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topic 8096

How Do I Seal a Brass Bed After It's Been Restored?

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2018


Q. My dad is cleaning my very old brass bed, and we did that with diluted acid and Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Now my problem is, what do we finish and seal it with? It seems like we've heard of something made just for brass. My dad is afraid that if we use a lacquer or polyurethane it will yellow after time.

Elizabeth G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- New Albany, Indiana


A. For protecting a finished brass surface, Polished, satin, scrubbed, bead blasted ... whatever! Lacquer is the way to go, or oven baked epoxy (type of lacquer) If your cleaned or restored surface looks just like you want it, lacquer will keep it about like that, maybe with a slight shine or wet look the higher the polish. This has been used on band instruments forever -- almost:)

Jon VanBuren
Noteworthy Piano Service - Holland, Michigan


Q. I would like to know what could be painted/sprayed on cleaned and polished 1/2 inch copper pipe that is being used in an outdoor decoration that will preserve the shiny copper color.

Thank you

Anthony Namlick
- Easton, Maryland USA

2004 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread


LON L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
homemaker - REINBECK, IOWA


A. Hi Anthony, hi Lon.

As Jon suggests, Brass lacquer is probably what you're looking for. For large quantities, you could look to G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser]. If you just want a spray can or two, you can try brass lacquer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon].

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 7, 2010

A. I agree with all said here, regarding lacquer. However a couple of important steps were missed.
1. After it has been polished there will be some residue left it is important to remove this, in warm to hot soapy water.
2. Gloves (I find the surgical type is best) must be put on, this is important as any finger prints will be seen after the Lacquer is applied.
I find at least 3 coats should be applied. The slightly warm fitting will allow the lacquer to dry more quickly.

Brian Edwards
- Sydney Australia

April 24, 2011 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello,

Brass "knuckles?"? I am a disabled Veteran who uses a walking cane. I purchased one with a brass eagle head and over time the finish has worn off and the brass is turning my palm green. Recently I sent it to a plater who refinished it and said they would also apply a sealant of some type to prevent it from turning my hand green, but after several months the finish has worn off again and it is turning my hand green. I was wondering if I could paint it with something and then seal it myself to keep this from happening. I understand the sweat from my hand is what is causing the reaction. Any ideas on the matter?

Thank you,

Manolo Fogg
Hobbyist - Woodburn, Kentucky

Brass Lacquer

April 25, 2011

A. Hi, Manolo.

You can strip the old lacquer with Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], then apply new lacquer. An automotive clear coat would be longer lasting than lacquer, but requires a spray gun that most consumers wouldn't have. Good luck, and thank you for your service to our country.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 16, 2011

Q. Hello,

"Polishing for Love". My parents purchased two brass wood boxes ( 18x18x12) in Germany about 60 years ago. I have them placed at either side of my fireplace. Over the years they have been polished over and over and are now looking very sad. I can clean them again but I want to put something on them to keep them looking good for the further and beyond.
I await with bated breath for any advise or help.

Rhoda Savage
retired college professor - Cumming, Georgia, USA

2K Clearcoat

Microcrystalline "Museum Wax"

June 2011

A. Hi, Rhoda.
Brass Lacquer is designed for this particular purpose and, unlike some clear coats, it's easily removed if you change your mind. If you think that's unlikely, then you can apply an automotive-style 2-K clear coat =>
But if you don't like it, it's hard to get off.

The third option, which would require more frequent maintenance, would be wax =>

Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Lacquered brass candle holders are grainy and not smooth

November 28, 2014

Q. I am refinishing a brass floor candle holder from our church. It has a mirror shine and have spray lacquered twice. The finish is not smooth, but grainy in places. I stripped and tried again. Having a very difficult time acquiring a smooth finish. Is there a way to remedy this?

Mary Ann Koetter
- beech grove Indiana USA

December 2014

A. Hi Mary Ann. Brian suggests 3 coats, and the manufacturers of high end chandeliers apply 6 coats or more. Are you sure your coats are light enough, that the application conditions aren't too dusty, and that the lacquer is not old and expired? What kind of lacquer are you spraying on it?


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 22, 2016

Q. The information on here sounds like it will handle the brass tray I want to seal, but I am interested in what has been used on my brass daybed. I bought this solid brass daybed 32 years ago. It was advertised as having a self sealing finish that would not allow tarnish to spread beyond any scratches. It has been scratched over the years and no major amount of tarnish. What is this product? How would you clean up any tarnish and reseal the areas? Is it something that can be done at home?

Norma Whitehead
- Huntsville, Alabama U.S.A.

March 2016


A. Hi Norma. The professionals who frequent this forum seem to believe in using only high quality products, and applying them properly, but they (or at least I) don't believe in miracle products. You don't have some magic clearcoat, you just have a properly applied finish used in a benign environment. The brass was probably given a tarnish fighting treatment with benzotriazole, followed by brass lacquer. I am not sure if benzotriazole is easily available to consumers as a separate product, but some brass lacquers, including Incralac, incorporate it into the lacquer.

If there are just isolated sports of tarnish, you can remove it with 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] (the finest grade) and re-apply brass lacquer. Read the previous advice that 3 thin coats are required (to blend in well with the existing finish with no lumpiness -- this would seem to be especially important towards getting a nice feathering).


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

March 15, 2018

Q. I am refinishing my brass bed After all the tarnish is removed, most advise coating with lacquer but I have read some advice that recommended some sort of neutralizing before the lacquer. Any advice on this.

Dana Dapolito
- Great Barrington, Massachusetts

March 2018

A. Hi Dana. It's hard to comment on "read some advice that recommended some sort". It seems that it would largely depend on what you are removing the tarnish with. If vinegar or another acid is involved, I'd say, yes, you probably should neutralize it with baking soda.

If you're removing the tarnish with Brasso, you probably want to remove the oily or waxy remnants of the Brasso with Acetone or lacquer Thinner if you are going to lacquer the bed. If you're removing tarnish with steel wool but no chemicals, you probably don't need to do anything beyond dusting before applying the lacquer. Good luck.


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

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