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Refinish Your Exterior Door Hardware

Repainting hinges & door knobs can be a creative way to save some money and customize the look of your doors.

And even though it’s way easier to just buy new stuff at the store I wanted to experiment and see if I could paint our existing hardware instead.

I had leftover oil rubbed bronze spray paint from a prior project anyway and wanted to use it up versus going it to waste.

Depending on how many hinges or door handles you have, this project could take between 1-2 hours and shouldn’t cost more than $33 total.

Admittedly that’s if you already have a random orbital sander (which typically run anywhere from $30 on up). But, I highly recommend you get a random orbital sander because it will make your DIY experiences way more pleasant. Especially if you’re planning on doing other painting projects.

Let’s dive in!


Door Hardware Supplies

New oil-rubbed bronze hinges will run you anywhere from $3 to $15 each.  And simple-looking exterior oil-rubbed bronze doorknobs can be found for $21 to $61.

But I’ve seen them for as much as $199, which will definitely leave your wallet a bit bruised. So this project could definitely be a spectacular way to upgrade door hardware on a budget.

Here’s the supply list for this quick transformational project:

You can be a beginner DIYer and still get exceptional finishes by spray painting. But there’s only one way to find out, so let’s get started!!

Sand Your Hardware…the QUICK Way

My first iteration of this project was a failure because I didn’t sand down the hinges. I don’t want you to experience the same sinking feeling.

As you can see, the primer didn’t stick to the hinge. I could scratch it off with my fingernail.

Scratched Primer

So I grabbed a 60 grit sanding pad, stuck it on my random orbital sander, and removed the finish on the entire hinge.

Sand Old Door Hardware

This quick process took all of 5 minutes. If you have a scrap piece of wood (like a 2 x 6 or sheet of plywood) lay the hinge on it and then go to town with the sander.

Let the sander do all the work, you shouldn’t have to apply much pressure with your hand. Here’s what a completely sanded hinge looks like.

Sanded Door Hinge


Prime and Paint Your Hardware 

Next, I primed the hinge and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I turned it over and primed the opposite side.

I used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover gray primer because it tends to work a bit better than its white counterpart (don’t ask me why maybe I’m full of it).

Prime Hinges

Place a drop cloth and piece of wood under the hinges to protect the surrounding area from the spray paint, otherwise, you’ll be explaining to someone why your driveway has paint on it.

Yes, I almost had to do the walk of shame and tell my wife I’m a bonehead (although she already is aware of this character defect).

Hinges take a beating because doors are used over and over. For this reason, I decided to add a copper paint coating on top of the primer so that when the hinge gets scratched the copper will show instead of the gray primer.

Note that this paint job isn’t exactly perfect but that’s okay since it’s not the final topcoat that everyone and their mother will see.

Copper Paint on Hinge

Again, I used Rust-Oleum and chose their Copper Metallic spray paint. Amazingly, the copper coat took only 15 minutes to dry. But then again the temperature was 90F on this day in Pittsburgh.

Drying times will definitely differ depending on the temperature and humidity on the day you do this project. If the hinges are tacky when you touch them just wait a few extra minutes. They should be dry to the touch before applying the second coat of paint.

The final topcoat was done with Rust-Oleum’s Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze. Before applying this coating I laid out all the hardware that would be used along with the hinges. This included hinge pins, screws, lock-sets, and strike plates.

Oil Rubbed Bronze Topcoat

Before you paint your deadbolt and door handle I highly recommend getting a sturdy piece of styrofoam. You can stick both the deadbolt & door handle through the styrofoam and prop them against a bucket. This makes the painting process seamless and easy.

Styrofoam for Painting Door Handles

You can paint both sides of the hardware within seconds and save a ton of time. One word of caution, when spray painting deadbolts or door handles use very light coats of paint.

Otherwise, you’ll get drips. And of course, you should sand down the hardware as much as possible before priming and painting. Sanding is SUPER IMPORTANT for a great-looking paint job.

One Last Important Step

One last thing, if you’d like to make this paint job last longer then add a clear coat. I’ve gotten great results using Rust-Oleum’s gloss clear coat.

By great, I mean the finished paint job looks seamless and resists the test of sun, water, and wind effects.

Clear Coat

Yeah, I might be crazy for painting my door hardware instead of going out and buying all new stuff. But this is one of those cool experiments that I like doing just to see if it’ll work.

I’m thrilled with the final product and the door definitely looks more modern.

