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Brass Care & Maintenance Guide

Brass is a metal alloy containing both zinc and copper. Although exceptionally durable, if left untreated, brass will lose its bright and shiny finish as it oxidises over time. Depending on the location in which your brass item is placed, maintenance will be required to protect the aesthetic value of the metal and to prevent it from tarnishing. For example, if your brass item is placed near to the coast, the salt content in the air will cause the oxidation process to accelerate. Or, if your item is placed in an area of high condensation for long periods of time, the brass will react with the oxygen in the water and tarnish more rapidly.

It’s important to understand that oxidisation is a natural process in which the metal reacts with the oxygen in the air and will not affect the durability of your brass in any way. Many people prefer to let their brass items tarnish over time, taking on a deep antique patina that beautifully complements period-style or redbrick properties. Depending on the amount of copper present, your item may also develop a light Verdigris (or green) patina over time. Again, many people enjoy this vintage aesthetic and choose to leave their brass to age naturally, however, if this look isn’t for you, there are steps that can be taken to prevent your brass from tarnishing down fully.

Brass Products

CARING FOR LACQUERED BRASS

Many of our brass products have been treated with a clear lacquer to help keep the polished brass look for longer. To ascertain whether your item has been lacquered or not, please refer to its individual product description. For basic care and maintenance, if your product has been lacquered, we recommend wiping over with a soft cloth and a water/mild liquid soap solution every few weeks to remove any dirt or debris. Ensure that the item is thoroughly dried with a soft cloth to prevent water  droplets reacting with the metal. Using abrasive cleaning products (including most household cleaners) is not recommended as this will break down the lacquer coating, allowing the brass finish to become susceptible to the elements. Never polish a lacquered brass item as this will only create a cloudy looking surface.

Although designed to keep your brass shinier for longer, lacquers are not indestructible and will still break down over time. If you wish to keep your lacquered item shiny, you will need to relacquer on an annual basis, or whenever you deem necessary depending on your location and desired aesthetic. If you choose to relacquer a brass item that has already been lacquered, you will need to remove any previous lacquer first. You can do this by rubbing acetone onto the item. Once all lacquer is removed, clean the item thoroughly to ensure there are no fingerprints or dirt. You must ensure that all dirt and debris are removed before lacquering as this could cause dark, unsightly marks. Once clean, apply a new lacquer. We recommend a metal-specific spray lacquer, which can be acquired from most big hardware stores, to ensure an even finish.

CARING FOR UNTREATED BRASS

Untreated, or unlacquered, brass requires a slightly different maintenance schedule. To ascertain whether your item has been unlacquered or not, please refer to its individual product description. If you would prefer your untreated brass item to remain shiny, you will need to clean and polish it weekly, or whenever you deem necessary, with a metal polish such as Brasso. Before you begin the polishing process, you must thoroughly clean the surface of the metal. To clean your brass item, use a soft cloth and a water/mild liquid soap solution, putting special focus on areas that have become dull. Once cleaned, dry your brass item thoroughly using a soft cloth.

Polishing your brass creates a thin, protective layer that is designed to keep moisture and oxygen away from the surface of the metal. Of course, much like lacquer finishes, this will deteriorate over time and will require regular repolishing. To polish, apply a small amount of Brasso to a dry rag or cloth and polish with the grain of the brass. Whilst doing this, use a second rag to rapidly buff out the polish. This will allow the polish to harden, creating a surface that is more hardy against smudging and discolouring. At this point, you may choose to lacquer your product in order to protect the shiny finish of the metal for longer.

Brass Products

If ever in doubt, we recommend seeking the advice of a qualified professional to clean or relacquer your brass item. Please note that many of our bright chrome and black finished products have also been crafted from brass. Bright chrome finishes should be treated in much the same way as polished brass is treated, but painted finishes may need an occasional touch-up using a metal-based paint. To find out more about caring for these products, please refer to our General Care & Maintenance Guide.

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