very prone to rusting. Some people strip the paint off of old steel desks and clearcoat them, but they often have rusting issues even in an office environment. Clearcoats probably won't be enough rust protection for the humid environment of most bathrooms.

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

Q. Is there a product that can be used on brass to change the look to a silver/pewter look finish?

Patty Collier
wedding chapel - Abilene, Texas

A. Hi Patty. Yes, there are paints for such cases, and there are wax rubs [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] , or the parts can be sent to a plating shop. Other approaches might work as well. But it's hard to offer good answers in the abstract. Please try your best to describe the item and the situation. Thanks.


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

Q. The brass frame and hinges on my glass shower are tarnished and have black spots on them. I want to paint the frame and hinges white. What is the best way to do it and have it last, since there is frequent contact with water and steam. Thank you.

P.S. I have read how to paint a brass light fixture and a large brass bed in your advice section - However, I think my problem is different size-wise (smaller than a bed - bigger than a light - and stationary, too) with an added problem of water exposure.

Elaine Zucchi
consumer - Briarcliff, New York

A. Hi Elaine. See answer to Nancy A, just above.

Luck & Regards,

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

A. Dear All,

I really feel great to be here with you, with all your questions regarding finishes, please note that the simple lacquered brass polished, pewter, can be easily refinished thru Brasso [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] I hope this is easily available in your all countries. Regarding other finishes, please note that these type of finishes can be refinished thru washing, such as patina, bronze, antique brass, etc., Well, besides this if you would like to know more about your articles I can always be happy to reply.

Thanks & best Regards,

Rizwan Shakil
exports of all Indian Artistic Handicraft Items - Moradabad, India

Q. I have tried to refinish an old brass lamp using Brasso. So far I have used 3 cans of Brasso but can't seem to get the finish to look shiny & clean as I want it. Am I just beating my head against a wall or is there another product I can use to get better results. A friend suggested using muriatic acid [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. I tried it but was frightened of the "instability" of the acid--smoke, fumes. I would appreciate any suggestions anyone might have.


Susan Seitter
consumer - Corpus Christi, Texas

A. You are right to be frightened by muriatic acid, and it's inappropriate anyway. As previously noted, you must first make sure there is no lacquer on the brass as brass polishes are not designed to remove lacquer; you may need lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] for that. Then you might try vinegar plus salt in an inconspicuous area; this is very aggressive and will leave the brass looking "raw" but should be correctable using Brasso [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. You might consider going to the hardware store and getting a buffing attachment [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] for your electric drill to make the polishing quicker and easier on the hands.

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

RFQ: I have 2 brass lamps, circa 1970s, that were partially painted per the style of the day. One of the lamps has lost most of its paint while the other is only chipping on the base. I'd like to remove the paint and repaint the lamps. I'm looking for tips on how to remove and repaint OR remove and locate a professional to do the repainting. The paint would be a simple solid color, probably applied by machine. I don't know where I would start looking to find someone that would do this kind of work. Any recommendation will be appreciated.

Ann Casey
Consumer - Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Ed. note: Sorry, this RFQ is old & outdated, so contact info is no longer available. However, if you feel that something technical should be said in reply, please post it; no public commercial suggestions please ( huh? why?)

Q. I have 2 Stiffel brass table lamps. The brass surface appears to have a lacquer finish that is now crazed.How do I restore the beauty of the brass?

Bill Blair
- Clearwater, Florida

A. Hi Bill. In brief, remove the lacquer with lacquer thinner, buff the brass back to a good shine, and reapply lacquer. Good luck.

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

"Antique Lamp
Buyer's Guide"

by Nadja Maril
on AbeBooks

or eBay or


(affil links)

Q. I recently purchased a lamp at a garage sale. My spouse says it is brass but it is painted an UGLY black/green. He used a paint stripper but it only softened it. It seems so daunting. We are looking for ANY help so we can re-store this lamp to it's original state.

Donna Kay
hobbyist - Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada

Q. Cleaning the brass bottoms of my white Fenton lamps with Brasso? I am trying to clean the bases of two old Fenton milk glass gwtw lamps I am afraid the Brasso will remove the hand painted flowers and the milk glass.

Karen l Lone
- New Albany, Indiana

Q. I have a, what used to be, gorgeous lacquered brass plated dining table with glass insets. Through the years, wine has spilled into the seams and eaten the brass under the lacquer. Also, a male dog has found the legs very alluring and used them as his fire hydrant. Is there anyway to get it back to its beauty? It was my mom's pride & joy. I would love to preserve if I could.

Criss Hobbs
consumer - Marble Falls, Texas

A. Unfortunately, the brass plating may not be sound after time & tide, Criss, and you may have to send it to a plating shop for replating. But you could probably start by removing the lacquer with lacquer thinner and trying to polish it with a commercial brass polish. Good luck.

