Spray Painting Metal Hardware: Brass to Nickel

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.
  • Protect the paint after it is dry with a light coat of clear protective finish. Important: Most spray paint brands have these in their line of spray paints. Read the directions on the can to find out how long you need to wait before adding the clear finish.

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



  1. Jackie says

    Hi, Diane,

    Thank you for all the informative information you give to all. That is very time consuming, and you are very generous to share via e-mails and your web site. My question goes back to spray painting the towel bar which is what I am doing as you did. How has the paint held up as a result of hanging a damp towel on the towel bar? Has the paint deteriorated in any way from a damp towel? Thank you again for sharing your expertise with us all.


    • says

      Hi Jackie – The towels I hang on my island are decorative only so the towel bars do not get wet. If your towels are going to be wet or damp when you hang them, I would seal the paint with a polyurethane/sealer. Every major brand of spray paint has a spray sealer. Once your color is fully dry, check the label on the can as to when you should seal. It is usually at least 24 hours or when the paint is fully dry. You don’t want to spray the sealer on too early or it could wrinkle the painted finish.

  2. Dotti says

    I just used the Champion sterling silver sprayon paint. I did not have good results. It spattered terribly! I now have to sand it off and start over. It also did not come out shiny. I shook it for 5 minutes prior to spraying. I shook it while I was spraying. 1/2 way through the can, it just started spattering the paint out instead of a fine mist. Do you know if the company stands behind the product? I ordered 2 cans online and the shipping alone was $8.95. I have done tons f spray painting. Never had this happen before!

    • Myla says

      Hi Dottie…for what it’s worth, i just finished using the Champion spray and struggled initially as well. Contrary to typical spray paint projects where several thin coats works best, this particular metallic paint didn’t seem to work as well that way. Fortunately, I had a ‘happy accident’ while painting and a heavy hand with the spray paint immediately revealed the sheen I was hoping for. As for the spray, I’ve had similar (spatter) experiences in the past with Rustoleum products but did not have an issue with these Champion cans. Hope you were able to find good customer service and new paint!
      Good luck!!!

  3. Myla says

    Hi Diane.
    First, let me say THANK YOU for the great summary. It was a huge time saver while looking to refinish some of our old door hardware. I LOVE the Champion sterling silver finish since it does still look like metal. My dilemma has been finding a clear coat that doesn’t alter the finish. I tested one handle with Rustoleum’s clear gloss Ultracover but it immediately altered the finish and made it darker and almost dull looking. Then I thought a clear lacquer may be the way to go, but alas, the same results as the Rustoleum test. Any suggestions on a sealer that won’t alter the finish?

    Thanks again!!!

  4. Sonja G. says

    Came across your web site while while searching for spray paints. Your informative and creative website is inspiring, so much so that I wish you were my neighbor. I’ve bookmarked your website and I’ll be visiting often.
    Sea you soon…

    • says

      Thanks for reading, taking the time to connect, and say hi Sonja. I agree with you that it would be nice to live next door to each other and all us decor loving kindred spirits. What a great neighborhood that would be :-)

  5. Motheroflittle says

    I’m updating a bath right now and switching out all brass for chrome and nickel. I got my spray paint at Sherwin Williams for around $6. It is called Chrome Aluminum . It is very bright and shiny but not glittery. I’m going to brave the cabinet hinges as the new sets I purchased do not fit. I already spray painted the collars around the ceiling light fixtures. They look pretty good. Thanks for all your wonderful tips and encouragement .

  6. Lynn says

    Great tips! I’m considering changing my apartment front door hardware on the inside of the door from shiny polished brass to nickel like you have done with the towel bar. However, I’m wondering how durable this would be as it’s on a door handle and locks that obviously get a lot of use. Do you think it would be durable enough? Any other tips?
    I’ve painted a lot of interior walls before but never spray painted the hardware. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • says

      Hi Lynn – You can spray your door knob successfully. Sand it well and clean before spraying and then after the paint is dry – spray a few light coats of clear spray sealer over it. Follow the directions on the can for the amount of time to wait inbetween coats. Let it cure for a few days before using.

  7. Nancy says

    I saw your post hear for spray painting kitchen handles. We now have the brass gold and are switching them all to a brushed nickel. What would be the best primer and spray paint to use? Also the best sealer. We would like a smooth finish. We are also going to try to paint the hinges and see how that goes. We have almost 60 pull handles and double almost on the hinges, so this would save us a ton of money..Thanks again for a wonderful idea!!

    • says

      Hi Nancy – Any of the silver paints I used will work. I like these brands the best. They often change their labels and you may not find the exact ones I used. If you use Rustoleum, Krylon, or Champion you can’t go wrong. Same goes with metal primers. Brand names and light coats are important to get the best finish. As for sealers. It is best to stick with the brand of paint you used. Paint companies test the compatibility of their own products. If you use a different brand of sealer over the paint, it may crinkle it if it has something different in the formula. Choose if you want a gloss or satin clear sealer. Krylon and Rustoleum both sell a few. Some are more glossy, some are better for outdoor use. Krylon Tough Coat, Krylon Crystal Clear and Rustoleum 2X are a few that I have used and that won’t yellow over time.

  8. Patty Loew says

    We’re updating a bathroom and just learned that the jetted tub trim (very corroded) is no longer made. Before we had the pieces professionally re-plated, I did some searching and came across your wonderful website. Have you ever tried to use metallic spray paint on anything that will be underwater?

    • says

      Hi Patty – I have not used metallic paint on items that are underwater. It might look good at first, but would peel away quickly. You could look into Marine paint for boats, but I don’t think it comes in metallic colors.

  9. Veleka says

    Hello, Diane,

    While searching for an answer, I came across your site.

    I had ordered specially made padded toilet seats that were supposed to come with Non-Rust Anodized Aluminum GOLD Metal Hinges, but the manufacturer ran out of the gold and cannot replace them.

    I love the seats, but the silver color clashes with everything in my bathrooms.

    Normally I would just paint them with gold nail polish, but as they will be attached to the toilets, I worry that the gold will not last.

    Have you any advice specifically for Anodized Aluminum? I want to get them done and start using them!

    Thanks so much for any help you can give!

  10. Veleka says


    As long as I’m asking, I bought a glass shower door, pattern “Tangle” by Sterling (Kohler), Series #1500. They didn’t have it in brass for my size shower, so I had to get it in nickel. Every time I look at it, I feel let down because the frame doesn’t match my bathroom.

    I don’t know what the metal is. I could ask, I suppose. Do you have a solution for how to make it look like brass?

    Thanks : )

  11. Jeri says

    I have a decorative brass piece that I have polished. I would like to coat it with some kind of clear acrylic to preserve the
    finish. Do you know what preparation I would have to do so the spray would adhere? I can’t sand it. Although the silver spray you discussed is VERY tempting. Any tips would be appreciated.

      • Jeri says

        Dear Diane,
        Thank you so much for your quick response! It’s on its way from Amazon.
        I think I was born a DIY and I have 6 cans of awful silver paint. I will try your rec.
        next time.
        Your site is UNBELIEVABLE !


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