How To Age Brass in Less Than 5 Minutes

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.


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:

I bought the brass pulls, here.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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.




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 the Brass Verdigris

1. Remove any lacquer or varnish using the acetone (nail polish remover) then clean the piece. Dip the item into boiling water and let it boil for a few seconds. When the piece is cool enough to handle, clean it by wiping it all over with a clean dry cloth. 

2. Soak your item for 1 hour in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Use 1 tbsp. of salt for each cup of vinegar

3. Bake the item in a 450 F oven for 20 minutes.

4. Soak the hot item in the vinegar solution until you are pleased with the color.

5. Shake off the excess vinegar and allow the brass to dry.

I also have a post on how I updated shiny brass lamps using another technique. You will find it in this post:  Transformation: Update Brass Lamps


how to make labels for the 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


  1. Katt says

    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.

  2. Sheryll & Critters. says

    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.

  3. Erika says

    That looks really nice!

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

  4. says

    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!

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

  5. says

    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 :)

  6. says

    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.

  7. Lori says

    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?

    • says

      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.

      • Amy says

        I tried this with two swing arm wall sconces, thinking if you could do it on a fireplace surround that you could do it on those. I tried the acetone and waited way longer than a couple minutes and nothing came off, so I figured it didn’t have lacquer. So I rubbed on the ager and it didn’t work. Do you have to soak it in the ager? I even tried to leave a towel soaked in ager on the lamp and still it is bright as ever. Any ideas? My next project was my fireplace surround, so I’d really love to get this to work.

  8. says

    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. :)

  9. Blanko says

    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?

  10. Peggy says

    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!

  11. Tara says

    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.

  12. Nancy says

    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.).

  13. DAVE SHELTUS says

    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

  14. says

    Can you suggest how I would age a large piece of brass? I have a table base I’d like to age. I can’t imagine dipping it into a big enough tub nor having enough ‘aging’ solution to fill the tub. Can I apply this with a rag instead?

    • says

      Hi Sue – Yes you will be able to apply the Brass Ager with a rag. Just saturate the rag and make sure to wipe it evenly along the brass. Work one section at a time since the transformation is almost instant. To lessen the effect use super smooth sandpaper or steel wool to remove some of it if it gets too dark. If you make it too light, just add more Brass Ager. Since you will be working one section at a time, use the steel wool to blend each section so the color looks even all over.

  15. Phyllis says

    Is the acetone the same kind as is in regular nail polish remover? Also–does the brass ager work on brass plating or only solid brass? Thanks.

  16. Lorene says

    I have a similar question as the commenter above — would this work on brass plating? Or maybe it’s just faux brass? I have the builder grade brass door knobs and I would really love to age them like this rather than try to spray paint them — do you think this would work to wipe on doorknobs so I wouldn’t have to remove each one?

    • says

      Hi Lorene – I am not 100% sure. I will have to try it out. If the piece is truly brass plated, then it would work on the plating, but you would still need to take the lacquer finish off first. I will have to find a piece to try it on and then I will be sure. I will get back to you.

      • Lorene says

        Thanks so much for your quick reply, Diane! I think for around $10, it’s worth a try so I’ll let you know if/when I get to trying it, too! Thanks!

  17. Jan Plov says

    It’s a relief to find this information and such clear directions with photos. I have a very large curio all shiny brass and glass. If I follow your directions, is there a way you know of to make it a little vertigras? Or, is there a way to do that without first doing the process you’ve explained for changing shiny brass to darker brass?

  18. Karen Mann says

    Thank you, thank you for the info for darkening brass drawer pulls! I have an antique walnut sideboard that someone replaced the drawer pulls with very bright, brass ones. UGH! Used your method and it darkened to perfect aged color very quickly.

    Now that I have the desired color, should I spray with a flat toned lacquer to preserve them?

    • says

      Hi Karen – The Brass Ager is a pretty cool product. It has been over two years since I did my brass pulls and I did not use lacquer or any type of sealer over them. They have stayed the same color. If you want to seal them, it can’t hurt to use a spray lacquer over them.

  19. Valerie says

    Diane ~ would you share where you found these pulls? I can’t seem to find them anywhere or maybe I’m not using the right search term. Gonna do this! Thanks!

  20. Gary says

    This is a bad idea if you want to ruin antiques. Messing with the old brass patina will devalue a piece considerably.

  21. Lynda Dernisky says

    how do you distess a BRASS table? I have read you ideas for brass drawer pulls etc…. you cant soak a table over night.


  1. […] When I put the original pulls back on after painting, they were too dark and the styling was too traditional.  I loved the label pulls that were on the library file drawers I recently redid in my studioffice.  I went in search to find something similar to use on the sideboard.  I found these brass label and drawer pulls in the Van Dykes Restorers catalog after seeing them on Pinterest on a dresser that Destiny from A Place For Us made over. I wanted un-lacquered brass, but they were sold out until July. I didn’t want to wait that long, so I opted for the bright brass and aged them myself to tone the brass down down a bit. Here is the link to the post on how I aged the brass. […]

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