Best Unlacquered Brass Cabinet Hardware Ideas

Unlacquered Brass Cabinet Hardware Ideas that will add timeless character and charm to any space in your home. Discover the pros and cons of unlacquered brass hardware so you can make an informed decision.

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Nothing makes a design statement quite like the old-world charm of raw, unlacquered brass hardware

Blending seamlessly with any home style, unlacquered brass hardware is a great option to weave a timeless appeal into your home. 

unlacquehe brass cabinet hardware ideas

Adding historic charm to a 1993 builder-grade home

I have a bit of a love affair for old things (in case you haven’t noticed) because they tend to be carefully crafted and stand the test of time. 

So, naturally, I’m attracted to timeless and durable materials historically used in design.

Sadly, our 1993 builder grade doesn’t have much original character, but my overall goal as we make updates is to give our sweet little cottage a little soulfulness by infusing timeless elements. 

With the addition of our DIY custom cabinetry in the living room, brass knobs and cabinet latches were the perfect choice to give these new cabinets a little character! 

In this post, I walk through the pros and cons of unlacquered brass and round up some beautiful unlacquered brass cabinet hardware ideas for your next project!

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What is Unlacquered Brass?

Brass is a mix of copper and zinc. Unlacquered brass, in a nutshell, is raw brass with no protective coating (lacquer).

The raw brass oxidizes without lacquer and develops a natural patina, giving the brass a beautiful antique appearance. 

What are the Pros of Unlacquered Brass?

Timeless Aesthetic

Is unlacquered brass timeless? 

Brass hardware has been used for hundreds of years, making it a perfect material for modern and vintage-inspired design styles.

Although brass goes in and out of popularity, it’s never out of style. Choosing timeless materials ensures your home won’t feel dated when the trends shift again!

Living Finish

The idea of a living finish sounds so dreamy, and trust me, it is! 

As mentioned above, the brass undergoes a natural oxidation process, developing a unique patina. Exposure to water and handling tarnishes the glossy brass and progressively darkens the color. The progressive darkening is the living finish.

Patinas often develop over many years, but unlacquered brass tarnishes almost immediately, so you quickly get that authentic, old-world charm. If a glossy finish is preferred, a little brass polish will bring it back to the original shiny state.

Antimicrobial Properties

Did you know unlaquered brass has self-cleaning properties

Studies show that copper and copper alloy surfaces (such as brass) have the ability to kill or decrease the replication of harmful microorganisms. 

Ancient cultures like the Egyptians used copper to purify drinking water, sterilize wounds, and treat ailments. In more recent history, it was noticed “that copper workers appeared to be immune to cholera” in the early 1800’s (Source). As a result, the medical field incorporated copper into their practice until antibiotics were created in the early 1900’s.

Did I mention I also love history??

The antimicrobial properties make unlacquered brass a great option, especially in kitchens and bathrooms!

unlacquehe brass cabinet hardware ideas

What are the Cons of Unlacquered Brass?

Tarnishs Easily

Unlacquered brass tarnishes almost instantly with handling. 

If you want your hardware to look shiny and perfect, you will probably not be happy with unlacquered brass hardware.

Although you can use brass polish to bring it back to the original color, it’s not worth the trouble.

Personally, I dislike seeing fingerprints and smudges.

For example, I’m not a fan of stainless steel because it shows every drip of water and toddler fingerprint. However, unlacquered brass doesn’t bother me because the living finish develops so quickly.

Plus, it looks so unbelievably beautiful that it’s totally worth it! 


Is it worth the cost? Brass is a copper alloy, and for that reason, it is not going to be a budget saver. However, the cost on the front end is more than made up for with its benefits. 

Brass hardware will never go out of style and will hold its value (if not increase)! Although many try to replicate an antique brass color for hardware, there really is no substitute for the quality and look of raw, unlacquered brass.

I recommend adding brass hardware where it will be most visible and appreciated to get the biggest bang for your buck. Brass mixes well with other finishes, so find a few places to splurge and save in others.

unlacquered brass cabinet hardware ideas

Rejuvenation Unlacquered Brass Hardware

We purchased our brass hardware from Rejuvenation. Immediately I could tell they are great quality, heavy brass hardware. We purchased the ball cabinet knobs and the cabinet latches for the cabinet doors.

One word of warning with the cabinet latch, however, is that the brass screws that come with it are incredibly fragile. Despite following directions and predrilling, three snapped off into the door. Thankfully, my latch is still secure, but this was quite irritating! They do not have a great customer service system, nor can you leave reviews. For the price, the screws should be of better quality.


Is unlacquered brass hard to care for?

Unlacquered brass hardware is very low maintenance as long as you are okay with tarnishing. Unlacquered brass is highly durable, looks amazing tarnished, and even has some antimicrobial properties. 

What does unlacquered brass look like after a while?

Over time, the shiny brass becomes darker and darker, developing a patina called a living finish, giving the brass an antique appearance. Here is the difference between brand-new brass vs. aged brass.

Is unlacquered brass a good idea?

This depends on personal preference and the look you want in your home. Unlacquered brass is a good idea if you love timeless materials, enjoy the process of change, and want to add a high-end touch to your home. 

unlacquered brass cabinet hardware

Unlacquered Brass Cabinet Hardware Ideas

Unlacquered Brass Knobs:

Unlacquered Brass Pulls:

Unlacquered Brass Latches:

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