Unlacquered Brass is polished, unfinished raw brass that darkens and develops patina as it ages. Today, we’re guiding you through the ins and outs of choosing unlacquered brass hardware for your home.

Keep reading to learn more about it along with the knobs, pulls, hinges and cabinet latches.

A cream kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware.
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Unlacquered brass hardware. It’s classic, timeless, and yet much more difficult to find than I had ever dreamed when we were remodeling our kitchen.

However, some things are worth searching for. Raw brass has my heart and was worth every minute of the search. Is it normal to spend countless hours searching for just the right hinge?

A cream kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware on the cabinets.
Don’t skip my guides for Appliance Pulls, Unlacquered Brass Faucets and Brass Door Knobs.

Unlacquered Brass Hardware

We’ve renovated many homes during the last 20 years, and I am always thrilled to pass along the knowledge we’ve gained along the way. See the complete Before and After tour of our St. Louis home here, and our modern Table Rock Lake Cottage as well.

In fact, we recently updated the lake kitchen to include unlacquered brass hardware (shown below), and we’ll share the sources for these as well!

A white kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware.
Our lake cottage kitchen, featuring unlacquered brass hardware.

Today, I’m answering frequently asked questions and sharing our unlacquered brass hardware sources. I hope this guide answers all your questions and makes your own search a little easier!

Unlacquered brass hardware laid out on a marble countertop.

What is Unlacquered Brass?

  • Raw Brass – Unlacquered brass is also known as raw brass or uncoated brass. Brass can be brushed, satin or polished, but unlacquered is always left without a protective coating. Therefore, it ages over time, developing a beautiful patina that adds character to new and old homes alike.
  • Matte, Aged Look – I love the warmth the matte finish offers and enjoy watching it turn over time, as it will change throughout its lifespan.
  • Living Finish – Since it is a living finish, no piece will look exactly the same. The variation adds a little warmth and interest in design. It can age unevenly, becoming duller over time.
A cream kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware on the cabinets.

Tips and Notes

  • You can mix stainless steel appliances and brass. Mixed metals create interest!
  • Worried about placement? Don’t skip our Cabinet Knob Placement guide!
  • If you don’t love the look of aging and darkened spots, don’t choose unlacquered brass. Choose polished brass for a consistently brighter finish that is sealed for protection. To maintain it’s shine unlacquered brass needs to be frequently polished.
  • Unlacquered brass will age gracefully over time. Much like our Danby Marble countertops, imperfections add a certain patina that are unmatched in a “new” finish.
Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will unlacquered brass corrode?

This metal will not corrode, but oxidation will occur: this is the tarnishing and darkening of the metal over time. However, it will not corrode and it will not rust.

How long does it take for brass to patina?

It becomes tarnished when exposed to air, so naturally, it will age over time. You might be surprised at how quickly it will patina!
Other factors contribute as well – The oils of your hands, minerals in water and other factors contribute. Weathered brass or antique brass attempt to simulate natural patina of unlacquered brass, but they still have a protective coating.

How do you protect unlacquered brass?

To keep it shiny, clean regularly. Using a soft cloth and dish soap, wipe the surface gently. You can also polish it with brass polish and a soft cloth, then rinse with water and dry.

Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Did you know?

The patina of your unlacquered brass can depend on your home’s location and surroundings. The brass will tarnish green if you are located near an ocean, where humidity is higher and the air is salty.

Brown or gray patina can often be indicative of a more urban environment. The water in your home (hard vs soft) can also change the patina over time.

Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

How to Test if Brass is Lacquered

Dip in acetone or nail polish for two minutes. If clear film starts to separate, it is lacquered brass.

De-Lacquering Brass

  1. Submerge brass pieces in acetone or stripper to expose raw brass.
  2. Once it has become gummy, rinse.
  3. Repeat as needed.
Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Tips for Cleaning + Polishing Unlacquered Brass

  • Brass Polish – To polish, just apply your favorite cleaner to surface. Using a damp rag, apply pressure to wipe clean. Rinse thoroughly using a clean cloth.
  • Soap + Water – Clean for sanitation purposes, of course. We just use soap and water for that, but allow them to patina over time.
  • Note – Using abrasive cleaners on this finish is never a good idea. And even though using traditional brass cleaners can work beautifully, they can damage surrounding marble and stone, so use with caution. 
Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Our Hardware 6+ Years Later

I have received several questions about how our hardware has aged and I’m happy to say, beautifully!

