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How To Refinish Exterior Door Hardware

Exterior doors take quite a beating. Even though they’re up for the challenge, constant exposure to the elements can quickly make shiny new hardware look grimy and unappealing. When your door knob and hinges have reached the point that a good wipe doesn’t clear all the build-up away, is it time to look at replacing them?

Not necessarily. As long as there’s no mechanical damage, you can sand and polish everything until it looks brand new. In this guide, the team at Access Residential Hardware explains how to refinish exterior door hardware so that it looks like the day you originally installed it!


Here’s everything you’ll need to give your exterior door hardware a makeover:

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Household lubricant
  • Allen wrench (depending on knob type)
  • Paper clip (depending on knob type)
  • Random orbital sander
  • 60 grit sanding pad
  • Old cloth
  • Spray primer, paint, and sealer (optional)

Step 1: Remove the Hinges

You’ll find it easier to remove and sand one set of hinges at a time. That way, you don’t have to worry about taking off the door and putting it back on.

To remove the hinge pin from the first hinge, wedge the screwdriver head under the hinge pin's head and gently tap the handle with a hammer to raise the pin. You can then slide the pin out with your fingers.

If the pin seems corroded, use a nail to hammer it out from underneath. Place the nail point on the hinge pin's bottom, and lightly tap the nail head from beneath with a hammer. You should be able to force the pin up and out this way.

If the hinge pin doesn't come out easily, you may find that a few squirts of household lubricant are helpful. The lubricant should be sprayed into each hinge gap, including the gaps under the hinge cap and the hinge bottom. Make sure the hinge pin is evenly lubricated by opening and closing the door several times. After 15 to 30 minutes, tap the pin out with a hammer and nail.

Once the hinge pin is out, unscrew the hinge leaves and lay them on a flat surface, like a workbench or table.

Step 2: Remove the Door Knob

How you remove the knob depends on how it's fastened.

  • Generally, modern door knobs are sold as locksets, which include all necessary hardware: the knob, latch, latch plate, etc. The majority of these knobs have recessed hex-head screws, which can be accessed using an Allen wrench. To remove it, use an Allen wrench to turn the screws counterclockwise until the knob is free.
  • With some knobs, you insert a thin wire through a thin hole to activate a spring-activated pin called a detent. This releases the knob from the spindle that connects both knobs. For this type, you can use a straightened paper clip.
  • With other knobs, the access hole for the detent is a slot; use a flat-head screwdriver to access it and release the knob.

Once you’ve removed the knob, take off the rose. It may be necessary to remove the rose separately in order to expose the screws holding the backing plate to the door. In that case, insert the tip of a flat-head screwdriver into the thin slot in the seam between the plate and door, and pop off the rose.

Now unscrew the works.Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the screws running from one backing plate to the other. Then take off the old knobs and other hardware and set it aside.

Step 3: Sand and Dry the Hardware

Apply a 60 grit metal sanding disc to your random orbital sander and strip the dirt, build-up, and (if present) paint off the entire door handle, backing plate (if present), and hinge. Make sure the abrasive is designed for working with metal: aluminum oxide, ceramic, and zirconia are all good choices.

Once you’re done, wash the areas you sanded in warm, soapy water. Do not immerse the hinges in the water, as you don’t want to remove the lubrication in the moving parts. Dry the parts with an old cloth and let them dry overnight.

Note: If you remove the hinges one at a time, you’ll need to repeat this step and the one below for the second hinge.

Step 4: Spray Paint the Hardware (Optional)

If your exterior door hardware has a painted surface and you want to repaint it after sanding, do so in a well-ventilated area. Spray both sides of the hinge. by priming one side first, letting it dry to the touch, then flipping it and priming the other side. With the knobs, spray thoroughly after propping them up between two boards and leave to dry. Spray the screws as well and the back plate (if applicable).

Once the primer has dried, repeat the process with the color you have chosen for the hardware, observing manufacturer instructions for drying time. Follow with a spray-on sealer and let dry according to instructions.

Step 5: Reinstall the Hardware

Secure the hinges to the door and jamb using a screwdriver or drill. Then reinstall the latch, making sure that the striker’s curved side faces the same direction as the original so that the door latches without issue.

Finally, reinstall the knob, starting from the outside of the door. (Note: The rose may be part of the knob assembly, or it may need to be installed separately.) Repeat on the inside knob. From the outside, insert the screws and spindle through the latch assembly and into the opposing knob's base. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to tighten all screws. Adjust the knob on the spindle until the detent aligns with the access slot or hole. If necessary, tighten recessed screws with the Allen wrench.

Need New Exterior Door Hardware?

Although refinishing allows you to extend the working life of your existing exterior door hardware, the time for replacing it will eventually come. When you’re in the market for new hardware, you want to ensure that you’re getting a quality product that can secure the entrance to your home.

At Access Residential Hardware, we sell a wide range of exterior door hardware, from keyed knobs and keyed levers to door hinges, deadbolts, and handlesets. We take pride in selling premium door hardware assemblies and accessories that look as good as they work, so talk to us about your replacement needs. You may call 866.752.9002 or use this contact form and we’ll respond ASAP. We look forward to serving you!