Here’s a question we get in our Salvage department multiple times a week: how do you get paint off of old hardware, anyway? We’ve been giving these instructions to customers in our Portland store for years:
No, stripping paint off hardware does not require a visit from the HAZMAT team or a gooey, chemical mess. Straight from Antique Doorknob Collectors of America (www.antiquedoorknobs.org) comes our secret weapon: Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
Found in the laundry products aisle at larger supermarkets, Super Washing Soda is sold as a detergent booster – but it works wonders as a paint stripper. It’s water based, free of harsh chemicals, and easy to dispose. It’s simple:
- Following directions on the box, mix a strong solution in a stainless steel pot. (Be sure to use stainless steel as aluminum will discolor.)
- Immerse the hardware in the pot, making sure there is ample solution to completely cover all pieces. Place on stove and bring to a boil.
- Turn off heat and allow hardware to soak for 30-90 minutes. Longer soaking times will result in easier, more effective stripping.
- Remove hardware from solution and use a stiff-bristle brush to clean off the finish. Use a brush that is softer than the base metal to avoid scratching. If the paint is very thick, a couple of soakings may be required.
Thanks to Marisa for letting me use the photos from her rather dramatic experience! I’ve been through this before, with hopes that removing the years of paint with reveal a beautiful piece in perfect condition… but I’ve wound up with a rusty old piece of junk more often than I can confess. But if you find out your old piece really is beyond re-use, that’s when our reproductions come in to finish the job!