Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Door Handle Upgrade

One aspect of my home decor I've always loathed are these sweet gold door handles.  The door handles are standard builders grade for the developments in Arizona and I really can't stand them.  I'm not a gold girl... well, at least on my doors. :)

So, a plan hatched to give them a makeover.  It truly is so simple to achieve a {HUGE} aesthetic change around your house and even better, it's inexpensive. 

First, with any DIY project, you should price out your project.  Sometimes it really is cheaper and less stressful to buy the retail item or pay a professional.  So time for some math!

Items to be changed: 9 Doors, 3 Closet Doors, Two Door Locks (Dead Bolts). 

Materials to Purchase:
Spray Paint with Primer and Spray Nozzle (for comfort) ~~~ $7.50 each
....................................................................... Need 3  ~~~ $22.50
Sand Sponges (80 gt, easier to use than sandpaper)...... ~~~ $3.00 each
....................................................................... Need 2  ~~~ $6.00

Materials I Had:
Cardboard Boxes and Posterboard
Needle Nose Pliers
Philips Head Screwdriver

Total Cost for DIY Project: under $30.00


Oil Rubbed Bronze Door Handle Replacements from Home Depot

Door Handles..............................................................  ~~~ $25.00 each
....................................................................... Need 9  ~~~ $225.00
Closet Door Circle Handles.........................................  ~~~ $6.50 for two
....................................................................... Need 3  ~~~ $19.50
Dead Bolt Locks.........................................................  ~~~ $30.00 each
....................................................................... Need 2  ~~~ $60.00

Total Cost for Home Depot Project: about $304.50

Total {SAVINGS} for DIY Project: about $274.50

Now!  Let's show you how stinking easy it was!


1.  Remove the circular closet door handles.  Use needle nose pliers to grip edge of circle lip.  Hold bottom part of door with knee and top with hand to provide resistance.  Pull straight out toward you - parallel to the ground.

2.   Using your phillips head screw driver, remove the door handle.  Most doors have exposed screws on the inside (room side) of the door.  If you do not, Google is a great way to find out how to remove yours.  If you've never done this before, follow the pictures below.
 To fully remove handle, you may have to push in the latch to release the metal.
3.  Don't forget to remove the strike plate from the wall.

 Finish removing from all your doors and you will have a nice big bucket of hardware!

4.  Sand all of your hardware.  Don't skip this step!!!  Don't worry - this doesn't take as long as you would think.  You just need to mark up the surface enough to ensure spray paint has something to grip too and doesn't just slide across the surface of the handles (this causes that ugly wave/bubble effect).

5.  Prep for painting.  I'm a big fan of recycling cardboard boxes and posterboards for spray painting.  Cardboard boxes are perfect for punching the hardware through so your items stand upright.  I didn't need to make any cuts to help the handles through... they just popped right in.

**Something I messed up on that I would like to save you the trouble with...
Be sure to spray paint your handles standing on their faces first so you get the backside of the handles.  THEN punch them into the box to stand upright.  It will take about an hour or so for the first side to dry but it will save you a lot of time, stress and odds of ruining your handle in the long run.

 6.  Take outside to well-ventilated area and spray! spray! spray!
 This is the exact spray I used from Home Depot

 7.  Allow to dry for about an hour and then check for touch ups.

8.  Once all sprayed, exercise a heavy dose of patience.  Attempting to put the hardware back onto your doors prior to being fully dry can cause the paint to scratch, dent or stick together (remember the door jamb).  Just think of this like waiting for your nails to dry after you've painted them - disaster if you don't wait long enough.

9.  When all your pieces are dry, put your house back together!

 You're all done!  You are OFFICIALLY a DIY-er!
Sit back and enjoy your handy work!


  1. Hey Jen, I was just looking at your blog and this idea is genius! I have those ugly gold handles in my house too and have been wanting to change them. How long would you say it took you? About a day or a weekend?

    1. Thanks, Karli! The actual "action" part of the project only takes an hour or two, but the entire process took us a full Saturday. Allowing the handles to dry is what takes so much time. We started first thing in the morning and attached all the handles before we went to bed. However, we didn't close any of the doors that night to give the surfaces extra time to dry (avoiding scratching the paint or the latch sticking together). Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Ok, thanks! We have been repainting our kitchen cabinets which is taking forever so thats why I was just curious about how long the process would be. Sometimes I feel bad for my husband because I have all these ideas and projects to do :) haha
    So the paint has been staying on really well since you did it? Hopefully I'll get on to that project next month sometime!

