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{Pin Test} Spray Painting Your Door Knobs

You asked… I answered.  One of the most popular pins on Pinterest is spray painting ugly brass door knobs to an oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel finish.  How did I like it and how did it hold up over two years, all the details below!

Painting Brass Door Knobs: Did it last after 2 years?  See it here!

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We used to do quite a few pin tests but as time has gone by, it seems like they have become fewer and more far between.  Do you like seeing the pin tests here on The Pinning Mama?  Let me know in the comments so I know if I should be doing more!  Today I am back with a pin test, and it is one I really like!  About two and a half years ago we moved into our current home.  To say it needed updating was an understatement.  There was so much to do and we of course as always were on a budget, so we had to sort through our list of projects and see what our priorities were and which ones we could find a way to do more affordably.

One of the first things on our list were getting rid of the ugly brass door knobs.  They were quite the eye sore in EVERY room and really dated the home back to 1998 when it was built.  Over 15 years later we aren’t really feeling the brass, so when I came across this pin on spray painting your door knobs to make them over from ugly to pretty I was intrigued.  Now back then there was no pin testers!  Heck Pinterest had really just started!  So not knowing how the knobs would hold up over time, I figured we would give it a try. It meant changing out our door knobs for pennies each rather than $15-20 each!

So we got to work.  We removed all of the door knobs and hardware.  We set up shop in the garage.  We found the best way to paint them was to use a big piece of cardboard because then you can stick the backs of the knobs through the cardboard and  they stay nice and sturdy rather than rolling around and messing up the paint on the edges.  We used Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint with Primer.

It was pretty quick and after a couple of coats to make sure we got all of the angles, they were ready to be reinstalled.

So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Was I happy with this project?  For the most part yes.  Like I said, this was a hack that allowed me to save hundreds of dollars over replacing all of the knobs with new ones.  However, it does take some upkeep.  The first thing to go was the hardware where the door knob lever slides in the other side of the door (pardon my terminology… I am not really a door knob expert!)  You can see what pretty much every door knob accessory looks like in the picture below.  This happened fast and to all of the door knobs.

Painting Door Accessories. How does it hold up?  See it here!

The door knobs themselves held up much better, but at varying levels depending on how much that knob gets used.  You can see in the next photo my bedroom door handle.  This door stays open pretty much all the time so it doesn’t get used or touched much.  So as you can probably guess, it still looks pretty darn good!

Less used door knobs painted with spray paint- See how they hold up here!

The next knob I am going to show you is on the opposite end of the spectrum!  It is the knob of our guest bath. It was one of the first knobs to get scratched and it is used by pretty much anyone and everyone that spends time in our home.  I think that it takes it especially hard from women’s rings.  It is my guess that many of the scratches come from there.  You will also see some scratching on the base of the knob that screws into the door.  I think that this happens from fingernails scratching as they grab the knob.  So in this case the best candidate to open knobs is kids with no rings and short fingernails.

We spray painted the brass door knobs with spray paint.  See how it held up over the course of two years!

The last knob I photographed for you is our laundry room door.  This is one that is used often but mostly just by our family. I think this one shows normal wear pretty well because it is wearing mostly in the places where you make contact when you grab the knob.  Even though this knob does show quite a bit of wear it looks more naturally distressed to me and I actually kind of like it!  If they all looked like this I might just keep them like they are!

The Bathroom door knob made over from brass to oil rubbed bronze.  See how it held up over 2 years.

So was it a winner or a loser?  I think that is up to you to decide!  I would say PIN WIN for me because I still think this was a worthwhile fix and would do it again in a heart beat!  We don’t mind taking a knob down and repainting it as needed though.  If you are looking for something to fix it and forget it forever more, than you might just be better off buying new knobs.  Also, they might also last a bit longer if you clear coated them after finishing with the oil rubbed bronze spray.  I haven’t tried this, but I think it is a pretty valid idea!  Have you tried updating your door knobs?  What was your experience?

If you loved this, you can see more of our pin tests here!  And if you haven’t joined us on Facebook and Pinterest, we would love for you to follow along!  We put all of our newest tips, tricks, and pin tests up there first along with sharing the best from across the web! Thanks for hanging out with us today!

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  1. Chione says

    We tried it and it ended up being a big fail on our part. We spray painted with the Rustoleum brushed nickle finish on our bathroom door knob. Within probably two months 30% of the finish had rubbed off on the knob. Granted, this is a high use knob and gets a lot of turns every day. And it is in the bathroom, which periodic humidity from the shower and bath. It did not work for us, as much as I wish it had. We have lovely brass knobs from 1965, which are beyond dated.