Well, of course that is in the eye of the beholder. I know it’s not for everyone, which is perfectly fine by me!

The below photos are a year and a half worth of aging, and again, in the current state, which is over six years after installation.

unlacquered brass appliance pulls on a paneled refrigerator.

You can see where little hands reach and I think it’s oh so sweet!

Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Our Unlacquered Brass Hardware Sources

Unlacquered Brass Knobs

An unlacquered brass cabinet knob on a white background.

Our Knobs

We selected 1-1/4″ unlacquered brass knobs which is often smaller than what you see in kitchens, but I like the understated elegance they add to the kitchen without detracting from other features.

Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Unlacquered Brass Cabinet Latches

We have a complete guide to Cabinet Latches here – don’t miss it!

Our Cabinet Latch

I adore the vintage charm that these add to our kitchen.

Unlacquered brass cabinet latch on a white background.
An unlacquered brass cabinet hinge.

Unlacquered Brass Drawer Pulls

While these are listed as drawer pulls, they’ve held up beautifully for us on our refrigerator. Click through to our guide to Appliance Pulls to see how we did it!

An unlacquered brass cabinet pull on a white background.

Our 18″ Drawer Pull

I love that these feel a touch more delicate than many appliance pulls on the market.

Unlacquered Brass Cup Pulls

Call me boring, but I love these forever and ever. They’ll never go out of style!

Our Cup Pulls

They feel even more beautiful today than when we installed them, 5+ years ago. We used the 4″ size throughout our kitchen.

An unlacquered brass cabinet pull on a white background.
Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.

Brass Cabinet Hinges

Our hinges are lacquered – at the time of our renovation, unlacquered hinges were impossible to find. We love the subtle glimmer of these next to our unlacquered pieces and have been so happy with the way they’ve held up.

An unlacquered brass cabinet hinge on a white background.

Our Hinges

While hingeless cabinetry is popular right now, I love the look of a little added jewelry on our cabinets.

Cream kitchen cabinets with unlacquered brass hardware.
A cream kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware on the cabinets.

Lake Cottage Unlacquered Brass Hardware

Did you know that we updated our modern lake cottage kitchen with unlacquered brass, too? Read more about our Ilve Range and our Paneled Dishwasher here.

A white kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware.
Unlacquered brass mission style drawer pull

Drawer Pulls

We love the clean, modern lines of these mission style pulls

Cup Pulls

Sturdy and showing a beautiful patina, these cup pulls are a gorgeous match to our range!

Unlacquered brass mission style cup pull for cabinets.
A white kitchen with unlacquered brass hardware.

More Brass Inspiration

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  1. Hey Julie, loving the unlacquered brass against the white cabinets – and I absolutely adore that oven stove. We’ve been trying to renovate the kitchen in our new house for about 4 months but temporary cash flow issues has meant that it’s had to go on the back-burner. We moved in about 6- 7 months ago. Fortunately, we had managed to get all the other rooms and the garden done but were saving the kitchen until last as that was the room I really wanted to get right. Money is picking back up now so we’ve got a bit saved up to start renovating the kitchen finally. I’ve been searching high and low for different ideas as I don’t want a plain old boring kitchen. This is another great idea to add to my short-list so thanks for that. I’m a big antique fan so love the aging look that this brass will give you over time. I’ve got a lot of wood, brass and copper around the home. I do tend to shop around at antique sales or I buy second-hand furniture online when I spot a good discount on something that catches my eye – this site: used.forsale) is quite good if you want some bargains on used furniture and you often get free delivery. I get an old table or cabinet, give it a bit of TLC and you’ve got a lovely piece to help give one of your rooms some extra character. Fab looking kitchen anyway, hope I can come up with something equally as elegant. Look frwd to seeing it when everything is in and that brass has started to age a bit. Thanks, Michelle

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I also love going to architectural salvage stores – they’re often organized and have really pretty inexpensive hardware options. You may want to try that as well. It took us two and a half years before taking the leap on our kitchen. Take your time – you may learn how you really use it and what would be best for your layout after using it a year or two.

  2. Julie, I’m a huge fan of unlacquered brass. Don’t see it often, but it always reminds me of the 1910 house we lived in when we got married. Can’t wait to see your brass when it gets a little age on it.

    1. Online – I think they just have one showroom in the states. You can read more about it here. I can’t wait to put it to good use!

  3. I love un-lacquered brass and want to change out my kitchen hardware. I have hickory cabinets and I’m not sure the brass will look good with the tone of the cabinets, so I haven’t done it yet.