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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Removing Old Paint from Door Knobs and Hardware

The door knobs in our mid-century home are original, circa 1946, which means they're made of solid brass.

Unfortunately, former residents painted over them. Boo! What's a Renov8or to do?

Before you run to a big box store for thinner, stripper, or some other caustic chemical concoction, here's some advice that I learned at Manhattan Nest and confirmed at This Old HouseRun to the nearest Dollar Store or, if you're lucky, yard sale, and buy an inexpensive, disposable pot. You're going to boil all the hardware until the paint slides off.

That's right — a bit of dish soap in a pot of boiling water is going to have that old paint rolling off in about an hour. The toughest part of this project is removing the hardware from the door without ruining the paint job — if your paint job is worth salvaging. We'd just had the entire place painted before moving in, so this was key.

A good trick is to use a box cutter to score the edges of the hardware.

Then use an exacto knife to scrape paint out of the screws. This will ensure your screwdriver has enough contact to remove the screws and that the hardware will pull away without taking your paint job with it.

After you've scored and scraped, pry the hardware out using brute strength (thanks, Dad!).

Pot of boiling door knobs - yum!

Now it's time to boil your hardware. After about an hour at a low simmer, the paint will slip off the metal and curl up, floating to the top.

When all door knobs and mechanisms are clean of paint, dry them well, then shine them up using a metal polisher of your choice. Ours are brass, so I used Brasso, and it really gave them a lovely soft glow.

If you want the shine to last, you'll need to spray them with a layer of acrylic spray. I skipped this step for a few reasons. The acrylic over time can get peely, and I didn't want that. And I don't want mine all shiny and perfect. I prefer to have them achieve a patina over time.