Tuesday, March 1, 2016

DIY Spray Painted Doorknobs: From Cheap Brass to Expensive Oil Rubbed Bronze

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On my quest to update and upgrade our substandard, boring construction grade home I have now come to a point where the ugly brass door knobs and hinges need to be changed. This is one of the last projects on my list for my son's bathroom renovation (woo hoo!! I'm almost done!!), but ultimately it involves the entire house since eventually I want a brass free home.

I hate brass. I can't say it enough.  It just oozes cheap, construction grade quality and I want it all gone, like it was never here to begin with.

Now I could go out to the store and blow hundreds of dollars on new, beautiful knobs and hinges but we don't have the cash for that. Up-cycling and saving hundreds of dollars is more the style in my household anyway. If it can be done, we will do it. 

In my $50 Power of Paint Bathroom Reveal I touched on how Cory spray painted the knobs, towel bars and toilet paper holder to look like oil rubbed bronze, but I didn't really delve too deep into the process. Well today I'm going to show you all just how easy it is to change your ugly, out dated knobs, pulls, hinges, (pretty much whatever your heart desires) to look like expensive oil rubbed bronze. All the supplies you need can be picked up at the hardware store except copper craft paint which you can find at a craft store or Amazon. Here's the supplies you will need:

Spray Painted Knobs & Hinges Supplies

First things first I removed all the knobs and hinges and other parts from the door that I wanted to spray paint. There are many ways you can "prepare" your metal items for spray paint from sanding to just a wipe down. We chose to use paint deglosser because we wanted the spray paint to have the best possible chance to stick and stay forever. Ok, maybe not forever but it would be a shame if the paint started wearing off just because we were lazy and just wiped off our metal pieces.

I used zinsser paint deglosser that was purchased at Menards for about $6. The directions say to scrub your surface with a rag (I used an old scrubby sponge) and then apply a generous amount and let dry for 30 minutes. Pretty easy stuff. After the 30 minutes I simply wiped down all my pieces and headed to the basement to spray paint those puppies in our makeshift spray booth made out of cardboard boxes. Ideally I'd love to spray paint out doors but it's 30 degrees and snowy here right now so the basement will have to do. Although I'm sure I'll still be doing this project come warmer weather since we have about 14 doors to do...

My inspiration for my oil rubbed door knobs came from our front door. We purchased an expensive, heavy duty oil rubbed door knob when we first bought our home.

Pret-ty nice if I do say so myself.

After my knobs and hinges were dry I brought up the knobs to put touches of worn penny paint on. The hinges would be just fine the way they were since I just wanted them to be dark oil rubbed bronze, no need to do anything more with them than to hang the door back up. I gathered my supplies for this part of the project: a paper plate, worn penny paint, the knob and a small detail paintbrush.

To start I put a dab of copper paint on the plate and dipped my paintbrush and just barely painted the edges of the lever part of the knob.

After I had painted a small section I rubbed the paint with my fingers to soften the look and to fix any "mistakes". I also thought it made the copper parts look more natural, like it had been worn that way instead of just been painted on. When I paint artistically I tend to paint a lot using my fingers so it's only natural that I would use this technique for this project too.

I found there is a lot of room for error while I was painting my copper paint. You do not have to make it look absolutely perfect because oil rubbed bronze is worn to look the way it looks. It's not a perfect look. You can go back over parts and use the good old fashioned spit and rub technique if you truly don't like how a section turned out. It's only paint and can be fixed if worse came to worse.

Here's a view of all the sections I used the worn penny paint on. I painted both sides of the lever, the stem (where the lever attaches) and the outer rose (section that attaches to the door). This is a picture of the under-side that no one will see unless they were laying on the floor looking up at the doorknob.

When you are done putting copper touches on your knob simply spray paint some clear spray paint on the knob to further protect it and to keep that worn penny paint from wearing off. Wait for it to dry and then put it back onto the door from whence it came.

Here's a before picture of my brass knobs (as if you could forget).

Here's the after. Ahh so much better!

Again here is a before, my inspiration knob and an after pic.

I am over the moon with the results of my painted doorknobs. They look a million times better (and more expensive) than the ugly, outdated brass doorknobs. This project literally costs around $1 a door since I can reuse the paint and other products on all the other knobs, hinges, strike plates, etc. that I have left to do. So this paint project has saved us hundreds of dollars, but it does take some time. If that's the trade off, it is one I will gladly take. Now to just get the gumption to do all that deglossing and painting 15 more times!

Coming up next is an a-door-able post (link here) that I cannot wait to show you all!! I am sooo close to being done with my son's bathroom and this next post is the last project before the big reveal of my first completed room in our home!

Until the next time!


  1. They turned out fantastic!
    Love how you distressed just the right edges. :)

  2. Thanks so much Two PlusCute! I always love when you stop by and leave your sweet comments :)

  3. Hi Sherri! We must be soul sisters because my name is Sherri too and I am gearing up to paint all of our knobs and hinges too! We bought a house built in 1989 and have been painting EVERYTHING!!! I love the oil-rubbed bronze, but I think I'm going to try the brushed nickel spray paint. Everything that isn't brass in our house is brushed nickel, so I think that's the way to go for me! Thanks for the info!!! :)

  4. Good luck Sherri :)! I promise you won't be disappointed with the results!! Love that we spell our names the same too!! ;)

  5. Those turned out really really amazing. I cannot wait for my husband and I to try it out. You have such a detailed write up that I am very confident we will get it done with a breeze. Thank you for sharing this with pictures and very very well written. I sent it to all my friends, thank you again.

    Brandi Bradley @ Rotax Metals

  6. your door handle looks even better than the inspiration handle! very cool!

  7. I LOVE this tutorial! I can't wait to do it on all of my old brass knobs! How are they holding up after several months of use now?

  8. They are holding up great Sheyenne :) I really couldn't be more pleased with how they are wearing after months of use!

  9. No need for deglosser if you degrease, use zinsser cover stain as the primer, allow time to cure, spray and then seal. Great job! These look like the real thing. I am in the middle of painting ours brushed nickel in our condo before we sell.

  10. I love this look and want to try this. However, did I miss the part about spray painting the hardware? The pics show hardware starting with one color and suddenly it is another that you are painting the details on. I have never used spray paint- can you add some details? Thanks so much!

  11. Very inspiring, I'll definitely have to give it a try! Thanks for sharing.

  12. How is the doorknob paint holding up?

  13. After you deglossed the doorknob, you poisoned them with penny metallic paint but you don't mention how the doorknob became black. Was that the natural color?

    1. She says she used: "Rust-oleum metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint (this is our fave)- $6" for the base before she highlighted/painted the edges w/ her penny metallic color.

  14. So, it's about two years after you did this project. Is the paint still good or is it rubbing off? Am planning to change all my gold 80s knobs, but not sure if painting is the way to go. Thank you!

  15. I know this is an old post but how did they hold up to cleaning? Bleach etc...

    1. They have been holding up very well. If you are on the fence about painting your knobs instead of buying, I'd still say go for it! I plan to do an update post in the future to show any wear and tear etc. but even with two destructive, grimy kiddos mine look great!


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