Restoring dull oil rubbed bronze

When we installed our patio door a few years ago, we also purchased this oil rubbed bronze hardware set to go with it. We installed it and it looked so shiny and new.


Fast forward to now, and this handle has kind of taken a beating. Not only is it exposed to the elements (whereas our front door handle is protected by our storm door), but I also dripped tsp on it a while back when cleaning above it. And it looked like this.


Yeesh. Not so great. I tried to clean it with water and then with a mild cleaner. It looked better when wet, but had the same drips once it dried. I was really sad thinking I had ruined our fairly new hardware and that it might never look good again.


First off, there are many different ways oil rubbed bronze can be achieved (which is why it’s difficult to match). Some manufacturers use a brown plating or apply a clear coat over the top, which won’t change significantly as they age. Another method, rubbing the metal with a dark oil solution, is considered a “living finish.” This will develop a patina over time and more of the copper plating will start to show through. Without some maintenance, it won’t retain it’s shiny luster.

Kwikset claims that their Venetian bronze finish, while still hand-rubbed, won’t show wear as it ages (which may be true for inside hardware?), but I doubt that a tiny bit of tsp would have damaged it so much if it were a non-living finish.


Either way, I couldn’t find anything online about restoring it or any products for the task, so I decided to improvise and figured I had nothing to lose. I grabbed the olive oil and a soft rag and rubbed it on the hardware. Using a clean section of the rag, I wiped off as much extra oil as possible.


And I was instantly pleased with the results! Even days later it looked new and shiny, but without any oily feeling.


Here’s a before of the handle.


And after.


Soooo much better!


And the lock…almost like new!


It’s actually been a few months now cause I wanted to see how it would hold up. It’s not quite as shiny as that day, but still no sign of the tsp drips. At the very least, I fixed that mistake!

There might always be some wear and tear from the elements, so I think I’ll keep oiling it every so often, though I’ll try to find a drying oil (olive oil is non-drying) that’s more outdoor friendly and doesn’t get sticky. Tung oil or linseed oil, perhaps?


One Response to Restoring dull oil rubbed bronze

  1. Lesley February 27, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    Brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