How to Repair Hardware for a Lasting Finish

I am a decorative furniture painter and it is my job to take a vintage, antique, and otherwise a dated piece of furniture and turn it into something that will be loved again.

Furniture restoration has a lot more to it than meets the eye. We can go into that later. Today I’m focusing on the hardware. Hardware is the pulls or knobs you use to open your furniture to serve part of its purpose. This is also a KEY element in the design of each piece.

When I’m choosing a piece of furniture to buy, one of the things I look at is the hardware. Many times there is a piece or two missing which means I have to buy all new hardware. But for the very special pieces that have all their hardware, this is how to restore them.

Now, I will note that sometimes it is easier to just buy new hardware. BUT as I’ve designed more and more furniture I have found that the origanal hardware usually looks the best. It gives it a unique charm that is hard to find at your local hardware store.

This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any more from ordering from these links but I earn a small commission so I can continue to bring you more fun projects! They also allow me to show you exactly what I use so you know what I’m referring to!! (They are the blue highlighted words)

There are 2 types of hardware you’ll see quite often. One is metal, and the other is wood. You can see what I’m talking about here.

To clean the metal ones I start by soaking them in a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water with a squirt of dish soap. I let them soak for a few hours and they look like this. (The wood ones I wipe down with dish soap and water to get any oils off. I don’t soak them. Just clean them.)

The soaking process makes them easier to clean. After I clean them with a tooth brush and bar keepers friend and let them dry completely. Now its time to paint them for a durable finish! First I start by spraying both sides with Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Based Primer. This makes the paint stick and stay better.

After they are primed and dry, I choose a paint color that goes with my furniture. There are the colors I usually always have on hand and use the most. Classic Bronze, Pure Gold, Satin Nickel, and the most popular Oil Rubber bronze. From this point I follow the exact same process for the wood knobs. It makes them look metal without having to buy new knobs!

I spray each side of the hardware letting them dry between coats. Once this is done I seal them with Satin Lacquer on both sides. This is very important for the durability of your hardware.

Once this is dry you are ready to re attach your hardware! This is what the final product looks like.

This is where the fun comes in. So you see all the details in this hardware? I like to using gilding wax from Dixie Belle to accent them. After these were dry I rubbed teal turquoise and bronze on these to give them a patina effect to match the painting on the furniture. Isn’t it cool!

I hope this is helpful for your future furniture projects or even kitchen cabinet hardware update! It will work for that too! You can see the whole patina buffet here.