Spray Painting Metal Hardware: Brass to Nickel

by Diane Henkler on 08/08/2013

The metallic winds of change have been blowing through my kitchen this week.  The shiny polished brass (which I still love) is being replaced with nickel for an update.  The song… “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold” – has been playing through my head as I work.

The brass fixtures and hardware were starting to show their age and not in a good way. I bought new drawer and cabinet  hardware, but there were two items that I could not find replacements for – the brass towel bars on the island and the push plates on a lazy Susan cabinet.

They both got a spray paint makeover. I will show you the before and after on Monday, but while I am busy at work, I thought I would  share what I found out about spray painting metal hardware and silver spray paint – it is not all the same!

Spray painting metal hardware brass to nickel silver

Some women collect shoes, I collect cans of spray paint.  I do like shoes, too, but my spray paint collection far exceeds my shoes.  I went to my stash to find I had not just one can of silver, but 5 cans – all different brands.

Hmmmm!  which one will look the best?   I wasn’t sure, so I did a test on one of the towel bars to find the silver spray paint that looked the most like real metal.

Here are my findings:

The Winner


 #1   Champion Sprayon Sterling Silver Spray Enamel   It is warm, but bright and has a nice glossy glow that adds depth to the finish.  This is the one I used.


The Runner-Up


#2  Plastic-Kote Metallics in Silver #19101   Even though I did not get the coat even for this sample, it has nice color and shine, plus the depth of color makes it resemble real metal.



#3   Rustoleum Specialty Metallic in Metallic Silver   This produced the darkest silver. It was too flat for the look I was after.



#4  Krylon Metallic Brilliant in Silver – nice and bright – but too flat of a finish, plus it had a slight texture – not as smooth as the others.



#5  Krylon Special Purpose Metallic in Bright Silver #1401 –  nice coverage, but too flat and had a slight texture to it also.  No depth to the finish.


Tips to remember when spray painting metal with metallic paint.

  • Every paint I tried covered and adhered well.
  • Sand the surface first with very fine grit sandpaper and then clean well with a scouring pad.  Let dry.
  • Use one light coat of metal primer for ensured adhesion. Let dry.
  • Shake the can for a few minutes before applying and shake as you spray.
  • Let the first coat dry for about 30 seconds, then spray on another coat to get a super smooth finish. Usually on non-metal items I wait longer between coats, but to get a nice smooth finish, I have found two quick coats do the job perfectly.
  • Optional:  Protect the paint after it is dry with a light coat of  clear protective finish. Most spray paint brands have stain and glossy finishes.

Brass Push-Plates


I didn’t get a photo showing these door plates in their polished bright brass state.  I used very fine sandpaper to rough up the surface so the paint would have something to adhere to.  I liked the look after sanding.  If you want to dull the shine on bright brass – this gives it a brushed feel and looks quite modern. 



2 coats of Champion Sprayon Sterling Silver – perfect!


I will show you how they look on the cabinets on Monday.

I also have exciting news to share and a big change for one project that is making me do a happy dance!

See you then.  XO




Pin It

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin August 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm

This is exactly what I was looking for! Our home built in the 80′s has a fireplace with brass doors that I want to replace to fit the rest of my decor. They’re an odd shape and apparently the brick would crumble if we tried to put new ones in. I figure painting them is the best option for now but I wasn’t sure which brand to try. Thanks for the comparisons!


2 Angelique August 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Be careful when choosing a paint on objects that will be exposed to high temperatures. The paint will bubble and crack. If you want to paint items that get high heat exposure, you need to choose one that is rated for high temps. I know that Rustoleum has a few colors of high temp paint.


3 Diane Henkler August 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Hi Erin and Angelique – I have used the high heat paint – it does works well. I think it comes in silver in a satin finish.


4 Erin August 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thanks so much for the suggestions! I didn’t even think of that.


5 Crystal August 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Thanks! I’ve used Krylon and Rustoleum and wasn’t thrilled with either. Where can I find the Champion Sprayon?


6 Diane Henkler August 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Hi Crystal – I bought it at the crafts store, but if you can’t find it you can buy it online. “Google” it and a few online stores will pop up.


7 Peter K. August 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

That’s such a great idea and cheaper than replacing hardware! Well done!


8 Kristal @ Engineering Life and Style August 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Looks great! I’ve used spray paint in our house to make over brass fixtures….what a difference a little spray paint can make! I’m not familiar with that first brand, so I’ll have to check it out :)


9 Stephanie@cre8tive August 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Oh man, I love brass right now! I was cringing to see you paint it :( But who knows, so I guess I’m your gold friend. I have never heard of that song, but now it’s stuck in my head lol My daughter just sprayed a metal base with gold and it is dull, I will have to check if that Champion brand makes a gold spray..I’m sure they do.