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

Q. Is there a product available that I can use to change a custom screen from a brass finish to a pewter or nickel color finish?

I have test sampled using some Brush 'n Leaf [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] Silver but it is too shiny and bright, but it does stick well. Anyone know how to tone down the brightness of the silver leaf?

And I tried a tube of the Rub 'n Buff finish, but it simply does not stick well.

Is there a finishing industry product available to homeowners that can be used to change brass color metal items to a pewter or nickel finish?

Bob Duley
Consumer - Dayton, Ohio

A. Hello, Bob. Industrial finishers would not discolor brass in an attempt to make it look like nickel, they would nickel electroplate the brass. So I doubt that you will find an "industrial" product for the purpose. But some spray paints don't look bad.

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

Q. How do I remove/refinish the shiny gold on anodized aluminum shower enclosure? I am refinishing my master bath and do not like the shiny gold shower enclosure. I want to give it an antiqued nickel look. Is there any treatment that is easy to accomplish that can hold up in the shower?

Thank You for your help,

Nancy Hicks
hobbyist - Austin, Texas

A. Hi Nancy. Antique nickel paint [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] , on top of a self-etching primer [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] on a very clean surface is probably the most promising approach.

Luck & Regards,

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

Q. I have polished brass hardware throughout my house which I feel looks dated. I wanted to change it to an antique brass or bronze look. I was told that shiny brass cabinet hardware could be darkened by applying wood stain [on eBay or Amazon affil links] and then dabbing it off to the desired finish. However, it is not drying and remains tacky after 24 hours. Is there a way to set the finish so I can apply a clear spray protectant? I did use 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] on them to roughen up the surface but I'm not sure if this helped or not.

Marcia Miller
hobbyist - Austin, Texas

Q. I have a square vintage brass ceiling fixture with pin holes in it that had a nice "patina" that made it almost a bronze color. Since I recovered it from our local recycling center, I brought it home and cleaned it with Brasso to make my new found "prize" look its best! In a few spots I have taken it back to bright metal, in other areas it's streaked. I'm afraid that I've created a mess of it! How do I restore the antique finish look that I would like to have? What products should I be using?

Blake Shore
Buyer - Deer Harbor, Washington
January 4, 2008

Q. I have a solid bronze chandelier with a brass finish on it. I want to clean it as it has several tiny brownish stains. Is it true that I can remove the lacquer with lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. Apply Brasso and then Wrights Copper Cream [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] it again? Thanks

Anna Pace
home owner - Malta
July 3, 2008

A. Hi, Anna. Yes, that should work.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 6, 2008

Q. Hi, I have two Stiffel Lamps, gorgeous, and now that I am older appreciate their beauty far more. Unfortunately, I was renovating and didn't require two, and put one down in the basement. Although dry, it somehow got pitted on the its base. So upset, since the other one looks like new. Any way I can rectify this? Thanks for your help. My husband bought a restorer, but this did absolutely nothing for our problem.

Anna Pilla
homeowner - Bronx, New York
February 17, 2009

Q. Hi, I just bought two shiny wall sconces that I am trying to change the color to antique gold. What should I use to remove the present color and what are the steps to make them antique looking?

Nadia Gonzales
hobbyist - Orlando, Florida
February 28, 2009

Q. My wife collects and rebuilds these lamps and has about six that need fairly large amounts of refinishing. We no longer have a brass electroplating shop within 1000 miles and are wondering if anyone has a good home solution? Some have fairly heavy pocking while others have 60 years of accumulated wax and grime.

Alex Taylor
hobbyist - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
June 7, 2009

Q. I am refinishing a brass chest that has sat for 30 years or so. It has been stripped & polished 4 or 5 times, and cleaned and buffed. I have tried spar & poly finishes, and I get dark streaks under the finish when it dries. Should I try just a wax finish?

Bill Hall
Hobbyist - Minneola, Florida, USA
June 21, 2010

Brass Lacquers
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi, Bill. Try brass lacquer rather than spar varnish or polyurethane. It's made for brass and sometimes has benzotriazole [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] as a tarnish inhibitor to deter this streaking and darkening. You can get it from specialists like G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser], or buy it in rattle cans on the internet. Good luck. Everbrite [a supporting advertiser] also contains benzotriazole I believe.


