painting shiny brass doorknobs, hinges, etc.

janetoklaJanuary 20, 2008

Has anyone had any luck with painting shiny brass ceiling fans, light fixtures, doorknobs, hinges, etc? Our house was built in 1997 & I chose everything brass. Now, I would rather have the brushed nickel but I think it would push my husband over the edge if I suggested replacing everything. He thinks I have waaay too many home improvement projects as it is. He would rather not ever change anything. I found a Kilz spray brushed nickel. Of course, it would MUCH cheaper to just change the color on everything but would it hold up? the door knobs would be the most used items. thanks, Janet

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My D*** H paint the closet door in our daughter's room and made a mess on the perfectly good shiny brass doorknob because he was too lazy to tape off the knob. So he painted the whole thing with a brushed nickel paint, since he had it from another project. It looks like s***. So I have to buy a new doorknob.

It's better to just suck it up and change them, or learn to live with them as they are. Besides, brushed nickel will soon be "oh, so 2008".

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 4:36PM
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I think you could def. paint the fans, light fixtures and hinges. I've done it and it works great. But for something like the doorknobs, you might want to break down and buy those. They will scratch if you look at them wrong! Here's my door guy - I got ALL of my knobs and things from him. Great prices and great quality. His name is Doug and he is great!

Here is a link that might be useful: Door2Door

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 5:23PM
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In my previous house I ran out of money on the master suite project and just couldn't afford to buy five (!!) more ORB doorknobs and 15 more hinges. The existing hardware was "cheap builder junk" brass plate over something, very ratty. I took all the hardware down, cleaned the hinges of all the grease and crud with a citrus cleaner and hot water, scuff-sanded hinges and knobs with a flexible sanding sponge (did that while watching TV!), cleaned off the dust with a microfiber cloth. I then used a spray primer made for metals and a dark brown spray paint in three very thin coats, and let them cure for several days before reinstalling. I sprayed the brown paint on a paper plate and used that to dab paint on the screws after the knobs and hinges were reinstalled. I was going to add a little dark coppery color paint but the brown ended up matching my ceiling fan so perfectly that I left it as-is. The hinges held up beautifully. I got one nick on one of the doorknobs when I banged it with a huge ring I was wearing but I was able to touch it up with the aforementioned dabbing routine.

While I'm not familiar with the Kilz version, I used the Rustoleum matte nickel spray paint on a few things for that master bath and it looked surprisingly nice, and since hinges are less "in your face" than knobs it's not a too-unreasonable place to cut a corner. You can get both knobs and hinges inexpensively on eBay but watch your screw pattern on the hinges - when we replaced most of the other knobs and hinges to put the house on the market, I had to spend a wad sending a bunch of hinges back because I ordered the wrong screw pattern!

While I didn't paint the light fixtures and ceiling fans in that house, because of the hassle factor (being electrically unhandy we had to bring in an electrician to deal with light fixtures and ceiling fans, so it was actually more economical to buy inexpensive new ones and switch them out rather than have the electrician twice), quite a few people have done so with nice results. Since they don't get the physical contact that doorknobs do they hold up much better. Someone a year or two ago managed to paint their ceiling fan while it was still installed, but it's better if you can take it down and disassemble it first. Make sure you scuff up the existing finish and prime thoroughly.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 5:51PM
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As far as painting to look like nickle... it depends on how picky you are! It is do-able, but doesn't always look like the real thing.

Doorknobs need to be the real thing unless the knob is NEVER used.
Hinges can be painted... it's just a real pain.
Light fixtures are if-y. If your talking ceiling mounted rings... then, yes. If it's a chandy or eye level unit... then probably not to your liking.

The paints are GREAT! But if you are a perfectionist you will not be happy. If you'll just be happy w/ the change & loss of the brass... then maybe paint will work for you.

The main thing is that if you start this process... are you prepared for the consequences? Meaning replacement costs of the things you may not be happy with?

