Not all painters are created equal — especially those who ch0ose to slop paint over beautiful, antique hardware. It may seem like a daunting task to return those beautiful bits to their original glory, but don't be fooled. Homeowners and renters alike can remedy this problem with just a few supplies, none of which are toxic.
If you live in an old apartment building you've probably got interesting design details hiding in your hardware just beneath a few layers of paint. Exposing them isn't that much more difficult than plopping everything in a crockpot and waiting. It's a great project to tackle on the weekend, a little bit of work will bring loads satisfaction and charm to your dwelling.
What You Need
- Crock pot (specifically for this use, do not use it for food)
- Nylon brush
- Utility knife
- Dropcloth or large paper sack
- Rubber gloves
- Laundry detergent
1. With a utility knife, score around the perimeter of the hardware to help it break away from the paint.
2. Loosen the screws and remove the hardware from the structure.
The worst thing you can do is misplace one of a kind, antique hardware, so be really careful once you've removed everything. Storing items in labeled freezer bags is a great way to stay organized. The best way to insure you won't lose anything is to reinstall the hardware as soon as you can once it's been stripped.
3. Place the hardware in a crockpot, add a tablespoon or so of laundry detergent, turn it on low and let it sit overnight. If you are worried about the possibility of fumes from boiling lead paint, don't be. The water will act as a containment (even when boiling) and will keep the lead in the water.
4. Remove just the piece of hardware you are ready to strip and lay it on a drop cloth or paper sack. Work quickly on the hardware, the paint will only come off while it's still warm.
5. Grab your nylon brush and begin to scrape away the layers of paint. The paint will be bubbly and fairly easy to remove, however, you might need to use the hard edges of your brush to get off stubborn layers.
A utility knife (used carefully, don't scratch the finish!) can be really helpful in getting into the nooks and crannies of the hardware.
6. Once the all the hardware has been stripped, protect it with a beeswax polish or spray on lacquer. My iron hinges needed a little sprucing up, so I hit them with a light coat of black spray paint.
7. Reinstall the hardware. Maintain cleaning, and polish every six months with beeswax polish.
Cleanup: Gather up all debris and throw it in the trash. Strain any sludge you can from the crockpot and toss the it in the trash. You can then dispose of the water down the drain.
Note: I'm pretty positive there is lead based paint in one of my paint layers so I kept my crockpot water for three days until I finally heard back from the EPA on how to dispose of it. The representative I spoke with said under the Resource Conservation and Recover Act (RCRA) "wash water" is not considered LBP debris. Whew!