diy projects

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com With the One Room Challenge in full swing and a kitchen renovation wrapping up, I’ve been in saving mode lately. Home renovation projects require a lot of time and money, which sometimes means getting creative with the budget to achieve a designer look for less. I forgot all about a light fixture hack I tried years ago (in our Ohio home) until recently. When choosing inexpensive light fixtures for our laundry room, it all came back to me and I thought it was definitely worth sharing! Click through to learn my trick for switching the finish of a light fixture… 

First of all, if you’re wondering WHY you might want to change the finish of a light fixture… it’s because the high-end finishes (like antique brass or dark bronze) are often more expensive. It’s also easy to find cheap light fixtures that have a decent shape, but the finish is usually terrible. The latter is what I was dealing with this time around.

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A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com I found a couple flush mounts that were the perfect size and simple shape for the laundry room, but I really wanted an antique brass finish. Of course, the fixture only came in silver colors, but I bought two anyway, knowing I could easily change them to fit my design plan (and budget). If you’re thinking, “why don’t you just spray paint it?”… I’ll tell you. I’m not really into the spray painted metal look, I feel like it often turns out cheap-looking and the metal loses it’s metallic finish or luster. It’s also a headache to spray something and a LOT more prep.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com Instead, I pulled out my Rub ‘N Buff. Yes, it’s a stupid name, but it actually works well. Basically it’s finely ground metallic powder mixed with wax and pigment that covers an existing finish while looking like metal (because that’s what it’s actually composed of).

For $8 and five minutes of your time, you can swap the finish of any metal light fixture. It also comes in a lots of different colors, but this time I was obviously shooting for an antique brass aesthetic.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com To start, I wiped the light fixture clean and made sure it was totally dry before applying the product. I then disassembled the light fixture, that way I wouldn’t accidentally get any on the white shade.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com I then used my finger (although you can also use a soft cloth) to apply the paste. I feel like I have better control with my finger, but then again- I also apply makeup using my fingers. Ha! Idk.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com I did use a Q-Tip to get into the tight spots where the rolled edge meets the side. A little bit goes a LONG way. After it was totally covered, I allowed the fixture to sit for about an hour before buffing it into a shine or luster.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com That’s it! There’s really nothing to it. The result is a brass fixture that still looks and feels like metal… rather than metal covered in paint. You can also layer it up to add texture or increase the depth.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com The laundry room lights aren’t installed yet because the ceiling still needs to be repaired, primed, and painted, but you can see how it turned out above and below.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com You can also get a feel for how I transformed an inexpensive fixture in my old hallway using the same method. As I mentioned previously, depending on how you apply the product, you can achieve different looks. I went for more texture on the hallway light and applied multiple layers.

I still get SO many questions about that light fixture and where it was from. It looked really close to this designer fixture, but the truth was- I bought it at Home Depot for under $50. I actually first discovered Rub ‘N Buff on my friend Kristin’s blog.

A Trick for Switching Light Fixture Finishes - roomfortuesday.com Have you guys ever used it? I can’t believe I forgot about it. It’s really a handy thing to have around. I’ve only used it on light fixtures, but I’m sure it would work for other small metal surfaces as well. This post is not sponsored or anything, I just wanted to share a hack that could save you guys some money. I’m a definitely a fan- especially for the ease and cost!

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  • Reply
    Jacqui
    April 12, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Wow! Beautiful! Would you recommend only using rub n buff for things/fixtures that aren’t touched often (i.e. a light fixture and not, say, a switch plate)? Or do you think I could get away with it? :)

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 8:17 am

      I’ve honestly never tried it on anything other than light fixtures. I’d maybe test it out on something small or inexpensive to see how it holds up? I’d be interested to know!! xo

  • Reply
    Melanie Thielke
    April 12, 2018 at 6:48 am

    The transformation of the light fixture with Rub N Buff is “brilliant”! So much better, cleaner look than the metallic spray finish technique.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 8:18 am

      It definitely is my preference… it just looks more metallic!

  • Reply
    Stevie Storck
    April 12, 2018 at 7:28 am

    I love Rub N Buff! Both of your fixtures look fantastic. Thanks for reminding me about this stuff! I’m currently looking for affordable light fixtures for our nursery project and this just opened up a bunch more possibilities!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 8:19 am

      I can’t believe I also forgot about it. Ha! It definitely opens up more possibilities for budget fixtures. Good luck with the nursery! xo

  • Reply
    Amanda
    April 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Do you recommend buffing with a soft cloth?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 10:53 am

      I just used a Bounty paper towel, but a soft cloth would probably work better!