Final Look of Door Handle
The Final Look of the Hinges


What’s Next

Painting an exterior door can also add plenty of curb appeal. It might take one day but will last years.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.



Refinish Exterior Door Hardware

  1. madeline says:

    Is it possible to use a solvent to remove the old finish rather than investing in a sander I’ll never use again?

    1. Hi Madeline,

      You could also just sand by hand to etch the surface enough that the new paint will be accepted. I tend to stay away from solvents because they are a pain to properly dispose of. But you could always go that route.


      1. madeline says:

        Thanks, I’d rather hand sand if that’s acceptable, hate to use chemicals of any type.

  2. Michele says:

    Did you have any trouble with paint in the keyholes?

    1. Hi Michelle,

      That was a big concern of mine but with very light spraying it never became a problem. Just make sure to keep the spray can moving with smooth passes and you’ll be good to go.



      1. Rich says:

        If you have a spare key you can stick that in the lock before you paint to keep the paint out of the keyholes. The key doesn’t even have to be for that lock, just so long as it fits all the way in.

        1. Hi Rich,

          That’s a great tip. It’s so much easier to do this than encounter a painted over keyhole!


      2. Tomonthebeach says:

        A simple solution to the keyhole problem is to tape the end of your key, spray it with oil, and stick it in the lock. The tape and oil should minimize any paint getting on the key. If paint does get on the key, pour a little acetone into a small dish, just enough to cover one side of the key. Let it soak for a few minutes, put it under soap and water with a brillo pad and scrub off the residual paint. Turn the key over, and repeat.

        1. Sweet, thanks for the awesome tips.

  3. Paula says:

    Hey Jeff!
    Looks great as always :). Wanted to add that I had very nice brass towel racks, light switch plates, curtain rod, paper holder and even a ceiling light trim cover that I sanded down and painted in tones of copper and oil rubbed bronze!

    Turned out Fab!! Even sprayed the wood trim that accents around the glass tile accent around the sink. That paint is amazing! Considering doing my front door next 🙂

    1. Hi Paula,

      You kick serious butt!! Great job. It seems like I always have leftover paint and hate to see it go to waste. So these kind of projects are perfect. You should throw up a blog post about your success. If you’d like, I could even do it for you over here on HRT 🙂


  4. Sallie says:

    Just to let you know….we decided we wanted to change out the plumbing
    fixtures in out bathrooms. Didn’t want to spend bundles for oiled bronze so we tried the paint approach similar to yours. It worked out wonderfully! Up to and including the drain pieces, shower sprayers and plugs! We easily saved hundreds of dollars! That was 6 months ago and it has all held up beautifully.

    1. Hi Sallie,

      That is AWESOME!

      I’d be worried about the longevity but obviously it worked great. What kind of paint did you use? Bathroom fixtures are super expensive, so if this works I think other homeowners would be thrilled.



  5. Sheila says:

    Jeff: Your tips and images showing start to finish are really helpful.
    Now if I would just get started and do some of these projects —

    1. Hi Sheila,

      I know how you feel, it seems like there’s never enough time!!! Just today I got around to installing the blinds we bought 9 months ago. Thanks so much for your kind words 😉


  6. Judy Flynn says:

    It looks great! I had seen this somewhere else and had purchased the paint. BUT your method is more detailed and if I hadn’t seen it I probably would have gone with the first method (not sanding, priming, finish coating). I’m sure that first method would have failed quickly. Thank you so much, how timely your article is. I can’t wait to see my home with the new and modern finished hardware.

    1. Hi Judy,

      I’m excited for you. Make sure to let me know how it turns out. I mean that, too. Send me an email with some pictures ([email protected]). Have a great day!!


  7. JUDY says:


    1. Hi Judy,

      Congrats on you new door hardware. Just last night my wife was telling be she’d like to changer all of our upstairs door knobs and hinges. So, looks like I’ll be doing the same thing-LOL. I’m pretty sure Paula meant her front door hardware. But I’m not sure if she’s done it yet. You could definitely do this project on your door knocker. Since it’s already looking a bit worn there’s nothing to lose. When you do it let me know if you have any questions. I’d be more than happy to assist. And make sure to send me some pictures 🙂


  8. JUDY IN TEXAS says:


    1. Hi Judy,

      You can mechanically remove the paint or chemically strip them. I saw on Pinterest a tip on how to remove old paint via a crock pot and either water or some other chemical but you’d have to but an old crock pot to do this. Thus, I’d remove the old paint using a random orbital sander and some 40 or 60 grit sandpaper discs. It worked for me and you wouldn’t have to worry about disposing of chemicals. Hope this helps. 🙂


      1. Madeline McMillan says:

        To get paint off hinges, try soaking them in amonia for about a half hour. The paint should peel right off.

