Although the vast majority of brassware on the market today has been lacquered in production, the brass should not be polished, but instead cleaned. Brass that is lacquered will feature with a clear layer and tarnish will only show up if a crack appears on the surface. This thin layer in the short term protects the brass finish from exposure to the atmosphere and will ensure it displays the bright shine. So to help you maintain your brassware properly, we’re sharing with you our guide on how to clean lacquered brass.
What Is Lacquered Brass?
Lacquer is not permanent and can be chipped, scratched or broken down chemically. As brass has a chemical production process, it is susceptible to oxidisation in the atmosphere. Once the lacquer has been breached, steps must be taken to restrict exposure. As it is not possible for us to know the exact atmospheric conditions and the degree of use and abuse the lacquered brass item will get, it is not possible for us to give guarantees on the life of the lacquer. Any estimates given will be based of the information given to us and are estimates only.
How Do I Clean My Brassware?
To prolong the life of the lacquer it is advised that the item is regularly cleaned with warm soapy water. To do this, you should only get the lacquered brass wet enough to clean the surface, then wipe with a clean wet cloth and dry thoroughly. You should also regularly dust brass with a soft cloth, but in general you will not need to wash it. However if you do need to wipe something off, you should only use tepid water and mild washing up liquid. The occasional use of a good quality wax polish will also help to seal and chips and scratches in the lacquer itself. In exposed and external situations, more regular waxing is advised to keep it clean.
At some point it is possible that the lacquer will deteriorate beyond your maintenance capabilities. When this happens with your lacquered brass, it is suggested that the lacquer is removed using a lacquer remover such as Nitromors Lacquer and Varnish Remover and then polished back to its original finish using a good quality brass cleaner such as Duraglit. We advise that once the item’s lacquer has been removed, it is not relacquered and instead, periodical cleaning is undertaken. If you wish to re-lacquer the item, do not use brush-applied lacquer as it will leave streaks once the lacquer is dry. A car spray lacquer should be fine to relacquer the item, however do not spray onto a cold metal as the lacquer will set almost immediately and bubbles can become trapped. Equally, excessive spraying drip marks will be evident. It is best to let the lacquered brass item warm through in a warm area such as an airing cupboard before spraying.
How To Maintain Unlacquered Brass
Some manufactures will now offer their brass item made to order unlacquered. This is only limited to British made items and usually can involve a lead-time of a few weeks for manufacture. This option will be useful for anyone looking to achieve an aged look to his or her door knobs and handles as the brass will form a natural patina and turn a coppery colour.
However unlacquered brass can tarnish quickly, so to keep your brass in top condition, you will need to polish it every few months.
Cleaning With A PVD Finish
PVD is a relatively new finish to the architectural ironmongery market and is designed to remove the finish maintenance hassles associated with brass. PVD is the result of an extra manufacturing process which alters the chemical state of the first few microns of the brass. Once this is done, the resultant finish is slightly more gilt than normal brass but depending on the supplier, generally has between a 20 and 25-year finish guarantee. The range of PVD items available is very limited and is mostly restricted to front door furniture. On average you can expect PVD to be 40% more expensive than its lacquered brass equivalent.
Need more guidance on how to clean lacquered brass? Please feel free to contact us to find out more on maintaining your hardware. View our full range of front door furniture and lacquered brass items here.