Asked on Jun 17, 2016

Vintage claw foot bathtub - brass fixtures & chipping paint on feet

We purchased a vintage claw foot tub on Craigslist (awesome find, by the way, for $600 - they usually run $2,000 and up brand new). The actual tub is in decent condition, just a couple very minor scratches here and there but nothing to obsess over.
My main concern, however, is the polished (but tarnished) brass fixtures. I LOVE brass, but I have tried everything from Brasso to ketchup to lemon and every other DIY idea out there for cleaning up the tarnish - to no avail. Do any of you have other ideas to either polish or possibly somehow paint the brass?
Also, the bathtub feet present another problem. The paint on them is completely chipped. I used that deadly, smelly paint stripper but it didn't fully work... Any other tips?
  11 answers
  • Ginger Ginger on Jun 17, 2016
    I painted the feet on mine with gold leaf. If I had the original brass fixtures I would go with the patina.
    • See 3 previous
    • Donna Donna on Aug 04, 2017

      We took the feet off and wire brushed them to the bare metal. Polished them up and they're beautiful.

  • Susan Susan on Jun 17, 2016
    I did my clawfeet in Run 'N Buff about 20 years ago and they are still beautiful. As to your faucet, most manufacturers of brass fixtures apply a clearcoat to protect the brass. After time, though, it does develop a patina UNDER the coating. The only things I know that will remove that finish is sanding, stripper, or take off the fixture and soak in lacquer thinner overnight. Remove residue with 0000 steel wool. I suggest maintaining with a good brass cleaner or taking to an autobody shop and have clearcoat reapplied.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 17, 2016
      Thank you so much for your suggestions, Susan! I will try soaking the fixtures in lacquer thinner and buffing with steel wool!
  • Gayle Gayle on Jun 17, 2016
    I have some old brass plated fixtures I need to make new looking again. Can I clean and clear coat them as Susan says? They have been cleaned in the past but always became discolored within a year or two.
    • Susan Susan on Jun 18, 2016
      Yes, you can. But, honestly, most of my brass collection is not clearcoated - I clean it twice a year with Brasso and love the soft patina of age.
  • Patricia Bell Patricia Bell on Jun 17, 2016
    HI, I also have brass fixtures and to keep them shining I use Bar Keepers Friend. You can clean anything with this except silver. It comes in a cardboard can with a sprinkle top and can be found in the cleaning supplies. It was designed for bar tenders and does not scratch.
    • See 1 previous
    • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 18, 2016
      Bar Keeper's friend is great. Buff? Sprinkle and wait..? for the maid to show up? Try scrubbing, rubbing, and use it like you would Comet on your sink. I would use a soft metal kitchen pot scrubbie puff if it is bad.
  • Carol Carol on Jun 17, 2016
    Research the type of paint and finishes used when your tub was made. Write to the manufacturer and ask them the pest wa to remove the paint and lean/refinish the brass. I think I would also try a heat gun to remove the old paint on the feet. This should be the last ditch effort. Depending when they were painter and by whom they could have been enamel or porcelain coated by the manufacturer or the could have been milk paint applied later. I would try a variety of solvents and paint removers starting with the mildest first , just make sure you do it outside and wash them between paint remover tries as you don't want to be mixing chemicals. You can also try ammonia in a plastic bag like cleaning oven racks. The brass fixtures probably are coated. Try different solvents on different rags in a hidden spot to see if any work. If all else fails, take them to a professional.
  • Crystal Meyer Griffith Crystal Meyer Griffith on Jun 17, 2016
    For the paint chipped feet, you could go two ways. One is to use name brand oven cleaner on them as it will eat paint alive. The other method is to get a heat gun that will heat to about 6-700 degrees and burn the pain off. This will work well if the feet are iron like the tub. I have used heat guns to strip paint from kitchen cabinets without harming the wood. The brass can be stripped of the clear coating which is a lacquer and once again shiny, spray it with some more lacquer.
  • Patricia Bell Patricia Bell on Jun 18, 2016
    Yes, wet your cloth, sprinkle on the cleaner and polish away! Will be gleaming soon. Be sure to rinse well as will leave a powdery residue. Good luck!
  • Susan Susan on Jun 18, 2016
    Not sure about the brass but for the claw feet, take them off and bring to auto body shop for repaint job. Choose your color, black, gold or silver would make good choices.
  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jun 18, 2016
    I'd use Citristrip on both the faucets and the feet. It is a much more pleasant product to work with. It sounds like you've got lacquer on the brass, in which case you'll never polish it till you get the lacquer out of the way! I know readers will probably be tired of me saying it again, but Maas metal polish, available on Amazon, is the greatest. I've used it on silver, brass, bronze, copper, aluminum, steel, and even hard plastic! It is easy and safe to use, and will give a mirror-like shine. It has jeweler's rouge in it. Get the lotion/creme type.
  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jun 18, 2016
    I came back with 2 photos to show the difference between Barkeeper's Friend and Maas metal polish! I had decided to polish an old copper box. It was totally brown. The patina wasn't nice, just bleh. The first picture shows how it looked after I scrubbed it the very best I could with Barkeeper's Friend. The second photo shows it after I used Maas. It's basically the same as medium sandpaper versus fine sandpaper. You can even do what I did, use B.F. and then Maas. Maas just polishes things shinier. :)
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  • Mary Z Mary Z on Jun 04, 2017

    Apple cider vinegar will clean brass

    I just put some in a small container and dipped in an old toothbrush and scrubbed over the faucet and knobs and they clean almost instantly. I then used brass or Maas for the shine