10 Diane Henkler August 8, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Hi Stephanie -
I like the brass a lot, too – but with the stainless appliances and faucet, it just doesn’t go. Everything I do to my house, is getting it ready for resale. If it makes you happy I have brass on my furniture in every other room – that is going with us where ever we land, so I don’t have to change it :) I am not sure if the Champion Sprayon comes in gold or not. Try Googling it to see. XO


11 Joan August 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Wow Diane what a timely post, I want to spray paint some brass lamps but wasn’t sure which paint yo use. Now you have it solved for me. Can’t wait to see your hardware all installed in your kitchen. I love everything you do! Thanks for your great blog.


12 Jackie August 9, 2013 at 8:01 am

Great post! I’m with you on the cans of spray paint vs. shoes! Very cool to see the sheen comparisons.


13 Angie S August 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

This is a really helpful post! THANK YOU for taking pictures of each brand and how it looked! The finished towel bar looks great too!


14 Sheryll & Critters. August 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm

You did such a flawless, just perfect job.. it surely is gorgeous! But I too do not like the silver, brushed nickel or chrome. I have it in the kitchen already and in my main bath….. that is way more than I can deal with. My bedroom bath I purposely bought a gold faucet when I replaced my sink and cabinet in there. And I am about to respray my in wall (stripped screws) toilet paper holder, so I need someone to tell me the best for it. I want shiny gold. I really tried to like this new brushed nickel and ORB kick and I have gave up and decided I don’t care for either….. will stay will brass or shiny gold.


15 andrea cammarata August 12, 2013 at 5:47 am

This is one informative post…I love all of the results…but the one you have chosen is completely and utterly perfect! Thanks so much for sharing with us…I wish I could add up the time you saved everyone and how many decision you have made easy : ) hugs…


16 Georgia S. August 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

I have been doing the exact same thing! Except I am changing my brass to hammered brown like you did your outdoor dining set. I also wanted to do my chandeliers and others fixtures that I didn’t want to take down. I found that Rustoleum also makes the hammered brown paint in a can now, which matches what they have in spray form! I have transformed both chandeliers, and the look is amazing! I just cleaned them first, then painted with a throw-away brush. Thanks for the inspiration from your outside light fixtures you painted! I have been looking for something similar since I read that post. I have also done all the knobs in my kitchen and guest bath, now on to the ceiling fans and lights! Thanks Diane!


17 Peggy August 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm

GREAT article!!! Just had the idea to paint all of my brass hardware; it us EVERYWHERE, and I am NOT a fan. Too bad some of us can’t trade–would save a LOT of work on both sikdes! Has anyone tried recreating the OIF? Does it require the same treatment, or is there something I can just oxidize it with??? THANK YOU., Diane!


18 Peggy August 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Sorry for typos: new keyboard has different hand layout–oops. Hence–should be SIDES and OBF.


19 Maria September 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

I have been looking for national/local stores in the Dallas area that sell the Champion sterling silver spray enamel and cant find it anywhere. I have tried Home Depot, Lowes and the Dollar general store…any suggestions?? And I’m considering using it to paint over the brass on my mirrored sliding closet doors…would you recommend the champion enamel over the other ones for this job Thanks Diane!


20 Diane Henkler September 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hi Maria – you can order the paint online at a few places if you can’t find it. There are many nice silver toned spray paint, I just like the gleam in this one the best. Check out the website: createforless .com I think they have it. I would go to your local craft store and look there, if they don’t have it your Plastik cote or Rustoleum.


21 Maddie September 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I use Rustoleum Metalic spray and I really like it!


22 Maddie September 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

OH ya and I spray with a clear coat to prevent chipping!


23 Diane Henkler September 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hi Maddie – That is an excellent idea – thanks for taking the tine to share it here :)


24 Pallavi October 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The comparison was good to know. Are these metallic spray paints good for wooden surface as well?


25 caroline October 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hi, I just tried the spray you recommend out on a couple of old brass handles from my powder room. however, they did not come out very shiny, more matte, and don’t look very metallic, really. Any ideas? Can I sandpaper it off and try again? I’m trying to redo the powder room in our rented house for $100 in 2 days before my husband gets back from a trip ;)


26 Diane Henkler October 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Hi Caroline – There could be a few reasons they did not come out with more shine. The can needs more shaking. You can never shake a spray paint can enough. Another reason, if you live where it is hot, the paint may have dried too fast. You can remove the paint easily with paint remover or some very fine steel wool and detergent. If you really want them to be super glossy – you can always add a clear spray glaze over the metallic paint. Just make sure you get the super gloss clear spray sealer. Some brands call it high gloss glaze. They sell it at crafts stores. Let the paint dry and then spray on the high gloss sealer. You may need 2 coats to make sure you get an even gloss.


