How To Remove Lacquer From Brass Surfaces (Do This!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

There’s something about the understated beauty and elegance of brass that makes it a terrific addition to any home interior. Use brass items as accent pieces throughout your living and dining rooms to wow your guests. Brass looks even better when it features the right kind of finish.

Often, lacquer is the finish often used on brass items and you can understand why given what it does. However, a worn-down lacquer finish is no longer capable of elevating the appearance of brass. If you want to salvage that brass item or fixture, you’ll have to start with removing the lacquer finish.

With protective gear on, start working on removing the lacquer coating by brushing the brass surface with lacquer remover. Coat the entire brass item in the lacquer remover before letting it sit for the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time. After the wait time is over, wipe the brass item with a rag to get rid of the lacquer coating.

Lacquer coatings on brass items can be removed pretty easily. Learn how to remove the lacquer coating on your brass possessions properly and safely by reading on.

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The Different Ways to Remove Lacquer Coatings on Brass Items

Brass is a pretty durable material. That’s part of the reason why it’s often used to make fittings. Still, brass can be damaged if you’re not careful. Fail to follow the right procedure for removing the lacquer coating on brass and you could damage that item forever.

Allow us to help you care for your brass possessions better. Follow the different methods for removing the lacquer coating on brass detailed below to ensure things go as planned.

Method 1: Use Lacquer Remover to Get Rid of the Lacquer Coating

The reason why we’re highlighting the method that uses lacquer remover first is because it’s the easiest to follow. It’s also easier to use on brass items big and small. That makes it useful to a larger number of homeowners.

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning and Safety Equipment

To lift the lacquer, you’ll need the lacquer remover along with a brush and rag you won’t use in the future. You should also prepare a working surface such as an old table and some newspapers.

Wearing safety equipment is an absolute must here given how toxic lacquer remover can be. At a minimum, you’ll need to wear gloves and a face mask. If you want to wear overalls and long sleeve shirts as well, feel free to do so.

Step 2: Get Set Up Outside

Using lacquer remover indoors is not a good idea. The strong odor of that product is very unpleasant. The odor can also be downright hazardous to your health.

Before you start using the lacquer remover, go outside. Get set up somewhere on your porch or yard and make sure the air is circulating well wherever you are. Pointing an electric fan at your chosen spot is also not a bad idea.

Once you’ve found your ideal spot, set down your table and cover it. Spread out the newspapers to completely cover the table’s surface. If you don’t have newspapers, plastic covers and old shirts you’re not going to wear again can work too.

If you don’t have space to use outside, you can stay indoors but work close to your windows. Open up the doors and windows to improve the air circulation and use an electric fan too.

Step 3: Apply the Lacquer Remover

Open up your container of lacquer remover now and dip your chosen brush in it. Next, start using the brush to coat the brass item completely with the lacquer remover. Use a smaller brush if you’re having a hard time applying the lacquer remover to the smaller spots.

Don’t skimp on the amount of lacquer remover you’re using. Continue applying the lacquer remover until every part of the brass item is completely covered with it.

Step 4: Play the Waiting Game

You now have to sit and wait for the lacquer remover to work its magic. Refer to the container of the lacquer remover to find out how long you have to wait before it takes effect. Don’t leave the room though as someone else may come in and touch the brass item.

Step 5: Wipe Away the Lacquer Remover and the Lacquer Coating

Last up, you want to take your old rag and use it to wipe the brass item clean. Wipe away all traces of the lacquer remover until you’ve restored the brass surface.

Method 2: Use Heat to Remove the Lacquer Coating

This next method doesn’t involve using lacquer remover, but it can still be dangerous since you’ll be relying on hot water. Check out the detailed steps below.

Step 1: Gather Your Cleaning Items

Most of the cleaning items you’ll need this time are likely already present inside your home. You’ll need water, baking soda, acetone, cotton swabs, and a pot. The pot should be big enough to fit the item you want to work on.

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Place the pot on your stove and fill it with the amount of water you need. If you’re using a gallon of water, put four tablespoons of baking soda into it then stir.

You should now let the cleaning solution come to a boil. Crank up the heat on your stove to get the cleaning solution boiling faster.

Step 3: Boil the Brass Item

Carefully lower the brass item into the boiling cleaning solution now. Do it gently to prevent hot water from going all over the place. Once the brass item is inside the pot, leave it there for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4: Rinse the Brass Item

After leaving the brass item to boil for the required amount of time, you can now remove it from the water. Be careful again to prevent any hot water from splashing on to you.

Position the brass item over the sink next and then pour some of the hot water over it. Give it a good rinse under the hot water to clear away the lacquer coating dislodged by the boiling water.

After rinsing, set the brass item aside. Let it cool for a while until you can handle it with no issue.

Step 5: Remove the Small Traces of the Lacquer Coating

To finish up, get the acetone and put a little bit of it over the tip of a cotton swab. Use that acetone-covered swab now to reach into the nooks and crannies of the brass item. Traces of the lacquer coating may still be present in those spots so remove them using the cotton swab.

How Do You Maintain the Appearance of Lacquered Brass?

Removing the lacquer coating on brass items becomes necessary when the finish has deteriorated significantly. But how do you prevent the lacquer coating from deteriorating too quickly? The answer, unsurprisingly, involves diligent maintenance.

When it comes to everyday cleaning, brass doesn’t need a lot of work. Grab an old rag and use that to wipe over the surface of the brass item. That should suffice for everyday dusting.

Now if you’re talking about cleaning, you’ll need to use some soapy water. Prepare some warm soapy water and then soak an old rag in that cleaning liquid. Wring the rag dry then use it to wipe over the brass surface. Follow that with a wipe of a dry rag over the brass surface to get rid of any excess moisture.

If the brass item has been stained, you’ll want to use some dish soap. Mix the dish soap with water then apply the cleaning solution to the brass surface using a rag. One more thing you can do to preserve the appearance of the lacquered brass is to wax it regularly. Wax the brass item every few months to maintain its beautiful appearance.

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Related Questions

Should You Work on Plated and Solid Brass Items Differently?

Plated and solid brass items respond differently to cleaning efforts. To be more specific, plated brass items are more susceptible to damage compared to their solid brass counterparts.If what you have is plated brass, that means the item in question is made of metal but coated with brass. You can easily ruin the appearance of plated brass items if you’re not careful. Only use the boiling brass method on plated brass or else you might strip away more layers than you intended.Solid brass is stronger and more resistant to damage. Feel free to use either method to remove the lacquer coating on solid brass items.

How Do Varnish and Lacquer Differ from One Another?

Lacquer and varnish are both finishes that people like to use over all kinds of items. While they may be used in similar ways, they are not completely identical.Varnish tends to have a gentler shine whereas lacquer can be very bright and glossy. Lacquer coatings are also more durable. They hold up better against scratches and other substances.If you’re trying to decide between applying a lacquer or varnish finish, remember that the former tends to last longer. Lacquer will preserve the appearance of your various possessions better than varnish.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

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