A few summers ago I got the bright idea to buy and renovate a 1947 bungalow a few miles outside of downtown Jacksonville. This house was a real trash pail when we bought it, but I was in love with the bones and incredible details of it. When I saw Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra record covers on the walls of the garage, and a cast iron claw foot tub in the back yard I was done. I had to have it.
The projects though…. OH the projects that needed to be done to restore this little diamond in the rough. This house had original 1″ hardwood floors throughout (drool), solid wood doors, and legit brass door hardware. Unfortunately though, whoever had lived there through the years did not see the beauty of these gorgeous details and everything was in disrepair, including the amazing brass door hardware that was covered in layers and layers of chipped paint.
I knew I had to figure out a way to get the paint off of the hardware, as we just could not/would not replace the original brass with boring big box stuff. As it turns out, this is SO easy to do. Are you ready to learn how? Here goes. Cook it in a crockpot.
Seriously. All you have to do to get 50+ years worth of paint layers off of brass door hardware is cook it in a crockpot overnight. Since there was a high probability that some of the paint I was scraping off was lead paint, I always wore gloves. Here is your shopping list with handy affiliate links.
- Large Crockpot (that you will never, ever use for food). If you can find one at Goodwill or a Thrift store, that is even better. DO NOT use the Crockpot that you will use for food! The toxic goo that is created in your paint melting brew is not something you will be able to safely wash away. Get a designated “project” Crockpot.
- Rubber Gloves. The juice of this project is gross, and if – as in my case – you may be dealing with lead paint, do not touch it! Wear gloves.
- Safety Goggles. See above reference to lead paint juice. Hopefully the need for goggles is self explanatory.
- Tongs. These will come in handy so you don’t have to reach into blazing hot toxic soup to retrieve your hardware. I used rubber tongs to avoid scratches.
- Plastic Putty Knives. I didn’t use anything fancy here, and plastic is better so that you don’t scratch the metal hardware as you are scraping off the paint.
- Plastic Drop Cloth. This is definitely an outdoor project, but you will still want to spread out a plastic drop cloth so that the paint you scrape off can be easily cleaned up and tossed.
Step One: Remove door hardware. Be sure to keep a separate box or bag where you can place any inner workings or “guts” of door hardware that you remove.
Step Two: Lightly scrape off any flaky chunks of paint.
Step Three: Place hardware in crockpot and cover with water. Don’t overstuff the crockpot with hardware. All of the item should have a little wiggle room so that the water can really soak everything. If you have an entire house worth of hardware to cook and scrape, you may have to do several batches.
Step Four: Turn crockpot on medium heat and let “cook” overnight, about 12 hours. By the way, this stuff does not smell like the delicious roast that you normally cook in a crock pot. It stinks. If you have an outside area to leave this stuff “cooking”, I highly recommend that.
Step Five: Wearing your gloves and goggles, use tongs to remove one piece of the hardware. Scrape a small section with your putty knife. If the paint scrapes easily off, remove the rest of the hardware. If it is still stuck, add a bit more water and let it cook longer.
Step Six: Scrape paint off of hardware with plastic putty knife. It should scrape off very easily. You will want to have a junk rag on hand to dry the pieces off when you’re done scraping. I also used Bar Keepers Friend to really shine everything up once I had the paint removed.
Step Seven: Reinstall door hardware. Wonder where all those little parts you put in that box actually went.
To empty the sludge left over in the crock pot, I poured the juice down a utility sink drain and cleaned the sink. I then added the left over paint flakes that I strained out to the pile that I’d scraped off of the hardware, and wrapped it in the plastic drop cloth and threw it out.
And that’s it friends. Follow this process and you’re left with beautiful, shiny, paint-free door hardware, voila! More to come on the Bungalow reno!
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