Before I show you how to remove lacquer from brass, to reveal a beautiful brushed finish, I am going to let you in on a little secret: my Mom and I have been hard at work, giving her kitchen a budget-friendly makeover! (UPDATE: check out the finished budget-friendly kitchen makeover right here).
Today’s brass refinishing experiment is a little project from this kitchen makeover, but there will be a ton of inexpensive DIY projects to share soon. Get ready for: Painted cabinets! Repaired and refinished laminate counters! The tulip table finding a home after 6 years! Something with gold tweed! And sooo much peel and stick tile…
But right now everything’s drying, curing, in transit, or some sort of limbo. I’ll have more photos soon, but for now here’s a sneak peek of our brass knob refurbishing experiment and an easy tutorial for how to remove lacquer from brass.
My Mom’s cabinetry had the original brass knobs from the 1980s. They are solid and she likes the shape but, after 30 years, she was tired of the shiny lacquered finish. From wear and use, some of the brass had started to develop a gorgeous patina that matched that of the original brass door knobs that were installed by my Great-Grandfather in the 1950s:
Infuriatingly, however, some of the kitchen knobs were still very glossy 80s brass and looked brand new. My Mom hated the unintentionally mismatched look of old brass/new brass.
She loved how my brass knobs looked after I sanded them for painting, so we tried to achieve a similar brushed brass look with less elbow grease. Here’s how to remove lacquer from brass to reveal a brushed finish.
Supplies for Removing Lacquer from Brass:
How to Remove Lacquer From Brass and Reveal a Brushed Gold Finish:
First we soaked the knobs in an old metal baking pan filled with acetone for a couple of hours:
Then, wearing rubber gloves and working outside (a face mask isn’t a bad idea), we gave the brass knobs a good, thorough scrub with a scouring pad.
The glossy finish – and years of grime – came off with a bit of coaxing, leaving behind a really, really gorgeous brushed brass finish, that’s lighter and brighter than the formerly yellowy brass.
We successfully turned lacquered brass into brushed brass! Best of all, they are all uniformly brushed, with some minimal patina, here and there – much better than the former mix of brassy new and totally worn out knobs. Plus, it’s a fresh change for my Mom, who is thrilled with the results. It’s like getting all new brushed brass knobs for a couple of bucks!
Now the plan is to let them age naturally and develop a more even patina. But you could also apply a matte clear coat to preserve this finish. Right now we both loved the brushed, but not too perfect look – they look like they’ve been here for years and suit the age of the house.
Mom loves the brushed brass as a fresh alternative to the formerly glossy lacquered look – plus they look stellar with the newly painted (spoiler alert) fog grey cabinetry!
I’m so excited to share some more updates as we check items off our to-to list.
UPDATE: see the finished, budget-friendly kitchen makeover here. We’re SO proud of our handiwork!