Brass is one of the most versatile materials we have to make our door knocker.
Brass is not a natural element. It is an alloy of copper, zinc and other elements to create the final product. It machines, molds and polishes easily compared to other materials. Brass is soft and easily scratched. It also is very susceptible to tarnish and oxidation due to its high concentration of copper.
In its finished form it must be protected from the atmosphere to prevent deterioration. Brass products will start to tarnish within minutes of being exposed to the atmosphere. This is caused by a chemical reaction known as oxidation. Many door knocker manufacturers use a clear lacquer to protect their products. This provides a virtually invisible barrier coating over the entire product. The lacquer seals and protects the brass from the atmosphere.
The first decision is whether the door knocker has been lacquered or not. This can usually be determined by close inspection. If tarnish has covered the entire door knocker it is probable that it has not been lacquered. If this is the case it is time to get out the brass cleaner and use some elbow grease. Brass can usually be returned to its original sheen with some work and a quality cleaner like Brasso. All your work will be wasted if you do not protect your door knocker when done. A quality automotive wax may slow the tarnish but will not work very long.
If no tarnishing is evident or is only found in locations where scratched or damage has occurred there is a good chance lacquer is protecting the surface.
YDK door knockers are finished with a high quality clear lacquer coating to protect the surface of our doorknockers from the elements.
Clear lacquer finishes should not be cleaned with an abrasive or brass polish since this can scratch or even remove the lacquer. The lacquer finished surface should only be cleaned in a mild detergent in warm water with a soft cloth. The door knocker can be soaked in the water detergent mix and then gently rubbed clean with the soft cloth. A quality automotive wax may me used after cleaning to help protect and restore the newly cleaned surface if desired. This will also help to hide any small scratches and damage that may be present.
If the lacquer is damaged it is best to soak the door knocker in lacquer thinner or acetone to remove any existing lacquer layer. The door knocker can then be re-lacquered. This may be a problem for the average homeowner as the availability of quality lacquer is not always available. Spray products purchased in hardware or discount stores are not made for brass. It has been our experience that these products do not adhere to the brass well enough to be worthwhile. It is usually best to take the door knocker to a professional for re-lacquering.
If the lacquer on a YDK door knocker is damaged it can be returned to us for re-lacquering. Minimal charges will apply as well as any shipping charges.
Even if you are only washing it off, your door knocker should be removed from the door. This allows you to clean right up to the edge without damaging the door itself.
Dirt or grime may have accumulated under or around the edges of the door knocker. This may run down the door and stain the finish. You also do not want to scratch the door while cleaning your door knocker. It is an easy task to remove and replace the door knocker so there is no reason to risk your door. While you are at it you may want to check the other hardware on the door to see if it needs attention also.
With a little care your brass door knocker should maintain its finish for years.