02/22/2022 | Electroplating | 8 MINUTE READ
3 Ways to Remove Brass Plating from Metals
Brass plating is a highly common alloy plating method that has been widely adopted because of the decorative and color enhancements that various metals can benefit from. The applications that brass plating has include fittings, fasteners, and lighters. While this plating technique is regularly used for aesthetic reasons, it can also provide functional value in some scenarios. For instance, applying this coating in a marine environment can add some corrosion resistance to a metal.
Another form of plating is electroplating, which uses an electrodeposition technique to coat many different objects with a thin layer of metals. Electrolysis can be used to transfer the metal coating directly from an anode to a cathode, the latter of which represents the object or metal that’s set to be plated. The reason that electroplating is regularly used with metals is because the only requirement for this process to work is that the underlying material must be conductive. Keep in mind that electroplating can be used to remove brass plating from metals.
While brass plating is able to provide metals and other items with a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, there are also some issues with brass plating that you might encounter from time to time. For one, brass plating can look cheap is not applied correctly. If you live in an older home, it’s common for doorknobs and other components to consist of brass plating that doesn’t look quite right. Over time, brass plating can also degrade in quality because of being constantly exposed to oxygen, which means that the plating might worsen in appearance as the years pass by.
Many homeowners choose to remove brass plating from metals when renovating or upgrading their home. As for industrial facilities, brass plating can be problematic when workers are exposed to plating chemicals. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can result in eye and throat irritation, nerve disorders, and asthma. This article offers a more comprehensive overview of three methods you can use to get rid of brass plating for good.
1. Hire an Electroplating Expert
If you start to notice that the brass plating on your kitchen cabinet handles or doorknobs is starting to fade, there are several methods you can use to get rid of brass plating. One of these methods involves electroplating, which involves placing an anode and cathode into an electrolyte bath. Once these metals have been positioned in the chemical bath, an electrical charge will be applied to the solution continuously.
Once electricity is applied, the negatively charged ions will move over to the anode while the positively charged ions move over to the cathode. Once this process occurs, the cathode will have the desired metal coating. Whether you want to have a new metallic coating applied to the item or would like the brass plating to be removed altogether before an additional coating is applied, electroplating professionals have the expertise and skills needed to provide you with the results you’re looking for.
If you want to find local shops that can provide you with this service, use Google Search to locate the necessary professional. You can do this by entering “electroplating professionals near me” into the search engine. Make sure that you find an electroplating company that provides services to commercial and residential clients alike.
While these businesses typically focus on using electroplating to transfer one metal to another, they can also use this technique to get rid of brass plating. Not all electroplating professionals work with brass plating. Before hiring a professional, it’s highly recommended that you ask them if they work with brass and are able to provide the necessary service.
It’s also important that you hire an electroplating business that has a strong reputation. Search for online reviews that tell you what to expect as a customer. You should also take a look at the Better Business Bureau, which will usually have business profiles alongside a BBB rating, customer reviews, and licensing information if applicable.
2. Using Oven Cleaner to Remove Brass Plating
The second option for removing brass plating from metals is to use oven cleaner, which is a simple solution that can cost you anywhere from $5-$20. A couple oven cleaners you might want to consider for this job include Easy Off oven cleaner and the Diversey oven and grill cleaner. Along with Amazon, you can find the necessary oven cleaners at supermarkets and home goods stores.
To complete this task, you should have some rubber gloves, your preferred oven cleaner, and a steel wool pad. These pads can cost you around $5-$10 and will help you scrub off brass plating. You can find some inexpensive steel wool pads at Home Depot, Amazon, and other home improvement stores. Once you’ve put on your gloves and have the steel wool close by, coat the metal or item with an application of oven cleaner.
The oven cleaner you’ve selected should come in the form of a spray. Once the cleaner has been applied, wait a minute or two before rigorously brushing the metal with the steel wool pad. Although getting rid of all of the brass plating can take some time and numerous applications of the oven cleaner, you should quickly notice the plating giving way to shiny metal underneath. This is a very straightforward process that shouldn’t take you more than 15-30 minutes to complete. The length of time that this task takes largely depends on how much brass plating needs to be removed.
While chemical oven cleaners are available for purchase at supermarkets and most home goods stores, these cleaners are among the most hazardous household chemicals that you can buy, which is why it’s recommended that you follow some basic safety tips. Oven cleaners are designed to be corrosive, which means that the chemicals can be deadly if accidentally swallowed. Some basic safety tips to keep in mind include:
- Make sure that pets or children aren’t in the room when you use the oven cleaner.
- Always wear rubber gloves or latex surgical gloves to ensure the chemical doesn’t touch your skin.
- Always have a door or window open to avoid inhaling the chemicals, which can be hazardous to your health.
- Only apply oven cleaner to the necessary surfaces. This solution can damage wood and any other painted surface.
3. Sand/Scrub Brass Plating off the Metal
Even though brass plating can last for a lengthy period of time, it’s a very thin metal coating, which means that it doesn’t necessarily require an extensive process to get rid of brass plating and reveal the metal underneath. The third technique you can use to remove brass plating is to scrub or sandblast the brass coating off. However, sandblasting can only be performed with industrial-grade equipment, which you might not have access to when you’re trying to get rid of brass plating in your home.
Sandblasting is a highly common technique that involves propelling abrasive material against a surface under high pressure. The technique has proven to be effective. However, you don’t need expensive sandblasting equipment to obtain the same results. You should be able to use sheets of sandpaper to sand away any brass plating that remains on the components in your home. Make sure that the sandpaper you choose has a grit of 220-400. Sanding a surface is simple and should be performed until the brass plating has been fully removed.
It’s possible to complete this task with a sander, which is an electronic device that can sand items at high speeds. You can purchase sanders at Amazon, Home Depot, and similar stores for anywhere from $70-$200. If you decide to use a sander, it’s important that you adhere to basic safety guidelines. It’s recommended that you wear a dust mask during the process. You should also keep your hands away from the abrasive surface and should keep your hair tied back if it’s relatively long. With these tips and guidelines in mind, you should be able to get rid of brass plating with ease.
When you want to enhance some of the metals in your home or would like to get rid of brass plating that has started to fade, removing brass plating from metals is a basic process regardless of the option you select. If you contact an electroplating professional, you can have the current brass plating removed while also adding an extra coating that provides the metal with an improved appearance. Even if you use one of the other two methods in this guide, you might still want to contact an electroplating professional after the plating has been removed.
The simpler and more affordable methods involve using oven cleaner to scrub away brass plating and using sandpaper to get rid of the plating. Each of these techniques can be performed in less than 30 minutes if you have the right equipment. The end result of these processes is that you’ll be left with a shiny metal underneath the brass plating. From here, you can add another coating to improve aesthetics or leave the metal as is.