Monday, January 18, 2010

All That Glitters... NOT gold. Unless you're Donald Trump. For the rest of us, it's usually brass, with a too-shiny finish. I truly appreciate original fixtures--whether it's a cut glass doorknob with old brass fittings, wrought iron or old brass hardware. I bring them back to life where and when possible. My parents scored a box of heavy brass doorknobs with "Public School City of New York" carved in relief...and we had them on our bedroom doors as kids. Loved those. My brother Tim has installed some of them in his home--they look great and the memories carry forward!

What I don't like is the orange-y looking new 'brass' plated fixtures with a shiny varnish. New doorknobs suffer from this, for the most part. If you're not restoring vintage fittings, or installing new fixtures with an old world finish such as oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or copper, you can treat the metal to dull that glare! A light rubbing with fine steel wool gives them a brushed bronze look.

My wood burning fireplace doesn't have a damper in the flue, so I have to keep doors on the front to keep the heat in the house! I'm not a fan of fireplace doors, having grown up with big, open stone and brick fireplaces with antique screens and fenders.

I just repainted the living room, and now the brass surrounding the glass doors looks kinda cheesy to me.
I decided that the doors should play a quieter role, and that I'd dull them and then paint them matte black.

Supplies you'll need:
Grade #2 Steel Wool (Fine is 0000, moving to 000, 00, 0, 1, 2 and 3 for very Coarse)
Blue Painter's Tape (or Masking Tape)
Klean-Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser
Rust-Oleum High Heat Enamel Spray Paint in matte black (also good for the BBQ grill!)
Rubber Gloves
A Rag
Old Newspaper
Small Glass Bowl

Start to finish the project took just over 1 hour. 30 minutes of active prep and work, and about 30 minutes of drying time between the 1st and 2nd coats of paint.

1. Cover the glass and immediate surrounding area with blue painter's or masking tape.

2. Dull the brass by rubbing with the steel wool back and forth, rather than in circles. You want to get the varnish off, not gouge the brass. Just rough up the surface.
3. Put newspaper on the hearth. Shake the liquid deglosser, and squeeze some into a bowl. Wear a rubber glove! Soak the rag and dab the deglosser on to the brass, leaving a visible coat. This will ensure that the paint has a uniform surface to adhere to, in case the steel wool missed some spots of varnish. Let it dry for 10 or 15 minutes.

4. Open a window or door for ventilation. Shake the spray paint for at least a full minute, and spray in an even motion, left to right along the top and bottom, and up and down for the sides, edges and doors. Spray lightly so that you don't get globs and drip marks. Let the 1st coat dry for at least 30 mins, then do a 2nd coat.

5. Remove the tape. Takes longer to put on than it does to take off!

6. Light my fire!
Final touches for another day:
*Clean the glass inside and out (those are smoke marks.)
*Touch up any areas where the spray paint strayed, with leftover Boston Brick paint.
*Rub down the hearth with Murphy's Oil Soap.


  1. Excellent post - looks great! I will follow this to a T. Any advice on painting brick? Jill

  2. Hi, Jill--Brush brick to get any old dust off the surface. Choose an interior paint. Regarding finishes--"flat" paint will be hard to clean (future smoke marks), so I'd go with eggshell or satin. Semi gloss and gloss might be too shiny and reflect the light too harshly! No need to use a primer. Use a roller cover that is "semi-rough" rather than "smooth" so that the paint gets into the brick's natural pockets and the mortar. One thick coat ought to do it--but two coats are preferable. Have fun!

  3. oo- that sounds easy. thanks, ms. level and plumb!

  4. It's so easy, and the paint will bring the old brick to life! Thanks for stopping by!