How To: Remove Paint From Hardware

By Scott Sidler March 31, 2014

How to remove paint from hardware

Old hardware is just like everything else in an old house, covered with decades of paint. Antique hardware can be some very attractive and beautifully crafted pieces of art that is well worth restoring.

To restore that hardware you don’t want to just start scraping the paint off with an old screw driver. You’ll gouge the metal and spend hours trying to remove all the paint. To remove paint from hardware next time try boiling it off.

Take your old hardware and place it in an old crock pot or other pot that you don’t plan to cook in anymore. Fill the pot with enough water to comfortably cover the hardware and add a few tablespoons of baking soda or a little dish soap.

How To Remove Paint From Hardware

Let your hardware simmer for anywhere from a few hours to overnight depending on how much paint is caked on.

When the paint is bubbled and looks like it is just loosely hanging onto the hardware it’s ready to pull out. Use tongs or pliers to pull the hardware out of the water. Using a stiff bristle nylon brush scrub the paint off of the hardware. If the paint won’t come off it needs to cook longer.

Make sure you clean one piece at a time because once it cools and dries the paint won’t be easy to remove anymore. Make sure to dispose of the water and paint residue safely since it likely contains lead paint.

When you’re done scrubbing wait for the hardware to cool and finish polishing the hardware with some 0000 steel wool. Add a couple coats of spray lacquer and you’re ready to reinstall the hardware.

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10 thoughts on “How To: Remove Paint From Hardware”

  1. Thanks, Scott! This is a great idea for small pieces. Any thoughts on what to do with large items, that can’t be dropped into a pot? Like beautiful old steam radiators that have years of paint on them?

  2. I use the same general technique, but instead of boiling the hardware, I use a heat gun and a dremmel tool with a nylon brush attachment. 15 seconds of high heat will give me 30 seconds of brushing time. It’s slow, but it sounds faster than what you described.

    For deep crevices, I use a utility knife and am careful not to scratch the surface.

    Be sure to hold the hardware with pliers and wear leather gloves! I’ve only branded myself once so far by accidentally touching the hot metal.

    1. Oh, and be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, like your driveway. Boiling/burning lead paint probably isn’t the healthiest stuff to inhale.

  3. THANK YOU THANK YOU! All the hardware in our home has been painted, sigh. I wanna see the original finish, and had no clue how to get the paint off that didn’t involve some chemicals…this is doable!

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