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How To Safely Remove Paint from Door Hardware

The doors in your home are not just portals separating rooms from one another, they are potentially beautiful, artful pieces of design, especially older, ornate period doors, which will add a gorgeous accent to any home. Restoring these doors to their original glory though can be a trying task.

One of the most common restoration techniques is to remove paint from door locks, handles, knocks and hinges that might have been applied over the years, either on purpose or by accident. Using harsh chemicals such as paint thinner in this instances is certainly not recommended as the caustic nature of the chemicals could not only damage the metal and leave tell-tale 'smears' behind, but could prove dangerous if you inhale the fumes or get any on your skin. Scraping or sanding too is generally difficult or impossible, as most of the surfaces will be curved and uneven.

There are a few simple, non invasive paint removal techniques though, which use conventional household cleaning products and are better for both the environment and your door. We'll be exploring a few of them in detail below.

Water

We're not joking, but of course we don't just mean giving it a severe wash. Many oil and latex based paints can be removed by detaching the door hardware in question and putting it in a slow cooker filled with water. Leave the hardware to 'cook' for a good 12 hours (overnight perhaps) and the paint will weaken considerably, enough so that you should be able to simply scrub it off with little effort. Polish the hardware and reattach it and it'll look almost brand new! It should be noted however that 'slow cooking' steel could cause it to rust. The same is true of 'coated' steel, especially if there are visible cracks.

Baking Soda

All you need for this ingenious method is an old cooking pot (that you don't use anymore, as the paint will leave behind toxins that could harm you if ingested), some baking soda, and water. Fill the pot with water to about the halfway point and shake a layer of baking soda into it, so that the bottom is completely covered. Next, take the detached door hardware you wish to remove the paint from and place it into the pot, making sure it's completely covered with water. Put the pot on the hob and heat it on a low to medium heat until it starts simmering. Now reduce the heat so that it continues to simmer and leave it for around half an hour. The water and baking soda will soften the paint to the extent that you should be able to simply peel it off with your fingers. If it doesn't work, boil it for a little longer. Finally dispose of the water and baking soda mixture and use a clean, dry cloth to polish the metal. If the metal struggles to return to its original shine, don't hesitate to use a metal polish.

Paint Scraper

If the surface of the door hardware in question is quite smooth, you might be able to remove the paint by scraping it away with a flat blade. Start with a utility knife, cutting around the hardware items outer edge to break the 'seal' of the paint and then start scraping. Some latex based paints might not even need to be scraped (they may just peel off) but if the paint refuses to budge, try using one of the methods above.

Warnings

Though the methods above are quite safe, there are precautions you should always take when working with paint. Older paints especially might contain lead, which can be damaging, especially when inhaled. For this reason you should always work in a well-ventilated area and make sure that you dispose fully of any paint that falls off the hardware. Pots used for paint removal should also (obviously) never be used again in a culinary capacity as there are highly toxic chemicals in most paints (especially in older paints) that could embed themselves into the pots, to the extent that a simple rinse really won't do the trick. It's far safer to either throw the pot away, or keep it to one side as your designated 'paint removal pot'.

Make sure you've got plenty of space when paint stripping. It can get messy.

Make sure you've got plenty of space when paint stripping. It can get messy.

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