Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Darken Brass Hardware in 8 Easy Steps

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Tired of that shiny 1980s hardware in your home? Want the look of the modern trend of oil rubbed bronze for a fraction of the cost of new hardware? We've got 8 easy steps to get the look of oil rubbed bronze for about $20 and an afternoon using brass darkening solution.

Image by Gretchen Sawatzki

Step 1). Gather all the necessary supplies. You can purchase all of these items online or at your local hardware store. You won't need a fancy rag or bowl, so use what's available. 

Step 2). Don your protective gloves. Brass darkening solution is a type of mild acid and it can irritate the skin.

Step 3). Fill your non-corrosive bowl (I prefer glass) with about 1 inch of brass darkening solution.

Step 4). Use your wire brush to roughen up the surface of your shiny brass hardware. Note: If your hardware is lacquered you will need to strip the lacquer off using a paint thinner or stripper prior to darkening. The brass darkening solution will not penetrate the lacquer and will give your hardware an uneven finish if it's not removed. 

Image by Gretchen Sawatzki

Step 5). Place your shiny brass hardware into the brass darkening solution. The hardware will darken quickly, so place it in the solution for a short time and take it out periodically to inspect the color change. If you want a deep oil rubbed bronze finish, keep the hardware in longer. If you're looking for an antique brass finish drop it in for a quick dip.

Step 6). Pat the hardware dry on a cotton rag. You will want to absorb the solution off of the hardware as soon as possible or it will continue to darken your hardware.

Step 7). Repeat Steps 1-6 until all hardware is darkened to desired color.

Step 8). After darkening you can choose to spray lacquer your hardware to "seal in" the new color or don't lacquer it, and the brass will continue to patina over time either way you have achieved an expensive modern hardware upgrade. 


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. I have been wanting to do this with a lot of my hardware for a while. We had to have 3 estate sales last year and we took all of the hardware from the different houses and now I really want to use it because it is much nicer that what we currently have.

    Brandi Bradley @ Rotax Metals

    1. Brandi, thank you so much for your comment. We use this method on a lot of old hardware, and if you darken it too much, you can always buff the hardware with a wire wheel brush and start again!