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How to Remove Paint From Hardware

Avoid paint strippers by removing paint from old hardware using a hot water bath.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Cook hardware to remove paint

If you want to strip paint from metal without the nasty fumes and mess of chemical strippers, just fill a slow cooker with water and set the dial to high. The heat and moisture will soften the paint, and often it will fall off as a single piece.

This works on oil, latex and spray paints, but it may not remove some clear finishes like lacquer. Cooking the hardware may stain or contaminate the pot, so use an old one or buy a new one for less than $20. This method won't harm hardware made of non-rusting metals like copper, brass or aluminum. You'll end up with a little rust on steel—not enough to ruin hidden parts like hinge pins or screws, but possibly enough to roughen shiny surfaces. If the steel has a plating like chrome or brass and the plating is already flaking off, this method will cause more flaking.

Some paints will loosen within a couple of hours, but for best results, plan to cook the hardware overnight. If the paint doesn't fall off by itself, scrub lightly with a stiff plastic brush. The paint will harden as it cools, so scrub the hardware as soon as you pull it out of the water. The paint may contain lead, so catch all the sludge and throw it in the garbage. To clean the metal and restore its shine, use a metal polish like Brasso or Noxon.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

You'll need an old slow cooker, a stiff plastic brush and plastic gloves.

Comments from DIY Community Members

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November 19, 2:36 PM [GMT -5]

Hey - If you have any suggestions about proper disposal of the waste (the water/paint mixture), could you please post it? Thanks in advance.

October 05, 11:58 AM [GMT -5]

This has been a pet-peeve of mine since the day we've moved in to our house. The previous owners didn't bother to remove or cover the hardware before painting the doors or the door trim. The paint is just caked on.

Thanks family handyman, you're saved my butt and inspired my creativity.

March 30, 11:50 AM [GMT -5]

Like this idea. Any tips on how to remove paint from windows and trims? We bought a house and the windows were painted shut many years ago.

March 01, 12:08 AM [GMT -5]

You can buy crock pot liners in the grocery store that are disposable. That would keep the procedure from ruining the crock pot.

February 29, 4:44 AM [GMT -5]

Instead of ruining your crockpot, use a crock pot liner. You can find these at most grocery stores for a couple of bucks

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