How to Refinish Vintage Brass and Copper Umbrella Stands

Umbrella stands are an important household accessory to organize and store wet umbrellas, and to keep entryways safe by helping to keep floors dry. Umbrella holders can also serve as an attractive decorative accent for the foyer or entryway making an important first impression on visitors. While umbrella holders can be constructed of any material, solid brass and copper umbrella holders have the benefit of excellent corrosion resistance, durability, and beauty. During the 1970s and early 1980s, brass and copper umbrella holders were a popular decorative accent for homeowners with imported brass umbrella holders from England, Italy, and India topping the list. Today, these stands can be found at yard sales, antique stores, and online for a fraction of their original cost. Many of these vintage umbrella holders can be returned to their original beauty using simple techniques.

Is My Umbrella Stand Solid Brass or Plated Brass?

Plated brass or plated copper umbrella holders can be difficult to re-finish because the finish is simply a thin coat of brass or copper applied over steel sheet metal. Once the thin plated finish has rusted or corroded, the underlying steel material is exposed making the finish subject to further corrosion and discoloration. Plated brass or copper plated stands can be easily detected by using a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the stand, it is a plated piece. On the other hand, solid brass or solid copper umbrella stands can be easily re-finished because solid brass or solid copper can be polished indefinitely without further damage or discoloration.

Refinishing your stand.

If your solid brass or solid copper umbrella stand is still bright in appearance, but shows wear due to marks or scratches, it may be coated with a thin lacquer. It will be necessary to remove the lacquer before polishing the stand by using a household paint/lacquer remover. If your umbrella stand already appears tarnished, it is likely that no lacquer exists and the stand can be cleaned and polished without additional preparation. For cleaning and polishing any solid brass or solid copper umbrella stand, a brass or copper polish paste is an excellent solution. From our experience, Wenol Brass Polish is an excellent choice and can be found in many hardware stores or ordered online. Apply the polish to a soft cloth (gloves recommended) and rub the cloth on the umbrella stand starting from the bottom up. Once the stand is polished it can be used “as is” and it will develop a slight patina over time. If you want the stand to remain highly polished it will be necessary to apply a thin coat of clear lacquer. Clear spray lacquer is available at most hardware stores and paint centers. Use care not to spray over fingerprints once the stand is polished as fingerprints can become more obvious once the stand is lacquered.