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Choosing a Finish: Spray Paint, Clear Coat, or Metal Aging

Summary

Once you are done stripping and cleaning the hardware, you get to choose which type of finish you want.  There are basically three options:

  • Spray Painting. This is best if you want a uniform look on all your hardware.  For example, many old homes have a number of mixed-metal pieces from different decades (e.g., brass vs bronze vs steel).  By painting them you can make them all look uniform and like they came original with the house.  This is also a good method when you have new fake-brass ones from a big-box hardware store, as those often look out of place.
  • Clear Coating. If there is already a nice patina on your hardware, you might want to just clear coat it and keep the patina look.  Many of these old hardware pieces have a beautiful patina once you remove the paint.
  • Metal Aging. Once you've stripped all the paint off, the hardware can look brand new.  If you want to make it look 100 years old again and give it an instant patina, then you can dip them in metal aging solution.  

In the video below, I show you how each one of these options can look when you're done.  

If you want to just go ahead and start the process, skip to the next page called: How to Apply the Finishes.

Materials

Links for the type of finishes you can choose:

Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze$6A great option for painting locks, hinges, door handles, etc. I like the uniform look it provides. LINK
Clear Coat Lacquer$6A good option for when you already have a nice patina on your hardware, and just want to seal it to keep the look.LINK
Metal Aging Solution$12It can be fun to age your hardware with a solution like this. It can give everything a nice look, as demonstrated in my videos.LINK

Video

  • MINS 0:00-END. Examples of the Finished Product.  I show you examples of the final product so that you can compare what hardware looks like after it’s been painted vs. aged vs. clear coated with a lacquer.  Each method can have unique look and benefits.  If you want uniformity, then painting is a great way to go.  If you want an older look, then you can age the hardware.  If you want a cool patina, than shine them up and spray a clear coat of lacquer on them.  They all look awesome!

 

 

Pictures

Four different finishes.  The far-left handle in the rear is a Taiwanese handle probably made in the 1980s that uses a modern brass finish and that is out of step with the original hardware (a good candidate for painting!).  The next one to its right is an original brass handle from around 100 years ago after having been cleaned up.  If you like that type of patina, you can clear coat it with a lacquer clear coat.   The next one to the right, that looks darker, is the same era of handle, but after it has been aged with a chemical solution.  You can see that it darkens it and makes It a uniform color.  The final handle on the far right closest to the camera, is a handle that I painted using a “oil rubbed bronze” spray paint.  This is what I chose for my house, to give all the hardware a uniform look.  It looks very close in appearance though to the aged bronze.

Four different finishes.  The far-left handle in the rear is a Taiwanese handle probably made in the 1980s that uses a modern brass finish and that is out of step with the original hardware (a good candidate for painting!).  The next one to its right is an original brass handle from around 100 years ago after having been cleaned up.  If you like that type of patina, you can clear coat it with a lacquer clear coat.   The next one to the right, that looks darker, is the same era of handle, but after it has been aged with a chemical solution.  You can see that it darkens it and makes It a uniform color.  The final handle on the far right closest to the camera, is a handle that I painted using a “oil rubbed bronze” spray paint.  This is what I chose for my house, to give all the hardware a uniform look.  It looks very close in appearance though to the aged bronze.

Taiwanese vs original handle.  Notice that the Taiwanese handle notes it was made in Taiwan.  Probably from the 1980s.

Taiwanese vs original handle.  Notice that the Taiwanese handle notes it was made in Taiwan.  Probably from the 1980s.

All the different finishes lined up together.

All the different finishes lined up together.  The likely reason for so much variety in the types of metals and finishes is that new hardware was added every decade or so, and different metals were used in different eras.  

A closeup of a restored lock on one of my windows.

A close up of a lock painted with the Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint.

Are you done learning about the different finishes?  Learn How to Apply the Finishes on the next page.