Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oven Cleaner on the Shower Surround

I thought I would discuss the de-blingification of our master bath shower. 
Many people have found my blog through a Google search using the entries like:
brass shower surround
oven cleaner to remove brass
update 90's bathroom 
It is the most searched query on my blog.
 Apparently, there are many people who hate their plated brass shower surround.

My house is a basic builder house.
It was Fox and Jacobs, a very prolific builder in 1990.
I love my house and by and large we are extremely pleased with it. 
The shower surround pictured here was not the best quality.
As I stripped it, it looked like they took a left over chrome shower and sprayed gold lacquer over it and called it brass. It was cheap. 
I don't know how my method would work on a better quality surround. 
When I started the bathroom update, we had two in college so a new surround was not in the budget.
I'm really not sure when it will be but...

My next door neighbor said she read about the oven 
cleaner method and used it on her cabinet handles.
She put the handles in a baggie full of oven cleaner and let them sit for a couple of days. Well, you can't put to a shower surround in a baggie but I was desperate.

To get a brushed nickle looking surround here is what you will need:
Heavy Duty Easy Off Oven Cleaner (Not lemon scent)
I think I used 5 or 6 cans

Tool for removing caulk or silicone.
CLR or something for removing hard water spots.

Goggles or glasses
Steel Wool
Rotary Tool
Shower Cap
Mask or Respirator

Begin by cleaning shower and surround with CLR.
The "brass" will be more difficult to strip on areas with a lot of hard water spots.
Remove caulk and silicone from the corners. Silicone can be clear. I didn't realize that is why my corners were not stripping. 

Begin by spraying oven cleaner on small sections. I wouldn't spray it on in more than 18 inch lengths. Allow the Easy Off to sit on the bling and work it's magic.
Once it has been sitting on the surround for 15 minutes, you can see some gold goop coming off. It will work until the mixture dries. Don't allow it to dry or you will have to hit that section again. (It seemed to me that it is harder to get off if the goop has dried.)
Wipe it off and begin again until all the gold is gone from that section. 
Buff and rub with steel wool until you have a brushed nickle effect.

Note: Some of the sections looked more like chrome after the first pass with the Easy Off. Repeated treatments removed the shiny silver look.

I used a rotary tool to get in stubborn corners.
You might also try a mouse sander if you have one.
 We didn't at the time but I should have bought one to make the job easier.
This is a very time consuming job. 
I worked in small increments in the evenings on and off for a couple weeks. It is messy and the oven cleaner is gloppy.
An added bonus seems to be how clean the tile and the fiberglass pan were once I was done. Three weeks of oven cleaner took away all the soap scum :)

Make sure you wear the shower cap.
I got so many teeny tiny droplets of oven cleaner on my head that it itched like crazy!! It took a couple weeks for that to stop. I thought I caught headlice from one of the kids at school!
I love the new surround.

Keep in mind that this won't look like a just off the bath showroom brushed nickle surround. There are very miniscule spots of gold that I still can see, but it so much better than it was.

I used silver paint to paint behind the door seal. I couldn't take it off to get cleaner inside. I probably wouldn't have wanted to take it off anyway because I wouldn't want to compromise the ability to keep the shower water tight.

I think that if we were to put the house up for sale we would spring for a new one, but for us it looks just fine.

With the gold surround the etched glass looked horrible and I hated it.
The etching and the silver now make much more sense together.

 The etched glass echos the white of the tile.
 The silver of the surround blends with the Stamped Concrete Sherwin William's paint.

Does our bathroom still have problems? 
The sink faucets are still gold and I have tried everything to reduce the bling on these.

Because they are solid brass, the oven cleaner technique won't work.  I hoped to remove the lacquer so they could begin to tarnish and look antique. When American Standard says lifetime warranty on the finish they mean it! I have tried acetone and drain clog opener to peal the lacquer on these faucets. 

I had hope when I put Liquid Plumber on them and covered it with a baggie. I came back and there was black inside the baggie. I thought finally they were turning color. No it was some sort of breakdown of the drain cleaner. I left the baggie on for about a day before I gave up. 
They were really clean and shiny after that. 
Acetone is supposed to remove lacquer but I didn't have any luck.It is so frustrating that nothing will work on these that I think I am going to spray paint them like I did downstairs.
Read about it here.

The test of a good project for me is whether I would do it again. I would absolutely strip a shower surround again. The hard, hard work is worth the result.

Here is a sneak peak at what I have been working on next.

Linking with;
Wow Us Wednesday @ Savvy Southern Style &
Time Travel Thursday @ The Brambleberry Cottage &
Delightfully Inspiring Link Party @ Delightful Order &
Transformation Thursday @ Shabby Creek Cottage &
Cowgirl Up Link Party @ The Farmhouse Porch &Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage &
Sat Nite Special @ Funky Junk Interiors


  1. Wow, that must have been a lot of hard work! But the outcome is so great! Don't you love it when that happens? Great tips! I live in a 45 yr old ranch style house, and although we have done a lot of updating, there is still so much to do. I wish our funds were as endless as the projects seem to be!!!
    XO Kris

    1. Thanks, Kris. It feels so different with the bling gone. :)

    2. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing.showerhead filter for hard water

  2. Oh my gosh I have been looking for a solution to my apartment gold surround forever and THIS is exactly what I need! THANK YOU- I'm off to get some Easy Off today!

  3. This looks awesome! What kind of silver paint did you use?

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  7. Oven Cleaning techniques being used in the bathroom too! Good thinking, Katie. And great job, if you don't mind me saying. Professional finish.

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  8. Just a quick comment to say Thank You for the tips! i will put these to good use ;=)

  9. Thank you so much for this post!!! I tried this today and it was amazing!! It was the perfect solution to changing our outdated shower to brushed nickel. THANK YOU❤❤❤

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