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

Q. I spent hours stripping and polishing two brass lamps from the 1920's period. I sprayed them with high gloss spray lacquer (Rustoleum brand) and since drying, the coat looks very spotted and is extremely dull and rough. 1) What did I do wrong; 2) Can I remove the lacquer with Brasso? Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

Cathy Hall
Homemaker hobbyist - Fayetteville Arkansas US
August 15, 2010

A. Hi, Cathy

Lacquer should be applied in multiple very thin coats, not one heavy coat. You should be able to remove the existing lacquer with lacquer thinner or acetone [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. You may have better success with brass lacquer [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] than with general purpose lacquer because (I think) it contains brass/copper preservatives like sodium benzotriazole to discourage the spotting, and it is probably thinned for application on polished metals whereas general purpose lacquers are probably thicker.


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

A. I have found Maas metal polish [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] to be quite successful in polishing brass. It's a cream that comes in a tube, and I ordered it on the internet. Glad to find out from this site how to restore the lacquer finish to brass, thanks!

Marilyn Diaferia
- Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, USA

Q. I am trying to restore a table lamp that belonged to my grandparents. It has been in a basement and the "feet" of the brass base have...rusted or corroded. How do you clean this or take the "roughness" from the finish? Have already tried BRASSO.

Denise Shockley
home owner - Emden, Missouri, USA
September 1, 2010

Q. I have several antique brass finish Stiffel lamps. I moved them to India and after 12 years the surface looks pitted, spotty. I asked an agency in India to polish it and now there is a white surface under. How do I salvage the lamp ?

Anuradha Koduri
owner of the lamps - Hyderabad, AP , INDIA
December 22, 2010

Q. I have 2 brass lamps and the style is dated. I would like to refinish them for an updated look.

Any suggestions.

Debbie Mischung
homeowner - Jacksonville, Florida, USA
March 25, 2011

Q. Dear Sir,
I have a small new brass lamp.I need to give a silver shine or any sharp shine to this lamp. Can I Use Cr, Ni or Ag for that? If I can, how can we do it sir? Can I use electroplating process for this or it has any easy way to do this?

Thank You Sir.

Vasundara Kariyawasam
Student - Colombo, Sri Lanka
June 1, 2011

Q. I have a Polished Brass Delta Tub Faucet which had been sprayed with a Clear Coat for added protection however the coating is starting to brittle and I was wondering how to remove the coating without damaging the fine smooth Brass finish underneath.


Fred Zietlow
- Richmond BC Canada
March 20, 2012

A. Hi Fred. Companies like Delta don't usually reveal what the coatings are, so it's hard to know what will remove them. But there are many solvents which remove organic coatings without any damage to brass. Lacquer thinner (or acetone) would be the first thing to try, but will only remove lacquer. If that doesn't work, Aircraft Stripper probably will work -- but this is extremely toxic, requiring not only goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and rubber glovesrubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], but really good ventilation, not just a bathroom fan :-(


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 24, 2012

Q. I have an antique brass moroccan lamp and shade. I would like to clean it and place in my mediation room. How do I clean it back to it's original shine, is that possible? It's been in my husbands family for over 100 years. There are no dents - in perfect condition.

Gretchen Jones
- Forestville, Maryland
January 27, 2013

Q. Hi there.. I am looking to find out how to refinish brass rails in my home. It would be great if I can change the finish to look more like a matte nickel look or black, right now they are brass and some are tarnished but shiny. Any thoughts?

Janis Borgueta
- Newburgh New York USA
April 16, 2013

Q. I have several, large, polished brass Speer lamps. I love the lamps but would love them more if I could 'dull' the shine. Can you suggest a method I might try?


Edie Schneider
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA
May 15, 2013

A. Hi Edie. If you are certain that the entire lamp is solid brass you could entertain ideas like brass darkening solution [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. But making anything beautiful requires artistry that I'm not up to; I don't know if you are, but if you're not, fooling around with stripping protective lacquers, applying darkeners or patinating solutions, and reapplying the lacquers, may leave you with a lamp that is less beautiful.

I think the safest way to try to alter the finish would be by applying a wax rub [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] . I'd try a wax rub in a tone that offers only a subtle change for the first try.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 16, 2013

Black spots on brass table from wine spill

Q. I have a polished brass dining table and my guest spilled red wine, and now my brass has some little black spots. Is there a way I can touch this up?

Thank you helping me!

- Irving, Texas USA
February 14, 2014

A. Hi Cindy. Wine is somewhat acidic (pH 3.0 -3.9) and can cause some pitting in brass. Try some Barkeepers Friend [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] or other brass/copper cleaner and see. But it is a bit surprising that the wine could get to the brass if there was lacquer or a clearcoat on the brass, and a bit surprising that you could maintain polished brass without lacquer or clearcoat. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 2014

A. To polish brass, try Turtlewax. Works well on silver.

b driedger
- cranbrook, BC, Canada
October 22, 2014

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Puppy peed on brass

Q. Greetings my name is Terry I'm a handy man /general contractor looking for solution to repairing dark antique brass finish on 2 floor little Yorkshire terrier Max is in need of further training. Any ideas would be appreciated. thanks-Terry

Terry A. Ford
Green home building&Remodeling - Mpls., Minnesota, USA

Q. Hello. Our new puppy used one of my grand piano legs as a spot to relieve himself. The brass on the bottom of leg has turned, in spots, green. How can I remove this and restore the normal looking finish?

