How Do You Remove Paint From Brass Hardware?

Whether it is the drawer pulls from your vintage dresser you are redoing or the knobs on your cabinets, it can be a little disheartening to find that you have authentic brass hardware that is coated with several layers of paint. Even though vintage brass is gorgeous, it is not at all uncommon for people to paint over it just because they do not want to remove the hardware before a painting project. Thankfully, if you are planning to remove the layers of paint and reveal the true glory of these pieces, there is a process you can follow that is fairly simple known as the water bath paint removal method. 

Introducing: The Water Bath Paint Removal Method 

Your first idea about removing paint from your brass pieces probably involves some pretty nasty chemicals. However, there is a method that requires no chemicals and will work to remove many types of paint, including some of the tough ones like enamel and latex. Here's what you will actually need to achieve a hot water bath to remove paint from your brass hardware:

  • an old crock pot you don't care to get paint inside of
  • water
  • scrubbers, brushes, steel wool, and toothpicks for paint scraping

Sound too simple? You will probably be pleasantly surprised to see just how well this method works in spite of its simplicity. 

Steps of Water Bath Paint Removal 

1. Fill your crock pot with enough water to cover your brass hardware pieces and turn the unit on medium or low heat. 

2. Carefully drop in the brass pieces you are planning to remove the paint from and cover with the lid. 

3. Allow the hardware to soak in its bath for several hours or overnight–the longer the better. 

Once the brass hardware has soaked for several hours, you will see a lot of the paint bubbling up or just falling off into the water in one whole piece. For paint that is a little more stubborn, use your scrubbing tools to gently scrub away the warm paint and use toothpicks to pick paint out of small grooves and crevices. 

Things to Remember About the Water Bath Method

Some paints can be a little harder to remove than others and will require a longer soak. Plus, the paint will harden as the water cools, so it is best to work on cleaning the hardware while it is still fairly warm. Also, make sure you are careful to dispose of the paint pieces in the water in the trash and not down the sink drain because some paints can be laced with lead. 

If you decide to get new ones and want to see what the options are, ask about getting a copy of brass hardware books from your local hardware store.