November 9, 2011

How To: Safely Remove Old Paint from Hardware

There is paint on our hinges. And not in an 'I ate too many Mike & Ike's so now my hand looks like a tweeker with no cash and I inadvertently left a smidgen of paint on the hinge in my shaky wake' kind of way. Nope. We are talking an all-out, blatant disregard for painting etiquette. Always remove hardware before you wield a paint brush. Everybody knows that. At the very least, a lazy painter will tape over it. Fine. Your secret is safe with me. But slapping avocado green oil paint on an unsuspecting hinge followed by peach paint and then teal paint and then white paint is just down-right deranged.

Just looking at this hinge makes me cringe. It's not impossible to remove paint from hardware, but it isn't easy my friends, and it usually involves toxic stripper, burning fingers, and singed nose hairs, resulting in an angry cursing hinge owner. But now we have an eight month old so toxic fumes are no bueno, and we kind of like our nose hairs. So, that option sucks.

We could buy new hinges. But then our door wouldn't hang right. Hinges aren't made like they used to be. New hinges are made thinner.  Not only that, if you have a door that is already hung, it has been fitted for that exact hinge. Putting on a different hinge, even if it is an old replacement hinge, will alter the fit of the door and may result in a door that squeaks, swings poorly, or worse, won't shut. Which is sort of what doors are for. So that option sucks as well.

Now what? What if I told you that you can remove paint from old hardware with nothing more than water and a tiny dose of dish soap? I know, I didn't believe it either. I saw it on Pinterest and immediately thought "this will never work." Nothing is ever that easy. Not for me. (Don't listen to my brother when he tells you I'm the Golden Child.)

So I put it to the test... a DIY myth bust...and it totally worked! Latex paint, oil paint, mystery paint. It all came off.

Want to try it? You know you are scanning your house right now looking for old painted hardware just to give it a go. It's easy and oh-so-satisfying. You know you want to. (This is getting strange. Let's move on.)

Find an old crock pot (or borrow your mother-in-law's - I won't tell).  I bought mine back for $6.00 from the local thrift store that I had just donated my old crock pot to. Oh, hindsight, you make me look like such a jerk.

Throw your hardware in - OR tap into your OCD and carefully place in a pattern that would allow you to remember which hinge was which while at the same time maintaining a mathematically proportionate grid that is aesthetically pleasing. (Note to self: get help with OCD)

Fill crock pot with water.

Add a squirt of dish soap.

Turn on high and let sit overnight.

Remove hinge from water with tongs/pliers/chopsticks (metal + hot water = hot metal) and immediately scrape off any paint while the hinge is still hot. Most of the paint on our hinges came off in sheets. Some layers of paint we had to scrape with a putty knife, but it didn't take much effort.

Sand with steel wool to remove the remainder of the paint residue.

We sprayed ours with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to match the new door-knobs, but keeping the metal in it's raw state would also look cool in the right house.

Disclaimer: We have yet to try this technique on any metal other than these hinges which are brass. Some metals may spontaneously self-combust whilst spinning out of control toward the great black hole in an alternate universe. Ok, I made that last part up, but we can't be held accountable for your metal mishaps. Crock (pot) at your own risk. Oh and rubber gloves aren't a bad idea either.

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