How to Refurbish Hardware

Clean, Restore and Redo Knobs, Hinges, Handles and Pulls

Antique side table
Rudisill/Getty Images

Are you looking to refurbish your door knobs and hinges? Have you picked up a used dresser that has grimy and dirty pulls or handles? Instead of forking over extra money to buy new hardware, refurbish those knobs, hinges and pulls to like new.

Clean Hardware

Before you begin refurbishing hardware, remove each piece from the door, door frame or furniture in which it's attached. This will allow you to thoroughly clean the hardware and remove any caked on gunk.

  • To clean wooden hardware, such as knobs on a drawer, spray the knob with a solution of water and vinegar or water and gentle cleaning solution.
  • To clean brass knobs, hinges or pulls, use a brass cleaning solution or make your own from vinegar and baking soda.
  • To clean copper knobs, hinges or pulls, use a copper cleaning solution or natural products, such as lemon, ketchup or vinegar.
  • To clean ceramic knobs, wipe the knobs with a damp rag to remove any dust or dirt.
  • To clean glass knobs, spray with a glass cleaner or solution of water and vinegar.
  • To remove rust from any metal hardware, dip or soak the hardware in vinegar or a solution of lemon juice and borax.

Wipe the cleaning product or solution off of the hardware with a dry cloth rag until there is no more dirt or grime.

Note: If your hardware has a lot of tarnish or buildup, soak the hardware in a bowl with cleaning solution. After the hardware has soaked for awhile, gently brush the hardware with a soft brush, such as a toothbrush, to carefully remove the buildup.

Repeat the cleaning process until you reach the desired cleanliness and the hardware no longer feels sticky, tacky or greasy.

Remove Paint

If your door, cabinet or furniture hardware was previously painted (and you don't want to keep the paint or it needs updating), remove the paint to freshen up the hardware.

You can remove paint chemically by soaking the hardware in a methyl chloride stripper or more naturally with washing soda.

Whenever removing paint with chemicals or common household products, be sure to wear gloves to protect your skin.

Repair Broken Hardware and Screw Holes

Use and age can run down household and furniture hardware and the holes that screw the hardware in place. With a bit of wood filler or putty, you can repair broken hardware and screw holes:

  • If the screw hole in a door frame, cabinet or furniture is stripped, fill the hole with wood filler and let dry.
  • If a hinge is ripped from a door or cabinet frame, apply wood filler or putty to the area. Let the filler or putty completely dry until it hardens.
  • If a wooden knob or pull is cracked or split, apply wood putty or filler to the damaged area. When the putty or filler is completely dry, sand the repaired area with high grit sandpaper to create a smooth finish. Apply paint or stain to cover the repaired area.

Paint Hardware

Before you begin painting any hardware, make sure you have the correct type of paint for the type of hardware.

  • If your hardware is made of metal, make sure the primer and paint you use is suitable for metal. It is also beneficial if the primer and paint have an oil-based protective enamel included to prevent the metal hardware from rusting.
  • If your hardware is made of wood and is heavily used, such as a knob to a cabinet or drawer, pick a gloss paint that is easy to clean. Before priming or painting wooden hardware, sand the hardware with low grit sandpaper and/or wipe with liquid sandpaper/deglosser.
    Tip: When priming and painting knobs, gather some kabob sticks (or something similar) and a piece of styrofoam. Stick the kabob stick through the screw hole in each knob and place in the styrofoam. Then, paint the knobs. This helps you evenly apply paint and prevent the paint from rubbing off or smearing.​
  • If using spray paint to prime and paint hardware, apply multiple thin coats to prevent caking and running. Let each coat dry for about an hour before applying the next one. Repeat the process until the hardware is completely covered.
    Tip: When painting door knobs or other hardware with locks, stick painter's tape or an extra key in the key hole to prevent paint from damaging the lock.