Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To: Remove Paint from Hardware

When trying to restore an old house, paint removal is a common occurance. We went through gallons of paint stripper taking the paint off doors, door trim, the stairs and the fireplace brick. The typical paint removal process went something along the lines of:

Soak in paint stripper for a couple hours...
Scrub with steel wool and a wire brush...
Take Advil for pounding headache...
Soak again...
Scrub again...
Vacate the house due to the intolerable level of noxious fumes...

That was until I read a post by Mrs. Limestone about boiling off paint using nothing but water and baking soda. Needless to say I was extatic - anything that avoided paint stripper was worth a try.

So when it came time to remove paint from our cast iron vent covers, I set myself up in the kitchen to try 'poaching' the paint off. The results were not immediate, it took several iterations of boiling and scrubbing to remove the multiple layers of paint and it still did not remove 100% of the paint from the recesses and detailing but overall I was impressed.

I believe it would work extremely well on metal without much detail such as the door plates Mrs. Limestone did. I will definetly be giving this a try in the future before I ever reach for the paint stripper again.

  • Large pot
  • Water
  • Baking Soda
  • Paper towel, rags, newspaper
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tongs
  • Wire brush
  • Steel wool
  • Scraper or putty knife

Step 1: Preparation

Locate a pot large enough to hold the hardware - make sure it is not a pot you intend to cook in ever again! I used foil baking pans purchased for $1.50 from the grocery store, which I doubled up just in case.

Prepare a work surface near the stove - you will not want to travel far with the hot, wet hardware. Protect the surface with old rags or newspaper.

Remove any loose peices or screws from the hardware.

Step 2: Simmer

Place the pot on the stove. Put the hardware into the pot and fill with enough water to cover. Add baking soda to the water - Apartment Therapy suggests using 1/4 cup of baking soda for every quart of water but this process will also work without any baking soda at all.

Bring the water to a gentle boil and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. The water will turn murky and you will see the paint start to bubble off the hardware.


Step 3: Scrub

Remove the hardware from the water with tongs and place on the prepared work surface. Wearing rubber gloves, immediatly start scrubbing the paint off with what ever seems to work - steel wool, wire brush, paper towel. Once all the loose paint has been worked off, rinse under running water and wipe with paper towel.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat as necessary to remove all the paint.

Step 5: Finish

After all the paint is removed, rinse and dry thouroughly. Clear coat or polish the metal to prevent corrosion. We had our vent covers nickle plated.


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