Your hardware is freshly installed and looking good. How do you ensure it stays looking it's best? The steps to maintaining your hardware can vary depending on your hardware's material and finish. Caring for Solid Bronze Hardware
Bronze is an old world material. It is strong and resistant to corrosion in harsh environments. This makes it an excellent choice for properties near the coast with destructive salty air. Although bronze is resistant to corrosion, it is a living finish. This means it is very likely to change color over time. How the color changes can vary substantially depending on the hardware's use and location. Most often, bronze hardware will oxidize and darken in areas it is not touched and lighten in areas it is frequently touched. Bronze hardware that is exposed to salt air will often transform into a beautiful turquoise. The new color is called a patina and the character it adds is typically considered desirable. If a patina is what you'd like, little maintenance is required; simply let your hardware age with grace.
If you would like to slow the oxidation process, you can follow the steps below:
Supplies: Renaissance wax (or another high quality clear paste wax), one new 1" paint brush, painters' tape, clean soft cotton cloths
Start by applying a circle of tape around the metal ferrules that hold the bristles in the brush you are using. This will help prevent scratching your hardware when dusting and applying the wax. Note, it is important to use a new paint brush. Any residual chemicals from previous use could damage the original finish.
Use a cloth to remove dust and fingerprints from your hardware. Follow with your brush to remove dust from small crevasses or hard to reach places.
Use your other cloth to apply the paste sparingly in one or two thin coats. Caution: using too much wax could remove previous layers.
Using a clean dry cloth, buff the wax in a circular motion until you achieve the desired shine. If you prefer a dull surface, do not rub the surface after waxing.
Caring for Brass Hardware
Over time, brass can become dull and tarnished. Some may prefer this antiquated appearance, while others might prefer brass to be shiny and bright. If you'd like to keep your solid brass hardware looking new, follow the steps below:
Supplies: A soft terry cloth, Brasso (or another good quality polish)
Before beginning to polish, you will need to check two things. First, make sure your hardware is solid brass. The easiest way to do this is by holding a magnet up to your hardware. If the magnet doesn't stick, the hardware is most likely solid brass. Second, you need to check if your hardware is lacquered. If your brass hardware is tarnishing, chances are the hardware is not lacquered. If your hardware has a thin coating that is flaking or chipping off, your hardware is lacquered. If that is case, your hardware needs to be taken to a metal refinisher.
Use your terry cloth and follow the directions on your brass polish. Your hardware will be looking shiny and new in no time!
Caring for Stainless Steel Hardware
Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel can rust or stain. Luckily, it is fairly easy to maintain stainless steel and prevent rusting and staining from happening in the first place.
Supplies: Water, mild soap, a soft cloth, baking soda
Clean dirt, grime, and dust with a mixture of hot water and mild soap. Wipe the hardware in the direction of the brushing. To prevent watermarks, dry with a soft cloth. If your hardware has stubborn stains or scratches, you can try using a stainless steel cleaner. If you do, we recommend testing it somewhere inconspicuous.
If your stainless steel hardware is beginning to rust, you can can use a solution of 1 tbsp baking soda and 2 cups water. With a soft rag, rub the solution onto the hardware in the direction of the brushing. Then use another soft rag to rinse and wipe your hardware.
Caring for Other Types of Hardware
If your hardware has become dirty or grimy, we always recommend using a mixture of warm water and mild soap. Never use harsh chemicals to clean hardware as they are likely to damage the finish. Many manufacturers will void their finish warranty if they can tell your hardware has been in contact with chemicals.