  2. says

    Wow! After two years, those still look great. I have brassy knobs in this house and it drives me CRAZY. I may have to give this a try…

  3. Haley Campbell says

    We were just talking about doing this as we’re updating the nursery and putting together E’s big girl room! Thanks for the test :)

  4. Angela says

    We built a house and put actual bronze knobs in. However, we’ve lived here a year and our very used knobs look about like your laundry room door knob. So I think if you got 2 years out of it, it’s definitely a win!

  5. says

    Hi, I love pin test!
    I wonder if a little prep wouldn’t help the paint stick better? Most hardware has some sort of coating to protect the finish, so maybe a deglosser or light sanding? I dont know if it would help. I would probably put a spray poly coat over the spray paint if I did knobs.

  6. Stephanie says

    We did this about 2 years ago and on the first go we noticed scratches and such real quick. So we did them again and this time sprayed them with a valspar clear sealant in Satin finish. Hold up great. You can wipe them as much as you want and the sings and such haven’t broken through. Some people say to lightly sand the hardware before you spray paint them but I don’t think it’s necessary. Ido think you should give them a good wipedown with a mild soap and water and rinse. If they have any grease or natural oils from hands and such you’ll probably have problems with the spray paint. :) hope this was helpful!

    • Sara says

      I’m getting ready to do this with our new (old) home and was wondering exactly that! I’ll try giving them a good wash, no sanding, and adding a valspar clear sealant. Thanks for commenting!

  7. Ellen says

    We did this too and are happy with them. We did replace an outer door with an aged bronze handle from Lowe’s. Guess what? It looks just like your door ‘thingy’. Should have just painted what we had!

  8. Regi says

    I have been considering doing this exact thing in my home, so I loved reading this Pin Test. I think I may give it a try and then use a sealer over the top and see how it holds up. I think your Pin Tests are a keeper! :-)

  9. Ruth says

    I repaired my kitchen cabinet hardware because it’s so darn expensive!! Worked fairly well for years and still is ok after 7 yrs. Next time I’ll use primer first. I think it’s a win vs. BRASS!!! :/

  10. Whitney says

    Yes! It works :) it’s best to use steel wool to scratch them up a bit before spray painting them. Though the part the door rubs against when opening and closing scratches quickly :/ may want to replace those with new ones.
    But my knobs have held up great (we have 2 toddler boys)

  11. says

    I read that some are using automotive grey primer before the oil brushed bronze, maybe it’ll help w highly used knobs. My son just bought his first home n he is doing this update.

  12. says

    Thanks for this info. I actually googled whether or not to finish with a sealer and after reading about your experience, I think I will go to the extra trouble since it’s already off. (I started with just one to see how it would turn out) Thanks for sharing!

  13. says

    I wonder if they would hold up better with a clear coat on top of the black / bronze. I might just try that because I am replacing a lot of knobs and don’t want to put out the money :)

  14. Lynda says

    Thank goodness someone finally posted results after a couple of years of use. My husband has been very skeptical of my idea to try this on our brass cabinet and door knobs and i was on my to Lowe’s when I thought I would double check my shopping list and saw your pintest. Please keep them coming. I have also seen where people have done their faucets and even shower surrounds–much more ambitious, but we have NO BUDGET and need to update our house to sell it. If anyone has some wear results for faucets and such, I would love to know.

  15. Nesie says

    I found this really helpful. I’m thinking of doing this to mine. I think I might use the steel wool and clear coat after. I also have a glass door trim around a fireplace I’m thinking of doing. Of course I will need high heat black for that. Haven’t seen high heat paint in any other colors. Have you?

  16. Friendpop says

    We painted ours as well…wipe with soap and water, two coats of metal primer, two oats of Rustolem bronze and two coats of matte sealer. They look great! You can buy the matching hinges on eBay for about a dollar each!

    • Joe says

      You need to remove the lacquer from the handles.. Acetone or old fashioned oven cleaner will do the trick .. Then prime and paint

  17. Shelley Agrey says

    The previous homeowner painted some of our door knobs with the same oil-rubbed bronze paint as you used. I plan to finish the rest of the door knobs, and this post inspired me to get it done. We’ve only owned the house for 1 year and I’m not sure how long ago the knobs were painted, but I hope they continue to look great.

  18. Jessica Chen says

    I’m really grateful that bloggers like you will post in detail about the long term outcome of projects. I am not overly crafty. So if I get my lazy butt together enough to do a DIY project, I really appreciate knowing whether or not it’s going to last long enough to be worth my frustration. 😉 Thank you very much!

  19. Scott says

    Just wanted to share our experiences with this. I found that a light sanding with 400 grit sandpaper, followed with a degreaser before painting, and THEN heating each piece in a toaster oven in the garage at 200 degrees for 30 minutes makes the finish virtually indestructible. You do NOT want to use the oven in your home, as it will stink up the entire house, plus I wouldn’t eat anything from an oven used in that fashion. According to my engineering student son, the heat crystalized the paint, making it much harder.


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