How to paint hardware (and make it last)
A while back, maybe 2 years ago, I painted a dresser and chose to keep the original hardware. It went from a gold to an oil rubbed bronze, but I didn't know what I was doing, and it was obvious. Right away the paint started chipping and I had to figure something else out. The good thing is, you can learn from my experience and skip all of the mistakes! So, here's how to paint hardware the right way.
1. Remove your hardware from the piece and clean it with soap or a degreaser.
You can use steel wood to help get any old flaky finish off if you need and smooth everything out, then wipe the hardware down with a cleaner. Soap and water works just fine (that's what I use, or a liquid cleaner/degreaser). You want to get all oils and grime off of the hardware to prep for the finish you are about to put on.
2. Wipe off the hardware and let it dry.
I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. I also made a point to not touch the hardware, but to put it on a piece of cardboard and take it outside so that any oils from my hands weren't getting back onto the hardware
3. Prime the hardware with an oil based primer.
There are a few different types and brand of spray primer. I highly recommend Zinsser Cover Stain. It's an oil based primer and on the label it says it acts a bond coat. This step is very important to ensure a lasting finish that actually sticks to the hardware. Do thin coats to prevent drips. I waited a minute or two before spraying again so the primer would begin drying. Just make sure all areas of the hardware are covered with a good coat of primer.
Once the primer is dry you may want to use 0000 steel wool to very lightly go over the primer coat and make sure it's smooth (I primed on a piece of cardboard and some of the cardboard debris was sprayed into the finish. The steel wool smoothed it right out).
4. Spray on your paint color
For my hardware I just wanted a true gold, so I used Rustoleum's Metallic Gold. Again, thin coats are key. I did about 2-3 coats and made sure to spray at all angles for full coverage and a smooth finish.
5. Seal the hardware with lacquer or another clear sealer.
After you cleaned, primed and painted the hardware it's best to seal it. It will help the finish last longer and hold up to more wear. The paint I used said not to use a topcoat on it, but I made sure to test it out first to make sure it didn't affect the gold color or finish. I decided to use a lacquer becasue of it's shine and durability. I've also had problems with other sealers I've used in the past giving an uneven finish. I highly recommend the Valspar lacquer and I loved that it's fast drying.
6. Let everything cure, then re-attach the hardware, and you're done!
I know a lot of people just clean and then spray paint hardware, but actually taking the time to prime and seal it will really make a difference in how the paint wears and the finish holds up. Hopefully you found this useful, and now you can update some hardware with some paint!