DIY Spray Painted Doorknobs: Ugly Brass to Beautiful Oil Rubbed Bronze


On my quest to update and upgrade our standard, 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.
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. Here's the supplies you will need:
Spray Painted Knobs & Hinges Supplies
Ugly knobs, hinges, pulls, etc.
Rust-oleum metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint (this is our fave)- $6
Paint deglosser- $6
rag or sponge
Metallic acrylic copper colored paint (the color we used is worn penny)-$3
Small detail paintbrush
Paper plate for copper paint and knobs to sit on
Clear spray paint- $3.50
Screwdriver to remove knobs
Containers and/or boxes to degloss knobs and spray paint knobs
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.
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.
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!
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 14 more times!
To see the complete tutorial, or more pictures of the process and finished look check out my blog! :)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 11 questions
  • Yulka
    on Oct 1, 2018

    Hey I see no screws but mine is seperating away from the door how I fix this?

  • Carlene Williams Johnson
    on Oct 8, 2018

    Would this work on shower faucets, n bathroom sink faucets? I have a home near Houston, but recently relocated to Georgene to help my daughter. We are renting and the bathroom fixtures are the old gold look, yuk! I really don’t want to replace them.

  • Marguerite Errico
    on Jan 12, 2020

    If I skip the copper penny paint step, do I still need to spray a clear coat as the last step?

Join the conversation

3 of 81 comments
  • Kb
    on Nov 13, 2016

    Go back online with a picture in a year after daily touching of the knobs. I could not find a simple screen-door knob that would STAY dark bronze color. With constant use, the brass would always shine through and the dark would wear off. I don't like how paint chips off. Then I discovered a true oxidizer that takes brass and turns it nearly black. It is NOT paint, and I actually went to the store with my brass knob, bought the stuff, went into the parking lot and tried it, fearing I would make a quick return to the store. It works! I found a link at Amazon although I went to a woodworking store in Milwaukee: https://www.amazon.com/2-oz-Brass-Darkening-Solution/dp/B001DT4PZI" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.com/2-oz-Brass-Darkening-S... Yes, it does wear off, but not like paint. It is more natural. I used to teach metalworking classes, and I thought liver of sulfur might work, but that only really works well on copper and sterling silver. Brass is difficult to oxidize, but this product, after trying two others, actually works.

    • Stacie Bennett
      on Nov 14, 2016

      my door knobs are still fine. but the kitchen cabinet knobs I just had to redo, they are ceramic.

  • Chey
    on Nov 21, 2016

    Thank you so much for sharing the step-by-step. Truly a great way to update the brassy stuff! The end result looks warm and rich. Very nice.

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