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Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

My 1902 Craftsman has numerous decorative hinges and door lock plates that have been painted about 5 or 6 times over the years. Assuming that there was probably a lead paint used somewhere under all the layers how can I safety remove the paint without scratching or damaging the hinges and lock plates themselves.

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

I have a lot of luck with this method: carefully remove the hinges and soak them in soapy hot water. When the paint layers get soft, they are a lot easier to srcape off, with a single edge or your...finger nails.

Good luck.

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

I think removing it with my fingernails would be unsafe if there is a possibility that the hinges contain lead paint??

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

If you have an old crock pot that you no longer use for cooking you can try putting in some water and dish soap and set it to cook for several hours. The paint may come off easier. I have never tried this method but I heard that it works. Use some paint scraping tools, brass wire brushes, or even tooth picks to get at all the nooks and crannies. Start with one piece to be sure you can do it without doing any damage.

As far as the lead paint it is a problem if you ingest it or breath in dust from it. Since it will be wet you shouldn't have to worry. You can wear gloves or just wash your hands thoroughly afterward. If you do need to sand do not do it in the house and wear an approved dust mask. Good luck with your project.


A. Spruce
Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

Paint thinner will quickly soften latex paints. Put the parts into a metal container with a tight fitting lid (e.g. a coffee can ) and cover with paint thinner. Allow to sit for several hours or until you see the paint bubbling. Wearing nitril gloves, use a nylon brush to gently agitate the paint build up loose. Repeat as necessary. If there is a layer of oil based paint, use lacquer thinner.

Neither of these thinners will be harmful to the original finish on the hardware. You need to use a metal pan because the thinners are petroleum based which can eat through some plastics. Nitril gloves are available at any hardware store and are more resistant to petroleum based products than rubber, latex or vinyl gloves.

When you're finished, have a suitable sealed and labeled container to put the used thinner into for the next time you need to clean a paint brush or other item. Let the debris settle to the bottom of the soaking bin and then carefully pour the clear top liquid into the storage container. DO NOT pour it back into the original container or you'll contaminate your clean thinner.

The debris can be set outside to dry then tossed into the garbage can. If you need to dispose of the spent thinner, you can take the sealed container to your local hazardous materials depot for safe disposal.

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates


If you can take the metal hardware off, then the fastest and most effective chemical you can use is paint stripper. But, be advised that not all paint stripping chemicals are equal. The active ingredient in traditional paint strippers (like Polystrippa) is Methylene Chloride:

Methylene chloride is simply a methane molecule with two of the hydrogens replaced with chlorine atoms. Because it's such a small molecule, it has a very high vapour pressure, and pure methylene chloride evaporates extremely rapidly without leaving a residue. But, in order to be useful as a paint stripper, it's gelled, and it's the gelling agent that both prevents the methylene chloride from evaporating rapidly and which leaves behind any residue. That residue can be easily removed with mineral spirits (aka: paint thinner).

If you're wanting to strip old oil based paint, methylene chloride is the biggest gun in the arsenal, but it's also highly agressive in attacking your skin, so wear protective gloves and eye goggles when using this stuff.

If you buy a "Citrus" based paint stripper, the active ingredient will be a byproduct of the Florida orange juice industry called d-Limonene:

d-Limonene will soften latex paints, but it's a total waste of time and money on oil based paints. The only reason it's included in so many "citrus"-based products nowadays is that the Florida orange growers have a strong lobby in Washington, and they're trying to get d-Limonene into everything from air fresheners to chewing gum. That is, the Florida orange growers are CREATING a market for d-Limonene by marketing it as an eco-friendly alternative to more effective cleaners and paint strippers (like methylene chloride).

d-Limonene occurs naturally in the rinds of oranges, so it allows the orange growers to earn extra income by squeezing the rinds of oranges to produce d-Limonene for the market. Since d-Limonene evaporates from orange peels as they rot, the eco-selling point is that by using d-Limonene as a cleaner or paint stripper, the net effect on the environment is zero cuz the stuff woulda evaporated into the atmosphere from the rotting orange peels in Florida anyhow.

Don't buy a "citrus"-based paint stripper if you're planning to strip oil based paint.

If you want a paint stripper that you can use without wearing rubber gloves and eye goggles, then consider a product called "Safest Stripper" made by the 3M Company. Safest Stripper uses dimethyl adipate:

and it's twin, dimethyl glutarate:

as it's active ingredients.

Paint strippers that use these chemicals as their active ingredients are truly easy on the skin. I have very sensitive skin that breaks out in rashes when I handle hydrocarbon solvents, but I can have these two on my hands all day long without suffering any effects on my skin at all.

The two dimethyls are more effective than d-Limonene at stripping oil based paints, but much less effective than methylene chloride. They're a good choice if you're more interested in working in comfort rather than getting the job done quickly. Also, because of the two carbonyl groups (C=O) on each one, both molecules are soluble in water, even though it takes a bit of agitation or brushing to get them to dissolve in water. So, you can clean up the paint stripper and stripped paint with water.


If you do use methylene chloride, it's best to follow the procedure outlined by A. Spruce for using paint thinner because of the rapid evaporation of methylene chloride. By confining methylene chloride to a sealed container, you limit the amount of evaporation that can take place, thereby ensuring that the concentration of active ingredient remaining in contact with the paint remains high.

Hope this helps.

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

Thanks so much for all the great information.

Re: Removing paint from old Decorative Window Hinges and Door Lock Plates

I tried a small spot with the paint stripped and I believe it will work just fine for the removal.

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