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Corroding Brass‏

Question: About six years ago I have my doorbell chimes plated in brass. Although no one ever touches them, they appear to be corroding, or at least the coloring deteriorating. They are darker in splotches, the tiny dark lines or spots interspersed with the shiny brass. All areas are still relatively smooth to the touch. I remember the guy said that they coated them with something to preserve them. I was thinking about brass plating some other things but this does not exactly encourage me, as I don't think that six years is much for the price. Did I choose the wrong company or is this just to be expected?

Answer: It is to be expected, he coated the brass with a varnish that prevents the air from reaching it and hence prevents oxidization. Over time, weather (sun, wind, rain, etc.) and touching it wears the varnish off. If you use a brass polish and can bring the color back, recoat it with a varnish, it is best to dip it, rather than paint it. Do it a couple of times allowing at least 24 hours between dips.

The thickness of the brass is also relative. Brass plating can be micro thin or thicker all depending on how much you paid. Again as the brass layer wears off, you will have the cast show through.

Question: Is polyurethane as good as a varnish?

Answer: Varnish is much more durable than any of the urethane products, especially much better outside. As an example, wood boats use varnish, not urethane. Varnish stands up to UV much better than urethane, primarily because urethane is a plastic and varnish is the sap of a tree. If it is indoors, then polyurethane will work just fine.