Paint is the fastest way to update any look. From painting walls or cabinets to giving fresh new life to tired out furniture, you can go from drab to fab with just a coat of paint. Which is great, but, what about those things that already have paint on them and you want to get it off? It’s especially difficult when you’re talking about hardware. Looking at painted over hinges and metal parts and thinking about stripping all the years of color choices off is enough to make even the bravest DIYer run for the hills. The chemicals alone are frightening.
But wait! There’s hope! There’s a very simple process that will take most paints off of most metal surfaces with zero, yes, zero, stinky chemicals and very little elbow grease. Even better, it produces very little trash. Really. When we saw this how-to demonstrated, we were amazed.
The secret trick is a slow cooker. You’ll want an old one that you don’t care about, so either pick one up at a second-hand store, or dig out that old one you haven’t used in years. Don’t worry, you can keep it on hand for future DIY projects. You’ll also want some rubber gloves, a stiff brush and some metal polish. That’s it.
It’s really easy, add your hardware to the cook pot, cover it with water and put the lid on. Turn the crockpot to high and leave it alone for 8 to 10 hours.
Yes, walk away. Really.
The gloves are for handling the hot metal when you remove the parts. The paint will strip off most easily when the pieces are still warm, so work on one piece at a time. Most paints will peel right off, sometimes even in one piece. If there is some clinging, stubborn stuff, that’s what the scrub brush is for. The method is safe for most metals, but you’ll need to give the pieces a good polish once they’re dry.
Some more details
This method should work on oil- and latex-based paints as well as spray paints. It may or may not work on clear finishes like lacquer – it depends on the type of clear finish.
It will not damage non-rusting metals like copper, brass and aluminum. Steel may develop a dull or rough finish or small rust spots; they can be easily cleaned up with polish. If the metal is plated, and the surface is flaking or damaged, it will cause more flaking.
When you’re all done, make sure to toss the remnants, including the water, in an environmentally-friendly way. Old layers of paint may contain lead, or other hazardous chemicals, so treat the water and removed paint solids as you would old paint and other household chemicals. Don’t put them down the drain!
The bottom line
Minimal elbow grease, no stinky chemicals, and only a very small amount of trash in the form of old paint to achieve squeaky-clean, paint-free hardware? Yeah, we’re sold!