  • Reply
    Melissa Lynch
    April 12, 2018 at 10:12 am

    OMG this is so helpful! I wish I knew about this sooner. Of course I literally just spray painted a sconce. Wasn’t my first choice but another thing I tried didn’t work great. Definitely giving the Rub N Buff a try.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Yay!! So glad you liked the post, Melissa. Let me know what you think once you give it a go! xo

  • Reply
    Felicia
    April 12, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Thank you so much for this post! This is exactly what I wanted to do to the silver mid-century modern light fixture we have in our dining room. I was planning on spray painting it bronze but now I’m totally going to do this!
    -Felicia
    http://www.casalibrablog.com

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 11:03 am

      Definitely go this route instead of spray paint- I think you’ll be happier! Good luck Felicia! :)

  • Reply
    lexie
    April 12, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    The reviews for the light fixture itself are pretty dismal! Have you had any issues with yours?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      They’re not installed yet. I do have a slightly different model, as the one I have has now been discontinued. They’ve been in storage for a bit. I can say the linked fixture for my hallway worked perfectly and I had zero issues with it!

  • Reply
    Anne
    April 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    WOW!

  • Reply
    Natasha habermann
    April 12, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Great post Sarah!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 12, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks girlfriend!! xox

  • Reply
    Annie
    April 13, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Do you think this product can be used on swing-arm sconces? I purchased brass ones off amazon a couple of months ago but the design of the bedroom has taken a bit of a turn since then and now I’m thinking dark bronze or black would look better… thoughts?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 13, 2018 at 10:25 am

      I’d test it in a small area first, but it should be ok! My only concern is the wear and tear of the swing arm movement, or how often you’re touching it.

  • Reply
    Jen Faur
    April 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    That’s an AMAZING tip!! Wow…so beautiful!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you, Jen!!

  • Reply
    Kristin Richardson
    April 25, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    This is quite possibly the best tip I’ve seen in a while. I have an old, ugly light fixture that I can’t replace since we’re renovating that room eventually…didn’t seem worth it to buy an interim fixture. This may do the trick though!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 26, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Definitely give it a try and let me know how it works! Thanks, Kristin! xo

  • Reply
    becky
    April 28, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I have a bad “habit” of buying vintage paintings on ebay and a few years back I got an oil painting that arrived with a really harsh gold color frame. It didn’t even work well with the painting, and worse yet, it didn’t work with my room. So I turned to pewter rub ‘n buff and changed that gaudy gold into sleek silvery pewter. Voila!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 28, 2018 at 9:52 am

      I think that’s a FUN habit. Haha!! Rub ‘n Buff is pretty amazing- using it on a frame is another good idea. Thanks, Becky! xox

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    April 29, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Hi Sarah,

    Do you think this technique could be used on door hinges? We’re looking at purchasing door knobs similar to yours from Nostalgic Hardware in antique brass. That said, the knobs are pretty expensive and I’d like to be able to use the hinges that come with the new doors, if possible. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      April 30, 2018 at 9:17 am

      I definitely think it could be used on hinges! It’s worth a shot anyway… if it doesn’t hold up, you could always swap them out later.

  • Reply
    Samantha
    May 8, 2018 at 10:35 am

    The light linked appears to be different than the light you’ve used in your laundry room. Where is the light in your laundry room from?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      May 8, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      The one that I have was the older version of the same light (I had it tucked away in storage and sort of forgot about it)- they just updated it because the one I have was discontinued. Sorry!

  • Reply
    Tina
    September 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Hey Sarah! Love this post! Hope you are still replying to comments from this post. What are your thoughts on integrated led lights? I know they’re suppose to last long but inevitably everything breaks at some point. Would you rather choose a light fixture that has replaceable bulbs or an integrated led light? Hope you can shed some light on this.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      September 12, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Hi Tina, thank you! I don’t have a problem with integrated LED lights- they’re eco friendly, have lots of color options, and typically they last for a very long time. Even once they burn out, I’m sure replacements are an option from the manufacturer? I typically focus more on how a light fixture looks from an aesthetic perspective and if it had an integrated LED bulb and I liked the fixture, that wouldn’t stop me from purchasing it. I hope that helps? xox

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