Unlacquered Brass Hardware: What to Know

Unlacquered Brass Hardware: What to Know

Hannah Haynsworth |

With its rich warmth and undeniable character, Unlacquered Brass can be a stunning selection for cabinet hardware, door hardware, plumbing fixtures, or lighting. However, it's not for everyone and it is not a choice that should not be made hastily or without care.

Unlacquered Brass Hardware

What it is Unlacquered Brass?

Unlacquered brass is raw brass that is polished or brushed to refine the finish. It does not have a lacquer on it to preserve it in this state. Instead, it is meant to be a living finish, which will change with time and use. This shift in color is called a patina and is what gives unlacquered brass its character and antique appearance.

Because unlacquered brass is made from solid brass, it is typically priced higher than its zinc or steel-based counterparts. With its higher price comes significantly higher quality. While unlacquered brass will patina, it will last a lifetime without rusting or deteriorating, even in harsh conditions.

Embracing the Change

From the moment you take it out of the box, Unlacquered Brass begins to age.  The rate at which it changes is highly dependent on its environment and use. Outside or in a location where the air has a high moisture content, you may see Unlacquered Brass begin to shift within days. In a sheltered, dry location where the hardware isn't often used, the shift in color is more likely to be slow and subtle. Regardless of its location, you can always expect unlacquered brass to eventually darken and dull. It often browns, but may accrue green or pink tones as well.

Each piece will take on its own special patina, with no two pieces being alike. Even on the same set of cabinetry, two knobs may appear significantly different. Often oxidation will happen the fastest on pieces that are frequently touched. You may notice that the cabinet knob on the door storing the cookies browns faster than the knob housing the kitchen tools that are rarely used, or you may see that your pulls have grown darker lower down where they are within reach of tiny hands. If you look closely, these variations often tell a special story. This is one of the reasons why Unlacquered Brass is so charming and special. 

Before and After
Left: New out of the bag, Right: 2 years of showroom use 
Care and Maintenance of Unlacquered Brass

Change and unevenness might not be for everyone and at some point you may feel the shift in color has gone too far. If you are looking to maintain your brass hardware at a certain point in the patina process, you must be ready for some routine commitments. Maintenance is a labor of love!

No matter how much it has aged, unlacquered brass can always be polished to look shiny and new again. If you opt to do it yourself, we recommend this polishing cloth. Be aware that restoring brass takes a fair amount of patience and elbow grease. If you want to have it professionally done, reach out to your nearest metal restoration or plating company.

To slow the aging process, you can apply a high-quality wax to your hardware. We recommend this wax which is designed specifically for copper-based alloys like brass. Wax coatings are not permanent though and will need to be reapplied from time to time. 

Taking the Plunge

Do you love the look and are you ready to buy? We have a number of unlacquered brass options for cabinet and door hardware. Just take a look at the links below. If you have any questions or can't find what you're looking for, just contact us. We are here to help!

SHOP UNLACQUERED BRASS CABINET HARDWARE

SHOP UNLACQUERED BRASS DOOR HARDWARE

Unlacquered Brass Lever

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