apple Our Fifth House: Rub 'N Buff (How-to & Easy Tips)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rub 'N Buff (How-to & Easy Tips)

As promised yesterday I'm back today with a post on how to use my beloved rub 'n buff.

how to use rub 'n buff

Okay so let's go ahead and get all the giggles out first because yes we're talking about "how-to rub 'n buff" and yes that just brings out the 12 year old in all of us.  I mean couldn't they have named it something other than "rub 'n buff"?


Although for those of you who are expert rubbers and buffers you understand completely why this is its name.  The name gives you the instructions on how to use this product.  It really is just as simple as: step 1 - rub, step 2 - buff - the end - awesome.  Except the first few times you use it you may think you're doing it all wrong.  At least that was my own experience.

So here are a few tips and things I've learned through trial and error.

1. Use your fingers. 
rub 'n buff tutorial

I've tried using a brush or a sponge applicator but it never works out as well as when I use my fingers.  I've also tried to wear a rubber glove and wasn't very happy with the results.  I've learned, for myself, that using my fingers while messy yields the best results.

Speaking of messy fingers, when it comes to clean up I use warm to hot water and a mild dish soap.  The tube itself recommends mineral spirits, but I've found that hot water and soap works best.  Sometimes I use a scrub sponge or an old toothbrush.

2. A little goes a long way but sometimes it takes more than one coat. 

rub 'n buff tips

Here I squeezed a very small amount on to my ring finger and covered this much.

using rub 'n buff

Sometimes the first application doesn't completely cover.  If you try to glob it on it will start to pill up and it won't spread very well.  The best thing to do if the first coat doesn't cover the way you want it to is to let it dry for a few hours and then apply another coat.  This is what I had to do on the silver brackets I used on this tray - 2 coats of gold leaf rub 'n buff gave me the desired results.

tips and tricks for using rub 'n buff

3. You literally rub and then buff.  

This mirror started out like this.


I rubbed (back and forth motion) silver on the entire mirror. 

rub 'n buff - how to

And then used an old t-shirt to buff (tiny circles).

tips for using rub 'n buff for home decor projects

rub 'n buff  - tips and tricks to using it

4.  Use it in a well ventilated area.

As compared to spray paint it really isn't super fume-y but having a fan going and/or an open window is best.

5. You can use it on practically everything! 

The awesome thing about rub 'n buff is that 1. you don't need to prime first 2. you can use it on almost any surface - wood, metal, glass, etc.

* Edited to add  - It does sometimes help to sand lightly before applying to achieve a nice, smooth finish.  You can also sand lightly in between coats.

I've used it on sconces......

rub 'n buff on sconces

on lamps.......

rub 'n buff lamp makeover

on spoons.......

rub 'n buff wooden spoons


                  outdoor chair makeover using rub 'n buff

on frames.......

using rub 'n buff to dress up picture frames

and most recently this stenciled tray

                 diy rub 'n buff stenciled tray


The only limitations are the colors available although you can find more options for colors online than you can in most craft stores.

So there is my 2 cents on rubbing 'n buffing.  Hope this post helps any of you who have yet to try it or have felt like you weren't getting the results you desire.  I honestly think that it takes a little practice to get the hang of using it and every project is different.  In my experience it goes on wood differently than it goes  on metal.  If you've never used rub 'n buff before you may want to experiment on some smaller projects before diving into something bigger.

For all of you rub 'n buff pros out there, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!




*Sharing this post at Home Stories A to Z, Shine Your Light

54 comments:

  1. One of my all time favorite products - you have done so many great projects with it, Carmel!! Still loving those gold-cornered frames - I need to do that one of these days!

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  2. Great round up your projects with it. I need to try it again. I knew I could count on you for tips on how to rub n buff!

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  3. I just love your style. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  4. This is like the 5th time I've seen Rub n Buff on a blog! I need to try this out!

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  5. I tried Rub n Buff, but it just came right off when I got to the buff part. What am I doing wrong? Do you have to let it dry before you buff?

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    1. Yes, it's best to let it dry for a few hours before buffing. Be sure to rub it on nice and smooth before you let it sit to dry. I have found that it dries faster on wood than metal. When you can touch it and it doesn't come off on your fingers it's dry.

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  6. I haven't tried it yet but I must - so many great possibilities! My faves were what you did with the spoons and the frames - what a clever idea to just paint the corners for great style. Love it.

