How to: Faux Antique Brass Finish

Brass-finished home décor such as lighting, candlesticks or even a brass bed can provide a modern or traditional look. You can change the look easily. If you are looking to give a brass piece the rich patina and warmth of an antique finish, there is a simple way using common household products.

Softening the Lacquer Finish

Brass-finished home decor is timeless.
  1. Lay out newspaper to protect the surface your are working on. Nail polish remover (acetone) removes many type finishes.
  2. Dampen -- do not soak -- the lint-free cloth in the nail polish remover.
  3. Rub the brass piece with the dampened cloth. (ref 1)
  4. Make sure to cover the entire area, including any crevices.
  5. Dampen and rub until the lacquer is dissolved.
  6. Use new cloths as the others get dirty.

Removing the Lacquer Finish

  1. Fill one bowl with hot water.
  2. Dampen another clean, lint-free cloth in the hot water. Again, do not soak the cloth, just dampen.
  3. Wipe down the brass piece, removing the softened lacquer.
  4. Use new cloths as the others get dirty.
  5. Allow the piece to air dry completely.

Creating the Faux Antique Finish

  1. Fill the second bowl with enough vinegar to cover the piece.
  2. Make sure the piece is dry.
  3. Saturate the paint brush with the vinegar.
  4. Brush the entire piece, making sure to get in crevices.
  5. Watch as the vinegar reacts with the brass, oxidizing into a faux antiqued look.

Things You Will Need

  • Newspaper
  • Nail polish remover (enough to cover the whole piece)
  • Lint-free cloths or towels
  • 2 bowls
  • Hot water
  • Vinegar (enough to cover the whole piece)
  • Paint brush


  • You may buff the piece dry after removing the lacquer; however air drying is the preferred method.


  • Do not rub the vinegar in with a cloth. Brushing the vinegar over the piece allows the oxidation to occur on the wet surface.

About the Author

A 35-year child care specialist, Laurie Carpenter’s first writing involved scripts for a national award-winning cable program on child care issues. From cradle to grave, she worked for a historical cemetery, handling public relations and historical pieces for newspaper publication. Working towards her master’s degree in education, Carpenter also completed a certificate of journalism program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Photo Credits

  • two brass montars image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com