How to Make a Nickel Finish From Spray Paint

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Nickel can sometimes evoke the polished look of brass.
Nickel can sometimes evoke the polished look of brass. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Creating a nickel finish on your hardware, railings, lamp stands, frames and other items truly is a wise decorative choice. A nickel finish gives you greater design leeway because of its inherent versatility. Polished nickel can at once appear sleek and modern, evocative of chrome or it can seem traditional and almost provincial, evocative of the qualities of polished brass. You don't have to purchase all new nickel plated items for your home if this is the look that you crave. Rather, by selecting the right form of metallic spray paint, you can replicate the look of nickel.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth
  • All-purpose cleanser
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Metallic spray paint colors
  • Scrap wood or metal

Wipe down the item with a damp rag and a dot of all purpose cleaner. Allow it to air dry.

Rub the item with 100-grit sandpaper, followed by 220-grit sandpaper. This will prepare the item for the spray paint. Run a handheld vacuum cleaner over the item, sucking up the dust from sanding.

Purchase several silver-based metallic spray paints in either a shiny or matte color that bears the name "nickel." Spray paint a piece of scrap wood or metal with each shade to test which spray paint gives you a color closest to nickel. It helps to have a nickel-plated object to compare the colors with.

Spray paint the item with your selected color. Move the can of spray paint evenly back and forth to create an even, uniform finish. Allow this coat to dry for 12 hours before applying a second coat to get a nice, realistic-looking finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always spray paint out in a ventilated area.
  • Wear goggles and a dust mask when spray painting.
  • If you wish to create a brushed nickel finish, allow the first coat of nickel colored spray paint to dry, then apply a second coat. Rub a 0000 steel wool pad across the second coat of spray paint, making even, uniform strokes with the steel wool pad.

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References

  • "Stencil Me In"; Marthe Le Van; 2008
  • "Finishes & Finishing Technique"; Taunton Press; 1999
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