How to Make Stainless Steel Look Like Copper or Bronze

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Transform your stainless steel.
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Stainless steel is the go-to material for most household appliances and fixtures. It's extremely durable and looks sleek and modern. However, the stark, minimal look of stainless steel may not quite fit the design concept of your home. If you favor a more rustic or bohemian home decor style, you may be wondering how to make stainless steel look like copper or bronze.


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Luckily, you can paint stainless steel fixtures a different color. Taking the correct safety precautions and following the right steps can help ensure a professional-looking project.

Safety Precautions for Painting Steel

It's essential to always consider your personal safety for any DIY project. You should wear a respirator and a pair of gloves and goggles when working with these primers and paints. It's also a good idea to keep the room in which you're working well ventilated with either an open window or a fan.


It's also important to protect the room too. Place a drop cloth on your floor to prevent any paint drips or marks. You should also cover any areas around your fixtures that you don't want to paint with painter's tape.

Cleaning Stainless Steel

Before undertaking your painting job, you'll want to ensure your fixtures are as clean as possible. Any grease, dirt or buildup will prevent your primer and paint from adhering properly. A dedicated stainless steel cleaning product tends to be the most effective for the job. Once your fixtures are cleaned, allow them time to dry fully before proceeding.


Prepping Your Stainless Steel Surface

Before applying any product to your stainless steel, you must sand the entire surface with medium-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Making sure the surface of your steel is less glossy will ensure your primer and paint can properly adhere. This will mean you get a more professional-looking finish and one that will last longer.

Always use a dust mask when sanding to protect your lungs from any small stainless steel particles. After sanding, fully wipe down your fixtures to remove any dust. Again, allow time to dry before continuing.


Priming and Painting

You should first apply a layer of self-etching primer to the entire surface of your fixtures. It's better to work in shorter strokes than attempting to cover the whole fixture in one go. Allow your primer adequate time to dry according to the product's instructions.

You can then use your stainless steel paint of choice. Hold your can at least 12 inches away from your project at all times. Keep the can moving the entire time you're spraying and apply several thin coats a few minutes apart for even and drip-free coverage. Allow your paint to dry for at least five hours before handling your fixtures. If you do decide to use an extra coat, wait at least a week between layers.


Once you're happy with the look of your stainless steel, you can use a sealing polish. Car wax works well for adding a lustrous shine and protecting your new paint. Marine varnish gives more of a clear-coated look. After varnishing, give your steel fixture a final buff for maximum shine.