        1. Hi Madeline,

          Awesome tip, this is way cheaper than trying to buy new custom hinges!!


  9. Debbie says:

    Wow, looks awesome! I used that same paint for drawer pulls on a dresser I painted and I love the colour. Since I hate those old ‘gold’ door knobs on our doors, this is a great way to use up the leftover paint. And an excuse to buy more if I don’t have enough. It’s a gorgeous colour for metal.
    Debbie 🙂

    1. Agree whole heartedly, l love the oil rubbed bronze for anything metal. Gold isn’t bad it’s just not our style. Paint provides so many great options, and fun ones at that

  10. Kim says:

    HELP!!! I spray painted my front door knob + deadbolt COPPER –looks A!mazing BUT now the key will not unlock the lock …… what do I do???

    1. Hi Kim,

      You could try a few different things. First, try to use something sharp like an old steak knife to remove the paint. A second approach would be to use a hair dryer to soften the paint enough that the steak knife could scrape away the excess (wear a respirator during this process). And finally, you could use a chemical paint remover in the keyhole. Hope this helps. Let me know what you try and how it goes.


  11. Lena says:

    Darn……wish I’d seen this a month ago…..My husband just painted 3 sets of french doors….and we bought new locks and handles……..could’ve saved some $$. Will try this on some interior handles that I want to upgrade……Thank you for this info.

    1. Isn’t that how it goes Lena–solutions come at the weirdest times 🙂

      When you tackle this project let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help you.


      1. Pam Hope says:

        I would like to know if there is anyway to get that copper look that shows through a tad on the real oil rubbed bronze products? Is there anything you can just rub on them?

        1. Hi Pam, this is good question and I don’t know the answer. You could try using a wire brush, like the kind you see on golf bags for cleaning golf clubs. It might help the copper show through a bit more. If you don’t mind experimenting it’s worth a shot. Just be very careful. I’ve never done this before and if it works please let me know.


  12. mike says:

    Would like to have seen hardware before project started.

    1. Sorry about that Mike. The hardware was the standard gold variety that you can buy for $10. Next time around I’ll have some good before pics.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Would this work on a Baldwin solid brass doorknob? I don’t think the finish can be sanded off.

    1. You should scuff the finish as much as possible Elizabeth so that the primer will stick. Then the paint will adhere to the primer and you’ll be good to go.

  14. Mary says:

    Hi – I’m eager to try these refinishing instructions, and will be buying an orbital sander. Can you please advise me on what “grit” sandpaper to use? Thank you.

    1. Try 80 or 120 Mary. That should work fine.

  15. Sherry says:

    Hi. It looks like it has been about a year since you completed this project. Can you give an update as to how hinges and handles have held the paint? Any chipping or scratching? Thanks.

    1. Great question Sherry. The hinges have held up remarkably well. The handles have a few chips but still look good. The chips and scratches are easily fixed with a few spot sprays.

      So I still think this method is a good one.

  16. I use the same technique but to get the rubbed look I take a clean lintless cloth, dip it into acetone, and then with the cloth over my index finger I rub the corner areas where I want the rubbed look. The acetone will take the top layer of paint off, but don’t rub too hard or you will rub the copper away also.

    1. Wow, great tip Michael. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this.

  17. Tammy says:

    Hi there! Interested to see this. I am looking for a silver finish tortoise door knocker (hold the laughs!) and can only find brass or antiqued finish ones. Do you think this process would work to get a silver / chrome finish that would be durable? Thanks Tammy

    1. I think it’s worth a shot Tammy. No laughing on my part. We all have our own taste. Plus, tortoises are cute.

  18. Judy says:

    about to try this on interior doors starting with the kids bathroom, before I do, hope you will respond and answer my questions:
    1. How long ago did you do this? How has it held up to use?
    2. What do you do to make sure the door locks work and aren’t seal by the paint, or that paint doesn’t make it difficult to turn a key.

    1. Thanks Judy for your question.

      The door handles held up well and did get a few scrapes here and there. But those blemishes were easily covered by a quick spray.

      My tip would be to do several light coats of paint so that the handle still works.

      If you want the key to work you can leave the key in the door (covered in plastic wrap) and spray the door. That way the hole won’t get clogged with paint.

