Rustoleum spray paint - friend or foe?
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
There are many, many pinterest posts 'how-tos' showing how all metal things around the house can simply be given a quick spray paint and 'bob's your uncle' (as we Brits say to mean the job's done) and your window or door hardware, light fixtures, picture frames, kitchen handles etc. are suddenly a beautiful dark, edgy colour.
The most popular by a mile is taking old brass/gold doorknobs (thanks 80s!) and spray painting them with Rustoleum's oil rubbed bronze. Many pins even boast about no boring prep work like sanding required. But, does the promise hold up? My answer - yes and no. Sorry.
Rustoleum's oil rubbed bronze is by far the most popular colour chosen, as it should be, because it gives an almost black finish with a touch of reflective sparkle. The sparkles keep the finish from looking too flat, which many spray paints suffer from.
I have had real success with light fittings, and complete failure with door knobs. I believe the answer to success is simple - things that don't get touched will go the distance. You can see the difference here:
How to spraypaint lights in-situ:
These are the original lights in our hallway and I loved the shape of them so wanted to keep them without the tulip shades. They look so lovely with an Eddison-type bulb which gives a lovely glow. I sprayed them in-situ because a) at the time the ceiling was not painted which was happening later and b) to take them down would need an electrician (always get an electrician to remove lights. Please!).
This can be VERY MESSY so only attempt if you're sure you can contain the spray. But it is possible to do.
Sand first - this gives the paint something to adhere to. Don't risk not sanding.
Loosen the screws a little - this allows you to slide a protective backing underneath. Use something that the paint won't seep through and get on the ceiling - glossy magazine pages held true for me. Mask off the working areas of the light so they do not get sprayed.
Wear a protective face mask - you'll be up close and personal.
Cut one side off a cardboard box and hold that behind, so you're spraying in a box.
Cover everything - I covered a lot of more of the ceiling than it appears here. Spray did get on the walls a little and it easily wiped off mine but it may not always.
Ensure as much ventilation as possible - the fumes are pretty noxious.
Do a few really light layers - then go outside and breath deeply.
Snaps to me for doing this - these ceilings are 3.4metres high! It was not easy doing this up a ladder. I would recommend doing this in the garden!
How NOT to spraypaint doorknobs:
This is what I did. I thought I was doing the right steps, but it scratched with nails immediately.
Sand - get all the grime off. Note: this actually gave them a look similar to rose gold and could be a nice look on its own.
Degrease - with anything like TSP.
Spray - (with mask in ventilated area) a few light layers.
Topcoat - Rustoleum do a clear topcoat spray.
What I did NOT do that might have made a difference:
1) Enough de-greasing maybe?
2) Prime? It is a self-primer but using a separate primer may have helped.
3) No topcoat? But I did half with topcoat and half without but there was no difference in results.
4) Wrong product? A door hardware specialist has since told me that industry folk use this product. I will be sure to post updates when I've given it a go!
Conclusion: There is definitely a place for oil rubbed bronze in your home DIY, but beware the results in high traffic areas. I thought if the doorknobs lasted a year I would take that trade-off and spray annually, but a couple didn't even last out the week without scratching.