Guys. Confession time: I think stripping paint off antique hardware is fun. It also comes with the added bonus of being one of the easiest ways to sponge every last bit of character out of your home – you know character, that thing that we all want our old homes and apartments to have? Forget fancy moldings and un-painted wood work. There’s lots of it hiding in all those badly painted and chipped door knobs, hinges, window pulls, (and locks) and other painted metal objects you might be finding all around yer house. This is one of the most oddly satisfying quick home improvements you can do if you’re living in an old space.
So come get weird with me, and try stripping the paint off those suckers just to see how it feels. I swear, you’re gonna like it.
A long time ago I stripped our bedroom door hardware
, I’ve actually stripped everything in the house minus the stuff in the kids bedroom. I’ve also stripped all the hardware on the kitchen cabinets
and now I’m moving on to the hinges in our master bedroom. The hardest part of this whole project might be getting the hardware removed from whatever sort of thing its attached to. Imma give you some tips to make this as simple as possible. Since I’m removing hinges it only seems right that I mention that you’ll want to take remove the pin from the hinge first, then remove the door before actually removing the hardware from the door. Also since I’m giving out tips here’s another one. Buy a husky reversible screwdriver
. I love these things, I have five of them stashed all over my house.
Remove Hardware Some More
The only way you’re going to get those old flat head screws out is if you use direct firm pressure while slowly turning the screw. If you don’t chances are you’re gonna strip that screw. Do not use your drill or power driver, do it by hand. If you feel the screw head begin to strip, stop and try using a different size screwdriver head. If you have gunky painted over screws, make sure to clean them out with a utility knife before attempting to remove them. You heard it here first.
Remove Hardware Some More & More
Got your screws out? Now you’re ready to score around the hardware with a utility knife as to not damage surrounding paint.
Making Hardware Stew
Place the hardware in a crockpot or pot on the stove (including screws) or on a low heat on a stove top. I use an old canning pot that I picked up at the hardware store for a couple bucks. It is exclusively my paint-strippin-pot. Cover the hardware with water and add a couple teaspoons of liquid soap or laundry detergent to the mix.
P.S. don’t use a pot you might ever want to cook in again.
Cleaning off the Paint
Once the hardware has has a few hours to cook, remove it carefully from the pot (its hot so use gloves). Then gently scrape off the remaining paint with a nylon brush or the soft side of a sponge. I usually bathe my hardware twice because there are usually multiple layers of paint and stubborn stuck on spots.
Polish or Paint
If you hardware comes out clean polish it with beeswax to protect the surface, reapply yearly. I did this with my door hardware and it looks tyte, but my door hinges were a little worse for wear. The brass was scratched so I decided to give it a spritz of flat black spray paint. My favorite brand is the Rust-o-leum paint and primer in one
. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the real-deal reproduction oil rubbed bronze finish, verses the spray paint over rutty, scratched brash finish. You can’t even tell, bros.
Also, there are chemicals that you can bathe your brass or bronze hardware in to give it that dark patina. They sell it over at House of Antique Hardware it will probably do the job even better, I however am impatient and I like the way spray paint smells.
psst, I had to buy a set of reproduction hardware. The closet door hinges had been replaced with modern hinges at some point. They’re the only hinges in the house that don’t match, and they were installed with phillips screws, two dead give aways that they were not the O-ridge. I ordered up some reproductions from House of Antiques Hardware. Have you visited that site yet? I love it there.
Step 6 and a half:
Touch Up Paint
If you want to be real anal like me, you would go to your basement, shed or garage, dig out your can of trim paint and touch that shit up right about now. It probably needs it! You don’t want to spend all that time making your hardware look amazing and leave your trim hanging.
Install your purty new hardware and enjoy all that GD character.
Oh lord, Scoops. I totally stripped 4 sets of doorknob plates last month, and it was AGONIZING. Because they are beautifully filigreed/impressed brass plates. After 48 hours in a crock pot and multiple scrubbings, I had to do orange stripper and a toothbrush. So there is a handy tip for really stuck on paint inside crevasses that have been painted over 6 times.
But now they are beautiful, so I don’t even care.
Oh no, I feel like this post is such a lie now. I suppose it would be harder to strip very ornate pieces, wouldn’t it? Well maybe if someone is reading this who also has filigreed plates they’ll just fast forward to the stripper :-/ I dunno… I bet your doors are super amazing now though, right?
Oh no, Daniel is the liar. He’s the one who makes me think doing these things to my apartment is going to be easy. :) BUT Im sure for smooth back plates and hinges it is way easier. And now I know the “slather on orange stripper and wrap it in plastic wrap and then scrub it with a toothbrush in the sink” trick, so I win? But I do have amazing doorplates, So I win.
Ah, character, the thing my house has absolutely NONE of. At least people make reproduction stuff so I can fake it.
I know, that’s good too! Also all of the reclaimed architectural stores are good for finding original hardware, and fun to shop in.
Hey, I did this recently with a bunch of painted-over brass doorknobs and plates, and it was surprisingly fun and satisfying. I haven’t tried any hinges yet, but your tips made me want to tackle them next! Yours look great.
A couple of tips I was given by friends who works for Rejuvenation (major purveyors of salvage): Use a crockpot (not one you’ll use for cooking, of course) for long, even overnight, soaks. And add a bit of washing soda. The paint should just fall off with this combo. Oh, and if you’re curious what kind of metal you have under the paint, and want to find out before you do the stripping, a magnet can give you some clues. Brass isn’t magnetic, but steel is.
OMG I love this Allison. We have the same hardware on our doors throughout our little bungalow. Im totally considering stripping them all now. Love the look.
That doesn’t sound too hard to get the paint off the knobs and hinges. I will admit that it would give our doors a little more interest if they weren’t painted the same color as the door. The black handles and hinges just seem more classy against the white door. Maybe I should give this a try.