This is our tried and true method of boiling hardware to remove decades – centuries, even! – of old paint without the use of harsh chemicals.
Fellow old home dwellers, how many of you have door and cabinet hardware around your house that look like this 👆? I’ll never forget touring the Two Flat with our realtor, and silently squeezing Scott’s hand. I whispered into this ear, LOOK. Look at the original hardware! We were both giddy with excitement, knowing that we could be the ones to nurture this house back to life.
Hardware | Before
I shared the process of restoring the century-old hardware in Stories, but I also want to give the quickest, easiest tutorial here, so that you can refer to this post as much as you’d like! Now, all the gunked-up, painted hardware looks like this:
Hardware | After
Here’s What You’ll Need
- An old crockpot
- A dishwasher pack or dish soap
- Pair of tongs
- Small pick + hook set (optional)
How to Use a Crockpot to Remove Decades of Paint
1| Throw all the hardware in a crockpot, fill with water, and add a dishwasher pack or a dollop of dish soap.
Note: This should go without saying, but please never, ever use this pot for cooking again. We borrowed a crockpot from a friend (thank you, Toby!), but I’d recommend downgrading your cooker for this purpose moving forward, or you may have luck finding one at a thrift store.
2| Set the cooker to low heat, and leave it alone for at least 4 hours. I like to put the crockpot outside and leave it alone all day. The longer it goes untouched (upwards of 8-10 hours), the easier the next step will be!
3| After an entire day, your hardware stew will look pretty gross, and that’s a good thing! Bring the pot inside and drain the murky water.
4| Using a pair of tongs, remove each piece and run it under cold tap water. It will cool immediately, and layers of paint will literally fall off in sheets. The majority of the work will take little to no effort at all! Yes, it absolutely feels like magic, and yes, it’s as gross and fun as it sounds. (Just me?)
5| For the more intricate details, you may want to use a small pick + hook set to remove any stubborn goo. Be careful to use a light touch, as you don’t want to scratch the metal.
6| Finally, lay your hardware in a single layer, blot it dry and lightly spritz it with WD-40. This will prevent it from rusting. You can buff away any excess WD-40 the next morning.
7| Re-install and admire your beautiful ‘new’ hardware!
I’d be remiss not to mention one small caveat. While the hope is that you’ll discover solid brass, cast iron or copper hardware beneath the layers of paint, be prepared to find out that your beloved hardware might be plated steel or a cheaper material. In the case that some of your hardware isn’t exactly what you had in mind, I have a simple solution for you: hide it on the inside of closet doors!
For everything else, take your favorite knobs, backplates, latches and the like, and place them in the most prominent places.
The boiling method works well on everything from ceramic and brass knobs, to window hardware to the smallest screws. Throw it all in the pot and see what happens! The waiting is the hardest part. Enjoy!