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  7. Great post! I'm thinking about using the silver rub and buff on my ORB cabinet hardware when I change my appliances to stainless.
    Think it will work, and stay on longterm?

    xo-Lisa

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    Replies
    1. I think it will work just fine. Just be sure to let them dry before putting them back on and don't use any harsh chemicals when cleaning them.

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  8. I'm a Rub n Buff fan! Just used it yesterday! Great idea using it it stencil your tray with it!

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  9. Thanks for the instructions! As soon as I complete my {current} Annie Sloan chalk paint experiment, I'm going to move on to the mythical Rub-n-Buff! :-)

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  11. I keep hearing about this stuff but have never used it...
    now I want to try it out even more - it looks SO easy!

    plus it's always kind of fun to get messy working on a project ;)

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  12. Thanks for sharing our product with your readers! These are really great tips, and I'd like to post them on our RNB Facebook page for our followers.

    You might mention to your followers that it works best on a porous surface. If they find it's not sticking it might be because the surface is not porous enough. This can usually be remedied with a little light sanding with very fine sandpaper.

    Thanks again!

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    1. This is a great tip. I forgot to mention that sanding lightly would help with adhesion on really smooth, non- porous surfaces. Thanks for reminding me!

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    2. This is a great tip. I forgot to mention that sanding lightly would help with adhesion on really smooth, non- porous surfaces. Thanks for reminding me!

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  13. I have never used Rub & Buff but this has started my mind spinning with inspirations....Thanks ~Joyce~

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  14. Very helpful tips, appreciate the how-to's and the pics to show how it can look. Think pics are most helpful for me. give me ideas and what I dare try. I can't just read something and visualize it myself, have to get hit over the head with the evidence.lol And no I'm not from Missouri as the saying goes. No offense to Missourites.
    Love your projects too.

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  15. Enjoying reading some of your older posts and came upon this one.. I've been meaning to try this for years now and never have but I am picking some up this weekend. I have thrift store lamps, sconces, a mirror, etc... Yipee, I'm excited and thanks for the inspiration!

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  16. Just read this post... Wanted to ask if you think rub and buff works better than using spray paint on something? For example, I'm dying for a gold bar cart but can't find one in my price range. However, I found one I like at target that is "wood" and metal. I was planning on buying and spraypainting, but now wondering if rub and buff would be better/easier? Thoughts?

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    1. oops - I somehow missed this! I think for a larger project it really depends on the overall look you are going for. Rub n buff has more of a satin-y finish. Sometimes it's easier to spray paint but the look that rub 'n buff gives you is hard to replicate with a spray paint.

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  17. michaels has it and so does AC Moore and Hobby Lobby. Its about 6 bucks a tube

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  18. I am using in on jewelry. I had some rings engraved and color filled but I didnt like the way they turned out. I went to things remembered and figured out that rub n buff is what they used so i bought so that i can do my own touch ups!

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  19. michaels has it and so does AC Moore and Hobby Lobby. Its about 6 bucks a tube

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    Replies
    1. I love it my neighbor showed me how to use it

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  20. Carmel, two links to your blog appeared in a search I did on Rub N Buff: this one and an earlier one on changing your black kitchen hardware to gold. Did you decide to go ahead and do it?! How did it hold up? Have you heard of a spray sealant the manufacturer apparently makes to be used with Rub N Buff?

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    1. No I actually kept the hardware black but I did change some other knobs in our home office to gold with rub n buff and they've held up great. I haven't heard of the spray sealant, but I'll bet it would be great for knobs and outdoor things.

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  21. You inspired me to try some thing new.... THANK YOU!!!

    but... HOW did you do 2 coats without rubbing away the first?! ughhhhh....

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    1. You have to let it dry completely - and sometimes even a very light sanding before applying the second coat

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  22. Hello! This was a good tutorial, thank you! I just linked to it in a post where I used Rub 'N Buff for detailing on a bed I was re-finishing so wanted to let you know. Here it is:

    http://paintingsunny.com/2013/02/06/diy-vintage-style-bed/

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  23. Love this! Giving you credit from my blog (http://confettiandsassafras.blogspot.com/) Thanks!

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  24. How have your outdoor chairs held up? I've been wondering about transforming my ugly gold shower, but wonder how well it would hold up with the moisture?! :-P

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  25. Carmel, thanks for a very informative post. I've seen this mentioned lots of times but didn't have any idea how to use it. When it comes to the buff part, can you use the buff pad on your drill? I want to do some larger projects and it would save so much time. I just don't want to buff it all of. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. You have given me some great solutions to projects. Thank you.

