raw unlacquered brass is back what you need to know when that box arrives

RAW BRASS IS BACK, BUT WHAT THE HECK! What you need to know when that box arrives…


This is the first of a two-part post – there’s simply too much brass for one siting.

Last night I received a distressed email from an adorable client – her long awaited, custom ordered bathroom fittings had finally arrived from the manufacturer, and she had just opened the boxes. But…


This client is renovating the most charming Tudor style house; it’s simply delightful. All the metal fittings – chandeliers, wall sconces, kitchen fittings, accessories, and cabinet hardware – were meticulously sourced, measured, matched and put together. Everything precisely in a dull, antique brass.

antique brass lantern visual comfort


Except for the finishes in the bathroom, which, by the way, has a beautiful claw-foot bathtub. Here we went for raw, un-lacquered brass. You know – that beautiful, unpretentious brass with a rich, layered patina you still find in old ranch houses? Dulled by age, and naturally buffed from regular touch. It’s packed with character.

characterful raw un-lacquered brass in use


But the fixtures that arrived were all bright and shiny in their boxes. She mailed immediately – it doesn’t go at all with any of the other brass fittings we’ve selected! Renovations are in full swing, what are we going to do?

I’d say we step away from the boxes and go pour ourselves something – can be green tea, or G&T – ‘cause we’re talking about un-lacquered, raw brass here. It’s gonna take a while.

You see if you want that faded look, there’s a secret to un-lacquered brass.


Un-lacquered brass is raw brass that is purposefully left un-sealed to allow for natural oxidation to take place. As the metal ages, it darkens and develops that distinct patina and beautiful character – exactly the thing we’re after here. But it takes time.

A long time. Could be two years if you just let it go its natural course!

un-lacquered raw brass from shiny to dull


But before you pour yourself another drink – I also have some good news. You can safely and easily speed up the natural aging process and encourage the brass to tarnish almost instantly. There’s a wonderful brass & bronze aging solution available specifically designed for this, or you can just applying vinegar and salt water, let it stand for a bit, then wipe. Voila – instant aging. I mean, how often can you say that with a smile?

For those who want that classic, timeless aged look of raw brass, remember this:

When un-lacquered brass leaves the factory, it’s highly polished. Super duper, it-hurts-your-eyes shiny.

This might NOT be what you expected. And if you are in the last stages of your renovation, and you’re expecting dull brass, but what you get is super shiny brass – it’s understandable that you’d want to freak out. I would too if I was the one opening those boxes.

person freaking(source)

But at least now you know exactly what to expect, and you know that there is help.

I know that you will be very happy with your beautiful, raw brass.

Cheers to you!




METALS ARE MEANT TO BE MIXED – HOW TO GET IT RIGHT  Part II – Metal Finishes (Coming soon)


Raw un-lacquered brass is back what you need to know

Posted in Bathrooms, cabinets, Kitchens, Remodeling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. I am loving the brass comeback! I too am undergoing a renovation and have a question on one of my light fixtures which is offered in raw and brushed brass. I am actually loving the look of the brushed brass but have no idea how it ages. Does it develop a darker patina over time similar to raw brass?

    • Thank you for stopping by, Terri. Unlike raw brass, brushed or satin brass is finished with lacquer that protects the brass from aging and tarnishing, or showing fingerprints or water spots. Raw brass on the other hand, has no finished lacquer layer, and therefore it will darken over time and develop a lived-in patina. All the best with your renovation.

  2. This is a really helpful article, thank you Mia! I hope you can help with my follow-up question. I am looking at some brass light switches for my renovation. The description is “polished brass”. Is that the same as raw brass, do you think?

    • Hi Viv

      Thank you for stopping by. And this is a good question. Generally, most items that are listed as polished brass, satin brass, or brushed brass will be lacquered, and the color or shininess won’t change over time. It needs that lacquer to maintain the original look.

      Brass items that are un-lacquered will in most cases specifically mention that. They are less commonly available, and also typically have a higher price tag. If you are looking for raw brass, you should specifically ask for that in your search.

      I hope that answers your question.

  3. Thank you for this really helpful post! I have a question – if you buy unlacquered brass bathroom fixtures, is it possible to lacquer them at a later date? Asking because we are renovating an old mansion house to turn it into a hotel, and I love the raw natural look but it might prove easier for maintenance to have lacquered fixtures.

    • Hi Hannah
      I’m glad you found the article helpful, and thanks for reaching out. The short answer is yes, you can later lacquer your raw brass.

      However, if it were me, I would keep the lovely raw brass of your traditional mansion AS IS, and embrace the layered patina it develops over time. I would specifically NOT polish it. The beauty and sought after look of raw brass is indeed the natural aged look – that is very hard to imitate.

      Un-lacquered brass is hard to find these days, and more expensive than lacquered brass. I hope I can convince you to allow your raw brass to naturally age, and embrace the elegant character it will show in time. 🙂

  4. Hi, thanks so much for the article. I’m planning a bathroom renovation at the moment, and love the aesthetic of raw brass. However only some of the fixtures I need are available unlaquered. Have you ever mixed lacquered and unlaquered brass? And do you know if the tone of brass changes much between suppliers or stays fairly consistent? I’m trying to figure out if it’s better to go brushed brass for everything, or split half and half with unlaquered and either brushed brass or maybe matt black if that really wouldn’t work. Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!

    • Hi Clare, it’s true, unlacquered brass is not always easy to find. Rather than mixing raw with another kind of brass, I would definitely rather add a second metal, like matte black. Those two work well together, and it will cause your beautiful raw brass to stand out. Also, antique brass can vary quite a bit between different manufacturers. When you’re mixing metals, try to keep them in groups, or bands together. Hope that helps, all best with your project!

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