before and after basics: hardware


Hello friends! I hope you’re all having a great week and enjoying the beauty that fall has to offer! This week on Before & After Basics, it’s all about the hardware. One of the first things I decide when I look at a new piece is whether I’m going to use the existing hardware, paint over it or replace it all together. This can be a tricky decision, but so important for that final transformation detail.

Today, I’d like to focus on removing paint from existing hardware. You can remove paint from hardware using a few different methods, so I’m going to talk about some ideas I’ve researched and let you decide which process works best for you. Let’s get started! — Barb

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Images via This Old House


  • methyl chloride stripper (you can use Citristrip, as well)
  • chemical-safe container
  • old crock pot
  • liquid laundry detergent
  • nylon bristle brush
  • beeswax polish


Chemical soak method

Pour methyl chloride stripping agent into a chemical-safe container, cover all the hardware and let soak. If there are multiple layers of paint on your hardware from years and years of painting, it may take a day of soaking to come completely clean. Check your pieces after a few hours to see how the process is coming. Make sure to use gloves and eye protection when dealing with harsh chemicals. Move on to step 3 below.

Crock pot method

1. Place the hardware in a crock pot and cover with water. Add two tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent and turn the heat to medium. Put on the lid and let soak overnight. After soaking overnight, the paint should be soft and ready to fall off the metal.

2. Make sure you use an old crock pot or one you don’t intend to use for food again, as the paint chemicals will make it unsafe for food prep.

3. Pull hardware out of the crock pot or chemical soak with tongs and gently remove any remaining paint with a nylon bristle brush. Do not use a wire brush, as it will scratch the surface of the metal. Work quickly because the paint hardens once it is out of the pot! You can dip pieces back in the crock pot or chemical solution to help loosen any stubborn spots.

4. You will want to use some sort of protection on your shiny new metal. You can apply a nice beeswax finish with a cloth, or you can use a spray-on lacquer instead. If you decide to go the lacquer route, just note that if it ever starts to chip or wear off, you will need to chemically strip it again.

The chemical soak is probably the fastest removal method, but you will be dealing with harsh chemicals and need to work outdoors, taking all necessary safety precautions. The soak obviously takes a little longer and you may need to apply a little patience with stubborn spots, but no harsh chemicals are used in this process.

There is one more method of removal: sand blasting. You can check with a local automotive shop to see if they have the tools needed to make quick work out of your hardware paint removal!

See you next week!

Images via This Old House

  1. Trina says:

    An even simpler method is to boil water and baking soda and then put in the hardware. Leave it in for a while and the old paint strips right off. You can use a tooth brush or other utensil to take any stuck on paint off. Then dry and varnish to restore to like new. This works great, is cheap and doesn’t need dangerous chemicals.

  2. Elissa says:

    They sell slow cooker disposable liners that you can use to protect your slow cooker so you can still use it for food. Usually you can find them in the tin foil and saran wrap aisle. They’re not cheap, but they’re cheaper than a new crock pot!

  3. Stuart E. says:

    You can also remove paint from hardware through electrolysis where you basically run a current through the metal. I’ve done it and it works like a charm!

    However, this is very dangerous and you can get easily electrocuted if you aren’t careful. Yet for those of us who are confident in our methods, it literally just flakes off.

    Also not as toxic as chemical stripper! Could I call this….green??

  4. Andy says:

    So where do you dispose of the chemical post-soak?

    1. Barb says:

      Andy, It is always best to call your local sanitation department and ask them what they prefer you do. I know when I have leftover paint and chemicals here locally they have me pour cat litter into the container to soak up all of the liquid. I then set the cans out on the curb (I have city curb pick up), and they dispose of it properly for me. You want to make sure that you never pour chemical waste down the drain or into city sewers.

  5. Celia says:

    I’m so glad I caught this today! We are remodeling a 75 year old house and will be restoring all the old hardware. Thanks for the tips!!

    I have tried the boiling water and baking soda method… and it worked to some degree…

  6. sgist says:

    hot water & white vinegar soak works too!

  7. jenny says:

    I used the boil method and it worked pretty well. Then just used some steel wool brushes to take the rest off and added oil. I had a little rust problem at first but it all worked out in the end! Definitely worth it!

  8. Kat says:

    Does it matter what type of metal the hardware is? Is most antique hardware made of brass? I have a bunch of cabinet door hinges that I would love to do this but I’m not sure what the metal is…

  9. CBaker says:

    I’ve boiled hardware in baking soda and water and it worked really, really well. Maybe some paints are more difficult to remove this way?
    Also, only do this with hardware that is made completely of metal. Hinges with a small plastic or rubber piece may be damaged by being boiled.

  10. Anna @ D16 says:

    Aaaaaand I’ll be adding this to the ever-lengthening list of “posts Barb wrote so I don’t have to”. ;)

    Thanks, Barb! Thanks, Grace! Y’all are awesome.

  11. Gavin says:

    Please don’t use methyl chloride stripper for of the metal parts have lead based paints on them the lead will off gas and you do not want to breath that in. Check out

  12. Loora says:

    This sadly doesn’t solve my problem…

    The dresser I’m making over (yes, still onto that) has hardware solidly attached to the wodden frame, that I like and want to keep. I cannot take them off, so I had to leave them while I painted. Since it has two tiny points of attach to the wood, I had to paint between those, so there was no way of protecting the hardware. They have some paint on them now.

    They are metal hardware… can I sand them to get the paint off ? A thought of a wetrag, but I’m afraid the new coats of paint will also go away…

  13. Tami says:

    I tried using stripper long ago and found that it badly discolored the metal – maybe I was using the wrong kind of stripper? So I’ve been relying on boiling the pieces in plain water: boil for 5-10 minutes, pull out, peel off what you can, repeat as needed. This method also works to remove caked on grease and grime.

    Again, thanks so much for the other instructions – your stuff is great!

  14. Petra says:

    I swear you guys are stalking my life! All of these how to posts are exactly what I need to refinish my furniture. I just took off a gross and crusted (but beautiful beneath all that) handle from a nightstand yesterday and wanted to refinish it. This is perfect. Thank you!

  15. diana says:

    Barb – just wanted to say: I love your posts! Great info.

  16. amy says:

    Or, you could just boil baking soda, a bit of vinegar and some dish detergent, let it soak and let the paint peel itself off.

  17. Erica says:

    **CAUTION** — methyl chloride is toxic and carcinogenic!! If you’re going to use this stuff, be sure to use gloves, goggles, and be in a well-ventilated area. DO NOT pour used stripper down the drain. Be sure to follow ALL the safety, use, and disposal instructions on the container. I STRONGLY recommend using ANY other method.

  18. Lindsey says:

    Why is there EVER a reason to paint over hardware? Seriously, don’t do that. Ever.

  19. A M Rogers says:

    Any tips on how to remove paint from bakelite?

  20. jace says:

    why no mention of nontoxic strippers such as “Peel Away 6” ?

    1. Barb says:

      am rogers, I am not sure about bakelite since it would be a more porous surface. I will see what i can come up with.

      jace, I actually do mention Citristrip in the materials section :)

  21. I’ve had success with soaking paint covered hardware in ammonia. After a good soak, the paint comes off easily and there’s no risk of the hardware rusting in ammonia.

  22. Laura says:

    Just wondering what beeswax finish you recommend?

  23. charlene says:

    How do remove keyhole hardware prior to painting? They appear to just be glued in, but
    need to be extracted somehow.


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