      Hope this helps 😀

      Keep me posted

  19. Brett says:

    I’m doing the same thing to my door hardware (spray painting them an aged bronze color). For the actual door hinges, did you get any crackling or ripping of the paint? I noticed you did not take the door hinge apart before spray painting and I was just wondering if you would recommend that I take the hinge apart before spray painting or is it ok to paint the entire thing at once? Thank you!

  20. Michele Riggsbee says:

    I love this idea! We are upgrading our mid 90’s house and getting rid of all the shiny brass knobs, etc. After pricing new knobs and hinges I knew I had to do something more budget friendly. Your descriptions and photos are very helpful! I will be doing this as soon as the weather warms up! Thanks for all your great information.

  21. Christine Lewis says:

    I just did this project with the brass door knobs in my house. I added 2 coats of the clear coat that you used and now they look really shiny (more so than I would like). I’m wondering if the shine will lesson over time or if I should attempt to put another coat of matte clear coat instead of gloss. Thoughts?

  22. paul says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thx for the awesome video. Any chance u can share with us how the door knobs are holding up.


  23. Thanks a lot for this article! I moved to a new apartment and I don’t like the doors in it so I should do something about it. Thanks for the ideas! Colyers Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  24. Christine says:

    I did this and it turn out great! Went from brass to white. I hand sanded since I don’t have a power sander. I only did the hinges.

  25. Claudia says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I just moved into a new home and the beautiful black metal around the keyhole is getting scratched up. What do you recommend I do at this stage of the game where its not too bad but would like to fix/prevent further scratching?

  26. Kristen Decozio says:


    Do you have to take the door knob off to do this? Can’t you just Frog Tape all around it?

  27. Nice tutorial….this is exactly what I’m going to do!

  28. JB says:

    I was watching a show once (Salvage Dogs?) where they went into houses that were going to be torn down and removed anything that could be salvaged and resold. I remember them throwing the old door hardware into boiling water (outside fire) for a few minutes and then into 5 gallon bucket of ice water and layers of paint peeled off. They said no sanding or chemicals needed. I have never tried it, but don’t want to invest in an orbital sander or use chemicals. Anyone ever heard of or tried this method? I am just doing my door hinges and was going to get an old pot and do it on our grill outside.

    1. Thanks JB for asking this question. You could totally give that a shot.

      I also mention a different method in my podcast.

      Check out episode 235

  29. Nelson Nemeth says:

    I was thinking of doing this but didn’t know if it was practical. Thanks for sharing your experience and the encouragement.

    1. Glad to help any time Nelson, the most important part is scuffing the hardware and priming if not using a paint with primer 😉

  30. jim howerton says:

    I found your website and am amazed. I am a retired sub-contractor doing small jobs.I had an expensive double front door, with very expensive lock sets. Customer said replace the lock sets, but could not find lock sets to match so I used your receipe to refinish the antique brass hardware. It took two tries but came out perfect and I had a very satisfied customer. Thanks again. Jim

    1. Awesome Jim, thanks buddy for letting me know about your success. It’s certainly more affordable with this technique, super excited for you 😀

  31. Rachel says:

    I spray painted the knobs on two interior doors, and now I notice that the latch sticks a little bit. I have to pull the knob hard to get it to latch properly. Do you think that the spray paint gummed up the mechanism inside the knob?

  32. Beatriz says:

    Hi Jeff,
    This might sound like a stupid question, but how do you get the knob or deadbolt through the styrofoam without it breaking into pieces?

  33. deb says:

    Why do you have to sand and use a primer , the can says it has a primer in it and why the top coat? I

    1. Fred Freshwater says:

      The clear top coat will actually extend the life of the paint under it. I always use two coats of paint and two coats of clear “satin” topcoat.

  34. Donna says:

    Great idea. My concern would be getting all the way around the hinge part. Did you take the hinges apart before spraying to ensure no spots were missed? Seems to me that would be the best way not to miss any places and have the old finish smile through. And what about the pin? Did you leave that in when spraying?

  35. Cindy says:

    Has anyone tried deglosser games liquid instead of sanding?

  36. Gregg says:

    I covered the key hole with a self adhesive circle that I got at the big box store to prevent paint from getting in the mechanism. My biggest concern is the high Arizona heat that pounds the door knob year round and stripped the oil rubbed bronze finish off in three years. I plan to coat it with a matte black high heat automotive paint and high heat sealer.

