DIY: Update Brass Hardware with NO prep, NO paint, and almost NO MONEY

March 23, 2017 1 Comment

DIY: Update Brass Hardware with NO prep, NO paint, and almost NO MONEY

Hey friends! It's been a while since I've posted, I know. I've been busy working on the shop a lot lately, so my projects have been here and there, sometimes partially finished (tell me, I'm not the only one right??). As some of you may or may not know, our little family of 3 (and one fur baby!) is currently living in an RV. Well, being the person that I am, I can't leave anything alone without adding my own touch! So I've been slowly "renovating" our little house. It's getting closer to where I can show you what I've done without you going "ACK! WHAT IS THAT UGLY THING?" lol as you can imagine, the space is small so I haven't really been able to just show you one area without you seeing the outdated decor right next to it. But, progress right? Still, I can't bring myself to photograph anything until it's almost next to finished - it would ruin the suspense anyway ;)

Today I'd like to share with you how I updated our brass hardware with almost NO WORK, NO MONEY, and a TON of payoff! I knew I wanted to update the hardware to something black/oil rubbed when we first moved into the RV, but seeing as there were handles EVERYWHERE, I knew I couldn't replace them (after all, it's only temporary that we're here). I thought, ok, what about spray paint? Then I read horror stories about what happens if you don't prep and prime and then after reading about all the work prepping and priming involved I nixed that idea and started doing research....

My basic idea was, "What if I could strip the brass?" So I went to my dad - the man with all the answers (hehe...but not today), "Dad can I strip this brass plating off?" "Nope. It's electroplated on." I stared at him, blinked a couple times while my brain went other places and then said, "I'm gonna go google that. There's gotta be a way." Sure enough, 10 minutes later I had my solution and I gave him a good ol' "Told ya so!" :P Once I stripped the brass off, my handles were just silvery nickel - much better already! So I did some more googling - gun bluing! And bam, I made the impossible possible! Dad was impressed :) Read on to see how I did it!!


How to update brass hardware without paint for cheap


You may already have some of these items at home, but if not, it shouldn't cost you more than $20. You'll need about a day and a half from start to finish but there is very minimal actual work time! I think you're going to love this! Especially if you live in an older home and just don't have it in the budget to replace the hardware - that stuff gets expensive!!! So are you ready??? Let's go!

What You'll Need:

    • Rubber gloves
    • Two cheapo/junk paint brushes (1" or whatever fits your hardware best)
    • Optional: Mask (just in case you're worried about the oven cleaner fumes)
    • Oven Cleaner $4 (I used Easy Off Heavy Duty and then for a second batch a fume free version - either is fine) 
    • An old baking tray or tupperware, wide and shallow is best - something you don't mind ruining (your oven cleaner bath goes in this!)
    • Gun Bluing $8 (you can find it at Walmart in the Sports/Gun department) 
    • Gun oil $5 (recommended) or vegetable oil or WD40 (Gun oil is also at Walmart, but we already had some)


    1. Remove all your hardware. I left all the screws on so I wouldn't lose them. Lay them as best you can in your pan or tupperware so that they aren't all overlapping. If some do, that's fine though. 
    2. Put on your gloves and start spraying on your oven cleaner - don't hold back! I kept a brush handy to make sure I smushed it all in the crevices of my handles. Leave this for a few hours (5 or so) and check your progress. Usually the bottoms will be stripped pretty well because they've been sitting in the bath. If they're good, turn them over so the other side gets some good oven cleaner action too. Overall, you'll leave this science experiment for about 17 hours/overnight.
    3. Once they are completely stripped, rinse them off in the sink or with a garden hose. Dry them off with a paper towel and let them dry a bit. You can stop here if you just want them silver, but if you want them to turn black, go to the next step.  
    4. Now for the fun part! Lay some paper towels or newspaper down to protect your work surface from potential bluing drippage. Put your gloves back on! With a clean brush, apply the bluing onto the hardware and watch the magic happen right before your eyes! Lay them down to dry on some paper towels and continue until all the handles are done.
    5. With gloves still on, apply some gun oil to a paper towel and rub it onto the hardware. This stops the chemical reaction taking place and acts as a sealant for the finish you just put on. And voila! You're done! Now you can do the [not so fun part] and put the hardware back on! (or sucker your husband into doing it for you...alas, mine was away for work so he was not available for suckering haha)

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. If you did, please do me a favor and pin it! If it saves you some money and allows you to make your home into the beauty you know it to be, then I've done my job :) And that way, you can put your money where you really want it - because it's not a budget; it is creatively allocated finances hehe! Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more great ideas like this one! 

How to update brass hardware without paint for cheap

1 Response


October 27, 2017

I followed instructions to a T, but my handles are dark grey instead of black. I guess it would be gunmetal grey. The color is gorgeous & I will use them, but I was wondering if your handles are black? Maybe I didn’t leave the Gun Blue on long enough. One of my handles was spotchy, so I rinsed it in cold water & used steel wool then Gun Blue & it came out perfect. Thanks for this wonderful project…gunmetal grey looks much better than the brass.

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