How To Age Brass in Less Than 5 Minutes

by Diane Henkler on 03/20/2013

I like brass. Yep – I admit it. I favor the gold finish over silver or bronze.  It adds warmth and a nice patina and contrast to the furnishings in a room – plus it is classic – always be in style.

For the sideboard I painted, I wanted to add aged brass drawer and label pulls, but the un-lacquered ones that Vandyke’s sells, were on backorder until mid July.  They did however have bright brass in stock. I don’t mind bright brass, but for the sideboard, I didn’t want the pulls to be too shiny. I was upset that I couldn’t get the ones I wanted right away, but then figured, I could buy the bright brass and do a little DIY magic on them to tone them down a bit.

That is what I did.

How-to-Age-Brass-in-5-Minutes

I read about using salt and vinegar, lemons, and other solutions, but they took time and the results were not satisfactory.  If you have bright polished brass in your home and want to age it, I found a quick and easy way to do it.

How to Age Brass

 

supplies needed:

Brass Ager – I bought it online at the House of Antique Hardware for $8.59
“000” Steel Wool
Container large enough to hold item you are aging
Optional:  Acetone
 

First you have to determine if the brass you want to age has lacquer on it. If it does, that needs to be removed before you can age the brass.

How-to-remove-lacquer-from-brass

If you are not sure if it has lacquer on it or not – dip it in some nail polish remover or acetone for a minute or two.

Remove-lacquer-from-brass

If it starts to look like this… it has lacquer on it.

I bought the can of acetone at Lowes.  I poured it in a plastic container to soak the drawer pulls in. Place it next to your kitchen sink so that as soon as you start to see the finish get all gummy, you can rinse it off under water.  You may have to dip it in again to make sure all the lacquer is removed.  It only takes a minute.

Brass-Ager-Solution

Brass-Ager

The  “000” steel wool does not rough the surface, it only removes some of the Brass Ager so you can achieve the exact look you desire.

How-to-age-brass-in-5-minutes-or-less

1. Un-lacquered bright brass.

2. Brass that was soaked with Brass Ager for 10 seconds.

3. To lessen the aged effect – rub steel wool over the brass while it is still wet.  If you remove too much – re-dip in Brass Ager and repeat rubbing with steel wool until you get the desired amount of aging.

 

Pink-CircleMake sure that you fill the container with enough Brass Ager to completely cover the pulls to get even coverage.

 

 

 

Brass-aging-technique

I removed just enough of the aged color to tone the brass down a bit, but not as bright as they were before.  They will naturally age and get darker from now on, since I removed the lacquer.

 

how to make labels for the drawer pulls

How-to-make-labels-for-labeled-drawer-pulls

The next step is to make the labels for the drawer pulls.  Using my word processor, I printed out the names for each label.   I traced around the rectangular part of the pull to figure out the size I would need.  I set the font to Engravers MT -size to 22 pts. I printed out the names for each on white card stock.

I cut a piece of acetate from the top lid of a box of notecards to act as clear protective covers for each label. Then placed both into the drawer pull.

DIY Aged brass tutorial

To see the full post on how I made over this sideboard, you will find it here,  Furniture Before & After Makeover in Turquoise

 

 

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katt March 20, 2013 at 11:54 am

Diane< THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have been looking at hardware (brass) for a hutch I am redoing. I can now get the shiny that I like and age them myself.

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2 Sheryll & Critters. March 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Oh, I just love the change…. I don’t like to shiny anymore either. I used to love bright & shiny gold, but it looks so much more ‘expensive’ to me with the age.

Thank you ever so much for the ‘how to’ lesson. You are so valuable to me. I am still dreaming of doing at least a chest of drawers (all I have now) like you did your guest room dresser….. I just love it. But then too, I can’t think of anything you have taught me (us) that I don’t love and want to copy.

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3 Sheryll & Critters. March 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I meant to type ‘too’ shiny.

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4 Erika March 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

That looks really nice!

The picture of the lacquer being removed looked like my nails when I remove a Shellac manicure ;)

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5 cindy the cottage chick March 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Dianne, I am obsessed with your dresser redo, and couldn’t wait to see how you aged that brass! I pinned yesterday’s post and will do the same with today’s post. I’m such a stalker. :) I am planning my dream kitchen for our new-build, hopefully happening this spring and summer, and your dresser is the inspiration for my lower cabs, aged brass and all. I included a link to my pin from yesterday to today’s post.

