Cleaning up old hardware
A previous owner painted over all of the interior door hinges and exterior storm-window hangers and catches in my house. I’d love to restore them, but I don’t know whether paint-stripping chemicals will damage the metal. Any suggestions?
Mary, via email, None
I’ve had good luck stripping paint from hardware without harsh chemicals. After removing the hardware from its installed location, put it in an old kitchen pot you don’t use anymore. Because lead paint might be present, make sure you won’t be using the pot for food again.
Fill the pot with enough water to submerge the hardware twice over, and mix in about 1/3 to 1/2 of a box of baking soda. Bring the water to a light boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the hardware for two to four hours. The length of time depends on the number of layers of paint and how stubborn they are. The paint should be soft enough to pull off easily. Using tongs or pliers, pull the hardware out of the hot water, and use a stiff-bristle brush to remove the paint before it cools and rehardens. Once the hardware has cooled enough to be handled, clean up the surface with some #0000 steel wool before finishing with spray lacquer or spray polyurethane.
I use new brass screws to reinstall the hardware because the old screws can be difficult to clean completely.