Painted over hardware is nothing new in old homes. It sucks, but it happens more often than not and with our home it seems everything has been painted over many many times, with globs of paint covering everything. I was determined to salvage the 130 year old hardware, especially when their design equivalent new would cost me over $130 a door. I remembered reading in an old This Old House you could remove old paint from hardware simply with a CrockPot and some liquid laundry detergent. I searched the web for the article, found it here and tried it out for myself.
My Step-by-step, how to get paint off hardware:
Put the hardware into a CrockPot and add some liquid laundry detergent...the stuff you wash your clothes with. Make sure the water covers the hardware completely. I didn't over stuff the CrockPot with hardware but I did stack a layer or two. I also designated a CrockPot speciffically for this project. No more chili in that CrockPot but the extra cost is worth it.* (See the bottom of the blog post for lead paint removal and concerns, although I think much of the crappy paint jobs that resulted in covering the door were after 1978, because the original 1880's homeowners would never paint over their lovely hardware...)
1. The hardware straight off the door
3. Add some detergent
4. Plug her in and let it cook on medium overnight
5. Remove the "cooked" hardware with plastic tongs as not to scratch the metal and simply peal off the paint with your fingers...using gloves of course.
6. Remove any lingering paint with a nylon brush. Do not use a metal brush or scrub pad as this could scratch the metal.
7. Polish up the hardware to discover the original color and beauty. My local hardware store, Charles Street Supply, recommended Noxon.
Charles Street Supply also polished up a little test strip on the back to see if the piece is solid brass or mearly brass plated. The silvery metal and a magnet test proved they are stainless steel with a rose brass plate, so industrial buffing would strip off the brass plating entirely, but I kind of like the worn/polished look. It looks a thousand times better than covered in paint and I hope it will make the renovation and new paint jobs on the trim, doors and walls feel that much more elegant. I promise to post photos ones we have refinished the doors and reinstalled them into the house. It may take a bit, but slow and steady wins the race.
* Also note from the This Old House website: In Massachusetts in 2001, according to Jim Roberts, an environmental analyst with the state's Department of Environmental Protection: "Massachusetts adopted federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that reclassify lead paint residue from a residence as household waste. The idea is that if it is easier for homeowners to dispose of lead, they will be more likely to remove it from their homes." ...and that all the paint removed...could simply be bagged up and chucked into the trash.