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    1. Not sure on that - but it sounds like it might be too rough. You could always test that in a small spot first just to see if that will work.

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  26. A fan of Rub'n Buff. Would like to make bright brass looking door knobs (interior doors)look like antique brass ones sold now instead of replacing. Do you think Rub 'n Buff would stay and what color should I use. Thinking of European gold.

    BB in RR, LA

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    1. I think antique gold would work great for door knobs.

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  27. BTW, amazon has a sampler of Rub n Buff, something like 6 or 8 different colors, all for about $24 for those of you looking to experiment. Just thought I'd mention that since I wanted a bunch of colors and didn't wanna spend $6 a tube. ;)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  29. Hi there! Thank you so much for such a fabulous post. I just bought this for the first time after finding your blog. I just used it on some barstools (black metal) and have a question for you. No matter what I did I
    Kept ending up with chunky streak marks. I only have one coat on right now. Is this what it's supposed to look like when done? I am trying to decide if I should try a paint thinner with it for a second coat or just trying another layer on. Curious to see what your thoughts are. So sorry to bug
    You! You sure seem what your doing so thought I would check ;)

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes with really smooth surfaces you may need to sand to get a smooth uniform finish. Hope that helps!

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  30. I wanted to find some rub and buff to work on some antique handles and I wasnt sure where to find it so I knew I would have to do a google search (which is where I found this post). Unfortunately, I almost did not find it because I could NOT think of the proper name... all I could think of was rub and you know.... so I started cracking up when I saw your post. So glad someone else thought this... I have been calling myself a pervert for the last 15 minutes! HAHAHA! Thanks for the info... now I know where to find AND I got a laugh.

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  31. Thanks for the tutorial! I'd tried using R & B on a chandelier, but it hadn't worked well applying it with a cloth. I'll try using my finger. :)

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  32. I just bought a rustic floorlamp. It's designed to look like a tree branch with a small bird. It's brown plaster made to look like carved wood. I bought it online where it looked more like a dark bronze finish. I'm planning on trying rub n buff (I remembered it from 40 years ago when my crafty mother used it) I'm thinking that a light coating of spanish copper over the existing brown finish should give it a bit of deep luster.
    Question - it will be in front of a forced heat register. Will the wax melt? (Note, the material is a pourous plaster-like compound)

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  33. Melt? I don't think so....but you may want to double check with the manufacturer.

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  34. I'm a 501st legion member and my costume has to appear to be made from metal. spray paint is a quick go to for most. but the rub n buff does the trick nicely. thanks for the pointers on using your fingers!! It looks fantastic!!!!

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  35. Working on an antique trunk. Can I use a (RustOleum) clear coat over the RnB?

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response - You shouldn't have a problem using a spray over it once it's completely dry.

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    2. Thank you. Now I just gotta decide which color to use. Most metal is black (some satin and some gloss) with "oak" wood and black locks and hasps. Can't decide what to color the pieces that hld the ends of the wooden slats to each other. I'm thinking pewter. Any thoughts?

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    3. Feel free to post a pic with your question on color to the blog Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/OurFifthHouse - It's a friendly group over there that I'm sure would be happy to give you some suggestions!

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  36. What a relief to see to many others are having challenges with this stuff! I've tried 2 different projects and threw in the towel last night. But now I see your blog, I'm inspired to try again. Third time's a charm, right?

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    1. Yes - try, try again - that's what my momma always said. ;) It does take a few tries with this stuff - so don't give up!

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  37. Hello, I found your blog when I was looking up tips on using Rub n Buff. I've been using it to give a metallic trim to plastic models and collectible toys (not for playing with). While using my fingertip has yielded great results for large, flat surfaces, I often times have to use a small pointed paintbrush to apply it to smaller details.

    My question is this: What would you recommend using to thin down the Rub n Buff? Rubbing alcohol, while usually works with another line of gold paints (Vallejo Liquid Gold), it causes the Rub n Buff to clump up. I've tried using paint thinner and while it thins it down, for some reason it doesn't apply smoothly and I get lots of bumps that makes it a pain to buff with a super fine grit nail file or nail buffer.

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  38. DarianZG - the manufacturer recommends turpentine to thin RNB. Paint thinner is a different chemical mixture and is probably what caused the bumps.

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Be nice or I'll tell your mom! xoxo -C

 
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