How To Use Rub N Buff On Metal [A Complete Guide]

If you were to ask any designers, crafters, or DIYers about their favorite products, they would likely put Rub N Buff at the top of their list. They’ve called it “Amazing,” “A miracle,” and proclaimed it an “I can’t-do-without it” tool.

It’s true, using Rub N Buff on hardware and metal fixtures does renew and transform the look and feel of your home. So we dug into blogs, videos, and guides to find everything you need to know about using Rub N Buff on metal.

Rub N Buff is a tried-and-true, paste-like substance of wax, fine metallic powders, and various pigments. Use it on a variety of surfaces, including metal.

What’s more, Rub N Buff comes in 12 metallic colors, allowing you to customize your standard hardware pieces’ metal finishes.

Simply put a small amount on your finger or soft cloth, rub it onto the metal surface, and then gently buff to your desired shine. 

Consider the doorknobs, drawer handles, fixtures, mirrors, and detailed frames in your home. You can easily use Rub N Buff on their tarnished or dull surfaces to create a new and polished look.

Keep reading to learn about Rub N Buff and how to use it on the metal pieces in your home.

Collage of Rub N Buff and antique cabinet handle, How To Use Rub N Buff On Metal [A Complete Guide]

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What Is Rub N Buff?

Rub N Buff is a substance that crafters, designers, artists, and DIYers often use to create a metallic shine, renew tarnished pieces, highlight ornate details, or create an antique, gilded look.

It is widely available in most craft and hobby stores and online. However, what makes Rub N Buff special is that it comes in 12 colors, allowing you to transform the hardware, furniture, and decor in your home to the color and metallic finish you choose.

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Here is the extensive list of color possibilities you can use to customize the hardware and decorative pieces in your home:

  • Gold Leaf
  • Antique Gold
  • Grecian Gold
  • Ruby
  • Autumn gold
  • European gold
  • Pewter
  • Silver leaf
  • Patina
  • Ebony
  • Spanish Copper

Is Rub N Buff Permanent?

Rub N Buff is incredibly durable, and once dried, it will maintain its purpose for years to come. Many crafters use a clear acrylic-based sealer as an extra layer of protection, but it is not absolutely necessary.

However, if a piece is handled frequently or exposed to excessive humidity, it may fade or show wear over time. In such instances, applying a fresh coat of Rub N Buff will restore the piece back to its new and clean appearance again. 

Technically, Rub N Buff is not considered permanent, though its removal requires lots of powdered cleanser, physical effort, and time.

Should Rub N Buff accidentally fall onto the carpet or on clothing, use your fingers and dishwasher soap to wash the product away gently. 

Click here to see this Rub N Buff on Amazon.

Can I Paint Over Rub N Buff?

Yes, you can paint over Rub N Buff with either spraypaint or traditional paint. As is the case in most painting scenarios, lightly sanding the object’s surface will help the paint better adhere to it for a smooth, final finish.

How To Use Rub N Buff

It sounds too good to be true, but applying Rub N Buff really is as easy as the directions claim: just squeeze a small amount on your finger, gently rub it onto your metal surface, then use a soft cloth to buff to a shine. The more you buff, the shinier the finish!

In learning about and researching Rub N Buff’s finer points, we noted and compiled several tips to help anyone ready to try this exciting product. Plus, we identified a few Rub N Buff DIY projects you may want to start today!

Application Tips

Before applying Rub N Buff to a metal surface, it’s best to clean it with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils and dirt. To ensure the best adhesion, lightly sanding the metal’s surface is a good idea as well.

While using your finger to apply Rub N Buff onto a surface will work, some users find it helpful to cover their finger with the soft cloth, squeeze the wax paste onto the cloth, and apply it to the surface in small circles.

Others will wear latex or rubber gloves since Rub N Buff can stain your fingers. If this should happen, use mineral spirits or even a good dishwashing soap to wash and rinse your hands.

Click here to see this can of mineral spirits on Amazon.

Since Rub N Buff is essentially a wax and concentrated powder mixture, it drys quickly within a minute or two after application.

When using it, start with a small amount, as you can always add more as you go, and take care to go on in thin circular layers. With this product, a little will take you a long way.

If you are using Rub N Buff to create an antique or distressed look, use a small watercolor-like paintbrush or makeup brush to give you more precision and control. Then proceed to buff with the soft cloth as usual.

Click here to see these paintbrushes on Amazon.

To correct any accidental slip-ups, simply wipe the metal surface with a clean cloth before it dries. If it has already dried, use a paint thinner or brush cleaner to wipe it off.

What Surfaces Can I Use Rub N Buff?

Part of Rub N Buff’s beauty is that you can use it on nearly any surface–metal, wood, plastic, glass, ceramics, and even painted surfaces. This product is at its best when applied to metal objects with ornate detailing.

Used on doorknobs, dresser handles, or anything with carved designs, Rub N Buff not only makes the items look brand new but it also highlights the beautiful handiwork that can easily be overlooked. 

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Rub N Buff’s most common use is for altering or renewing the hardware found in homes, such as: 

  • dresser handles
  • doorknobs
  • cabinet pulls
  • faucets
  • pendant light fixtures
  • curtain rods
  • front door lock and handle
  • mirrors
  • frames

But that’s not all; use Rub N Buff on vases, flower pots, furniture, jewelry, even on a wall to create a stenciling pattern.

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If you’re ready to see the difference Rub N Buff can make, watch this video below. In it, you will see three pieces–a light fixture, desk drawer handles, and a door handle and lock–transformed by Rub N Buff. 

DIY projects using Rub and Buff

Now that you know how to use Rub and Buff so easily, you might start to wonder what other DIY projects are possible. There are endless ideas available all across the internet. Here are a few of our favorites: 

Cabinet Handles

Clean your cabinet handles and follow this easy Rub N Buff tutorial to change their look.

[PIN id=”27162403979647966″ size=”large”]


Picture Frames

Picture frames are a perfect, quick, and easy Rub N Buff project. Try this tutorial with any solid color frames you might have in your home for an antique look.

Furniture Pieces

If you are up for a furniture challenge, follow along here to use Rub N Buff on a large piece of furniture.

[PIN id=”11470174024531960″ size=”large”]


In Closing

Since 1962, Rub N Buff has used the same formula to help people turn their hardware and frames into beautiful, restored pieces.

Now, 60 years later, artists and DIYers alike are still using it to restore not just hardware pieces but also to highlight and design anything from doorknobs to furniture.

It is, as one designer called it, “…the easiest and quickest way to transform your everyday pieces into works of art.”

Should Picture Frames All Be The Same Color?

How To Refurbish Or Refinish A Dresser (10 Steps)

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  1. Great article except one slab got error. As someone born in 1962 and reading this in 2021, that would be 58 years later, not 60 years later. Lol!!?
    But I am getting some Rub N Buff in an antique gold to make some metal cherub hooks that have tarnished pop out. Good things were born in 1962!! Thank you!!

  2. Hi, I am using rub and buff for a shower caddy, it will get wet. Should I spay a sealant over the top?


  3. Hi
    I am trying to find rub n buff with 3 particular colours – patina, ruby, ebony couuld you recommend an outlet please?
    Kind regards
    Jan Casey

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