Living Finishes vs. Lacquered Finishes: How to Choose

Trying to decide between a living finish and a lacquered finish for your door hardware? A living finish will give you a look that “changes” over time. For example, our Unlacquered Brass finish is a living finish that will patina and change color over time. The reason these living finishes “change” is due to oxidation from the air. With door hardware specifically, these changes can also occur through the natural oils from your hands. Before lacquers, people either polished their brass hardware to keep it shiny, or let it gather a rich patina. If you want a natural, aged look, don’t use anything other than mild soap and water to clean your hardware. On the other hand, unlacquered brass can always be polished to restore its original shine. At Nostalgic Warehouse, we include a packet of special polish with every unlacquered brass order.

New York Waldorf

New York Long Plates in Oil-Rubbed Bronze will change with time

Nostalgic Warehouse also offers an unlacquered, living, oil-rubbed bronze finish. This finish starts out very dark, almost black, and then develops a more bronze patina with use. This change can be very dramatic, so be certain you want this look before ordering. If you want an oxidized bronze appearance but don’t want it to change, our lacquered Timeless Bronze finish is the perfect fit. This finish is first oxidized, and the edges are then hand-relieved to reveal a hint of lighter bronze underneath. This relieving allows for the fine details to pop. After that, we use satin-lacquer to provide the satisfying patina of an aged look.

Timeless Bronze Finish

Examples of the Timeless Bronze Finish

Lacquered brass has a finish – or surface coating – that prevents the brass from tarnishing or aging. Normally a lacquer is applied after the brass is polished so it can capture and keep that “brand-new” look. You can easily wipe lacquered brass down to keep the surface clean – but you cannot polish it. Some other examples of Nostalgic Warehouse lacquered finishes include: Antique Brass, Antique Pewter, Satin Nickel, and, as noted above, Timeless Bronze. Our exterior handlesets are only sold in lacquered finishes to best protect the hardware from the elements. It’s important to note that we don’t actually use sprayed lacquer for these finishes. Instead, our “lacquered” products use an electrophoretic, dipped coating for maximum beauty and protection.

Both lacquered and unlacquered finishes are beautiful and look great in any type of home or space. There are many choices, so pick a finish that best suits your needs and wants.