From Brass to Rubbed Bronze: Painting the Door Hardware

It was inevitable. That gleaming yellow-brass hardware would have to go…. did not match the subdued cool colors of blue, black and cream. Just too brassy.  But how, and when?

Yesterday, the whole project had bugged me enough, and I decided to bite the bullet. Sometimes, it takes more work to procrastinate than it does to just jump in and get it done.

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think to take a before picture… I really just wanted to get this done!

I had been researching how to paint hardware for quite some time, mostly, just to give myself the justification for NOT doing it. But after reading several blogs about the process, I learned three things:

  1. Those who did not the hardware before painting got chips
  2. Those who did not apply a protective coating after the final coat of paint, got chips
  3. Door hinges can, thankfully, be painted with a brush. No need to take off the doors. This information was a game-changer. How easy this would be?!

So, with fortitude, and armed with enough information, I embarked on this project.

I am now waiting for the third coat of paint to dry … and I will admit that waiting is the entire worst part of this entire project. If you had asked me yesterday morning, I would have said, the intricate sanding is the worst part. But now that all of my doors are lacking door handles, and having to come up with some creative way to keep the doors closed all night… waiting is the hardest part.

But, as always, if you’re committed, you can turn waiting time into an advantage. It says to wait 1-2 hours between coats, depending upon the temperature. So, spray, set your timer, and figure out what you can actually accomplish, from start to finish, for that time. It takes your mind off the doors with no handles, a little, and you actually feel like you’re accomplishing something.

Each piece of door hardware needs to be turned at a different angle for each spray time to ensure a nice even coverage — which means, you will need to allow dry time, at least two hours, before each coat, and between each side. If you turn the handles over while they are still tacky — they will stick to whatever surface you’re spraying them on. Trust me — be there done that. You end up having to re-sand, clean them, and basically start all over again. And this weather, lack of warmth, is not helping.

I keep telling myself about the thousands of dollars I’m saving — not to mention the peace of mind that comes with no longer having to look at outdated shiny brass, but honestly, right now, I just want to get the doors put back together.

Maybe, if it was a 90-degree day, I would feel differently… I had not anticipated how long it would take everything to dry.

So — here’s what you need — if you dare to be so adventurous…

Prayers. Trust me. There may be some tough, dark moments, and prayer is what will get you through. As I was working with my son to re-install the deadbolt lock last night before we went to sleep, I realized what a hopeless situation we were really in. So, I just kept trying and praying… and suddenly, all the shafts just dropped into place, and we went to bed. As I fell asleep, I had this fleeting memory of the story in Acts 12 when Peter mysteriously escapes from jail, because an angel unlocked the prison doors. So, yes, of course, locks and doors are an angel’s specialty. So yes, pray, especially when working with door hardware.

Sandpaper. A combination of the sponge blocks and sandpaper is needed to get into all of the grooves. Your job here is to sand off the clear-coating the manufacturing put on the hardware to keep it shiny and from tarnishing.

After I sanded everything, I cleaned each piece with acetone — fingernail polish remover, on a lint-free cloth.

Contrary to what you may think you want, black is not the color of spray paint that you want. Instead, you want, oil-rubbed bronze. It’s basically dark brownish black, and has a bit of texture in minuscule fleck-like appearance so that it looks like black — but it’s a bit easier on the eyes — and looks “real.” Like the hardware has been used. Like “rubbed bronze.”

As far as which brand to buy — you do not want to skimp on this project. Rustoleum is by far, hands-down the only brand you need to consider for this project. No, this is not a sponsored post.

Now, for the same reason that the original manufacturer applied a clear-coat to protect the brass from getting knicked up — you must do this last and final step. Even though you just want to get the hardware back on and get on with your life — spray everything, again, waiting for everything to dry on each side, with a clear enamel. Again, this is not a project you ever want to do over, so use Rustoleum.


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