Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Removing paint from doorknobs

The flip has all its original, interior door hardware, but of course, it had been painted.

I decided to see what was underneath to determine if it was worth cleaning them.

Step 1:
Use a utility knife or razor blade to chip paint out of screws, around edges of screw heads and edge of backplate. Remove hardware from door.

Step 2:
Place in Crock-Pot.

I had to upgrade from my old "dip"-sized crockpot because the backplates at this house are much larger than mine. They fit perfectly in this oval one from Menards (on sale right now for $15.)

Step 3:
Fill crock with water, covering hardware by at least one inch.
Add a tablespoon or two of detergent (I use liquid Tide).

Step 4:
Turn on high for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 5:
Remove from crock. THEY WILL BE HOT. Use pliers or old tongs.
Hollow knobs may fill with hot water, which may drip all over the place if you aren't careful (speaking as someone who isn't).

Fresh from the crock
You can see how the top layer of paint has loosened.

Voila! Layer one peels right off.
Step 5:
Let hardware sit until cool enough to handle. Peel or rub off loosened paint. (I use paper towels.)

After first rub down

Holy crap, look at this copper-plated glory.

Up until this point, it took me longer to get the hardware off of the door than it did to remove the paint.

Step 6:

Continue cleaning as necessary. I use Noxon metal polish cleaner to remove tarnish.

I also just got a Dremel rotary tool for these projects. You can buy a set of attachments specifically for metal work like this.

The Dremel brush whizzed paint chips out of the details in a flash, but I still needed to remove tarnish by handcleaning with Noxon before polishing with a Dremel attachment.

(Caution: Soft metals like copper and brass need a special brush.)

I figure it will take about an hour to clean each set, but the results look like they will be worth it.

Only 10 more to go!


Kingwell said...

Thanks for the step by step explanation and photos. My hubbie and I just heard about this on This Old House. Are you able to use your crock pot again for food, or is yours devoted exclusively to home improvement?

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt eat out of a crock-pot that had paint (lead or otherwise) melting in it.

littleitalygem said...

The Crock-Pot is for home improvement only, which you would decide once you saw how gross the water gets after doing this.
Retire an old one, buy a cheap one, look for them at thrift stores.
I saw another blog use the same technique with an electric wok.

Anonymous said...

To clean brass use straight ammonia and 0000 steel wool. Do it in well ventilated area. When all tarnish is removed wash with soapy water, rinse and rinse again, and wipe dry.

If you have the facilities to do in your remodeling project it is easier to put you painted items in a big roaster and put on the stove and boil them until paint starts to lift. Cool and then scrub paint off with steel wool

Anonymous said...

We are looking for original grates for a house we are flipping just like you have pictured here. Any clue where we can find some? Looked on the web.... We are restoring the door hardware right now so thank you for your directions.

littleitalygem said...

A&R Salvage has lots of old grates, so I'd look there first.
2820 Vinton Street
Omaha, NE 68105
(402) 346-4470

For more about A&R or other Omaha salvage stores:

Or search the web for online salvage yards like this one:

Good luck on your flip!

anonymous mezzo said...

I found your blog through TOH. This is exactly the visual step by step I was hoping for. Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Several decent suggestions. Very well thought out

The Victorian Times said...

Just bought an Eastlake Victorian and will be doing this project in the future. Thanks for the visuals.

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