Painting Hardware Should Be A Federal Offense

Painted Hardware

First, a little history on my house. It was built in 1920, there are NO right angles anywhere, and it was a rental for many years so even though we’ve lived here for 13 years we are still uncovering new ways in which the previous owners used duct tape to “fix” things. I recently had the unpleasant experience of preparing to paint my bedroom and removed all of the hardware from our closet doors only to find that the hinges, knobs and locks that were used are nowhere near standard sizes and couldn’t easily be replaced.  Since I had already taken everything off, I had no choice but to tackle the extremely tedious job of stripping years and years of paint and crust off of every single piece and then pray that it would all fit when I put it back together.

 Trust me when I tell you that there is no worse job on earth. First, you have to arm yourself with extra heavy duty gloves, several grades of steel wool, a paint scraper and a steel brush, and you have to work outside due to the noxious fumes – but only when it’s the right temperature and there’s no wind. Then you have to have several different strippers because the non-toxic ones only take off so much and you inevitably have to deploy the spray-on poison to really get in the nooks and crannies. And finally, you have to have the patience of a saint because it takes forever, and even when you think you’re done you’re not because there’s always a stubborn spot that won’t come off and that’s when you lose it and go right for the screwdriver and scrape the shit out of it. It is a painstaking, impossible, bloody-knuckle baring, completely thankless job that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. So why do I do it?

Because the truth is, old hardware is beautiful.  It’s also made better and is often unique to the home or piece of furniture it’s on. And there’s something about a patina that just seduces me. It’s a beauty that can only come with real age, like a giant redwood, or a coral reef, and let’s be honest, it always looks cooler than anything new. It brings me back to the time when things were still made by hand, by craftsmen who took their time and fussed and had pride in their work. There’s a substance and importance and heaviness that you just don’t get in the mass-produced world we live in today. And I have to worship that kind of passion, precision and care. It’s just how I roll.

Which is why I believe that I should be able to make a citizen’s arrest when I see a thoughtless contractor consciously violating a piece of precious antique hardware. If they can show that kind of disrespect to elderly objects, then I think I should be able to come to their house and spray paint their grandparents. See how they like it?  Maybe it needs to be punishable by multi-million dollar fines, or jail time, or even public stoning. I mean, is it really all that difficult to try to preserve something that has stood the test of time and actually become more beautiful. I think the reason I get so upset is because once these babies are gone, they’re gone for good. Just like us. So take good care of your elderly objects, because someday you’ll be one.

  • Jan Scaglia
    Posted at 20:50h, 23 February

    Ouch! Yet so true. The old, antiques will always be made to stand the test of time…unlike the new crap out there. I laughed when you talked about the stripping process, I tried it once a long time ago and its so true how tedious the process is. Never again!!!! Great post Linda.

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