How to Refinish Old Brass-Plated Metal

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreasing cleanser
  • Coarse nylon sponge
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • Canvas drop cloths
  • Masking paper
  • Low-tack tape
  • Galvanized metal-etching spray primer
  • Acrylic or oil-based spray enamel
  • Epoxy spray finish

If you would like to apply a new finish to old brass-plated metal, you can do so as long as you condition the brass in the appropriate manner. Bare brass won't accept any type of new finish, because it is nonporous. Fortunately, you can apply a special acidic base primer made just for metallic surfaces. This base coating has the ability to etch even the most durable form of metal, effectively conditioning it for better adhesion. Once you've conditioned the brass plating, you may add a brand-new finish. Choose one renowned for both its beauty and ability to endure duress.

Clean the brass plating, or it won't accept its base etching primer. For best results, choose a water-based degreasing cleanser that won't leave unseen residues behind.

Rinse the brass plating with wet rags; dry it with towels.

Spread thick canvas coverings on the ground beneath the metal. Cover everything within 2 feet of the brass plating, using masking paper and a low-tack tape.

Prepare the brass plating for its new finish by treating it with the appropriate base: Apply a galvanized metal-etching spray primer. To prevent sags and runs, hold the can 8 inches from the brass plating as you apply. Let the etching primer base dry and cure for three hours.

Finish the brass-plated metal in the same manner that you primed it. For a beautiful, lasting finish, apply an acrylic or oil-based spray enamel.


  • You may apply an epoxy spray finish if you prefer.

    If refinishing brass plated metal sounds like a labor-intensive project, consider refurbishing the brass plating instead, using a brass polisher. This can significantly brighten the appearance of tarnished brass. For best results, always follow the directions as they are listed on the container.


  • Never apply any sort of new finish to brass-plated metal unless it is primed with an etching base.

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.