Posts Tagged ‘hardware’

Cleaning antique hardware

One of 8 sets of door hardware I cleaned. About 80 years old.

Restoring the hardware in your home is typically not difficult, and not something so time-consuming or expensive that you shouldn’t learn how to do it for yourself.  Now that our renovation is mostly complete, I look back at our hardware restoration dollars spent as having the highest return on investment of any task we took on.  The value of the hardware in our home makes me want to part out my house and Ebay it like an old car.  I stripped multiple coats of paint off of all of the copper, brass, and chrome hardware in the house and most of it came out perfect.


1.  The actual condition of your hardware is unknown.  There might be a good reason it was painted.

2.  Plated metals are really hard to work with.  Chrome plating much older than 40 years is almost definitely toast.  Don’t expect much good to come out of these procedures if used on chrome hardware.  There is still hope for your chrome hardware, but that’s a different procedure than this article will address.

3.  Some of the chemicals used here are corrosive and produce toxic fumes.  Wear goggles, chemical resistant gloves old clothes, and a canvas or rubber apron.

4.  Let the chemicals do the work! Don’t go grinding and scratching furiously on your hardware or you’ll destroy it.  Then you’ll end up with hardware that will look a lot like it could have been very nice.

Your shopping list:

1.  Chemical Resistant Gloves: I got mine at Wal-Mart in the “janitorial” section.  They’re cheap, if you have much to do, buy two pairs.

2.  Goggles: get the full coverage style you remember from science class.  Probably overkill, but blind is forever.

3. Canvas Apron: a good cheap way to put another layer of protection between your skin and the stripper.

4. Paintbrush: gel stripper works best if painted on with a brush.  Buy a new one so you can be sure it’s clean.  Tag this brush so you don’t accidentally ruin a bucket of paint with it.

5.  Klean-Strip KS-3: a good gel-based stripper. Gel is safer because it clings to surfaces and is less likely to splatter.  I read a lot of people recommending citrus based stripper products for environmental reasons, but I haven’t tried it.

6.  WD-40:  You probably have some around already.

7.# 0000 Steel Wool: Don’t step up in grit and think that your work will get done faster. This is for polishing and cleaning, not sanding/abrading.

8.  Wire Brush: Get one that’s just soft enough to brush against your skin. More bristles will move more gunk and scratch less.

9.  Fine tools: toothbrush, razor blade for getting into tiny spaces where the stripper has a hard time penetrating.

10. White T-shirt Rags: just go ahead and buy a box of jersey rags because you’ll burn through tons of them.  The white color is so you can clearly tell what is getting removed, and so that no dyes or screen printing dissolves while you’re working.

11.  Metal or Glass Tray or Pan and a Soupcan: thrift store cookware will be fine here, or grab a cheap metal paint roller tray.

This is all commonly available, and all adds up to a little under $100.  I told you this was cheap! (more…)


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We were unable to buy a fixer-upper with a lovely pink bathroom but I did get the second best thing: a pink kitchen. Yep, under all of the mess there is a lovely pink counter top that really looks like the one in the vintage pic above. At one time you could tell (under the royal blue faux fur) that the cabinets were a lovely mint green shade, courtesy of paint stripper. When I saw they counter tops under the sky high mess on the “first impression” day, I knew I wanted to keep them. I knew that I wanted to rip off the fur, paint the walls a shade of 57 Chevy mint, and do the floors in a black and white marmoleum checkered board pattern. Our plan all along has been to work with the house and its age, not against it. There was no reason to get rid of those lovely, glittery pink counters. (I’d salvage the wallpaper if I could, but it is very filthy). Here’s my kitchen plan (other than the obvious make it work stuff such as appliances, fix the plumbing, cleaning!):

Keep the counters and sink. Surprisingly they are good shape. Remember this was a guy’s home for many years. When I opened the mini fridges stacked on one another, one was filled with Natural Light Beer, the other with Ensure. The sink is a nice shape. It is shallow and wide. It isn’t very practical but it looks cool. I hope that we can clean it up and have it looking nice. I’ll have to consult the plumber about all of this stuff. There appears to be some corrosion around the sink drain, no longer shiny.

Peel wallpaper & Paint. I want to paint the walls a ’57 Chevy mint green. Guess what? I found the perfect shade, a semi-gloss too, as a mistint for $25 for 5 gallons. The rest will be used for fun projects such as refinishing chairs, haha. I also want to paint the awesome trim a crisp white. I am considering painting the cabinets a white with a dash of pink. Or flat out pink. I feel this will make the trim pop and it will be cute. And this means that I am de-fuzzing the cabinets. I know, I’m in bad taste…It’s a shame really that the Austin Powers wallpaper has to go but it is felt paper and it is grotty. We will salvage and frame some. It’s just too cool.

Re-tile the floors. Currently the floor is a pretty awesome composite floor/linoleum. However, it was pink with mint and gray but it is faded. It is also curling at the seams. I read in an old home maintenance book that you can iron this. But, I’m pretty sure this stuff contains asbestos. And we’d have to try hard to make it look good. So I am going to do black/white linoleum tile. It’s eco friendly and durable. And pretty darn cheap.

New hardware. Well, maybe not new. At least vintage, very 50’s streamlined and simple for the cabinets. I’m as you can tell, making this a 50’s inspired kitchen. I might as well play the cards given to me. Or I may spray paint the current ones with a high gloss white spray paint. This is at least a savings of $80. And I think it will look cute. I want my money to go to interesting lighting.

Those are the main things. I’ve ordered very simple appliances because I am a simple gal. Not party platter tray holders in my fridge. I have chose white because I think it will look the crispest with the color scheme. I would love retro repro appliances but they are very expensive. My compromise: if I am there 5 years and I still want retro appliances then I will purchase them then. Oh, and can you imagine how cute pink Kitchenaid stuff would be in there? I can.

I also plan on using all the cute 40-50’s linens that I have collected over the years. Maybe I will use these as curtains or something?

Yesterday, David de-fuzzed the cabinets and the fur came off easily. However, there are 3 coats of paint and glue on the fronts and he is using a gel paint stripper to clean them up. Many of the fronts are down to their oak but I plan on painting them. We also found a really cute galvanized flour drawer. The goal is to get the kitchen finished before September!


The kitchen with most of the blue fur up, haha.

The kitchen with most of the blue fur up, haha.

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