-- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry

on this site
current topics

60,000 Q&A topics -- Education, Aloha, & Fun

topic 8096

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

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2019


Q. My dad is cleaning my very old brass bed, and we did that with diluted acid and Brasso [affil. link to product info on 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 [affil. link to product info on Amazon].

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

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

affil. link
Brass Lacquer

April 25, 2011

A. Hi, Manolo.

You can strip the old lacquer with Acetone [affil. link to product info on Amazon] or lacquer thinner [affil. link to product info on 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
Striving to live Aloha

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

affil. link
2K Clearcoat

affil. link
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
Striving to live Aloha

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
Striving to live Aloha

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

affil. link

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 [affil. link to 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
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 11, 2019

Q. Hi I have a highly polished brass cup and a highly polished brass cuff bracelet that I want to seal. They are both a bright mirror finish. They were both cleaned with a wax/grease/silicone cleaner, until the black stopped coming off, using a new clean white micro fiber cloth. Then they both were re-cleaned with a new white micro fiber cloth and a good quality acetone, after rubbing for a few minutes the cloth is white or almost white, at this point I consider the brass clean. I applied a good 2K urethane Clear coat, and it looked and felt great. Until the Clear Coat came off like a snake skin :-(


DTM = Direct to Metal

Here is the Question: What clear coat can I use that will adhere well to the very smooth and shiny & clean Brass. And if I use oil base clear Lacquer first (DTM) can I then apply the oil base 2K urethane clear Coat to the top of it to give it a hard skin.

I could sure use your Help. Thanks.

Dwayne McGee
Jeweler - Laredo Texas, USA

February 23, 2019

A. I have had extensive experience clear coating mirror like metal surfaces (copper, silver, steel, aluminum) -- and applying 2K clear directly to these surfaces is not advised because these type of glossy clears are designed to go over a base coat -- so what I do is I first apply 2 coats of transparent mate ^ matte clear as base coats, the first coat is a light mist coat and the second a regular coat, I allow 24-48 hours to fully dry and then apply the 2k clear.

While I always try to use compatible coatings(by the manufacturer) I can't always find info on the coatings so what I do is test on a test panel/piece first to test compatibility.

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua Nicaragua

simultaneous February 27, 2019

Q. Thank you for replying Marvin, question when you say "transparent mate^ matte clear" what do you mean? What product is it?

Lastly when you do your testing how long do you wait to look at the total outcome after the last coat is sprayed on?

Thanks Marvin.

Dwayne McGee
Jeweler - Laredo Texas

February 26, 2019

A. Contact [a reputable lacquer company] and ask for [a high quality] lacquer. Problem solved!

drew nosti
Drew Nosti, CEF
Anodize USA
supporting advertiser
Ladson, South Carolina

Ed. note: Sorry, but no specific brand names or sourcing info, please, readers (why?)

March 1, 2019

A. Yes, Matte clear behaves more like a base coat than a clear coat, glossy clear coats will not stick to glossy/mirror finish metals because they need something to hold on to. Matte Clear provide a surface that is rough so the clear can hold to it. As to what product I can not recommend products but check with manufacturer for coating compatibility.

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua, Nicaragua

March 3, 2019

Q. Marvin if I do that the shine and its mirror finish on the polished brass will be obscured by the underlying matte finish, it will have haziness. It may even look milky, is there another way?

Lastly, by product I mean Polyurethane, urethane, lacquer etc.


Dwayne McGee [returning]
Jeweler - Laredo Texas

simultaneous March 8, 2019

A. You'll probably have better results by using acrylic clear directly over clean brass. Available everywhere in aerosol cans.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

March 8, 2019

A. Mr. McGee This is actually a proven technique use on the automotive industry to seal decals and air brush Art work, in that industry the name of the coating is intercoat clear and the definition of an intercoat clear is: "Intercoat clears typically are comprised of the same types of resins and many of the same additives as basecoat colors. Of course they do not contain pigment or they wold not be clear" For more detail info on what are the advantages of intercoat check link:

Basically a matte clear in this case is a kind of intercoat, it gives the coating the ability to hold on to the mirror surface and at the same time gives the final gloss coat a rough surface to stick to it, and as I said before please try it on a few test pieces before you actually do it on the final piece

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua Nicaragua

March 16, 2019

Q. Hi, I've finished the cleaning of my brass bed frame with a spray of lacquer but I have some runs. How do I fix those?

Andrea Spitz
- Courtenay, Bc. Canada

March 2019

A. Hi Andrea. I don't think there is a way to fix runs. If you really can't stand them, you'll have to remove them with lacquer thinner and try to 'feather' in a repair coat of lacquer. The real trick is to avoid runs by using multiple very thin coats instead of thick coats.

I've heard that manufacturers of top quality brass chandeliers apply 7 thin coats and sometimes more! While, as a consumer, you probably won't have the freedom to dilute the lacquer with lacquer thinner for 7 very thin coats like OEM manufacturers can, you can still spray as lightly as practical and use a couple or 3 coats to avoid runs.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

June 10, 2019

Q. Hi there,
I have a brass cylinder (to store medicine) on my key chain, it is made of solid brass. The problem is that it tarnishes just as soon as it goes in the pocket (perhaps because of the moisture which comes in the pocket (the temperature here today was 46 °C); I am using Brasso [affil. link to product info on Amazon] for polishing it.

I am just going hopeless because when polished the case looks out of this world but it gets tarnished very very soon.

I have seen that Acrylic Lacquer clear coat (from Rustoleum - spray can) would protect it but I doubt that it will last.

The link is:

Can you therefore please tell if I should be using it? If yes how long would you think it last?

Thank you so much for your replies in advance.

Ali Mujahid
- Lahore, Pakistan

June 2019

affil. link

A. Hi Ali. One-part lacquers are not as durable as two-part, but should last several to many months if the abrasion is not too bad. Most people would recommend dipping in benzotriazole before the lacquer if you have connections to get easy access to it, but it's not strictly necessary for a consumer.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread SEARCH for Threads about ... My Topic Not Found: Start NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental Compliance

©1995-2020, Inc., Pine Beach, NJ   -   About   -  Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.