27 Melanie November 27, 2013 at 1:15 am

Hello Diane.
I was thinking it would be nice to get your feedback on this lamp I have, found it in a 2nd hand stores and I just love the beauty of it. I have no idea what it is made out of…plus the lamp shade is really awful with it, just got a cheap one at Walmart since I couldn’t find better for the moment…thought I could just paint it or decorate it. Not as easy as I thought. I also have this vintage style mirror (also got from 2nd hand store) that I wish to put up in my living room, but I wish to paint it into the same color as the lamp…so my question for this one is, how to pant such color? I am hoping you get the chance to email me so I am able to show you the photos of what I am dealing with, would be so much appreciated to hear from you.
Thank you.


28 Diane Henkler November 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hi Melanie – Email the photos to me and I will take a look. I receive quite a lot of email questions and try to get them answered as soon as I can. It may be a few days to a week before I can get a reply back to you. Let me know what color family you are looking to paint them and if you like a modern or an aged look.


29 elaine January 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

any suggestions for spray painting a stove hood to make it look like stainless steel?


30 Diane Henkler January 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Rustoleum makes a Stainless Steel paint. If you do a Google search for it – images and their site will pop up. It is one of their Specialty Paints.


31 Diane Henkler January 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Rustoleum makes a Stainless Steel paint. If you do a Google search for it – images and their site will pop up. It is one of their Specialty Paints.


32 Livonet January 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

Hello, Excellent article. I wonder that this paint spray will work on my leather silver shoes? Thanks so much


33 Diane Henkler January 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

It would work, but where there are creases in the shoes – it may crack.


34 Sandra January 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I am trying to update my room with a slight change…

the knobs on my night tables, dresser etc are dark oldish copper & furniture dark brown ( chocolate brown ) I would say.

I want to spray paint the knobs silver, but not chrome…

Do I still need to sand them a bit or do I use primer & then silver spray paint , whats a good paint for this look ?



35 Diane Henkler January 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

Hi Sandra – Always sand and clean before painting. The paint will adhere much better. Using a metal primer is fine and will create a no color coat so that when you spray the silver paint on, the color will be true. If you don’t use it, you may just need to spray a few more light coats of spray paint on. Use Rustoleum or Krylon silver paints – they have a more matte finish.


36 Dan McDermott February 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

Will the Champion Sprayon Sterling Silver Spray paint match towel bars that are brushed nickel or polished nickel? That is what I’m trying to match, so I was wondering if Champion Silver is a good match. I know Rustoleum Silver is not a good match(it is too silvery).

It sure is hard to paint something that looks like polished/brushed nickel!


37 Donna February 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Like Dan I am trying to change to brushed nickel. I have a large polished brass Roman tub faucet that is very costly to replace for various reasons.
I just found your site and would love to be able to spray paint it. Can this technique be used on a faucet? Is it possible to get a brushed nickel look?


38 Diane Henkler February 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Hi Donna -

You can spray paint a faucet for the short term successfully. It will look great. In the long run, it may come off the faucet, especially if you live in a cold region and the water is very cold. This can cause condensation and extreme temp changes to the metal, eventually the paint will chip off no matter how well you prime and sand the surface beforehand. If you want to go for it. Sand and prime with a metal primer and then paint. Use only very light coats when the faucet is room temp.

If your faucet was brushed brass – after spraying it would look more like brushed nickel. Smooth polished brass – it will take on the color, but you will not get a real brushed texture. I have found a very good brush-on oil paint by Benjamin Moore. Molton Metallics. I think this paint is amazing. I redid outside lights with it. They have a range of metallic colors to choose from. You may want to check it out.


39 Diane Henkler February 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

HI Donna – I know I replied to you already, but I was at Michaels yesterday and I saw a spray paint that was said it was “Brushed Nickel”. I think it was Krylon or Rustoelum. It was $9.


40 Jen February 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Hi Diane,

Great tips! I just bought my first home and the bathroom is completely decked out in polished brass and I wanted to alter the fixtures without having to spend too much. I live in the Pacific Northwest so it’s a pretty mild climate…do you think I could do this or would the paint just come off easily? Even the tub slider is brass. Any help would be appreciated.


