Home decor Upcycle

How to Rust an Outdated Brass Light Fixture

Outdated brass light fixture is rusted using 3 easy steps | The Chellsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Long before the powder room refresh was planned, the outdated brass light fixture that lived in this room was updated using a chemical kit.  At the time, I wasn’t blogging so it didn’t occur to me to get photos for later.  

Rusted light using a chemical kit | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comThen, when folks loved the light and wanted to know the process, I got that sad sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  You know the one.  The one that reminded me how I should have been paying attention and wheeling the camera with every step.  Luckily, this particular process is so simple, it can be recreated quickly and easily. Outdated brass light fixture is given a lift with a rust kit | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comThe light fixture that was refinished had a brass finish on it that wasn’t real brass, but that really didn’t matter.  This product will rust fake brass to an amazing finish.

Step One: Prep

I did not remove the light from the wall when I refinished it. But, I did cut the electricity from the light by turning off the breaker switch. Then, I cleaned it from dirt and grime, but did not sand or apply a primer. That’s right. No sanding. No primer. 

After that, tape was applied around the wall and the glass fixtures. Any part of the lamp that you don’t want rusted must be covered in some way.

Tape and or cover the fixture until you know you won’t have a boo-boo.Use painter's tape for delicate surfaces to protect wall from chemicals | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comThen cover the wall, vanity, furniture, floor……any surface that could get a drip. Please, take the time to do this. In the event of a drip, you’ll thank me later.Cover all exposed surfaces when renovating | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comAfter all of the surfaces are protected, time for your glamour garb. That’s right. Protective eyewear, chemical proof nitrile gloves, and a face mask. I also recommend covering your hair and wearing long sleeves and long pants. Better to be safe than sorry with these chemical reactants.Always wear protective gear when using caustic chemicals | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comStep Two: Apply the Products

I used a Rust Antiquing Kit from Sophisticated Finishes (Modern Options.com). No affiliate link.

Rust Antiquing Kit | Modern Options.com

The kit contains two bottles of solution and covers about 3 square feet of area. The first product applied, the Iron Metal Surfacer, is a paint-like product with tiny iron flecks mixed in. Just apply it like paint (I used a sponge brush) and allow it to thoroughly dry. This stuff is the iron equivalent of chalk paint. It sticks to anything. But, unlike chalk paint, it cannot be distressed away.

After the first application, the results look something like this.

Close up after rusting agent is applied | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comOnce the first application is completely dry, apply the Instant Rust Reactive Agent. Although, heads-up. The reaction isn’t instant. It happens as the product dries. This could be 30-minutes to an hour or more. So, please be patient. If, after the second application is totally dry, the result isn’t rusty enough…..simply apply another coat of Instant Rust. Let it dry and voila…you’re done. I did not apply a sealer because, I ask you…what naturally occurring rust has a sealer? 

But, a sealer surely can be applied, if you prefer.Outdated light fixture is rusted using chemicals | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

To add even more vintage flavor, Edison bulbs replaced the regular bulbs.

Edison bulb for rusted light fixture | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

The bulbs improve the visual appearance of the fixture, especially when the light is off.  

Outdated brass light fixture is rusted using 3 easy steps | The Chellsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comThey give off a rather golden-yellow glow in the evening, but it’s really ok.  In some ways, it mimicks candlelight, so I can live with that kind of golden cast to the room.Side view of an outdated brass fixture updated with rust | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comAnd, that’s all there is to it.  Isn’t it amazing that the hardest part of this project is getting all of the tape and plastic protection in place for the surrounding area?Outdated brass light fixture is rusted using 3 easy steps | The Chellsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comThanks so much for stopping by.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project, both pros and cons, so please drop a note in the comment section.

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Brass to Rust Easy 2 Step Kit



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  • Reply theenchantedhouseok February 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    I love this! I will be looking for a new home soon. Before this, I would look at brass fixtures as a must be removed and replaced task. NOT NOW! Thanks for this info.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 16, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks so much. Good luck with your house hunting!

  • Reply Maria @ pastels & Macarons February 18, 2016 at 12:47 am

    This is so cool. I never though of making something have the rust look and had no idea how you would do this so this is very handy information.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 20, 2016 at 7:47 am

      Thanks, Maria. It’s amazing how real the rust looks.

  • Reply MEDINA Grillo February 18, 2016 at 2:14 am

    This is so helpful thanks for sharing! I might just try it!

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 18, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Thanks, Medina. Hope it works for you!!

  • Reply Top 10 Posts for 2015 – The Chelsea Project March 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    […] #4 – How to Rust a Brass Fixture in 3 Easy Steps […]

  • Reply How to Rust a Brass Fixture in 3 Easy Steps | The Chelsea Project April 21, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    […] How to Rust an Outdated Brass Light Fixture […]

  • Reply Sue October 18, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Just love your light fixture and your bathroom is the stuff dreams are made of.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks Sue. You are too kind.

  • Reply Carolann October 18, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Susie, I just love this. I swear this is stunning! What an excellent job you did!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks Carolann. I’m so glad you like it.. 🙂

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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