How to Restore a Lacquer Finish on Brass

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers

  • Respirator

  • Lightweight plastic splash goggles

  • Latex gloves

  • Long-sleeve shirt

  • Long pants

  • Apron

  • Methylene chloride-based lacquer stripper

  • Paintbrush

  • Fine steel wool

  • Chemical brass cleaner

  • Soft clean cloth

  • Clear lacquer

You can restore the shiny lacquer finish on tarnished brass objects.

Many homeowners appreciate the golden, coppery shine of brass hardware accessories and home decorations. Brass objects are often coated with a lacquer finish to help protect them from tarnishing and discoloration. Small cracks and pinholes can develop in the protective coating, which expose the bare metal to water vapor and oxygen. Exposure to elements causes brass to eventually become corroded and discolored. You will need to remove the lacquer finish to properly treat corroded and tarnished brass, then apply a new lacquer finish.


Step 1

Spread newspapers over a flat surface. Open the windows in the room to provide plenty of air circulation. If adequate air circulation is not available, wear a respirator.

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Step 2

Put on lightweight plastic splash goggles and latex gloves. Wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants and an apron for full body protection.


Step 3

Apply methylene chloride-based lacquer stripper to the entire brass surface with a paintbrush. Keep the lacquer stripper on the brass for the amount of time recommended by the product manufacturer.

Step 4

Rub the brass with fine steel wool to thoroughly remove the lacquer finish. Once the lacquer finish is completely removed, use a chemical brass cleaner to remove any tarnish. Apply the chemical brass cleaner according to the manufacturer's directions.


Step 5

Buff the brass object with a soft, clean cloth to add shine. Once the brass object is free of oxidation and discoloration, spray a very light coat of clear lacquer over it according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 6

Allow the first coat of lacquer to dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Spray four more coats of clear lacquer over the brass object, allowing each to thoroughly dry. Do not touch the object until the lacquer is completely dry.


Keep the lacquer strippers away from water heaters, furnaces, clothes dryers, stoves and other electrical appliances; these vapors are highly flammable.


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