You probably missed the compelling post about my Edith Wharton hinges unless you were one of the three followers I had at the time. I received a comment from Trina of A Country Farmhouse offering some advice about stripping paint off old hardware so I recently put Trina's advice to the test and thought I'd share my experience for anyone else who might be facing this task.
*AFTER DOING THIS SEVERAL TIMES, I'VE POSTED AN UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST*
I've also gotten several e-mails asking where to buy the washing soda. I found some at my local small organic grocery store as well as the drug store that sells laundry detergents. It's also available on amazon.com here.
1. Old pot or container in which you'll soak your hardware
2. Pot of boiling water
3. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
4. Your old painted hardware
5. Toothbrush, preferably one no longer being used
6. Small bucket for doing a final washing/rinsing of the stripped hardware.
7. Paper towel or rags
I found some sources on the internet that recommended boiling the hardware in an old pot and others that proposed using a Crock Pot, I guess for the "low and slow" method. It seems that washing soda is sodium carbonate (not baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate) is a water softener but is also used in foods as an anti-caking agent so it's not necessarily toxic but there's something I don't like about the idea of boiling hardware and releasing lead paint fumes.
And don't get me started about the Crock Pot. I was the victim of a Crock Pot childhood. Six nights a week we were subjected to every possible combination of meat and Campbell's Cream of Something soup. To this day, I can't go near a Crock Pot, not even to strip my hinges.
I would have found something larger to hold more hardware but for this test I'm only doing two. So I put about 1/4 cup of washing soda in a coffee can, filled it up with boiling water, stirred until it all seemed dissolved and dropped in the two sets of hinges I need for the
dining room study closet door.
I tested a hinge after an hour and the paint seemed to be softening its grip but it was still very much intact. After a few hours, the paint was softer but still holding on.
To make a long story short, I got distracted refining the diagram for my shelving units and the hinges ended up sitting in the coffee can for a week. This is what they looked like (above) at that time.
Look how the several layers of paint are all coming off together.
This portion comes off all in one piece. (I know, I should have worn gloves. I still have paint under my fingernails.)
On the detailed side, the layers also come off easily.
Here's the paint off one side of a hinge...front and back all in one single piece! All the hinge needs is a quick scrubbing with a toothbrush in some warm soapy water.
Here's the paint that came off one hinge.
Once they're washed up, I dried them with a paper towel and put them outside to bake in the sun. This dries them quickly so they don't rust. One internet source recommended putting them in a low oven if the sun's not available but that just seems unnecessary. Some of the original paint surface has come off so I cleaned them up a bit with some steel wool and gave them a coat of spray paint.
Here's one of the hinges "before."
And here's the "after." I've used Rustoleum's Metallic "Dark Bronze" as my finish coat.
Cost: I paid $10 apiece for my hinges. It seemed steep at the time, especially since it was a lot of 50 hinges but I loved the connection to Edith Wharton and thought I would use most of them.
But when I actually compared it to a similar hinge like this one found on a popular antique hardware website, this reproduction hinge ranges from $12.49 to $13.49 depending on the finish. And it doesn't come with a story.
Here are my two hinges all ready to be installed.
In the end, this method was easy and highly successful and (lead paint aside) it doesn't use any toxic chemical paint strippers. I wouldn't hesitate in buying old painted hardware, or anything or for that matter, that can be submerged.
And, thank you, Trina, for your recommendation!
I've used this same method several different times to strip various hardware and have found it's best just to use the hot water to dissolve the washing soda but leaving the hardward in the solution for several days works best. The paint will come off sooner but it seems the longer it soaks, the easier it gets to peel the paint off. Why work any harder than you have to? Take it easy and let it soak.
If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know how it worked out or if you discovered anything new.