Rub n Buff on Metal | How To & Tips


I originally was just going to post about how I turned my black pharmacist lamp into a gold one in 30 minutes flat. Turns out that I was misinformed about the amazingness of Rub n Buff and this project took me 6 days…. Yeah. Let’s back track a bit to the beginning of the story.

I got this black pharmacy lamp for a steal at my local furniture store. I believe I paid thirty dollars for it, which is a great price for any floor lamp.


I really wanted a gold/brass pharmacy lamp with a swing arm that looked like the one below, minus the $562 dollar price tag.


Via {Amazon}

As I was scouring Pinterest all I could find on Rub n Buff was that EVERYONE loved it and it was the bees knees of metallic finishes. I really didn’t want to spray paint the lamp because I wanted that vintage look with bits of black peaking through. Plus, sometimes spray paint gets chipped when man handled by toddlers and babies. I bought myself a little tube and went to town on my lamp.


I put on a rubber glove and then a lonely sock over my hand so I wouldn’t end up like Midas. After the first coat, I was giddy with excitement, but knew that my dreams of a 30 minute makeover were crushed. This was going to take at least two coats. I let it cure for three days while we were one vacation and then started coat two. Imagine my disbelief as coat two started stripping off coat one and now the black was coming through in patches. UGH!!!!!!

I waited another day and attempted coat three… then coat four. Maybe you’re thinking I needed to use more Rub n Buff? Maybe I needed to use less? Well, I tried both and nothing worked. I was going to scrap it and attempt spray painting it, even though that wasn’t what I wanted to do in the first place. Then I realized I had some gold paint multi surface made by my idol, Martha.

I put one very light coat onto my lamp using a new sock, let it cure for 24 hours, then used a tiny amount of Rub n Buff over it. Guess what? Worked perfectly!


Tips for using Gold Rub n Buff on dark metal:

-Apply a light coat of Rub n Buff on your cleaned surface using a soft lint free cloth.
-Apply a light coat of either multi surface paint like I did or perhaps a very light coat of spray paint.
-Apply your third & hopefully final coat of Rub n Buff.
-Nickname yourself “Gold Finger” or “Midas” if you didn’t wear gloves.

I also did the “scratch” test after 48 hrs to make sure the finish would chip or peel. Success!

Have you ever been able to salvage a project you thought was a complete disaster?



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  1. 1

    Hi Maria,

    Thanks for using AMACO’s Rub ‘n Buff. Sorry to hear that your experience was not up to what you were hoping for. One tip you might want to keep in mind for future projects. RNB is designed to work on porous surfaces. If your original paint finish was very smooth, it may not have been porous enough for the RNB to adhere properly. In the future you might want to try first lightly sanding with a very very find sandpaper or block. This will usually do the trick and allow the RNB to work its magic. If you have any questions about the product, let me know. We also have a Facebook page (Rub ‘n Buff Metallic Finishes) where we show all types of blogger projects, so you might get some good tips/ideas there as well. Thanks!

    • 2

      I absolutely agree with you that it needed to be either sanded or deglossed before trying the rub and buff. Taking short cuts are not always the way to go, but I finally got it to work and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the results!

  2. 3

    Thanks for your blogpost. It was just what I needed to see at this beginning stage of refinishing this antique brass mirror. Time to work things my way thanks to your blog


  1. […] Maria of August Joy Studios scored a bargain on a pharmacy lamp from her local furniture store. For only $30, she was okay with the fact that it wasn’t exactly the lamp she’d been envisioning and had plans to give it the metallic look she was after with Rub n’ Buff. While Maria encountered a few bumps along the road, she finally achieved the finish she was after and offers tips for using gold Rub n’ Buff on dark metal. […]