Susan Van Slyke
- San Antonio, Texas, USA
March 7, 2014

A. Susan,
A commercial product like Brasso [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] would be my first suggestion for taking care of the tarnish. I would then find out from the manufacturer what sort of finish was originally used to protect the metal and do that (if feasible).

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Lenoir, North Carolina USA

Q. I own two brass beds, one is over 100 years old the other is 30 years old, both are sold brass. I just discovered dog was pissing on both beds, about the time I discovered this, the urine stains were old and had eaten in to the brass legs. Brasso and other cleaners will not touch it. Can I take a fine sandpaper to get them out or are there other methods? Thanks.

Jeffrey F. Jones
consumer - Manhattan, Illinois

A. I just restored a 100 year old brass lantern that was completely black with tarnish. I soaked it in apple cider vinegar with a little salt, which made it look VERY DULL, but was then kind of a copper color. I then used Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and a soft rag. It is coming out looking like brand new. The mothers mag/aluminum polish seems to be doing the trick, although it has taken a LOT of rubbing.

Pam Bulmann
- Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
July 11, 2014

Q. I have a Waterford Crystal Overture Pattern Table Lamp where the brass base and top lampshade and bulb assembly, has become dull and discolored. What do I have to do to restore the original luster and shine? Does Waterford apply an acrylic finish? What do I use to clean, recommendation? Then a recommended finish??

Thank you

Bob Klein
- Fargo, North Dakota, USA
December 16, 2014

Brass Lacquers
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi Bob. We're happy to post your inquiry, but I think it's unlikely any reader will know what the finish on your lamp is. Hope that it's just brass lacquer, and try to remove it with lacquer thinner [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] or acetone.

If it's a tougher clearcoat, you'll probably need Aircraft Stripper, which is noxious stuff that contains methylene chloride. Goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], gloves [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], and good outdoor ventilation are the minimum requirements for working with it. Once you have the clear coat off, and the brass (if that's really what it is) looking good again, you can apply brass lacquer ⇨
Good luck.


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

My dog urinated on the base of my brass floor lamp

Q. I don't know when my male dog urinated on the base of my brass lamp. By the time I discovered what he did it was too late. The spots where he took a whizz are missing brass shine as probably the acid in his urine ate through.


NOTHING has helped to restore the base to its original beauty. Solid brass. It is a Torchierre style. Thank you for any assistance.

Margaret Troche
- New York, New York USA
June 7, 2015

A. Hi Margaret,

We appended your inquiry to a thread where there is an earlier discussion on the same subject; you will probably need mechanical action (a buffing pad mounted on a battery operated drill), rather than just a wipe-on product. Don't use too strong a drill, as you can hurt yourself. This may be beyond your skills and equipment, and may require a brass polishing shop.

You say it is solid brass but it looks like brass plating to me.


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

RFQ: I agree and that is why I submitted my post here on I 'twas expecting a response from a supplier who offers the service so now I am totally confused.


Margaret Troche [returning]
- New York, New York

Ed. note: Sorry, this RFQ is old & outdated, so contact info is no longer available. However, if you feel that something technical should be said in reply, please post it; no public commercial suggestions please ( huh? why?)

Ed note: David did not include a graphic, this one is from

Discolored brass wall sculpture by Bijan

Q. My wall sculpture "California Sunset" by Bijan has spotting in the trunk of the tree. I am not sure of the cause. Brass polish does remove tarnish from the surface with no visual improvements.

On the back of the piece I did a test with ketchup and received wonderful results. What is the finish that Bijan used? How do I remove it to polish the brass ? I will use your recommended final finish.

David Gress
- Glendale, Arizona
June 15, 2016

Q. Good afternoon. I recently purchased two porcelain lamps at a sale. The wiring is junk so I took them apart. The bases could sure use a cleaning, but I am unsure how to proceed. It passes the magnet test, no sticking. There are some superficial scratches where I see a gold-ish colour where it has been scored. There is plenty of oxidation on the base, whether it's from age or the people smoked, I am unsure. On the top, near the hole for the lamp rod, it is stamped "272" and "M M" on the underside, "Pat. Pen". There is also a silver spot on the underside, that leads me to believe this is plated mild steel. I have no idea, that's why I am asking you. What is the proper way to clean this item? Or is it better to leave it with its natural patina? I appreciate your time.

Samantha Figueroa Meeks
- Ocala, Florida
August 11, 2019

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