A step by step guide to finally get rid of that ugly brass hardware in your house without spending a ton of money.
When we bought our house, I really fell in love with some of the details the previous owners put into it; the great crown molding, the built in bookshelves and the gorgeous french doors into the sun room. One thing I fell into hate with are all the brass accents like the light fixtures and door hardware. And I just don’t have the funds to replace everything. I could buy a couple door knobs here and there when I have the budget. But, what if they get discontinued before I finish upgrading all the doors? And the hardware I have now is really good quality (like most of the stuff the previous owners used) and I like the overall look of it. I just don’t like the color. It’s dated and doesn’t fit with the look I want.
So, why not paint it myself? That’s what I decided to do. I have the knowledge; my first job was in a hardware store and over the years I worked there I picked up a few things. One of those things was how to paint the right way. I just haven’t had the time until now. We bought our house a month before my son was born and I finally have time to do this. No more dated brass! Okay, well I don’t have time to do the whole house yet. So I had to settle on my pantry door for now.
Here is how I updated my pantry door (and eventually the rest of the house):
What You Need
- Tool to remove your hardware (hammer, screw driver and/or drill)
- Course sand paper
- The lower the number, the grittier the paper. 80 grit is good here. And you can do sheets. But, I opted for a sanding sponge to get into the tiny details better.
- Fine sand paper
- The higher the number, the smoother the paper. I went with a 160 grit sponge.
- Damp cloth or sponge
- Painters tape
- A well ventilated area
- Drop Cloth or similar
- I used an Amazon box from one of my biweekly deliveries.
- Spray Primer
- Look for a basic primer that works on metal. You don’t need rust covering or any junk like that. Try and get something a close to the color your painting as possible. I’m spraying the hardware black so I looked for black primer at 4 stores before giving up and getting grey. Grey was fine under the black. White wouldn’t have been that great.
- Spray paint in your choice of color and finish.
- I went with a satin black.
- Mask (optional but recommended)
- Disposable gloves (optional)
Step 1 – Prep
Put down that can! I mean it. We have a lot of work to do before you just go spraying.
First, remove all your hardware. Sure, it’s more work. But, you’ll have better results, more control and an easier time painting with it off. And I mean all of it off; knobs, hinges, strike plate, latch bolt and screws. Yeah, you’ll be painting the screws too. Just the heads. You don’t want a nice black knob with brass screws right?
Start with the door first. You can remove the pins from the hinges; first close the door, then place a nail in the small hole at the bottom of the hinge pin and lightly hammer up. This will drive the pine up and then you can remove it. Now, remove the hinge plates from the jamb and the door. I highly suggest this method because it doesn’t put unneeded strain on the wood of the jamb and door. But, if you go this route, I find it’s easier to spray the hinges if you put them back together first.Or, if you have help like I did, with the door open, have someone hold the door and remove the hinges from the door then the jamb. I do not suggest this method because it can damage the jamb and door because unneeded stress is applied as you start removing screws while the door is attached. Then, remove the knobs, along with all of the coordinating hardware.
Next, it’s time to sand. This is very important because metal is non-porous which makes it harder for the paint to adhere. Sanding creates tiny imperfections that the paint can grab onto. You’ll start with your 80 grit block and get into all those little nooks. You don’t need to go crazy; just scuff the surface.
Now you’ll want to clean everything. I know, I know! It sucks and you just want to get to painting. But, painting is about prep, prep, prep. So much prep. And, patience and waiting. I am not patient. I hate waiting. But, I’ve learned the hard way what happens when you try and cut corners with painting. So, get a damp cloth and start scrubbing. You’ll want to get all the sanding dust, fingerprints, smudges, grease, etc off. I can’t imaging there is much grime left if you sanded right. So, this should be easier after sanding.
Step 2- Prime
Yay! It’s time to paint, right? No, it’s not. We have to prime first. Well, you don’t have to prime. But, you should. It will make a difference in the longevity of this project. And I don’t know about you but if I have to do this again, I’m spending hundreds of dollars on new hardware instead. I don’t have time to do this over and over. So I’m priming before painting, even though my spray paint says it has primer already, to create and even better surface for the paint to stick to. And it does make a difference so I’d suggest you don’t skip this step even if you technically can. Remember what I said? Paint is a lot of prep, patience and waiting if you want to do it the right way.
I poked the knob and the screws through a cardboard box which helped to hold them upright for spraying and drying. You could use some type of foam but I wasn’t trying to spend more than I had to. You could also use a flat piece of cardboard and place it over a bucket to hold it upright. I taped off my latch bolt because I didn’t want it painted.
Make sure you shake the can well before you start (and shake periodically while spraying). Really well. Keep shaking till your arm hurts. Or, about two minutes. And, practice first if you’ve never used spray paint before.
Your technique with spray primer is the same as with spray paint; light trigger finger with short, even bursts (don’t just hold the nozzle down), use wide, sweeping motions. Start spraying before the item and end after it, meaning you don’t want to start or stop your spray on the item. This prevents drips and weird spots. And spray from 8-10 inches away. Rotate and turn each item so you get all the little detail and spots. This is where the gloves may come in handy. Then you can handle while you spray so you have control and the ability to turn an item over, etc.
