Sunday, March 29, 2015

Read This Before Painting Doorknobs!

This post is a story of one of those DIY projects that didn't go so well.  You see, I was in search of easy things I could change around the house- low cost, doesn't take a lot of time, quick check marks on the list.  I don't have a lot of free time these days, but making improvements to my house is a good distraction from the Winter season (and probably the things that I should actually be doing, but let's call it Winter).

I set my sights on the mismatched, cheap, worn out doorknobs on the doors throughout my house, and my mind instantly thought of those "upgrade your doorknobs with spray paint" pins all over Pinterest.  Perfect!  What a difference that will make, and it will only cost me a can of spraypaint!

The "Before" situation

Well, let me save you the gory details and just point out that if you start with crappy doorknobs, you will end up with crappy doorknobs obviously covered in paint.

And that's the best case.  In my case, I ended up with several doors off their hinges, and an only semi-functional bathroom door for about 2 months because after my quick fix plan ended in disaster I didn't have the time or cash to go fix it.  I felt like I couldn't invite anyone over to my house because the bathroom door would routinely pop open, allowing my friendly dog to invite herself in.  Awkward.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when my semi functional bathroom door knob actually completely broke and locked me in the bathroom.  Feel free to laugh; my husband did before freeing me!  

To be fair, some of the problem had nothing to do directly with spray paint.  It came because I didn't put the same knob on the door that i took off.  I didn't think it would make a difference, and actually did it on purpose to keep our door knob-less time to a minimum on the "vital" doors, but I think because the door knobs weren't the same style, the fit wasn't perfect.  Plus I learned that if someone before you strips out some of the screw holes on the door, it's really hard to get it hung back correctly, and you'll probably strip out a few more in the process... ugh.  

So here's the thing, friends.  Ask yourself why you want to change this particular thing you have your sights set on.  If it's because it's worn out or wasn't of good quality to begin with, the best course is probably to save up the money and buy something better.

Even if the knobs had been in slightly better shape, I really didn't like how they looked after they were painted.  Yes, I used the good spray paint.  Yes, I lightly sanded the knobs prior to spray painting them.  But once I was finished, the knobs felt rough from the paint and didn't look shiny at all any more.  

Because I was going from brass to oil rubbed bronze, I also painted the strike plates to match.  Here's what one looked like after 2 months of use:

So, what started as a $10 upgrade took significantly more cash, but I ended up getting good quality knobs that will actually last.  I went with egg-shaped knobs made by Weslock, which I really like.  They were simple to install, and everything on them is made of metal.  Oh, and it comes with a couple cover plates and strike plates, so whether you have rounded edges or sharp edges on your current set, you are covered.  A nice touch if you ask me.


I also bought knobs for all of our bi-fold closet doors from Target.  

Just as a heads up, these knobs were made for cabinet doors (<1/2" thick) not closet doors (~1" thick), so the screws that came with them weren't long enough.  I measured the thread engagement on the knob (i.e. how much of the screw goes into the knob) as well as the door thickness to figure out the length of screw I would need, then took a knob to the hardware store to find new screws.  I ended up needing a washer or two because the store didn't have the exact size I needed.  I think it took a #8 machine screw, but I couldn't find the package to be sure.

I have painted other hardware in the past with better success (cabinet pulls on my hutch), but since the door knobs will be used constantly, I just don't think they'll hold up as well.

So, if you are looking to spray paint your door knobs, my official recommendation is just to buy new ones.  It will cost a whole lot more, but will work a lot better in the end.  The good news is, if you still want to give it a try, you will only be out a few extra bucks and maybe temporarily some privacy. ;)

And the REALLY good news is that in 3 weeks I will be free from studying, spring is on the way, and I have some good ideas just waiting to get started!!