Protecting Brass

Ask an Expert From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 2/1/2012

I have had customer complaints about the clear coat peeling and corrosion problems on solid-brass numerals for house identification. Can you give any tips on how to polish the brass and protect it for years to come?

Q. I run a small business making giftware, craftware and other specialty items, including unique, decorative, solid-brass numerals for house identification. The numeral design is intricate and three dimensional, not flat. Because of the hand work, they are relatively expensive. It is a very important project, but it has given me much trouble in the past. I have been hand polishing the numerals and spray painting them using spray paint from a big-box store. Naturally, they are used outdoors. I have had customer complaints about the clear coat peeling and corrosion problems. While I was browsing for information on polishing and protecting brass, I came across your name on PFonline.com. Can you give any tips on how to polish the brass and protect it for years to come? T.D.

A. Polish the brass using something like Revere Ware copper bottom cleaner (which my wife used when she hung the pots above the kitchen range) or a product called Brasso (which was used by the military personnel to polish brass). You may have to apply these polishes using a brush to clean all the interstices. They also may leave a residual oily film on the surface, which must be removed before painting. After removing all the cleaner residue using an aqueous detergent solution, rinse with clear water. After drying, spray paint the brass immediately using a clear outdoor finish.

Call the sales departments of some of the paint suppliers listed in PFonline.com to get their recommendations for a clear coating for brass used in outdoor exposure. If you’re lucky, they may even recommend one of their products that is available in spray cans. 


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