The common thing to do when you’re unhappy with a lamp, dresser, door, or hardware is to paint over it. But if you’ve changed the color more than a few times and have several layers of paint, or someone before you did a sloppy paint job, it can make any surface start to look gummed up and unattractive. This is particularly true for metal hardware and accessories. Fortunately removing paint from metal is completely doable if you have time, patience, and the right tools. And the shiny results are well worth the effort.
Supplies: Cardboard, newspaper, or heavy drop cloths, Chemical stripper, Glass or metal can, Disposable paintbrushes, Paint scraper, Nylon brush and/or scrubbing pads, Rags, Mineral spirits, Water, Rubber gloves, Eye protection, Face mask
Prepare your work area by covering the ground with drop cloths, recycled newspapers or unfolded cardboard boxes for surface protection against the chemical stripper you’ll be using. Make sure there are no gaps between any pieces. It’s also important to protect yourself, so put on your rubber gloves, safety glasses, long-sleeved shirt, and pants to cover your skin completely. Be sure to avoid inhalation of fumes from the chemicals by opening all windows and wearing a mask.
Pour a small amount of the paint stripper into a glass or metal can. Apply the chemical paint stripper to the metal with a disposable paintbrush and let it set according to the instructions on the container of paint stripper. As it sets, you should start to see the paint bubble up from the surface of the metal.
Chip off the bubbled paint from all the flat surfaces of the metal with a paint scraper. For crevices and harder-to-reach areas, use a scrubbing pad or nylon brush and continue to chip away. Reapply stripper and scrape or brush away again as needed until the whole piece is paint-free.
Get a damp rag with mineral spirits and wipe down the surface. This will remove any remaining flakes of lifted paint and the bulk of the remaining chemical residue.
Carefully rinse off the metal with water to completely remove all traces of the stripper. Wipe it down using a fresh, dry rag. Your newly cleaned metal is now ready for use! Screw hardware back into place, or set out those shiny, fresh-looking metal tables. If you’re looking to place a metal piece outdoors, now’s the best time to apply a weatherproofing sealant.