Restoring Door Hardware: A Photo Journey

When we first purchased The Ashland House I had what I now recognize as “Delusions of Grandeur” when it came to all of the things I would restore. At the end of the day I restored the door hardware. I suppose restoring one element is better than the proverbial stick in the eye, right?

Lesson learned: If you want to restore a house buy a house worth restoring – not a house that needs to be gutted because everything is in terrible condition.

You expected a picture tutorial so let’s dive in:

Crystal Doorknob Before Restoration

Doorknob Before

Doorknob back plates before restoration

Door Plates Before. Like the Chicago Brick on the side of The Ashland House they were covered in 4-5 coats of disgusting paint slathered with a top coat of filth and infused with second-hand smoke.  Yum!

Before I started I did some research on the internet to see what I should do. After all, everything on the internet is true.  😉

I found out that I should give the hardware a bath in warm water with a teaspoon of dish soap.

restoring antique door hardware

Doorknobs enjoying a bath in warm water and 1 tsp. dish soap.  The door plates got a similar bath.

I was supposed to use an old pot from Good Will but I was too impatient to go out and get one (American Consumer Mentality rears its ugly head – then again if that were true I would have just bought new hardware) so I used an aluminum pan instead. I read there was some reason I should NOT have used aluminum but apparently that didn’t make much of an impression on me.

I covered each pan with aluminum foil, placed it on an old cookie sheet for additional support and put it in the oven at 275 degrees F for 6 hours.

This is what came out:

restoring door hardware

Doorknobs after their 6 hour oven bath.  Yuck.

doorknob back plate restoration

The aftermath after the bath.

Next I made an ice bath for everything to speed up the cooling process:

restoring antique doorknob back plates

Then the most satisfying part:

stripping paint off antique hardware

Look at all that paint!  It came of easily with the help of a knife.

stripped doorknob back plate

After the plates were scraped of the paint I used a toothbrush with some baking soda to clean up the rest.

It turns out the back plates weren’t made out of brass or another fancy metal. Hmm. Maybe that’s why they were painted so many times? Or maybe they were brass plated and that plating came off because I wasn’t supposed to use an aluminum pan to strip the paint? Either way I took matters into my own hands.

doorknob back plates spray painted

I bought antiqued gold spray paint at Schauer Hardware on Madison in Forest Park.  You can’t buy spray paint in Communist Chicago.

While the paint was drying and awaiting a clear top coat I used some baking powder and a tooth brush to clean up the doorknobs.

Here’s the almost finished product:

restored bungalow door hardware

I think I’ll paint the wood behind the keyholes black to make them look more legit.  In all my free time.

As always, thanks for reading and have a Joyful Day!

xo Whitney

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    1. Mauri

      Wow, I’m totally amazed! They turned out beautifully – lots of work but a great outcome. Yes, black out the keyhole and you will be done.

      BTW, my Hawks flag is coming down and I’ll be sad for a day but I’m glad Mr. Ashland will be able to enjoy a long summer in his new home and with his family. Oh, and congrats on the T-Club membership – now the boys have a place to go when you want the house to yourself.

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        I just had lunch with Mr. OPRF Life and I’m already finished being sad. Although I wasn’t that sad to begin with because in the long term all those guys need a rest. I’ll black out those holes this week and post a follow-up pic. Super excited for a nice summer at the Club. 🙂 xo
        P.S. That’s cool that you’re totally amazed!