How To Update a Brass Light Fixture and Spray Painting Trick

I have been itching…itching to update a few things in my kitchen – mostly to update a brass light fixture that hangs over my table. I have put most of my plans for this room on hold, but I need a few small projects to do in between the bigger ones that I still have to tackle in my studioffice. I figured why not start. This is a simple spray paint transformation to the light that hangs above my kitchen table.

Here is my inspiration photo. I love these lights.  They are simple and classic, yet a bit unique.   The light fixture in my kitchen is not quite the same, but I knew I could spray paint the brass on mine white to start giving my kitchen the light and airy feel I am after.

Dream kitchen

Source: Tumbler



When I decorated this kitchen, shiny brass was popular.   I like the warmth of gold over silver, bronze, or black, but a muted gold – not shiny anymore.  I want to add more white with color pops and less black to the room. The chairs around the table have a history. They were green when I bought them, then I glazed them yellow – then I sprayed them black about 6 years ago. Each transformation lasted a few years until I tired of it or they looked beat up.   I  am not sure what color they will be next, but I will make my decision soon.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

The hardest part of the project was taking the light down and putting it back up. I asked my hubby to do that.  He had in down it a few minutes.

How to paint a brass light

I was going to spray paint it outside since I have been banned from spray painting in the garage since I unintentionally spray painted our cars, but I didn’t want any bugs to land on it while it dried as well as it looked like rain.  I ended up setting up a spray booth in my basement using a big box I got in the dumpster behind my local dollar store. (They always have nice clean boxes).  I have been a little too cavalier in my spray painting ways –no more over-spray on surrounding objects – like cars. Back to good spray painting practices.

Here is a mini version of a simple spray painting booth – actually a box, but that is what we called it in display – a spray booth.

-Get a box to accommodate the item to be sprayed.  If you spray paint a lot, get a big box that will accommodate all sizes. When not in use- flatten the box to store it.

-Place your item on a piece of foam. If your object doesn’t have a flat bottom, use toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, whatever to raise it up so that you can easy move the piece your spraying without actually touching it. I used foam and a Popsicle stick to hold this clock top up.  This way you can move the piece easily by picking up the foam and not the actual object to turn it around so that you get all sides equally covered with spray paint.  Pebble style foam that comes packed in boxes around TV’s and knock down furniture  works the best as the spray paint doesn’t melt it.  STYROFOAM style foam will melt if the spray paint is applied very close to the surface.  Using light coats of paint will lessen any melting of the foam.  I use my blocks a few times and then throw them out once they start melting away.



How To Use Spray Paint to Get a Glossy Finish On Metal

Here are a few tips and the steps I took to get a smooth glossy finish over the brass parts on my light.

-First wash and dry the brass to get all the dust off.

-Have a tack cloth handy. They sell them in all paint departments as well as in craft stores. It is just cheesecloth that is very sticky.  It wipes across the surface to be painted to pick up any dust and dirt.  Great invention – if you want a nice finish on any painted piece – use a tack cloth between each coat.

-Shake, Shake, Shake…and then shake some more. When spray painting always shake the can well before spraying the paint. If you are working on a large piece – shake it every few minutes as you are painting.

-Think “light” – light coats every time you spray. Heavy coats will just run and ruin your piece.

-Be patient – let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next. If you reapply spray paint over still tacky or a wet coat you risk blistering the paint and ruining your piece.

– Since you can’t scratch up the surface on a piece of smooth metal like this light to help the paint adhere – spray on a coat of metal primer first to help the paint adhere.   Let it dry thoroughly before applying paint.

– Wear a paint mask to help lessen breathing in the paint fumes.  If you spray paint a lot  – get a good one.  Hardware and home improvement stores have a few to choose from.

1. Spray a light coat of spray paint in a glossy formula over the object you are working on. Let it dry thoroughly.  Before applying the next coat, check to make sure no dust or bugs have landed on the surface. If they have just use your fingernail to gently remove them and smooth over the areas with your finger, then go over the surface with a tack cloth.

2. Keep adding light coats of spray paint evenly around the piece and let each coat fully dry before applying the next coat.  I did about 5 coats to get the high gloss finish all over.

My light now looks like it has a right-from-the-factor- finish.

How to paint a brass light


While the light was down and I was waiting for paint to dry, I took the chain cover apart that I had made for the light previously.  I sewed the fabric into a long sleeve to cover the chain.  The previous one was made using a method that doesn’t require removing the light fixture from the ceiling.  You can find out how I made that one here – How to Make a Chandelier Chain Cover

I have the best hubs. I asked him if he could please hang it before it got dark so I could take photos of it.  He hung it back it up with no complaints and then while I was taking these photos – he was over at the kitchen island standing to eat his dinner. Thanks honey XO

Brass Lamp Makeovers

How to Spray paint a brass light





  1. Becky says

    Thanks for your blog and this entry, Diane. I had been meaning to spray paint our brass fixtures but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. Fortunately, your blog entry came up in the Google search.

    The one little glitch I had (my bad) is that I used an old carboard box as my spray box. But I forgot to dust it out first and ended up picking off cat hair from my newly sprayed items. At least it was just the primer. And the spray-painted cobwebs in the corners looked kinda cool.

    I have special ordered brushed nickel spray paint from the hardware store…so it’ll be another week before I get the final result.

  2. Marco says

    Hi Diane,
    The light came out perfectly. I’m just starting to restore a few items and my first project is 15 lights. The only thing is, I am unsure what material they are, be it brass, copper or steel. Would you know if there is a way to differentiate? Any advice much appreciated.
    Warm regards,

    • says

      Hi Marco – I am no expert in this, but have cleaned quite a bit of metal and these are just my observations. Brass and steel are much harder metals than copper, so if a piece bends or is dented – it is probably copper. Copper ages with a red tinge, while brass ages golden brown and may even have some turquoise oxidation on it. Steel looks more gray black with age. The best thing to do is to use a basic metal polish – one made for most metals. Apply it to one small area to expose the metal to see the color. Also if you use brass polish on say steel and nothing is happening – it is probably not brass. Play around with the pieces and different cleaners and polishes. I am sure if you did a Google search asking the question – an actual test to determine the difference may turn up.

      • drew says

        If a magnet sticks to it, it’s neither copper nor brass, thus steel… copper is much softer than brass… if you scratch it it will gouge… brass will only scratch… brass looks more gold, where copper is a reddish tint.

  3. Barbara Shaw says

    We have remodeled a house built in the early 60’s, old brick, large front porch, traditional style, chrome faucets. We used some things we loved and had collected, and now I have collection of brass fictures,a couple of oiled bronze, some in the same room with gold picture frames and/or with the chrome fauets. I am happy with this some what, but is there anything that I can do about it. I am very fashion minded . I realize that I love some of these things because they were given to me, or I have found them and just really like them !! I can’t change the faucets !!!

    • says

      Hi Barbara – You should know that you are not alone in your dilemma. It is a very common one as homeowners update homes they often times can’t do it all at one time, so they have a mix of finishes. It is totally OK and if you look closely as high end decorating magazines – often times the finishes are all different. The homes featured in these mags are more eclectic and have more personality. They are not cookie cutter decor mags where the decor is perfectly matched.

      To make the mix of finishes work in your home is to make it like you did it intentionally. Add more metals to the room in the way of a gold vase and a chrome bowl filled with fruit. This will allow the eye to see the finishes around the room and balance the mix of finishes throughout each room and space. I hope this makes sense. Happy decorating XO


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