Recently, our voluntary neighborhood association looked into restoring the bronze signs that commemorate our historic neighborhood, which inevitably were covered with patina. We looked at various options, but ultimately decided to try restoring them ourselves. I had previously cleaned up a 30 year old bronze memorial in the area, so I had some practice. Below is the result of our sign restoration.
After some experimenting, the final process was:
- brush clean with water first to remove any dirt
- clean with vinegar+salt+flour paste (see here) to remove most patina
- clean vigorously with Brasso to remove remaining patina and polish
- spray paint the background with a black satin Rust-Oleum finish
- burnish / sand the high points
- seal the signs with a clear gloss Rust-Oleum ultra finish (2 coats)
- polish with SCJohnson’s Paste Wax
Here you can see the vinegar paste at work and how it absorbed most of the patina. The process takes at least 2-3 hours, if not more, or multiple coats. And depending on the amount of existing clear coat remaining on your sign, it may not be able to get all of the patina off. This is why we also used Brasso and elbow grease.
We had to repaint the backgrounds because they were so faded.
To make burnishing much easier and faster, we used an orbital sander with various grit pads.