How to antique brass with paint:


Brass pieces can be painted to achieve an aged look. This is a safe and easy method to antique brass. Two methods are available. A single layer of black paint can be used. Or two layers of contrasting colors may be used to achieve a richer deeper effect.




brass piece to be antiqued


self etching primer

black acrylic or latex paint or two contrasting colors for top and bottom coat

mixing bowl

clean brush

clean rags

white candle or wax

clear lacquer


The brass piece must be clean and prepared as mentioned before to remove any prior lacquer, oils and dirt. Thoroughly dry the piece. Coat the piece with the self etching primary. It prepares the bare metal for the top coat to maximize adhesion and provide a smooth surface for the top coat.


In a single layer method, black paint is used. Black paint must first be diluted. If it is a latex based paint, it can be diluted with water. Oil based paint needs to be diluted with a paint thinner. A 50% dilute mixture is prepared. Paint the entire piece with the diluted paint. While the paint is still wet, rub off the paint from parts of the surface, leaving the paint in some areas as well as in cracks and crevices. This will give a dark appearance to the grooves and highlight details. Allow the paint to thoroughly dry. Then protect the finish with a lacquer to prevent the black paint from rubbing off.


If you are using the two layer technique, the base coat can be lighter or darker than the top coat, depending on the look you are after. Once again the brass piece must be prepared to be free of lacquer, dirt and oils. The clean, bare brass has be prepared with a self etching primer. The base coat is then applied with either a brush or spray.


After the base coat has completely dried, you are ready for the next step. Areas that you want to show through the top coat should then be coated with wax. A white candle is perfect for this. Rub raised areas for example to leave uncovered by the top coat. Apply the top coat in a similar manner to the base coat. Once the top coat has dried, wipe off the wax with a clean cloth, exposing the base coat. You can optionally scrape off the top coat to carefully expose the base coat. Make a final light coat with the top color. Dilute the top color one part paint to three parts dilutent, either water or paint thinner based on the type of paint. This will glaze the whole piece with an even color.


One all the paint has dried, protect the surface with a wax or clear lacquer.


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