Brass is a beautiful metal for home decor and home furnishing products. If an item looks brass, it is usually either solid brass or brass plated.
To tell if an item is a solid brass, one of the easiest ways to do this is by first the visual test to ensure it has a golden yellow color like brass. The next noninvasive test is the magnetic test, where the magnet is placed on the object. If the magnet does not stick, it is solid brass; it is probably brass plated if it sticks.
You can also scratch the top finish off with a sharp object; if it is shiny yellow underneath, it is probably solid brass. It is probably brass plated if the surface under is white or silver.
Table of Contents
- Quickest Ways To Tell If Something Is Solid Brass
- Solid Brass Vs. Brass Plated
- Related Content
Quickest Ways To Tell If Something Is Solid Brass
If you have an object and you are not sure if it is solid brass or even brass at all, there are some very quick things that you can do to test your object to see if it is solid brass or brass plated.
Below are three top ways to tell whether or not your object is solid brass or brass plated.
Visual Color Test For Brass
A visual color test is the quickest way to tell if something is brass. It may not be brass if it doesn’t look like the brass color or is not a golden yellow color.
Also, if the brass has oxidized and become dark, it can still be solid brass and may need a polish to get it to its original color.
Put Magnet Next To Brass
Another quick and easy test to check to see if it is brass is to put a magnet on top of it the brass. It does not need to be a fancy magnet; you can use a magnet from your refrigerator.
Solid brass is not magnetic. If the magnet sticks to your brass, it is either brass plated or another metal. Solid brass will not stick to any magnet and has no magnetic properties.
If the magnetic sticks to what you thought was a solid brass piece, steel or cast iron is usually used for the brass plating.
Scratch The Surface Area To See If Solid Brass
Also, scratch the surface area to see what is underneath. The item is likely a solid brass piece if you see a shiny yellow under the metal. On the other hand, if you see a silver scratch, your piece is likely metal, such as zinc.
The magnet and the visual test are the most noninvasive of all three tests. We would only do the scratch test if it were an object or something you did not worry about if it got damaged.
Solid Brass Vs. Brass Plated
There are some differences between solid brass and brass plated. Here are some of the significant differences and answers to each material.
What Is Solid Brass?
Since ancient times, the solid brass alloy of copper has been used for its beauty, resilience, and durability. Like any other type of metal, there could be color variations, especially how much copper and zinc were used in the brass.
One of the great things about brass is that it can be cast, spun, forged, wrought, and even die-cut. Brass has long been the preferred metal for fine furniture and accessories hardware, lighting fixtures, lamps, fireplace equipment, candleholders, and many other decorative accessories.
Solid brass can always be polished down to its original color. Even if someone sprayed it with a lacquer spray, that lacquer spray could be taken off, and the brass could be repolished to the original color and finish and not be damaged.
One of the beauties of brass is the many different ways that brass can be finished. Here are some of the significant ways that brass is finished:
- High-Polished – Highly polished is a shiny, almost mirrored-like finish for brass. The highly polished brass is a lustrous finish that can be very smooth and shiny. Sometimes it can be so highly polished that you can almost see your reflection in the brass.
- Satin Finish – Satin finish is a dull, almost flat finish for brass. It is a muted brass with a textured finish that can be almost a golden brown. Many times this is also called matte brass.
- Brushed Finish – The brushed finish is, as the name implies, and would have a brushed look. The brass is usually brushed with a unique tool that all go in the same direction so you can see visible lines on the brass finish.
- Hand-Rubbed Finish – The hand-rubbed finish is called the oiled finish or brass. This is sometimes called the soft finish, as it is done by hand to give the brass an almost soft yet darker feel.
- Antique Finish – The antique brass finish is when the brass is darkened to make it look aged or old, like an antique. Many times this finish can have almost a chocolate-brown look.
- Bronze Finish – A bronze finish is a finish with a bronze color, as the name implies. The bronze color is often aged to give an antique look and feel.
- Verdigris Finish– The verdigris finish is when the brass is purposely aged to give it a green pigment; the verdigris is brass that has been weathered.
What Is Brass Plated?
On the other hand, brass plated is, as the name implies, a small amount of brass that has been put or plated on top of another piece of metal.
Brass plating started to be experimented with as far back as the 1600s, but it was not until the 1920s that electroplating began to be used as a solution to brass. So the chances are if you have an item that you know is older than the 1920s, it is solid brass, and if after the 1920s, it could be solid brass or brass plated.
The brass is usually plated on steel or a white metal like zinc, to which molecules of brass are electroplated onto the surface. A lacquer topcoat is often placed on the surface to ensure the brass plating will not deteriorate over time.
Sometimes you can take off the lacquer top coat and then polish or refinish the brass underneath. Other times it can damage the finish, and the piece will need to be re-plated
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Which Is Better, Nickel Or Brass?
Nickel and Brass are both excellent metal choices to use. Brass is a golden yellow color, and Nickel is silver or almost grey. Both metals can be plated onto another metal or material, and brass can also be solid brass.
Are Brass And Nickel The Same?
Both Brass and Nickel are metal finishes that can be electroplated or plated. They contain copper and can be made into various unique and exciting looks and finishes. Because of their versatility, they remain popular metals and finishes for various products and uses.
Brass Plated Vs. Chrome Plated Metals Explained
Brass and Chrome are plated on metal in the same electroplating method, but the look and finish are not the same. Brass will have a warm golden color, whereas Chrome will look like shiny silver metal. Both are excellent electroplated treatments, and choosing one can also depend on the look you want for a specific product.