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.
2018 addendum: while your mind is on hardware restoration, check out this related video on how to age hardware!