41 Diane Henkler February 13, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Hi Jen- I get asked this question a lot. Any metal can be painted successfully. The only problem that may arise is if you spray paint the faucet. It will look great painted, but after awhile the change in the water temp going through the faucet might make the paint peel off. It may not happen, but it probably will. The key to success is in the prep. Make sure you sand and clean the surface well before painting. If the spray paint you are using, does not have a primer in it. (Most do nowadays, but check the label if it states no primer needed) Use one light coat of metal primer. Once dry spray on your color. Once the paint is dry, you should seal it with a clear spray protective finish since the room will get a lot more moisture. All spray paint brands make clear finishes in spray cans. They come in satin or glossy.


42 Bettie February 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back
to your website? My blog site is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would really benefit from some of the
information you present here. Please let me know if
this alright with you. Thanks!


43 Elaine February 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Hi: Is there a step by step procedure I could follow. I paid a lot of money for my brass pieces back in 1990 and they still look great but I’m tired of the brass. I thought of having them chrome dipped but it’s probably a lot more money than a few cans of spray paint. I just don’t want to screw them up. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you. Elaine


44 Diane Henkler February 24, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Hi Elaine – It is only paint, if you don’t like it simply remove the paint. The key to making spray paint work is follow the directions on the can. Each brand has specifics on drying and re-coating times. IF you follow the steps in this post, you will get an nice even finish. Practice on a few pieces you don’t care about first, and then paint the pieces you like. http://inmyownstyle.com/spray-paint-faqs


45 Bonnie March 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I just gave you a shout-out on my blog. Thanks for your research!


46 Katie March 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

hi , I just spray my fireplace metal door with the metallic spray paint , it look beautiful but I was wondering if it represents any hazard ? Should I remove it and find a paint for fireplace ? Thank you !!


47 candace o'brien March 26, 2014 at 11:09 pm

i want to change the color of my kitchen sink. what is the best paint and technique so the new finish holds up


48 candace o'brien March 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm

sorry I meant to say I want to change the color of my kitchen sink faucet.


49 Diane Henkler March 27, 2014 at 8:28 am

Hi Candance -

Painting faucets can be a bit tricky. The problem is they go from hot to cold and the metal changes temps constantly. If your water is very cold – condensation on the metal will eat away at the paint over time. You can paint the faucet, but know it may need a touch up depending on the amount of use and water temp. I would use a brand name spray paint that is for metal. You could use a metal primer on the faucet first to help with adhesion of the paint you want to use if it is not a Paint and Primer in One formula -Rustoleum or Krylon. Sand the metal to rough it up so the paint has something to stick to. Read the directions on the back of the can before using. Spray on a light coat every 5 minutes until you have the coverage you want. Don’t use the faucet for a few days so the paint can cure. It will look beautiful right after you paint it, but over time it may change and need a touch up from time to time.


50 Barb March 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Hi Diane,
I have a narrow accent strip of a brass colored ceramic tile around the back of my tub. I think it would be too difficult to spray while protecting the surrounding area. I thought of using a good brush and paint. You had suggested a Sherwin Williams oil paint. I’m wondering if that would dry?


51 Kasha March 31, 2014 at 12:20 pm


I recently bought two lamps for my bedroom that are brown in color. I have picture frames that are a brushed silver color and would like to paint/leaf the lamps to match but I am afraid of ruining the lamps. Any suggestions on what to do and/or what materials to use?

I am uncertain of what my new lamps are made of…

Any help would be insightful!


52 Brad April 2, 2014 at 9:32 am

Dear Diane,

I have just ordered the Champion Sprayon Sterling Silver Spray Enamel for a new project. Thank you for the original idea. Can you please let me know of your recommendation for the best clear coat? This will be on a powder room mirror.

Thanks in advance,


53 Diane Henkler April 7, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Hi Brad -

I think I would use Minwax Polycrylic. Itis water based and will not yellow the metal color over time. It is made in a spray can and also as a brush on finish. If using other brands – Look for ones that say “Clear coat”. I try to stay away from “Extra glossy” or the word “Thick” These tend to yellow quickly. If you were using a gold color, yellowing does not matter as much.


54 Sue April 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Such wonderful information!
I did not read about anyone spray painting a ceiling fan.
I know to seal the motor air intake vents but I am worried it will look like a painted fan. I am keeping the paddles wooden.
Any tips?
Thank you!


55 Diane Henkler April 7, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I have only painted the paddles on a ceiling fan. You can see it in this post: http://inmyownstyle.com/2010/05/how-to-make-a-ceiling-fan-fun.html

If you spray paint the motor section – it will look great! Paint it high gloss or semi-gloss in white, a bold color, or oil rubbed bronze instead of gold or silver and it won’t look like you painted it. It will look like a factory finish.


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }