How to Restore the Antique Finish on Door Locks

Antique door locks make a considerable contribution to home styling. Years of corrosion and a number of layers of paint, however, can make them stick out like a sore thumb. Whether your locks are showy or plain, restoring their finish is a weekend job which uses materials you probably already have at hand. Once restored, your doorway locks will add trendy detail to your home.


Occasionally all of your door locks require is a fantastic cleaning to remove dirt that masks the pretty finish beneath. This is especially true of brass hardware which has a pleasing, aged patina. Remove dirt with a general household cleaner and a soft cloth. Use a toothbrush to remove hard-to-get-at dirt grooves and recesses. Clean nicely painted door locks in great condition exactly the same manner.

Removing Old Finishes

There are times once the paint or lacquer must go. To get a thorough, gentle removal, remove hardware in the doorway and put it in a slow cooker. Fill with water and add enough liquid dish washing soap to generate the water shiny. Cover, then turn the stove on low and let sit around eight hours or overnight. Remove the softened paint or lacquer with toothbrushes, wooden toothpicks, plastic scrapers and other stuff that won’t scratch the finish. Re-soak pieces which have stubborn paint.


Frequently, taking away the paint leaves a pleasing, mellow patina on brass and nickle-plated locks. If you want to polish, however, rub a soft cloth dipped in brass polish to shine it. Use a circular movement. You’ll see that the high spots become glowing and the recesses remain a tiny brownish. Catch it this way if you prefer it. Otherwise, keep polishing, using a toothbrush at recesses until you achieve the shine you desire. A bit of baking soda helps rub dark pitting. Start looking for a brass cleaner which leaves a waxy finish that prevents tarnish or rub a small paste wax onto your polished item and buff to a shine.


If steel or iron locks are hardened, rub them with fine (0000) steel wool and family oil. Clean away the oil with soap and water, then dry the lock thoroughly and prime with metal primer. Spray or brush on a durable enamel top coat and let dry. Spray a tiny household oil to the lock’s openings to soften the workings. Oil brass locks, too, before reinstallation.

Creating a New Antique Finish

Pour 1/2-inch clear household ammonia in a plastic or glass dish. Then, add a piece of plastic which can serve as a shelf, such as the bottom inch of a margarine tub. Put your washed brass lock on the shelf, then cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and wait. Check every hour or so and eliminate the hardware once you find the colour you desire. Use fine steel wool or brass polish to clean and polish the brass to your pleasing color. Work Outdoors or in a ventilated area.

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