It’s a battle of the two biggest polishing compounds on the market. Simichrome Polish vs Brasso. Both are of these polishes have been heavy hitters in the metal polishing world for years and are very flexible as to what metal they can polish.
I decided to put them head to head on a piece of vintage hardware around my shop, an old door escutcheon, to see how they do and what the difference is. After this post you should have a good sense of which one you may want because they do yield different results even if they proclaim to do essentially the same thing.
Simichrome Polish is a paste polish that was invented in Germany by the Happich company in the 1960s which made metal parts for luxury automobiles like BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes. The wanted a fine polish for the chrome and other high polish metals for those amazing vintage automobiles.
Simichrome works well on chrome, silver, brass, gold, copper, pewter, aluminum, magnesium, stainless steel, and is even fine enough to work on Plexiglass.
Simichrome also leaves a thin, invisible, protective film on the metal surface to protect against further tarnish. That’s not to say it seals the metal completely, but rather assists in delaying the oxidation of the surface.
Brasso was invented in 1905 in Great Britain to polish metals of all sorts. It rose to popularity in the 1920s and was offered as a thick paste or a cloth impregnated with the compound. One downside of Brasso is that it cannot be used on silver unlike Simichrome.
Unfortunately, like many products from the old days Brasso is not the same formulation it used to be. The formula was changed in 2008 to comply with tightening VOC restrictions in the US, and despite which side of the issue you come down on, it hasn’t been the same since.
I wasn’t a heavy user of Brasso before the formulation change, but the folks I talked to said it’s like night and day and sadly much less effective than the legacy product. That being said, for this test, I used the new Brasso so we can test its current version.
Wondering if you have the old version? The original Brasso formula was sold in metal containers and the new formula is sold in plastic containers.
Simichrome Vs Brasso
The door escutcheon was seriously tarnished with a very rough surface. There was not any visible rust and the surface wasn’t pitted in any way it was just plain ugly.
The Simichrome took a lot of polishing to get the tarnish off and bring out the shine. More than I was expecting, but I had never used it before so I didn’t really know what to expect.
Once the polishing was done I do have to say that I have never felt such a smooth surface on my restored hardware. My shop restores a ton of hardware every year for old windows and doors, but this was a different level that made me wonder if we weren’t doing a disservice to our clients by not adding this final polish.
Ultimately, I was impressed with the final product beyond what I had even hoped. I think starting with a more aggressive polishing compound or technique would have been a better idea to save time and save the Simichrome for what it really seems to excel at which is the final polish.
The Brasso worked quick to get rid of the tarnish unlike the Simichrome Polish which definitely took more elbow grease. The smell was pretty equivalent to that of the Simichrome as well so no major difference there.
The main difference is that after polishing for a while I was unable to attain quite the same level of shine and smoothness as the Simichrome. Yes, the heavy tarnish was gone and it looked tons better, but the surface didn’t have that smooth as a baby’s behind kind of feel that I was hoping for.
You can see the difference between the area done with Simichrome on the left and the section done with the Brasso on the right with the fine line that the arrow points at. It’s just a little duller than the Simichrome side.
I was most impressed with the Brasso for its quick results at removing major tarnish which saved my hands the punishment I always try to avoid, but it didn’t give me the perfect shine I really desired.
I figured this would be a head to head battle and one polish would emerge victorious, but in the end it really ended in me wanting to use both in the future.
Much like working my way up through different grit sandpapers I think the best option is to start with Brasso to save time removing the heavy tarnish and then switch to Simichrome for the final polish to really bring out the shine. Partnering them together like this would save time, effort and yield the best results. That what I ended up doing to get the results you see in the final picture here.
If I had to choose only one polish then it would have to be Simichrome Polish just because of the extraordinary softness and shine you can get with it. I haven’t seen anything that even comes close.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.