Don’t over spray! This is so important. Otherwise you’ll end up with a gloopy, drippy mess. Less is more with paint. Well, less and then less again and maybe even again. Does that make sense? What I mean is do several thin coats for the best outcome. It will cut your drying time and stop gloopiness. Nothing is worse than having to sand and repaint. And let it dry well between every coat. That could mean waiting hours (yes hours plural) between each coat, depending on what the temperature and humidity is like where you’re painting. If it’s dry to the touch then you can reapply another coat. Here is what one coat vs. two coats looks like:
Step 3 – Paint
Believe it or not you’re are still not quite ready to paint. You have to sand again; lightly, very lightly, with the 160 grit sanding block. Just enough to scuff the surface a bit so that the paint adheres better. Then, get your damp cloth again because you have to wipe that dust off. NOW you can paint.
Use the same technique as I describe for priming; light trigger finger, short bursts, wide sweeping motion, don’t over apply. And again, be patient and let it dry well between each coat. If you decide to use the gloved hand method for the second coat be sure to move away from the other pieces. This will ensure that fallout from your paint doesn’t land on the other parts and cause bumpy paint particles. You’ll end up like me, redoing work you’ve already done and causing a whole lot more waiting. You’ll probably need to apply 2-3 coats to get full coverage. It took me 2. Now you wait for it to dry thoroughly. If for any reason you are not happy with the finish just, you can fix it. Just sand and do over. It’s easy to smooth it back out. I tend to get trigger happy sometimes and have to sand my globs out.
The left is a bumpy mess and the right is a bumpy mess that was sanded away.
Step 4 – Putting It Back Together
Okay, it feels dry. Now I can put my hardware back on, right? Wrong! You need to let it cure before it goes back on. For 24 hours. I know how it feels; you feel done because your last coat is on, it feels dry and you are anxious to see your handy work. But, if it is tacky at all or isn’t completely dry and set it can dent, peel and scuff. Think wet nails and keys (cringe). If it feels rubbery then it is not set.
After the 24 hour cure time you should be ready to go. Reattach your hinges to the door and jamb. Despite what method you used to remove the door, remember that the head of the hinge pin goes up when you reattach every thing. Now, reinstall your knob and associated hardware. Be careful with those screws! If you do scuff one at reinstall you can easily remove one or two screws without detaching the whole door. Just make sure you don’t use it with a screw or two missing because it’s integrity will be compromised. And if you need to touch up more than a couple, you can either do them in batches or remove the whole door again.
Now you’re done! And doesn’t it look amazing?!
I aslo managed to get one of my bi-fold closets done too. So that’s 2 down, 100 to go. Okay, maybe not that many but it sure feels like a lot. I have 9 more doors and one more bi-fold closet. Then it will be on to the light fixtures. I can’t wait to get it all done. I’m most excited about the french doors. They will look amazing with black hardware. I’ll be sure to post a picture of those when I get them done.
- Wear old clothes
- If you are doing a room that can’t be without a door (bathroom, kids room, etc.) for an extended period of time you can buy cheap replacement hardware (hinges and knob) to use until you’re done painting. Just make sure they are the right size. And, they’re likely to fit on most of your interior doors.
- Spray away from other objects or you could end up with paint on them from fallout
- Clean your nozzle after you’re done to avoid clogs
- You only need to paint one side of the strike plate (make sure it’s the right side)
- You may think you only need to paint one side of the hinges but do both. Don’t end up like me; taking the door off again to repaint. Ugh! I only painted the part I thought would be seen but turns out part of the backside of the hinge (the side that attaches to the door and jamb) pokes out enough that you can see the brass. See example below:
- If laying flat, stand your hinges up to make sure you didn’t miss spots. See example below:
- Do remove jewelry before starting
- Do shake the paint well
- Do practice first
- Do let everything dry well between coats
- Don’t get impatient and rush through
- Don’t over spray
- Don’t forget that you can sand and start over if you make a mistake
- Don’t reattach hardware before it cures
So that’s it! Just a few days of a little bit of hard work and a LOT of waiting and you’ll have nice, new door hardware. I am so happy with how mine turned out. I can’t wait to get all the knobs in my house done. It will really make a difference in helping me achieve the look I want. And so cheap! I spent $22 for the two sanding blocks, the primer and the paint. I had the tape already. And by using cardboard for the drop cloth, I saved there too.
There were so many options to choose from; metal finishes, hammered finishes, flat, glossy, satin. And so many colors. There is something out there to fit any style. I think I may try a flat black next to see how it comes out. But, I really love the satin black on my new pantry door.
I’ll be sure to update you on how many knobs I get done with one can of spray paint so you have a better idea of overall cost to complete an entire (average sized) house. I’ll also update you on down the road to let you know how everything held up with normal wear and tear.
Thanks for reading and happy painting! Don’t forget to like, share, comment, whatever.