Talking turkey about unlacquered brass hardware

So, Thanksgiving is coming. Let’s talk turkey.

Turkey

No, really, let’s be frank.

Frank Sinatra

Ha, ha. But enough with the jokes.

Because there are very few companies remaining in our industry who offer fine-quality solid brass cabinet hardware, we are often asked about the possibility of getting unlacquered brass cabinet hardware. When our finishes don’t work for an end-user, or they want specifically to match an existing piece of hardware, or a faucet, or even anything else, getting custom plating on unlacquered hardware is sometimes viewed as a solution.

However, there can be problems with this process. Customers often ask about this option before they consider the risks and complications involved with using unlacquered brass. Here are a few of the reasons to choose already finished brass hardware instead of unlacquered:

Unlacquered brass hardware oxidizes.

The first is probably the largest and most common problem. Unlacquered brass can oxidize. Since brass is made mostly from copper, you’ll often find that it will change color and oxidize (not rust, that’s iron) if left exposed to air. Even the smallest amount of moisture or humidity can tarnish copper products, whether they’re pure or alloys like brass. For an example, here’s a photo of a raw K341 cup pull. All it’s done is sit in our (very dry) office for about 6 months:

brass-cup

You can see the tarnish that even the moisture from fingerprints has left on this raw pull, and you can only imagine how much handling goes into packaging hardware before it gets to our warehouse.

The thing that makes this issue even worse is the fact that our products are shipped in by marine freight; that means that they are trucked to port, then put on a steamship, then trucked here. They sit on the dock at the harborside, and then they float on across the ocean, and then they sit on the dock up in New Jersey while they wait to be cleared by customs and brought to our warehouse. The more moisture there is in the air, the worse the tarnishing gets. If we’re not careful, pretty soon, your hardware is going to end up looking like, well, this:

Statue of Liberty

That’s right… the Statue of Liberty is made from copper. It was originally copper-colored (no, it wasn’t always green). The distinctive verdigris patina that we all recognize today was developed by exposure to the moist salt air in New York harbor.

Unlacquered brass has to be cleaned, treated, and polished before finishing.

After the raw brass comes out of the forge or off the lathe, it has to be cleaned using a special wash and treated before it goes to the finishing or plating company. In some cases, there are additional steps to be performed, such as polishing. This depends on the finish that you want.

The tarnish that can occur during a marine shipment just adds to this problem, because you’ll have to have all that tarnish removed before you can plate the hardware. This adds time and labor hours to the process. It could also affect the integrity of the material underneath, depending on how the tarnish is removed.

Unlacquered brass contains lead.

This is probably the most important reason why unlacquered brass hardware isn’t something that Cliffside offers regularly. Primarily, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, but it also contains other metals, one of which is lead.

Lead
Brass contains lead.

Without the protective layer of lacquer, we run the risk of potentially exposing our customers to lead. We’re a service-first company, so we’re always thinking about you. This means we’re absolutely not willing to put you at risk by shipping you hardware that could potentially be dangerous.

All Cliffside hardware is lacquered.

For these reasons and more, we only ship out lacquered, finished hardware. Cliffside’s products are not currently available unlacquered for these and other reasons. We’re happy to continue being your provider for the best in high-quality solid brass hardware, and we’re committed to keeping you safe and happy. So check out our line of lacquered brass hardware today for the best selection of high quality products in the kitchen and bath industry!

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