Most brass light fixtures are not solid brass, but brass-plated steel or iron. If you're not sure whether your fixture is solid brass or brass-plated, see if a magnet will stick to it--magnets won't stick to solid brass. Brass plating can become worn, dull and dated-looking over time. With the wide array of aerosol spray paints in many colors and metallic finishes, you can rejuvenate and update a brass-plated light fixture in about an hour. Most spray paint will stick to brass plating, and many paints will hold up well even on exterior light fixtures.
Things You'll Need
Drop cloth or newspapers
Scrub sponge or fine steel wool
Detergent or spray cleaner
Turn off the breaker switch on the main electrical panel and remove the light fixture. Look for screws in the mounting canopy that is attached to the wall or ceiling--sometimes they are hidden by small rounded knobs that can be loosened with either your fingers or pliers. Pull the light fixture away gently and separate the wiring by removing the wire nuts or electrical tape.
Disassemble the light fixture. Depending on the design, you will probably need a screwdriver. Remove the glass and the bulb and set them aside.
Clean the light fixture with mild detergent or spray cleaner and either a scrub sponge or fine steel wool. Allow it to air-dry.
Pack some crumpled newspaper loosely into the light sockets to prevent painting the wiring.
Lay drop cloths or newspapers on the floor or a work bench, and set the light fixture parts on them.
Stick screws into a piece of Styrofoam or cardboard so you can easily spray-paint them.
Shake the spray paint can thoroughly before starting to paint. Apply a thin, even coat of paint to the fixture and the screws. Allow them to dry to the touch--refer to the spray can label for drying times. Typically, drying time will be five to 10 minutes.
Reposition the parts and spray on another light coat. Do this several times until you have an even coat of paint on each and have completely covered the brass-plated finish.
Allow the parts to dry for 24 hours before reassembling the light fixture.
Read the spray paint label to make sure that it's formulated to adhere to metal surfaces--almost all spray paints are. Choose a location, such as a garage, that is out of direct sunlight and wind. Consider using two or more colors for ornate brass-plated light fixtures. For instance, paint the mounting canopy with silver metallic paint, and the part that holds the glass in hammered gold, or use complementary paint colors such as pale blue and cream.
Always use adequate ventilation when using spray paints.