Painting metal use to be a laborious project filled with lots of sanding and the need for oil-based paints. Modern products like spray primers and spray paints make the job less daunting and more quickly accomplished. Once the process is understood, you can incorporate painting brass and other metals into a do-it-yourself project.
Prepare the Brass
Remove the brass if it is attached as hardware or is part of a larger piece. If the brass is not removable, tape over adjoining areas---painter's tape is a good choice because it will lift away easily---to protect them from being painted. Wash the brass surface to remove dirt, debris and tarnish. Use a steel wool pad to lift away dirt and roughen up the brass---scratches will help paint and primer to adhere better. Rinse and dry each brass item and set it aside.
Choose a work area that is well ventilated. Prepare the workspace by taping newspaper across the surface and surrounding area so that paint and primer do not spread to furniture, floors and walls. Place a small fan in the general area to help remove the fumes.
Prime the Brass
Choose a self-etching spray paint primer to prepare the brass to accept paint. Self-etching primer creates small scratches in the metal that will help the spray paint to adhere to the metal. Allow primer to dry thoroughly before painting. Apply primer in several thin coats and avoid thick coating the brass. Thick coating provides an uneven surface for painting and can ruin the final result.
If the manufacturer offers a variety of self-etching primer colors, choose a dark one for dark final colors and a light one for pastels and brights (this prevents the need for more than several coats of paint color). A midrange gray or olive green-gray are good choices for either lights or darks.
Paint The Brass
You can choose the final paint color from a wide variety of colors and finishes. Most spray paint manufacturers include metal as an appropriate surface for many of their paints. Read the label to verify that the paint is meant for metal. Shake the can to mix the paint and test the nozzle with a few quick sprays across a piece of scrap cardboard. Hold the can about 4 to 6 inches away from the surface and make broad, even strokes to cover the brass surface. Allow the paint to dry throughly between each layer sprayed. Finish with a clear spray sealer to protect the newly painted surface.
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