  37. CB Brewer says:

    I have newer bronze lever exterior lock sets What can I put on them to look new again The sun and weather are starting to make them look dole, I live close to the beach

  38. CAnn says:

    I am wanting to go from shiny gold to brushed nickel…I have the Rust-Oleum Metallic Primer + Paint. My question is , do I need the spray primer and the ist Metallic spray ( and if so what color)?

  39. Liz Brown says:

    My brass front door hardware seems to have a plastic? coating that is starting to peel. Will your method work on that, Jeff?

    1. Fred Freshwater says:

      That coating is a protective lacquer coating and should be thoroughly scuffed (I prefer steel wool – #00 rather than sanding) or removed with a chemical stripper, then the shiny brass surface scuffed before painting for the best result.

  40. JC says:

    How is the finish holding up on your painted door hardware?

  41. Rochelle Faye Annala says:

    Just wondering how things are holding up? Thanks!!

  42. Vegasdude says:

    I just spray painted ALL the brass in my place…
    light fixtures, bath bar lights, hinges, door knobs, towel bars, bath fixtures, etc..
    Used my B/D Mouse sander, My Orbital Sander, My Dremel.. and handsanded
    Sprayed with Valspar Brushed Nickel Matte Metallic Paint& Primer in one,
    then clearcoated with Rustoleum Acrylic GLOSS Lacquer 2 coats.
    Turned out AWESOME.. and Durable with the Clear Coats…
    Of All the Nickel sprays.. Valspar looks the most natural…
    But the color of the cap on the can is misleading.. it looks Gold…
    Trust me, the paint is Nickel, with the slight gold overtone of faucets, etc….
    The Krylon Satin Nickel is Waaay too Blah… Rustoleum Universal too glittery..

  43. bettaboo says:

    I know this is an old post, but just tried the technique and it worked very well. Saved a LOT of money. Big question is how long will it last? But since I’m planning to move, it won’t be my problem. Looks REALLY good for now!
    Wish I could post a picture!

  44. Linda says:

    Help!! How do I restore outdoor ,used to be beautiful satin nickel door handles ,but now very sun damaged to their original glory ???
    I live in sunny hot Utah

  45. Andrea says:

    Jeff, how is it holding up? I would love an update before I attempt to do this. Thank you!

    1. Not bad, it’s been several years and still looks good.

  46. Amy says:

    Hi Jeff, excellent tutorial. Curious though, why did you have to do the copper layer? Thanks!!!

  47. Sherrill says:

    I was wondering on Pam’s question about letting a little of the copper show through.

    On some craft projects with chalk paint, people use just a little wax from a candle to not let the chalk paint cover. Maybe this would work to let the copper color show through the oil rubbed paint.

  48. Laura P says:

    Hi Jeff! Wanted to say a big thank you for this article and how to paint existing door hardware. I followed your steps and the handle came out beautifully! No need for expensive new hardware, no need to rekey and I can keep the inside handle the same color!

    I did make one adjustment: I wanted the copper to show through on the edges so instead of distressing them, I lightly leafed the edges with some copper metallic acrylic paint I had. It looks amazing! Let me know where I can send a picture!

  49. Metta says:

    How durable is this over the long term? I’m thinking about replacing the 3 sets of knobs on my french doors, but it looks like it will cost $600 to do that. I live in Southern California and the sun beats down on them, and it can sometimes get over 100 degrees here. They work fine but the finish looks bad on them. I’m wondering if painting them might be a better option. I don’t want to spend $600, but I don’t want them to look crummy in a year or two either.

  50. Natasha says:

    Looks great! And helpful info, i am ready to get started. One question, however, with an orbital sander (i looked at the Bosch you linked to at the top) how do you sand into and around the inside curves of the doorknob. such as where the handgrip portion of the knob meets the stem of the doorknob?

  51. Jennifer says:

    Can you tell me did you sand all the hardware pieces or just the hinges? I wonder how easy it is to sand the deadbolt lock for example. Great project!

  52. Kelly says:

    Looks are much improved! I used an automotive primer instead but otherwise very similar! Wish I could post pictures here, for $12 and 2 hours of time I can repeat this process a few times even if it doesn’t last well!

    1. That’s awesome Kelly, thanks for sharing your tips!! I bet an automotive primer is way better, worth trying out 🙂

  53. Vicki talton says:

    Hi, We put nickel door knobs on our front door and they have turned failed color. It said it was for outside. Can you help? Thank you.

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