Metal hardware, besides serving a practical purpose, also embellishes furnishings with a bit of decor. If you enjoy the look of antique furniture, putting modern hardware on it fresh from the store may clash with the antique vibe. Even old hardware might need a little work to achieve that antiqued look you're going for. The same basic preparation techniques apply regardless of the type of antique finish you prefer; from that point, put your own spin on the final finish to achieve the desired look.
Basic Preparation and Painting
Sanding and priming metal before painting allows the paint to better adhere. Sand off most of the existing paint, if any, or sand to scuff up the shiny coating on the metal designed to protect it. A sanding block conforms to the shape of the hardware, allowing for easier sanding around curves and edges. Once sanded, wipe dust away with a damp cloth, then apply a spray-on metal primer to the piece. Brass behaves a little differently with metal primers; a self-etching primer provides even better coverage for brass. Once the primer dries, apply whatever color you'd like for the basis of the antique finish: antique white, black or oil-rubbed bronze, for instance. Faux finishing techniques over this coat enhance the antiqued effect.
Layered, Aged Paint Effect
A layered paint technique using candle wax emulates the look of many decades and layers of paint. Once the hardware is painted in your base antique color, whether off-white, black or a metal tone, rub candle wax over the entire piece. Apply another coat of paint in a different shade. Using a thicker paint such as a brush-on latex results in thicker chips once you sand the piece later, enhancing the antique look. After this layer dries, repeat the waxing and painting process with yet another paint color, and perhaps yet again, if you like. Sand through some of the layers in areas of normal wear, such as where fingers would naturally grip the piece, or on corners that may get bumped.
To make hardware look a bit rusty and old, use a base paint color of black or rust. Rubbing stain or thinned acrylic craft paint on the hardware using several shades of brown, rust and black enhances the rusty effect. Apply with a sponge, if desired, for a rusty patina effect.
Faux verdigris gives the hardware a look similar to copper that's been left out in the elements for years, reacting with the environment to create beautiful turquoise tones over the copper. This technique starts with a copper base color. Acrylic craft paint in shades of turquoise, light green and copper, poured into small pools near one another, provide a dipping area for a sea sponge. Dip the sponge into a bit of each color, then dab it all over the hardware pieces, overlapping areas as you work.