I’m sharing how I transformed the brushed nickel finish of our bathroom sconces to a warm, golden brass. It’s more than just paint; this one tool adds depth and instant character!
With any renovation, there are going to be (costly) things that sit high on your wish list, and there will be others that give you room to save. In our Tree House bathroom, those items were our beloved sink and the two substantial wall sconces, respectively. When I mentioned that we would be changing the metal finish of those sconces with a mini makeover, many of you asked me, so, like, spray paint? And while spray paint is almost always a win in my book, this time, I opted for Rub ‘n Buff!
Rub ‘N Buff v. Spray Paint
Rub ‘n Buff is more than a paint; it’s a carnauba wax base with finely ground metallic powder and pigments, giving you rich, dimensional color. While spray paint is wonderful for its even application, I knew that Rub ‘n Buff would give me the depth that spray paint couldn’t! If you’ve used Rub ‘n Buff in the past, you know that a small amount goes a long way. It’s forgiving in the sense that you can wipe it off quickly if you apply too much, or you can build on it as it dries. I’ve used it on metal, wood and ceramic, although there may be a learning curve to each material. In this post, I’ll talk about my experience with metal.
Our Sconces | Before
Initially, we had our eyes on these stunning sconces, but with the cast iron sink being our splurge (seriously, bury me with that beauty!), we had to pass. So when we spotted these light bars from Lowe’s – and for less than $70! – I challenged myself to a DIY. We loved the look and size, but we didn’t love the brushed nickel finish. Here’s what I did to give them a layered, gilded look on a budget!
Tools + Supplies Used
Disassemble the Fixture (If Necessary)
Scott disassembled the sconces for me, so that I wouldn’t have to tape off the milk glass or struggle with the seams. If you’re working with a light fixture that can apart with a handful of screws, I recommend doing so! If not, make sure to have a handful of cotton swabs nearby, which will be helpful to coat areas that are hard to reach (like seams and ridges).
Apply Several Even Coats of Rub ‘n Buff
Of all the materials I’ve used Rub ‘n Buff with, I’ll admit that metal is the trickiest. It’s slick, and after the first coat, you may be wondering if you made a mistake. But don’t give up! Persevere! I initially started by using my finger to apply a small bead of gold to the sconce pieces, but I quickly learned that the application went much more smooth if I used a soft cloth. Below, you can see how it looked after two coats – somewhat streaky, right? I ended up applying 4 coats total to achieve a pretty, multi-dimensional brass finish.
During the application process, I collected a few tips that I hope to be helpful for changing the finish of your metal items:
- Whether you use your finger or a soft rag to apply, always do so in the same direction.
- The first coat will look sparse, but keep layering!
- Metal will most likely require at least 2-3 coats, if not more. Apply each coat thin and even, and allow 10-15 minutes between each layer.
After my final coat, I allowed the pieces to dry for another 30 minutes, and then I used a clean, soft cloth to buff everything smooth. I had to put some muscle into my buffing, but once I was done, I was left with a beautiful warm gold finish in the form of a hard, durable wax!
Tip: Make sure your item is fully dry before buffing, otherwise, your buffing may remove layers.
Reassemble + Install Your Fixture!
Scott reassembled the pieces and installed the fixtures, and it’s exactly what we had in mind! We’re big fans of mixed metals in the bathroom (well, in every room of the house, honestly!), and we love how the satin-y brass plays with our polished chrome faucets.
What have you Rub ‘n Buffed lately?