You never know until you try... so maybe it might be worth your while to try a something or 2 & see how you like it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 6:29PM
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I have had good results with "Sophisticated Finishes"---I wanted a quick inexpensive update to my bathroom and posted a message here and someone suggested it! I transformed a shiny brass light fixture and wall hooks into and oil rubbed bronze look----I also painted a large wood frame around the wall mirror and wooden inset drawer handles. In the end it all matched perfectly (wasn't sure how it would be on the brass vs. the wood) The great thing is, a little goes a long way. I was able to do the whole bathroom and still have leftover and the bottle is pretty small. I picked up mine at "Michaels Crafts". There is a clear primer that you buy that goes on first---so you don't even need to rough up the brass. It held up great, but I'm not sure how it would be on a door knob that is being used all the time? I would give it a try though before you buy all new hardware. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Well, I have a 97-98 house and I have learned to live with the knobs and hinges. The only thing that I'd prefer to change are two ceiling fans. Knobs and hinges? Don't sweat the small stuff.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 8:51PM
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I changed my hinges and doorknobs from shiny brass with spray paint.....
SUPPLIES: Steel wool, wooden skewer sticks, spray primer, Hammered spray paint.
1) I removed the hinges and door knobs, rubbed then with steel wool to get the shiny finish roughed up.
2) Wash and dry them thorughly to remove dust.
3) Place wooden skewer sticks in the ground. Place the knobs on each. You can spray all sides this way. Placing them 4-5 inches apart allows overspray (a good thing).
4) The hinges can be layed flat for spraying then stood up while slightly folded to spray all sides. You do not have to remove the pins, but you do have to change the angle of opening to get all sides and crevices painted.
4) spray first with Rust-o-leum primer.
5) Second color is the "hammered" paint color you desire. Home Depot and Lowe's sell a variety of these. Spary this in several thin layers to avoid drips and running of the paint.
6) Allow them to dry to touch, then move them to a safe place to "cure" thorughly before adding them back to the door.
7) The strongest finish I have gotten occurred during cold weather. I placed the metal pieces outside . I left the paint inside, where it would remain warm. I went outside and sprayed each piece, returning inside to keep me and the paint warm. I took the warm paint and sprayed the cold objects several times. The shine and hardness of the paint was better than the recommended warm environment spray. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:14AM
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1999 house here too. Screaming with brass. Ugh.

We replaced all of the doorknobs, and the hinges were already painted when the house was built. All told the doorknobs (nothing fancy expensive, the Quickset egg-shaped ones) cost around $800, but that covered the whole interior, the front door set, and three deadbolts. I'm glad we did it.

Ceiling fans - long since replaced.

The brass on the fireplace doors I painted black with heat-resistant BBQ paint, thanks to a suggestion from someone here a few years ago.

The only thing I still need to replace are the inset finger-pulls on the sliding closet doors in three of the secondary bedrooms.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 3:36AM
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I just refinished my hinges, could not stand another day with shiney brass. I used bronze spray paint then black satin over it and lighly sanded some areas so the brass would kind of show through. I did the same technique on some drawer pulls the( bar style )in the guest bath, they don't get used that often. I would not suggest doing the doorknobs either, we bought the oil rubbed bronze finish. Did half the house one month, the other half the next.I attempted to paint the round knobs on a laundry room cabinet with brushed nickel, looked great until we used them for about a week.They're not too expensive to change out,maybe $3 apiece which we did. I had a blast at my son's house, we spray painted light fitures,switch plates, outlet plates, ceiling fans, drawer pulls, even the refrigerator!!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:02AM
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Or you could decide you like brass. Its far better than our 70's door knobs, which are, I presume, horrid antique brass. We're replacing them with brass here and there. We've replaced about half so far.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:29AM
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I like brass doorknobs and hinges, Sorry. When million$ + homes sell here with them, they are aOK with me...

Brass and white ceiling fans--a whole 'nother story.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 5:07PM
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I just wanted to tell you that I completely feel your pain. In fact, I just finished painting two ceiling fans with Rustoleum Espresso spray paint. They look great! I bought new kitchen cabinet hardware but will take some time to get around to all those doors. My six year old son followed me around while I was removing them from the cabinets and begged me for them. He couldn't wait to show his friends "All His Gold!" He said he was going to bury it in his treasure chest in the backyard. I guess if it ever comes back in style, I will be digging it up. :)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 6:02PM
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My experience is no matter how good of a job you do, the finish will begin to chip and wear through with use. I recommend calling Christopher with Everything Doors. He has been a good resource for me. The prices are a fraction of what Home Depot and LOWES charge for similar items.