    1. Oh, fun project! We want to do our kitchen too!

      Yes, the paint has been staying on beautifully! Haven't had any issues with the handles chipping or scratching. If you're patient with the drying process, you shouldn't have any issues either!

      Definitely let me know how it goes!

  3. I'm so glad to see this project! I have several gold handles just like yours needing to be done. I will definitely be changing mine in the very near future. Yours look great!

  4. I love this project idea, Jen! What about the hinges on the doors? Did you leave them as is? I have the matching ugly gold hinges on all my doors and taking those off would be a huge project. I was thinking about using a product like Rub 'n Buff on my door hinges. Have you had any experience with that?

    1. I'm so glad you like it! In regards to our hinges, our hinges are painted the same color as our door jambs - so we didn't need to work on them. It would be a pretty big project to take down all of your doors (no privacy in the bathroom either - oye!). I have never used Rub n' Buff so unfortunately I cannot speak to it, but if it would match, I say give it a shot! I have read great reviews of it and it looks like fun. Definitely let me know how it goes!

  5. Well, I did it! I used Rustoleum Universal Satin Nickel spray paint to totally transform my ugly shiny brass door handles. It was a more involved job than I had anticipated, but it was worth it.

    Here are some of the issues that made the project take longer than anticipated: After I had spray painted, and then touched up, I still wasn't satisfied with how they looked, so I had to wait 48 hours to touch up again (according to the paint can directions). Also, replacing the handles took much longer than removing them, as there were a couple of bent pieces that were difficult to reattach, etc. And, I wasn't able to remove a couple of my sliding closet door circular inset handles, so I had to mask off the doors and hand paint them.

    Unfortunately, the Rub 'n Buff idea was a disaster. I sanded and cleaned the hinges but the product wouldn't adhere...I think the hinge surfaces are just too slick for the product. So, I just painted the hinges to match the doors and frames. That part was easy.
    Here are links to a few before and after photos:

    Jen, thanks again for the inspiration!

    1. Yay! You did it! I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you experiences, but wow! They turned out great! Thank you so much for sharing your process and your photos. :)

  6. What a great job you did on the knobs! Probably won't show smudges like that shiny brass. Good idea!

  7. is the spray paint still holding up? can't imagine it would be this easy.

    1. Surprisingly, yes! The only exception touch-up we've had to do is on a few strike plates on tight doors. Otherwise, it's held up beautifully!

  8. That comes so cheap! Thanks for the tips!

  9. Hi~

    Love the idea. Do you think this would work on faucets?


    1. I haven't tried it on faucets, but it may work. If you do, I recommend sealing it with a waterproof/resistant spray (also in the spray paint aisle) to ensure the water won't eat away the paint over time.

      If you do it, let me know how it goes!

  10. Great job! Another successful home renovation for you!

  11. Like you, we bought a house that came with a ton of the bright gold knobs and hinges - twenty-five, plus 14 of the round closet door inserts! It would cost a fortune to replace it all. Now that it's been a while, how do you feel the most often used hardware has held up? Have you had to do any touching up?

    1. Hi Linda - Thank you for your question. Only a few touchups have been needed on the strike plates. Otherwise, they have held up beautifully.

  12. Thanks for the tutorial and tips. I followed your instructions and it worked out pretty well, now I just have to wait until it's warm enough to use spray paint so that I can finish up the rest.

  13. I hope that I could change my doorknob myself because I bought incredible old , vintage one and I want to put it on my front door. Colney Hatch Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  14. Hello -
    Well it's been about 3 years since you spray painted your door knobs...I am really curious how they are holding up after this much time. Have you had to repaint or touch them up? I would love to see some present day pics of them!
    Thanks much!

    1. Hi Julie - Wish I could report back. We sold the house and have since moved on.

  15. This is an awesome idea... I managed to find little cupboard knobs in black but all the lever action ones are either brassy gold or silver. This is the perfect solution! New DIY plan coming up I think!

    1. I'm so glad you've found some inspiration! Let me know if you have any questions along the way!

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  18. What a great idea! it's so surprising the big difference it makes to a room by just changing the hardware

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