Guide to Refinishing Furniture Hardware

guide to refinishing furniture

Original hardware tells a story about a piece. It’s adds character to a piece that is hard to duplicate! When I’m refinishing furniture, I always try to refinish the hardware instead of replacing it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on refinishing furniture hardware the right way! 

There’s a right way? Oh boy, is there. When I started painting furniture I was guilty of throwing a coat of spray paint on the hardware and calling it a day. Luckily these were my own pieces, not furniture I was selling.

When the spray paint started peeling just weeks later, I knew I needed to find a better way to refinish furniture hardware. Through trial and error I’ve found a way to paint hardware and make it last. So you can benefit from my mistakes by refinishing furniture hardware correctly the first time.

Types of Furniture Hardware

Furniture hardware is a broad category including drawer slides, hinges, brackets and more. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’re going to be talking about handles.

There’s many different styles of handles, but the most common are either knobs or pulls. Knobs are a single piece that is connected to the front of a door or drawer by a single screw.Pulls are a longer handle that is connected to the furniture by two screws.

Let’s talk material. Hardware comes in many different materials such as Brass, Stainless Steel, Bronze or Wood.

Refinishing the hardware is the same process for these materials with the exception of wood. Wooden hardware can be sanded down and stained, or painted with furniture paint.

This guide will show you two ways to refinish furniture hardware. Spray painting the hardware, or polishing Brass hardware with a product called Rub N’ Buff.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Refinish Furniture Hardware –

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TSP Cleaner

220 Grit Sandpaper or Synthetic Steel Wool

Oil Based Spray Primer

Spray Paint

Spray Sealer

Prepping the Hardware

You know how important prepping your furniture to paint is, right? The same goes for hardware! The first step to refinishing furniture hardware is to smooth the surface so you have a good base.

Use 220 grit sandpaper or synthetic steel wool to sand the hardware. This helps give the paint something to grip to, as well as removes any flakes or peeling on the hardware.

refinishing furniture hardware - sanding hardware

If the handles have been painted previously, I wouldn’t recommend trying to paint over them again. That would be a recipe for peeling paint.

Use a product like Citristrip to strip off the paint and then you’ll have a clean start to paint as you wish!

Cleaning the Hardware

Hardware needs a thorough cleaning before it can be painted. Handles get handled a lot, which means lots of oils build up. Any oil left on the hardware will stop the paint from adhering well and give you trouble down the road.

I like to soak my hardware in a mixture of Krud Kutter Tsp and water first to loosen any grime.

Then I use a toothbrush to get into the fine details and scrub it well.

Hardware gets such heavy use and touch so you want the best adhesion possible. Using an oil based primer will act as a bond coat and help the paint actually stick to the hardware.

Priming the Hardware

Shake the can really well before you paint. Prime in thin, even coats 8-12 inches away. If your coats are too thick you will end up with drips.

Let dry, and then turn the hardware to make sure all edges are covered.

Painting the Hardware

There are so many great paint options to create almost every finish you can imagine. You can use a solid color, a Metallic Gold or an Oil Rubbed Bronze. If you are going for a shabby chic look, you can brush on Chalk Paint.

I recommend using a spray paint to give the smoothest finish.

Spray your hardware in thin coats the same way you primed it. It’s best to er on the side of caution and paint thin coats or you run the risk of paint build up and drips.

Sealing the Hardware

After the paint has dried, the last step is to protect it. I use a sealer called Krylon Lacquer, but any strong clear sealer will work.

refinishing furniture hardware sealer

Spray the sealer in – you guessed it – thin, even coats. Then reposition the hardware and spray one more coat to cover all the edges.

After the sealer has dried don’t rush to put the hardware back on immediately. (I’m so guilty of this.) The first day or so when the paint is curing is when your hardware is the most vulnerable, so try to be gentle during that time.

Here’s some freshly painted new hardware! I love how the black hardware looks with the french white in this dresser makeover.

How about that Rub N’ Buff?

If you’ve got dark Brass hardware you want to bring back to life, you can use a magical little product called Rub N’ Buff.

refinishing furniture hardware with rub n buff

Rub N’ Buff is a mixture of waxes, metallic powders and a bunch of other fancy ingredients that leave you with beautiful hardware.

Some people apply this with their fingers, but I like to use an old T-shirt. A little goes a long way! Add a dab to the cloth.

rub n buff for refinishing furniture hardware

Apply the Rub N’ Buff in circular motions. Then using a clean part of the towel “buff” it out.

I’ve done this with the hardware attached as shown above, or removed it and applied it then. If it’s not too big of a pain I’d recommend removing it. This makes it easier to get the shiny new gold on every little crevice.

Here’s the difference between the hardware before and after applying Rub N’ Buff.

Pretty great stuff right?

Buying New Hardware

Sometimes the furniture you’re refinishing just needs new hardware. My favorite places to buy hardware are Amazon and Dlawless Hardware.

An Amazon search like this one brings up some amazing deals! I’ll buy a large pack of pulls and use them for multiple projects.

Dlawless Hardware also has great hardware at really great prices. I find replacements for vintage hardware here for a steal of a deal.

Don’t forget to save your old hardware for a different project. You never know when it may come in handy!

And there you have it!

I hope this helps you on your furniture refinishing journey. Taking the time to properly refinish furniture hardware will help the hardware last for many years to come.

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refinishing furniture hardware

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