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How to Relacquer Brass

Updated November 21, 2016

A clear, glossy lacquer is often applied to brass hardware to reduce the need for polishing and prevent corrosion. Over time, the lacquer can get chipped and peel away, exposing the metal below and potentially causing increased tarnishing. You may choose to remove the brass to expose the natural lustre of the metal, but replacing the lacquer is a relatively simple task.

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  1. Remove the remaining lacquer using acetone nail-varnish remover on a lint-free cloth. If fragments of the old lacquer remain, the finish will be compromised.

  2. Wipe some degreaser over the brass with a lint-free cloth and buff clean with another cloth. The surface needs to be grease- and dirt-free for the lacquer to hold.

  3. Apply some brass polish to the entire surface in circular motions. Make sure it is a polish specifically for brass, as other types may change the lustre of the metal.

  4. Remove the polish by vigorously buffing the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth.

  5. Boarder off the brass from the surrounding area using painters' tape. This is to stop the lacquer from getting onto other areas, such as wood on doors or glass panels.

  6. Spray a layer of lacquer over the brass in thin layers. Consult the lacquer manufacturer's guidelines for the distance it should be sprayed from and drying times.

  7. Apply additional layers of lacquer in the same way. Applying thin layers will ensure that no dirt or air bubbles are caught in the lacquer.

  8. Close the doors of the room you're working in and try not to move near the brass when it is drying. Any air movement shifts dust around that can get stuck in the lacquer, ruining the finish.

  9. Warning

    Only apply lacquer in a well-ventilated area. Face masks and other protective equipment is not required. Make sure the spray-on lacquer is suitable for brass when purchasing it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Spray-on lacquer
  • Acetone
  • Grease remover
  • Brass polish
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Painters' tape

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