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How To: Strip Painted Hardware

strip painted 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.

If you want to remove paint from 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 cooking it off. Really? Yep!

How to Strip Painted Hardware

Old paint is hard to get off metal especially when you have lots of little nooks and crannies. But when you use the technique I’ll show you in the post you’ll get the paint to soften up enough hat it will literally just peel off the hardware. While you can use gooey chemical strippers why not skip the expensive and dangerous chemicals when you can just use an old crock pot? Here’s how.

Step 1 Cook It

Take your old hardware and toss it in an old crock pot or other pot that you don’t plan to eat out of 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. Let it simmer for about 4 hrs on high or until the paint is soft.

The longer it cooks the easier it is to get all the paint off. Remember it’s a crock pot not a microwave.

Step 2 Scrub It

Put on some thick waterproof gloves and get ready for action! 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 or brass brush scrub off that nasty paint. If the paint won’t come off, it needs to cook longer.

Make sure you clean one piece at a time because as it cools and dries the paint becomes more difficult to remove. You’ve usually got about 2 minutes before it hardens again and will need another dunk. Make sure to dispose of the water and paint residue safely since it likely contains lead paint.

Step 3 Final Polish

When you’re done scrubbing, wait for the hardware to cool and finish polishing the hardware with some 0000 steel wool before giving it wipe down with some Austin’s Wood Butter to add some shine and protect it against rust and you’re ready to reinstall your “new” old hardware.

Check out the video below to see the whole process in action.

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9 thoughts on “How To: Strip Painted Hardware

  1. I found, by accident, that a solution of water and ammonia does a pretty good job of loosening paint.

  2. 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?

    1. Mount a wire brush on a motor. You can get them at any hardware store. I sometimes put two on a shaft to make a wider brush. I have used it a thousand times to clean up and polish hardware. Take a radiator to someone that sandblasts or use a chemical stripper.

  3. 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.

  4. 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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