Cleaning And Polishing Brass-Plate
CLEANING AND POLISHING BRASS-PLATE
ALL CLEANING REMOVES SOME SURFACE METAL AND PATINA. THEREFORE, USE
CAUTION, AS EXCESSIVE CLEANING CAN REMOVE THE TEXTURE AND FINISH OF
THE CLEANING OR STRIPPING OF METALS MAY INVOLVE THE USE OF
ABRASIVES, LIQUIDS OR SOLVENTS WHICH MAY SPLASH OR RUN OFF ONTO
ADJACENT MATERIALS. TAKE SPECIAL CARE TO PROTECT ALL ADJACENT
MATERIALS, AND DO NOT USE THIS PROCEDURE ON METALS OTHER THAN
SPECIFIED IN THE SUMMARY.
A. This procedure includes guidance on cleaning and
polishing brass-plate. This includes both lacquered and
B. For additional guidance relating to cleaning and
maintaining brass, see the following procedures:
1. For cleaning and polishing solid brass, see 05010-
2. For removing old lacquer or paint from solid brass
or brass-plate, see 05010-31-R.
3. For removing patina or tarnish from solid brass,
4. For applying a protective coating to brass-plate or
solid brass, see 05010-12-P.
C. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, plus sometimes metals such as lead.
Brass-plate is a thin layer of brass bonded to steel. Solid brass is more
durable than brass-plate and, therefore, can withstand
more rigorous methods of cleaning.
D. Brass may be unfinished or lacquered. Architectural
brass hardware and trim is generally maintained in a
highly polished, "bright" finish.
1. Unfinished brass MUST be polished frequently in
order to maintain its luster. All polishing,
however, removes some brass.
2. Lacquered brass will usually last about 10 years
and does NOT require frequent polishing.
3. Lacquer protects the brass finish from
deterioration, though some brilliance of its
surface characteristics is sacrificed. Removal and
reapplication of the lacquer, however, will not
harm the brass surface.
E. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be
reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines
cover the following sections:
1. Safety Precautions
2. Historic Structures Precautions
4. Quality Assurance
5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
6. Project/Site Conditions
7. Sequencing and Scheduling
8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)
These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing
this procedure and should be followed, when applicable,
along with recommendations from the Regional Historic
Preservation Officer (RHPO).
A. Flitz International, Ltd.
NOTE: Chemical products are sometimes sold under a common
name. This usually means that the substance is not as pure as
the same chemical sold under its chemical name. The grade of
purity of common name substances, however, is usually adequate
for stain removal work, and these products should be purchased
when available, as they tend to be less expensive. Common
names are indicated below by an asterisk (*).
A. Mild detergent
CAUTION: DO NOT MIX AMMONIA WITH CHLORINE BLEACHES, A
POISONOUS GAS WILL RESULT! DO NOT USE BLEACH ON BIRD
1. Other chemical or common names include Ammonium
Hydroxide; Ammonia water*; Aqua ammonia*.
2. Potential hazards: TOXIC; MAY IRRITATE THE EYES.
3. Available from chemical supply house, grocery store
or pharmaceutical supply distributor, or hardware
Mild Commercial Brass Cleaner (most brass cleaners will
both clean and polish) such as "Simichrome", "Wenol",
"Flitz" (Flitz International, Ltd.), or approved equal.
NOTE: "Simichrome", "Wenol", and "Flitz" are German
manufactured cleaners that come in tubes. They are
generally more expensive than the liquids and harder to
find. They have a finer feel than the liquids, and are
best used as an intermediary or finishing polish.
B. Clean, soft wiping cloths
A. Eye and skin protection
B. Heavy gloves and protective gear
C. Soft natural bristle brushes
A. Before proceeding with steps to clean brass, examine the
surface(s) to determine the extent of the work required.
1. Broken, cracked, missing, distorted or loose parts.
2. Coating failures such as chips, losses, peeling,
cracks, bubbling and wear.
3. Corrosion - caused by moisture, sea water and sea
air, deicing salts, acids, soils, gypsum plasters,
magnesium oxychloride cements, ashes, clinkers and
1. General: Comply with recommendations of
manufacturers of cleaners, polishes and coatings
for protecting building surfaces against damage
from exposure to their products.
2. Protect adjacent surfaces from contact with
chemical cleaners by covering them with liquid
strippable masking agent or polyethylene film and
waterproof masking tape. Apply masking agent to
comply with manufacturer's recommendations. Do not
apply liquid masking agent to porous surfaces.
3. Protect persons and surrounding surfaces of
building where metal surfaces are being restored,
from damage resulting from metal cleaning and
a. Prevent cleaning solutions and coatings from
coming into contact with persons and other
surfaces which could be damaged by such
b. Erect temporary protection covers over
walkways for persons who must be in area of
operations during course of metal cleaning and
c. Provide ventilation to eliminate the spread of
fumes to unaffected spaces.
B. Surface Preparation:
1. Before cleaning, determine if your brass surface is
solid or plated:
a. A magnet will stick to the steel beneath brass
plating; it will not stick to solid brass.
b. Solid brass can withstand much harsher
treatment than brass plating can.
3.03 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION
NOTE: WHEN CLEANING, TRY TO RETAIN THE BRASS PATINA, AS THIS
PROTECTS THE BRASS FROM FURTHER CORROSION.
NOTE: BRASS-PLATE IS ALMOST ALWAYS PROTECTED WITH A CLEAR
CAUTION: DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL OR METAL SCRAPERS ON BRASS-
A. For unlacquered brass-plate:
1. Clean with mild detergent or ammonia and a soft
cloth. DO NOT USE ABRASIVES. Wear plastic gloves
to prevent getting fingerprints on the surface.
2. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean, soft cloth.
DO NOT BUFF BRASS-PLATE; THE PLATING WILL COME OFF.
B. For lacquered brass-plate:
1. Clean using ONLY a mild detergent and water.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE AMMONIA-BASED CLEANERS ON
LACQUERED BRASS. THEY WILL DETERIORATE THE
2. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean, soft cloth.
C. For brass-plate that is heavily tarnished:
1. Use a mild commercial polish such as "Simichrome",
"Wenol", "Flitz" (Flitz International, Ltd.), or
NOTE: TEST POLISH FIRST IN A SMALL, INCONSPICUOUS
2. Wipe down cleaned and polished piece with lacquer
thinner to remove all traces of cleaning solutions
A. During the work, remove from the site discarded cleaning
and coating materials, rubbish, cans and rags at end of
each work day.
B. Upon completion of coating work, remove all protective
coverings and coatings, and clean window glass and other
coating-spattered surfaces. Remove spattered coatings by
proper methods as recommended by coating manufacturer,
using care not to damage adjacent surfaces.
END OF SECTION