Many times after you’ve purchased an existing home, you figure out later that the prior owners, in a rush to give the home a fresh coat of paint, they left the door knobs, hinges and window hardware on while painting. Perhaps they didn’t tape well and they left splotches of paint around the edges. Worse still, maybe they didn’t tape at all and just painted right over. Luckily, with a bit of time and effort, you can remove paint from metal and bring back the original luster to any painted escutcheon, knob, door lever, strike plate, hinge or window sash lock. And, in most cases, you can do so without resorting to using harsh chemicals or expensive tools.
Basic Steps To Restore Painted Hardware
- Gather tools and materials
- Preparing work area
- Removing hardware from door or window
- Remove paint from parts
- Refurbish the cleaned parts
- Re-install the hardware
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
This might seem like a long list, but believe us, skimping will only lead to frustration in the process of removing paint.
Tools and Materials
- Drop Cloth(s)
- Dusk Mask
- Utility Gloves
- Glasses or Goggles
- Utility Knife
- Screw Driver
- Sandwich Bags
- Pen or Marker
- Disposable Tray
- Disposable aluminum pie tins or roasting pans work well
- Hot Water
- A tea kettle or sauce pan are good options
- Baking Soda
- Rubber Gloves
- Plastic Tongs
- Paint Scraper or Putty Knife
- Soft bristle nylon brush
- Mineral Spirits
- Drying towel
- Oxalic acid cleaner
- Lint Free Cloth
- Slow Cooker
- Heat Gun
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Methylene Chloride Paint Stripper
Step 2: Prepare Work Areas
Start by laying down a drop cloth where you plan to remove hardware and another where you plan to remove the paint. Put on a dust mask, eye protection and gloves. It may not seem that important but on the off chance the paint you are removing contains lead, it’s important to protect yourself. The last thing you need is to breath in paint flecks or get something in your eye. This would be true even if the paint was a typical latex. A drop cloth will protect your floors and make clean up easier.
Step 3: Remove Painted Hardware
Once you and the area is prepped, take out your utility knife and score the perimeter to separate the paint from the hardware. Next, put a screwdriver into each screw one by one and hit the end of the screwdriver with a hammer. This should be enough to break the paint on the screw head and give a better grip. Use the screwdriver to remove the screw. Repeat as necessary. Remember to take your time. If you get into too much of a rush, you could slip and jab your hand or scar the hardware. Place each hardware item and its metal pieces into individual sandwich bags and label each bag with the location of each hardware item. You might want to use a colored marker(s) to mark up the screw to indicate whether the screw was upper/lower, left/center/right, etc. This will make assembly much easier.
Step 4: Remove Paint From Hardware
Prep Metal Hardware
Okay, so now you’re ready to start removing paint. Set out your pie tin or roasting pan on another drop cloth, preferably in an outdoor well ventilated area. Alternatively if you have a spare crock pot, it’s time to get that out and plugged in. Please note that you shouldn’t use the crock pot for food once you’ve used it in this process. You can usually purchase a new one from between $30-$40 from Black & Decker and retire your old one for this type of project. Remove the items from the first sandwich bag and place in the tin, pan or crock pot. If you are using a tin or pan, boil your water in your tea kettle or on the stove in a sauce pan and then pour over the hardware. If using a crock pot, cover the items with water and turn the crock pot on high. Open your box of baking soda and shake liberally over the items. Wait 5-15 minutes for the paint to begin to bubble.
Put on the waterproof gloves. Remove the hardware using the tongs. Use the paint scraper or putty knife and scrape off and remove paint as you can from the hardware. You can use the optional heat gun to burn off any loosened paint. A soft bristled brush to scrub can be used to remove fine paint that might remain. If necessary, you can repeat this process until you have all of the loosened paint removed from the hardware – or if you are impatient, you can use the optional Methylene Chloride chemical paint stripper to remove paint that remains in about an hour or so. Try not to resort to using a wire brush for removing paint as it can scar and pit the hardware. Once clean of paint, dip a try towel in mineral spirits and wipe each piece of hardware. Place it back into the appropriate sandwich bag for the next step. Repeat this process for each item.
Step 5: Refurbish Metal Hardware
In most cases, stripping paint has been removed, you will likely discover that the metal hardware is discolored and/or tarnished. Take items from sandwich bag and soak for a few minutes in lukewarm water. If using baking soda and vinegar, shake the baking soda on the hardware. Dip a soft bristled brush into the vinegar and then begin to scrub. Baking soda and vinegar react, so when you hear it gurgling, you know the process is working. Be sure not to mix the baking soda and vinegar together in a bowl before application. All this will create is a big mess. Alternatively to the baking soda and vinegar, you can use an Oxalic acid cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend or any similar generic. Once you have removed the tarnish, dry the hardware with a towel. Finally, protect the metal surface by rubbing beeswax polish with a lintfree cloth and then place back into its sandwich bag.
Step 6: Reinstall Refurbished Hardware
The last step is to re-install the the hardware on the door or window. Depending on how the removal process went, you may need to either touch up or fully repaint the old paint on the the door as well. Now you’re done. Step back and enjoy your old hardware and take pride that you now know how to remove paint from metal without