I've got a number of nice heavy brass hinges with splotches of paint on them. Unfortunately this paint appears to be decades old and is rock-hard. It appears to be old oil-based paint but I'm not sure.

The most visible place where paint was applied is the decorative pins that have ball shaped ends. Scraping or sanding without scratching the brass seems impossible. So that leaves soaking in some sort of stripping agent. Are there any concerns with using such products with brass or any specific products and/or approaches recommended?

  • Overnight soak in a bucket of dichloromethane usually does the job. The stuff used to be cheap. Looks pricey nowadays: google.com/… Nov 7, 2016 at 21:16
  • 1
    buy a new hinge...
    – dalearn
    Nov 8, 2016 at 1:32
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    If you're going to remove them, cut the paint around them with a utility knife first or you risk taking chunks of the door trim with it.
    – Mazura
    Nov 8, 2016 at 5:09
  • @Mazura Good advice but the hinges in question are not actually on the door. It's not that these were painted on purpose either. Whoever painted them was too lazy to remove them before painting the frame and trim so there are globs of paint where they touched the hinge with the brush.
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 8, 2016 at 14:27
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    @dalearn The cost of the hinge is not a concern but trying to find something at matches the many other hinges is a problem. It's in a room with two other doors with these hinges on one 10 foot wall. A different hinge would be the last resort.
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 8, 2016 at 19:38

4 Answers 4


I would remove the affected parts from the door and wall and drop them in a small container which can be a) placed outdoors (for fume abatement) and, b) have paint thinner or Goof Off to soak for minutes or hours.

Except for possible varnish finishes on the hardware, paint thinner has no effect on brass, stainless steel, etc.

  • That's good news. It's possible that there many layers and perhaps some are oil and some are latex. Does it matter what I use if the paint is oil-based or water-based?
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 7, 2016 at 17:16
  • @JimmyJames: If it is latex paint, soapy water might work (albeit slowly), but paint thinner definitely will.
    – wallyk
    Nov 7, 2016 at 17:19
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    Is there a reason to not use actual paint stripper?
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 7, 2016 at 18:35
  • I'm not sure if you have a bucket of "Carb Cleaner" with the basket, but I'm fairly certain there is not much that will not dissolve that is organic in nature, in a carb cleaner. Nov 7, 2016 at 20:55

I have just recently done this. I had some 90+ year old doors with so many coats of paint on the hardware that the doorknob would not even turn. The ball ends of the hinge pins looked like mini onion domes.

I used a basic cheap heat gun to loosen the paint and then a combination of brushes and scrapers to clean everything up. I did not care about preserving the brass finish, so I had no qualms about using wire brushes, etc.

You might try applying heat on a part of the hinge leaf that will be hidden from view to see if the finish is affected before you tackle the ball ends. Good luck!


What I've done in the past is to put the hinges into an old crock pot and let them "cook" for a few hours in just plain water. This will heat the metal to a point where the paint should come off. A little elbow grease and maybe a stiff plastic bristly brush should help get the rest of the paint off. I've also used wooden skewers to help scrape off the paint to save my fingernails.

If you choose this route, I would get a crock pot at a second hand store to use solely for projects like this as I wouldn't want to eat anything out of a slow cooker that was used to soak paint.

  • So literally put it on the stove? At a simmer?
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 7, 2016 at 19:02
  • I personally use a crock pot, but I suppose an old pan would work. Although you may want to do any "cooking" outside or at least in a well ventilated area.
    – yakuza
    Nov 7, 2016 at 20:04
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    Note that said crock pot / pan should never be used for food preparation afterwards. Old paint often contained lead, which would be ingested.
    – BryanH
    Nov 7, 2016 at 22:11

Brake fluid wreaks havoc on some types of paint! If you're lucky, and can wait a day or three for it to work you may find it peeling and bubbling off of its own accord. (Use glycol type fluid, most common anyway dot3 or 4 I believe. Observe material safety recommendations). Should be perfectly safe on any metals commonly found in braking systems

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