Thanks for being an inspiration!

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6 Diane Henkler March 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hi Cindy – Thanks for the pins XO. Your new kitchen is going to look divine! I had the paint leftover from projects for my daughters and around the holidays used some of it to paint a bench. I love how it looked and wanted to add more of the color into my decor – now I have two pieces in turquoise. I can’t wait to see your kitchen. Hope you can get it started soon.

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7 Little Bit March 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm

My son recently used some of this stuff, I’ve had laying around for 15 years plus, and it worked great on copper pipes he was trying to tarnish! Little Bit from http://www.DecorateWithaLittleBit.com

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8 Diane Henkler March 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for the tip. On the bottle, it says to pour what you were using back into the bottle for re-use. Worth the $8.95 as it will last a long time, even after many uses.

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9 Kim March 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

You are incredible! Nuf said!

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10 Debbie March 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I didn’t know they made a product for aging brass. This is good to know, thanks for sharing. I do prefer the aged look, too. I collect old brass, there’s something I love about it!
Debbie :)

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11 Terry March 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm

thanks for the informational tutorial. I love how this piece turned out. I think I would have just sprayed them with a bronze spray paint, but that’s a whole different look. Great job and I learned something new.

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12 Lori March 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Would it be possible to do a fireplace surround? My fireplace has a very shiny, builder-grade cover on it and I think I might like it if it didn’t look so shiny and cheap. Do you think it would work to paint the acetone on and then wipe it off and then follow with the ager and wipe it off too?

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13 Diane Henkler March 25, 2013 at 12:18 am

Hi Lori – Yes, it would definitely work. It may get a bit messy while taking the lacquer off, but once it is off, the brass will age on it’s own. If you want to hurry the process along – the use the Brass Ager. I would have a bucket of water ready to rinse both products off the surface quickly when you see the lacquer getting gummy and the Brass Ager when the brass achieves the color you desire.

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14 Jennifer Taylor July 18, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I LOVE these! This is so helpful! Thank you for posting this diy. And you’re sideboard is adorable! Jen

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15 Jamie August 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm

What a great idea!! I’ve gotta try this ;)
Jamie @ somuchbetterwithage.com

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16 Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life August 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Thank you for posting this! I have shiny brass door knobs and hinges all through out my house. Far too expensive to actually replace them all. I have thought about painting them with spray paint. I have seen quite a few bloggers do that with success. I don’t completely mind the brass, I just really dislike the super shiny brass. This might be a good solution and I won’t have to worry about it wearing off like I would with spray paint. It is a huge project though, and I have not fully committed to doing it. :)

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17 Blanko August 31, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I’ve just bought a jacket that has very bright poppers on it. There’s no way to remove these with-out messing up the jacket… but I wold like to age them. So if anyone’s got any ideas?

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18 Peggy August 31, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Thanks so much for directing me to this page, Diane–never would have found it!! Laura, I’m like you– kind of a daunting task to anticipate, let alone commit to, huh?! I like the thought of aging the brass, cuz I really do NOT care for the shiny gold look, either. Sure a LOT of lacquer and hardware staring me in the face, though. LOL!

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19 Tara September 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Thank you!!!! We are buying a home that has a ton of shiny brass… bathroom, door handles, and around the fireplace. The jetted tub is full of brass. The bathroom shower doors are brass. The list seems to go on and on. I am going to try this! Looks like a great way to fix the problem before we are ready to re-do each room.

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20 Nancy October 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

Thanks so much for your great recommendation of Brass Ager. When I looked for it online, I discovered that it was $8.59 (8 oz.) at House of Antique Hardware. However, at Kennedy Hardware it was only $3.45 (8 oz.).

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21 Diane Henkler October 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

Hi Nancy – Wow! that is a nice savings. Thanks for taking the time to share it. We all like to save $$$ Happy weekend!

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22 DAVE SHELTUS March 24, 2014 at 2:25 am

have a 100 year old writing desk , handles were polished up by someone.
Trying to find this brass ager in Montreal , no luck. Do you know where
I can find it, even on line would be ok
Thanks

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23 Diane Henkler March 24, 2014 at 8:46 am

Hi Dave -

I bought it online at House of Antique Hardware. I have a link in the post under supplies – here it is: http://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/brass-darkening-aging-solution?sc=13&category=145

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