How to Rust a Brass Light Fixture in 3 Easy Steps

Well, this is one time that I really should have taken a few pictures. Argh!! What I mean is that I should have been paying attention to the “before” instead of racing towards the “after” without capturing everything that happened in between. But, in short, my powder room bath light fixture...circa 1990s.... was beyond its prime.
Its faux brass finish had begun to turn various colors due to aging, but not the kind that produce a nice and updated finish. It was just tarnishing and corroding.
And, since I didn't want to throw away an otherwise perfectly good fixture, I decided to give it an updo. How? It was simple. I applied a rusting technique on the faux brass finish that used a couple of store-bought chemical products. I did not remove the light from the wall before finishing. I did cut the electricity, clean the fixture, and tape off the parts that I did not want to "rust." Then, using a sponge brush, the first product was applied. No sanding or priming of the surface is required, just jump right in with the first coat. The product is paint-like in texture and contains iron flecks throughout. And, like chalk paint, it sticks to everything. After the first product dries, the result looks similar to this.
And, of course, after the first product was completely dry, it's time to sponge brush on the rusting agent. After the rusting agent completely dries, the fixture will have rusted. Not just a flat, one-dimensional rust...there is actually texture and various colors.
Can you see the texture in the photo? Or in the one below?
I gotta tell ya. It's pretty amazing to watch. So, if you happen to have a fixture with a finish like this (below)......that could use some rusting love...then this process might work great. The only caution is that it is a chemical process, so protective clothing and covering for the adjacent surfaces is a must. Otherwise, it goes on like paint and works through a chemical interaction. No sanding or sealing of the final product is required.
I'm thrilled that I saved my little bathroom light fixture. Now, it is living large...with its little rusty do.....and is the first completed redo in the powder room refresh. YAY!
For more details, please feel free to pop over to the blog. Thanks a million.... And...happy rusting. :-)

Susie @ The Chelsea Project Blog
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  1 question
  • NancyMaria NancyMaria on Feb 11, 2017
    What stops the "rusting" process? I mean will this product continue to degrade t?he metal until you have holes in it?


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  • Minky Minky on Jan 19, 2016
    we have the same fixtures :). I painted them ORB, but wish I had seen this, so cool! Love it!

    • @Minky You know, I was thinking you could probably still use the rust kit. You can call the company to check, but I think the product will work right over the paint. Thanks for your kind words. Appreicate! Hope you can work it out to rust your fixtures.

  • Minky Minky on Jan 20, 2016
    Thanks so much for your reply! I just assumed it had to be on metal, and honestly was bummed that I had painted them when I saw your post. I'll definitely call the company to see. That would be fantastic if it works over paint :). Yay, I just may get to have some rusted beauties in our bathroom too :).