Brass Hardware – Removing Paint and Polishing it Until it Shines!

I am revisiting an old project today! Let’s stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Almost right after moving in, we transformed this old dining room server into a media stand for our family room. It is still one of my absolutely favorite furniture makeovers to date!

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For those of you who have been around here since then, you might also remember that the ridiculously awesome hardware that came on the piece gave me a ton of trouble! You can see the condition the hardware came in on the left below. After HOURS of scrubbing with lemons/salt and Brasso, I finally got one single ring pull to look shiny. But it took a TON of work, and I was totally discouraged. After some research, I gave rub’n’buff a try, but it made a mess…everywhere.

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Partly out of exasperation, I finally decided to give my solid brass hardware a coat of silver metallic spray paint and call it a day. You can read more about it HERE. And it looked good, fresh, and clean…for a while…

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I don’t really have any good shots of the hardware before I tackled this latest project (because I started it on a whim late at night!), but trust me when I say that with the lack of primer, spray paint designed for metals, or a protective top coat, it didn’t take long for the spray paint to chip away and for the pulls to look downright awful up close. Combine that with the design- and blog-worlds’ recent obsession with everything brass…and I was feeling ridiculous that I covered up solid brass hardware with a bad paint job (insert sulking here).

And so I stared at them for months, knowing I had to do something but not looking forward to the hours of work required to get them back to their shiny state. Then one night I was watching Rehab Addict and she had a tip about removing paint from old hardware. I literally hopped off the couch (yes, at 9:00 at night in my PJs almost ready for bed!), grabbed a screwdriver and pulled all my hardware off. So not like me, but I figured Nicole Curtis knew what she was talking about!

Well…before I talk you through how I did it, look at my beautiful hardware now!!!!!

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The secret? A slow cooker! Well, it may not be a secret to you, but it had never occurred to me, so I figured I’d give it a try. Nicole said to put your old, painted hardware in water in a slow cooker on high for up to 10 hours. Easy enough! I popped my pulls in an old pot I had, set it on high and waited a few hours. Umm…2 to be exact. For some reason, I didn’t want to leave them cooking all night. But, in just two hours I could already see the paint easily peeling off the round pulls. WOW!

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Here’s the thing, just soaking them in the crockpot didn’t do all the hard work. I did have to take a few extra steps to get all the gunk off and get them super shiny. (Admittedly, I didn’t soak them for up to 10 hours, maybe that would have made even more of a difference?) But I can tell you this, I did a little experiment with the hinges. I didn’t soak/cook some and soaked/cooked others, and it made a HUGE difference in the amount of work required after their bath to get them clean. Soaking not only helped remove the paint, but I could also literally peel the old dark tarnish off – it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen! So…I’m a convert, and take my word for it: soak your hardware – for a long time!

And after that…here’s what you need to finish the job:

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After soaking the hardware for hours, the spray paint still needed some help. A (very) quick douse and rub with mineral spirits totally did the trick. Once the paint was off, I still needed to contend with the few tarnished spots that remained, and that’s where Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF) comes in. Folks – I have tried EVERYTHING to polish hardware and I have never seen anything work like this. (And the best part? It doesn’t stink to high heavens and it’s super cheap!). For my round pulls, a single coating in BKF and rubbing with an old t-shirt made them like knew. That was it! Oh the difference compared to rounds and rounds of Brasso and tough scrubbing a few years ago!

The rounded and ridged hinges however did take a bit of work. I found myself rotating between an old toothbrush, a sturdy bristle brush and a metal bristle brush during several rounds of BKF to get the tarnish off. But honestly…the longer the hardware soaked, I found I could just use the BKF with the old t-shirt to get them clean. I think I had all 4 pulls and all 8 hinges done in less time than just one knob took me years ago! I was so hooked, I scoured my house for all my brass to clean!

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What I thought was going to be days of tough scrubbing with harsh chemicals turned out to be hours of soaking with just a few hours of work to get all my brass back to it’s original state. The hinges aren’t completely tarnish free, but they sure look great to me! After popping them back onto the media stand, I regretted not doing it sooner!

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I know brass is everywhere these days,…trends aside, it just feels very classic to me. This simple change brought a huge dose of warmth to this space; which, honestly, I didn’t realize how badly it was needed until now! My brass tray and Fall accessories really help bring everything together!

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Unfortunately, I don’t have a great pic of the true before of this hardware (before the spray paint), but here’s what I started with before the slow cooker and the BKF…and what my pulls look like now!

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And while I’m at it, I thought I would give you the most recent glance at this side of our family room. This is one of the views in our house that I look at all.the.time because it’s where our TV is. After perpetual futzing for 2+ years, I think I just may finally have an arrangement I am content with. Although, in recent weeks, I’ve been wishing I carried the large frames/photos all the way around the TV (on all three sides), but alas, that will have to wait for the next house. Right now all my matching frames are hung elsewhere throughout the house! So done this wall is…for now 😉

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I can’t say polishing this hardware was no work…but with the help of the slow cooker and my new favorite product: Bar Keeper’s Friend – this job wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And I really am just so smitten with the results!

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Have some old hardware that needs some love? Give these tips a try…I promise it’s easier than you’re expecting!

Have a great weekend folks!

 Megan

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9 Responses to Brass Hardware – Removing Paint and Polishing it Until it Shines!

  1. I love watching Rehab Addict too. It's one of the few house shows my hubby actually likes because she tries to restore the house to the original state with a few updates. Even though I'm not a fan of brass, you did a great job on restoring your hardware.

  2. Hi! I’ve been following your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to tell
    you keep up the great job!

  3. Love this! I’m wondering if you can tell me about how big (in inches) the handles. I love how these finish the entire piece and I’m hoping to do some hunting to find some! Thanks for taking the time to share all of these awesome furniture upgrades you do. I should start taking before and after photos of my pieces but I get so excited to have a finished piece that I’m already half way through my project before I remember to snap a “before” photo! Ha! May some day I’ll remember!

    Thanks so much!

    • Thank you so much for this nice comment, Stacy!

      For reference, these round handles are about 3″ in diameter and they are one of my favorite things about this piece! I am so glad you enjoy my furniture posts, admittedly I haven’t done any makeovers in a while but I have two currently in my house that are getting done this year!

      Hope you’re having a great week!
      Megan

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