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. Hi there,

    I’m currently searching for unlacquered brass cupboard latches – any recommendations as to where I should look?


  2. Yes, I’m looking for unlacquered for all the baths and kitchen. My home sits directly on the Gulf of Mexico and the brass that was put in in the 80’s has really tarnished and does not work properly. I hope I don’t regret using it, but what was here lasted a long time and the house was vacant for about 4 years so that might have contributed to the tarnish too. What marble are you going with? And are you using it in your baths too?

    1. I used Olympian Danby marble – I’ve written a couple posts about it if you want to learn more. I just love marble. If you want to try to polish your brass, salt, flour and vinegar works!

  3. Hello Julie, I was searching for unlacquered brass fixtures and your blog came up. We have a 1896 Folk Victorian that we are renovating. We are starting with two bathrooms and then the master bath and kitchen. The house has brass everywhere: door handles, hinges, window pulls… I do not want the fake gold look. I went to a local plumbing supply and the only line they carry with unlacquered brass is California faucets. What companies did you find that you liked? I’m also going round and round about what counter tops. I would love marble, but like you said in a post a few years ago everyone is trying to talk me out of them. What are you using for your counter tops in your new kitchen?

    1. I used marble again. It’s risky, but SO worth it!
      Are you looking for an unlacquered brass faucet? If so, Newport Brass, Barber Wilson’s and Rohl were my favorites. I really wanted a Barber Wilson’s, but the sprayer {which Chris really wanted} made it unattainable.

      1. Another idea for an unlacquered brass faucet is to purchase a quality chrome faucet & have the chrome professionally stripped down to the brass. I purchased a wall mount from Chicago Faucet to use in our circa 1823 stone home and it is beautiful! Interesting point: not all of the pieces of the faucet were the same color – a couple pieces were more rose than yellow – but with time, they have weathered to a beautiful patina. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it was my savvy historical architect who put me on point.

        1. LOVE this idea! I never thought of that! Sounds so very beautiful. I would love to see a photo…I’m intrigued!

      2. I got the Barber Wilson 1010 in unlacquered brass with a sprayer. I didn’t see the sprayer option online or in the book but the sales woman at Ferguson’s found it and I love it https://instagram.com/p/BfLrOF9gpCW/

        Horton brasses has tons of unlacquered brass hardware. I love mine except the fridge handles which show every smudge and are really hard to clean