Distress Your Hardware in 5 Easy Steps!

You’ve probably heard plenty of tried and true methods for distressing costuming. Cheese grater. Coffee grounds. Roll around in the dirt. Run it over with your car. Whatever. There are plenty of creative methods for making newly made costumes look pretty torn up and old. What’s not commonly explored is how to distress the hardware on costuming pieces. Nothing is quite so jarring on a nicely distressed costume piece as pristine out-of-the-bag hardware. This post will explore how you can distress nickel silver hardware in a few simple steps.


  • White Vinegar

  • Chicken wire

  • Stock pot with lid

  • Stove


1. Scrub the factory finish off of the hardware with hot soap and water and an abrasive surface (steel wool). You won’t really feel it come off, but it will be slightly less shiny. If you keep the finish, the hardware won’t oxidize, it will just leave the finish all gummy on it. 

2. Pour 2 inches of vinegar into your stock pot.

3. Bend your chicken wire into a three sided square platform – like a table. Place this in the pot.


4. Place your hardware on the chicken wire platform and cover the pot.


5. Put the flame on low and let it sit for an hour or until the vinegar fumes tarnish the silver hardware.


The picture above shows distressed rivets alongside shiny new rivets (on the right). There are many ways to tarnish and distress hardware. This is our preferred method for nickel silver. What do you think?

What are your favorite distressing methods?

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