Matching a Satin Nickel Finish

Suggestions for how to finish a wood mirror frame to match nearby brushed nickel faucets. March 30, 2008

Does anyone have a suggestion to match or come close to a satin nickel finish? A client has requested me to match the look of her faucets on a mirror frame. Normally I would stay away from unusual finishes like this, but she is a very good client.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
I'd leaf it if it's not too ornate. Then just clear coat with clear satin Breakthrough or something similar. If you'd rather not leaf, you could do a similar look with silver undercoat and transparent gray/brown followed by the clear satin topcoat.

From contributor P:
There's a liquid, sprayable metal finish made exactly for your situation. It's made by LuminOre and one of the finishes available is Nickel-Silver.

From contributor D:
I don't remember which company makes it, either Rustoleum or Krylon, but one of them makes a really realistic satin nickel in an aerosol can. You can get it at almost any hardware store, consumer paint department. Cost is 4-5 bucks. Rustoleum makes one in an appliance epoxy grade also.

From contributor B:
I also would leaf it. LuminOre is very pricey and you also have to take a class to be able to buy it and use it.

From the original questioner:
Rustoleum crossed my mind, but I was unsure of it. And the Luminore sounds really cool... I would have to see how much she is willing to spend on this project.

However I am curious about leafing. Never had a call for it in ten years of cabinets, so would appreciate knowing just what it is and how it's done. Do you lay it on and rub it? Would it look or somewhat closely match satin nickel?

From contributor C:
First you coat with a size that becomes sticky, and then leaf is laid on the surface and burnished down to adhere it. I like to use spar varnish (McClosky) for size as it will be sticky from about twelve to thirty hours after application, giving me a wide window in which to get my work done. Water leafing is another story and not for this type of application.

For pewter imitation I'd use aluminum leaf (widely available) and then put a clear coat of satin on it with just a slight tint of brown (probably a bit of both burnt umber and raw umber). I have done this in the past with good results.

There are some things that you'll need to know about leafing since you haven't done it before. There should be some tutorials on the web... Use an oil size that is slow. Aluminum leaf is rather easy to handle so you should be okay with a little practice.

From contributor F:
Another option to check out is Ronan Paint's Aqua Leaf products. I don't have personal experience, but I've heard good things about them from scenic artists. Unfortunately, they only have one silver, called Bright Silver. But if there's a dealer near you, it would be probably a very low-cost option, and you could top-coat it with one of their satins.

From contributor C:
I believe contributor P really does have the best answer. See if you can get info from them on someone in your area that might be doing the Luminor finish. It's absolutely the best metal spray product I've seen.

From the original questioner:
I'll call them and check it out. Also, where do I get the leafing supplies? Thanks everyone who has answered - you are all great!

From Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor:
To do LuminOre you need to take a 2500.00 class (it may cost more than that?). Also the class is in California. Then the kits cost anywhere from 550-750 each. It's an awesome product.

From contributor C:
Keep in mind that unless you're extremely talented with leafing, you will get wrinkles in the leaf when it is applied that will show up in the final product, taking away from the smooth solid look that real metal would have or that Luminor would create. You may want to ask the client if wrinkles in the finish will be acceptable before even buying leaf to play with. A picture or two of what the finish looks like that she wants copied would help quite a bit to determine the best way to approach the project.