How To Strip Paint off Antique Hardware – Without chemicals!

We feel extremely lucky to still have all the original hardware in this house.  Honestly, it was one of the selling features.  The house had a lot of things wrong…like no kitchen and a bathroom with no floor…BUT, it had most of the original hardware and trim.  Many old houses had these things ripped out along the way when “modern” renovations were done.  To replace door knobs, hinges, and the like with either reproductions or actual antiques gets extremely pricey.

Here’s what our door knobs look like:

Purdy, huh?

Even if you have the original hardware, it likely has paint on part or all of it.  Maybe even multiple layers of paint.  So, the question becomes…how do you remove all that paint?

We’ve tried many different methods and have found a way that uses NO chemicals and is very easy.

Tools Required:

  • Metal hardware with unwanted paint on it
  • Scrubby sponge – I use the one that is safe for non stick pans…it’s scrubby, but won’t scratch.
  • Rubber gloves – I use the ones you find in the cleaning aisle
  • Crock pot – one that you will NEVER use for food again.  If you don’t have an extra, try looking at second hand stores to buy one for this purpose.

Step one:  Fill crock pot 1/2-3/4 of the way with water, plug in, and turn on “low” heat.

Step two:  Put painted trim in crock pot.  You can put multiple pieces in at once.

Cooking the hardware

Step three:  Let the hardware cook for a while.  I usually toss it in when we start a project in the morning, let it cook all day, then clean the hardware at the end of the day.  It’s sort of my reward for working all day.  I know, weird to think of cleaning hardware as a reward…

Step four:  Put on your rubber gloves.  The purpose of these gloves is two fold…first off, it allows you to handle the hot metal hardware without burning the heck out of your hands.  It’s still hot and you have to be careful to not burn yourself, but the gloves help a lot.  Second, it protects your hands from getting paint all over them.  It may be a good idea to wear safety glasses and a respirator since you *may* be dealing with lead paint.  The paint is wet, though, which definitely helps prevent lead paint dust.

Step five:  Remove the hardware from the crock pot and start cleaning with your scrubby sponge.  You’ll find that most of the paint will peel off easily and you’ll only need to focus on the detailed parts of the piece.

Paint peeling off the hardware

After a few minutes and some scrubbing, your hardware will be revealed!

Before and after window pull

Here’s a window sash lock that I was going to throw away.  Glad I tried the paint removal trick before I tossed it!

Sash lock before and after

A few words of caution…be careful when handling lead paint and do not flush any paint chips down the drain!  Also, the hardware gets very hot, use caution so you don’t burn yourself!

Happy paint stripping!

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Wife, mom, small business owner, and hobby farm hopeful.
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4 Responses to How To Strip Paint off Antique Hardware – Without chemicals!

  1. Siouxsi says:


  2. Sandy Walby says:

    What a great idea! The hardware is really neat.

  3. Mom says:

    Wow! Great idea and really beautiful hardware! You are so durned clever!

  4. Landis Arnold says:

    I remember the handles well. It seems the intermediate folks there wanted to paint things that didn’t need painting. Great work on the house!

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