Here is a link that might be useful: Everything Doors

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 11:40AM
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It takes a while for the commercial market to catch up with us DIYer's but they finally did! You can now buy a Rustoleum spray paint in almost any metal finish you desire. Bought some oil-rubbed bronze today and sprayed up some hardware for a friend. Try it yourself! This is the beginning of a major house overhaul, for sure!
Be sure to prepare the metal surface well (remove old paint - a razor works well; scuff up the surface with steel wool; rinse and dry well) then prop it up on wooden screwers in the ground or nails on a board. Place items close enough for the over spray to be collected on the next object but far enough apart to be able to manipulate/cover all the surface areas with paint. With focused effort, 12 doors' hinges (and a few draw pulls) were removed, cleaned, and sprayed and left to dry (12 x 3 = 36 hinges). You do not have to spray the screws for the hinges - these can later be touched up with paint dipped in a q-tip and dabbed onto the screw head or not � your choice � hardly noticeable once the doors are hung. We also took the metal vent covers (the ones on the floor), cleaned one up and sprayed as well. The test result was really pretty! About 15 in all would be the final result. Great savings! The vent covers are abt $15/each - no need now to spend $250 on new ones now. And the hinges ~ savings of near $150. And the old hinges fit perfectly into the slot that is cut on the door and frame already. WHAT A TRANSFORMATION AND FOR ONLY THE PRICE OF $7.30 a can!!! Entire project will take ~ 6-7 cans or ~ $45. Hard to argue with a savings of ~$350!!!
Opps - forgot to tell you we took a old bathroom light fixture, disassembled it, and did the old paintaroo on it as well. OMGoodness! The finished product was striking! You can spend some bucks on light fixtures too - not this one, though! We figured a additional savings of $125 easy.
Sorry - we did not think of before and after photos until after we were done!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:46AM
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I realize the OP wrote this YEARS ago -- but sometimes when people search the forums for help they pull up old posts. It looks like that happened and it's gives us a chance to share info in case anyone else is looking for that info.

You can also have hinges and doorknobs re-plated (metal) or powder coated (colors). I have some hardware pieces in my recent remodel that I was unable to purchase in wrought iron (black) so I had those pieces powder coated to the correct color. Powder coating is cheaper than new hardware. We also have a shop near us that plates metal. This is mostly used in restoration work, but can also be an option for changing the surface from brass to nickel. I don't know about costs, but it's something to think about.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:07AM
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I'm getting ready to do this very soon, maybe next week. Funny thing is, I have the silver ones and want black. :) Mine are the super cheap Home Depot version of "brushed nickle".

Anything I can do to break down the clear coat so I can ensure the spray paint sticks well? Soak in vinegar? Or paint thinner? or whatever??

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:17PM
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I've done it to things that don't get touched/handled much. I redid several ceiling fans from brass to nickel and dark brown and also painted the white blades darker. They came out great--plus you're not a few inches away inspecting your work when they are hanging on the ceiling.

I also painted my 1980s brass trim fireplace black with a high heat paint which I think came out very nice.

I wouldn't try doorknobs/handles. There is just too much use and they would get chipped easily.

I was just checking to see if we painted our door hinges--I can't tell. I think that over the years they became duller (and dustier) so I'm not going to change them since I can't really tell much difference.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:55PM
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The KEY to spraying metal is surface preparation. You have to clean each surface the best you can. If covered in paint, soak and use a razor to scrape it off. Next step is steel wool - rub all sides thoroughly. Steel wool rubbed over the surface will break down any remaining lacquer finish yet not scratch the metal. And NEVER spray a dirty or wet surface! You have to wash each piece to remove all dust and grime and throughly dry by hand as well as allow it to air dry. Before using your "metal-look" spray, a light spray priming is a good idea as well. It further prepares the surface for the paint. Again, I have found cold weather spraying the best for hard curing the spray. After cleaning your metal, prop/set it outside in cold weather (no colder that 35-40 degrees). Keep you and your paint can inside where it is warm. When you spray your several light coats, take your spray can out side and lightly hit all surfaces. Let them dry for 30-60 minutes before you spray another coat of paint. When you bring them in, let them cure at room temperature for several days before re-installing. I have NEVER had any door knob "chip" when using this method. GOOD LUCK on your money saving project!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Not really. You get the spray paint out and go at it. At least, that's what I do, and it works fine.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Well, brass is back, so if anyone is thinking about getting rid of it, think twice. In fact, if anyone is thinking about "updating" any major finish in a home just because it's "dated", wait a few years and it will come back around again. The cycle type is getting shorter and shorter too.

If the brass or nickel or whatever suits the style of the home, then it's not really dated as it is "out of fashion". And you'll drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with fashion, either in the latest clothes or home trends. Better to rise above fashion and pick something that always works.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I haven't read everyone's comments, and perhaps this has been addressed already: is there any reason why you can't remove the lacquer on the brass and let it tarnish with time?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 4:49PM
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If it is real brass you can remove the lacquer, but a lot of what looks like brass is (at best) brass plated, and the really cheap stuff is some sort of plastic that is colored to look like brass.

If it is real brass, you can remove lacquer with acetone - and I think there is also a boil method as well. I just cleaned 90 years of crud from the brass doorknob on my front door. I'm curious how long it will stay shiny.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 5:00PM
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