DIY painted knobs can be a great $ saver. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly…
I’m not that girl who’s got a Louie on her arm. Prada? I have nada. I don’t wear expensive jewelry, and the minivan I drive, well, that’s certainly not doing a blasted thing to elevate my status, either, I suppose. I’m no Snooty Sally when it comes to a lot of things, but I do have my issues, I certainly confess. Such as?
I’m a knob snob.
My husband and I have moved in and out of 5 homes in less than a decade. And in each new pad, I’ve changed out EVERY. SINGLE. DOOR KNOB.
Here are the typical knobs we had all over our current house.
Completely functional. Just very, well, brassy.
Perhaps this disdain for brass stems from the past…a dark, dark time in my life known as junior high. A time when everything “cool” looked kinda like this…
YES. Brassy hair, brassy jewelry, songs about monkeys that were brass…and we dug it. But junior high sucked, in all honesty. And as such, I DON’T DO BRASSY.
But enough teenage self-psychoanalysis. Back to doorknobs and sticker shock.
Let’s do an exercise together. No sit-down, it’s not THAT kind of exercise. Google “oil rubbed bronze doorknob”. I’ll wait. Now check the stats. Do you see those digits? YES, that’s $10-15 PER KNOB.
We needed 42 knobs in our house. Anyone remember how to do multiplication? Me either. Let’s break out those fancy calculator apps.
$10/knob x 42 knobs = $420
Just a reminder here. We’re talking boring, shmoringold door knobs, folks. FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for something that’s sole purpose is to let me in and out of the loo! That’s crazy talk. And I don’t care if you’ve got one doorknob or a hundred doorknobs…we’re still sinking WAY too much cheddar into silly door hardware
Instead, I have a proposition. Go to the hardware store. Better yet, sit on your couch, and hop on Amazon. You need some spray paint. Because we’re gonna paint those suckers.
But isn’t this just putting “lipstick on a pig?” I hear your question. Yup, sure is. I like lipstick. And lipstick is undoubtedly cheaper than a new pig.
I am, after all, a very cheap knob snob. When I first considered doing this project, I searched the www and found a great tutorial that had been done by Young House Love. I followed it. But, based on my experience, I have a couple of edits.
And of course, this all assumes that your old door knobs are actually functional. If your knobs are beyond repair, and you just need to bite the bullet and buy new…then my friend Ashley has a great tutorial to help you install your new knobs…dummy. No, not YOU…dummy door knobs. That’s what the tutorial helps you with.
Supplies For Painted Knobs
- Spray paint in finish of your choosing. We used oil-rubbed bronze. Note: for 42 knobs, we used2 cans.
- De-Glosser (if you follow YHL’s tutorial, you will use this, but personally, I’d SKIP this step)
- Dremel tool with optional sanding kit (this is what I’d recommend in lieu of the deglosser)
- Spray paint comfort grip/trigger – file this little tool under one of those tools you never knew you needed but LOVED once you got it. Not a requirement, but your hands will thank you 😉
How to Paint Door Knobs
1. Remove your old door hardware.
Usually, this will simply mean removing two screws with (usually) a Phillips screwdriver.
2. Stay organized.
Make sure you keep the sets of knobs and screws together…once you have a bunch of hardware laying around, it’s easy for a set to get unpaired (if it happens, it’s not an emergency).
This is when you would do this deglossing procedure in YHL’s tutorial. I tried this step, in many different ways, and in the end, I found it pretty useless. The deglosser needs to be scrubbed HARD in order for it to work at all, and even then, you end up with a patchy mess. Just skip it.
4. Enter Sandman.
If you don’t want to spring for that, it’s ok, just use regular ol’ sandpaper. A higher grit (400) will be less likely to scratch up your knob, BUT, it also takes longer to sand with than a more gritty (lower number) sandpaper (unless you have the Dremel tool, which is awesome).
I didn’t take any pictures using the Dremel on the doorknobs. The shot below is the same tool being used to sand down an old brass shower fixture we re-painted using the same method.
Here’s how this brass plate looked after being sanded.
5. Time to paint!
Because of the smell and overspray, it’s always better to spray paint outdoors. Lay out some cardboard and go to town.
I tried to prop the knobs up on some shims I had lying around so that I could easily get the very back (part touching the door) of the knob.
You’ll have to do a couple of coats, allowing the dry time described on the can between applications. Each time you spray, you’ll want to have moved the knobs into a different position (lying on a side, upside-down, etc) to make sure the knob is well covered from all angles.
*Don’t forget to paint the screw heads, as those will show when you re-install!
6. Re-install painted knobs.
After the paint has cured (again, make sure to read your paint label), re-install!
**THIS IS CRUCIAL…make sure to use a paper towel, or a little piece of cardboard, or folded up paper to protect the paint job from the screwdriver you use to re-install.
This paint is NOT very tough and will chip if you aren’t careful installing. Case in point…
See that gash on top of the knob? That’s from the screwdriver I used to re-install the knob. Whoops.
And that brings me to another important point. These knobs WILL NOT withstand a ton of wear and tear. THEY WILL SCRATCH AND CHIP…take this knob, for example…
This is what happens when you hang those wire hangers from the cleaners on a painted knob…disaster.
And to continue on with the ugly, honest truth segment of this show…if you can spring for new strike plates, DO IT. Those do not hold up well with the paint. YHL had the same experience and was able to find some oil-rubbed strike plates for a great price.
When I searched, I couldn’t find ANYTHING for under $5/strike plate, and for that price, I’m gonna call this scratched-up look “vintage, shabby chic” and get on with my day…
All that being said, there are bunches of our painted knobs that continue to be A-OK, almost two years after being painted.
When you put a lot of time and energy into updating a house, it’s important to not skip the details. And door hardware is definitely a detail that will be seen throughout your home.
So, for about $15, I updated 42 knobs in our home. They aren’t perfect, but all in all, I think it’s a vast improvement from where we started. That brass will no longer darken our doors.
And I can leave all that brassy, teenage, angst-ridden past where it belongs. In the past.
Come and visit again, anytime. We’ll leave the door(knobs) open for ya!
Are you looking for more budget-friendly decorating ideas, or home improvement projects? Definitely check these articles out, too!
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