Your grandmother's antique silverplated sugar bowl may, after a few years in the attic, need to be replated for display. Most likely it was originally plated using a professional technique utilising cyanide and electricity, but today there are many simpler, less toxic and more affordable options for replating silver. Restore antiques or collectibles from estate sales and thrift stores using this simple approach.
Carefully examine the silver piece. Inspect all moving and static parts. Note how much silverplate is missing.
Remove the old silverplate. Strip the piece down to the base metal using a commercial grade stripper solution. You may also create a paste from water and baking soda to remove tarnish.
Knock out dents with a soft mallet or repair hammer. Use your fingers for small dents or on delicate pieces. Do not use a rubber mallet; rubber corrodes silver and may ruin any etching or design on the piece.
Replace missing parts on the piece. Pieces such as creamer lids, springs or handles may be found at antique shops, speciality stores or, if the piece is recent enough, may be ordered from the manufacturer.
Gently buff the piece with steel wool to smooth the surface and prepare it for replating. Buff thoroughly; silverplate will not adhere to a rough surface.
Dip the piece into a heavy coat of high-grade silverplate solution, or brush the high-grade silverplate onto the piece using a soft cloth. Allow to dry.
Rinse the piece to rid it of residue. Polish the piece with a soft cloth to bring out the silverplate's shine.
Oxidise the piece with the oxidising solution, if desired, to give it an antique look. Do so carefully, using a small paintbrush; only coat the areas that you wish to look antique, as the oxidising solution can only be removed by using the commercial grade stripper again. Work the oxidiser into crevices. Let the piece dry and reapply, if desired. Continued rubbing and polishing also creates a patina.
Examine the piece once more to ensure all pieces work properly and the silverplate shines to your taste.
Silverplating may be applied to brass, bronze, copper, zinc and nickel surfaces. It will not apply onto aluminium or steel, although these surfaces may be plated with nickel before silverplating.
Tips and warnings
- Silverplating may be applied to brass, bronze, copper, zinc and nickel surfaces. It will not apply onto aluminium or steel, although these surfaces may be plated with nickel before silverplating.