Refinishing brass

Image courtesy of Morguefile
Date:1 June 2009

I want to polish and refinish the brass hardware on my front door. What’s the best way to do this so it stays shiny as long as possible?

People are becoming accustomed to seeing extremely glossy lighting, door and plumbing hardware. A lot of these products are finished with PVD (physical vapour deposition) technology. This method transforms metal vapour into a thin but extremely tough coating on a product’s surface. How tough? Well, PVD was developed for use in the aerospace industry.

I’m assuming you don’t have PVD coatings on your hardware, or you wouldn’t be asking the question. Although you can get good metalfinishing results with ordinary home methods, there are limits to the results you should expect. Besides, any finish you apply will need to be stripped off some day. The tougher the finish, the more difficult that job will be.

A good technique is to use an ordinary household metal cleaner such as Brasso to strip the layer of tarnish off the surface of the brass. You can leave it at that or opt for a clear-coat finish. To clear coat, first remove any oily residue left from the polishing process by wiping the surface with acetone. Once the surface has dried, apply a UV-resistant clear coating.

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