Unless you've had your head in the sand the last few years you should know what ORB is. But just in case you've recently come up for air, ORB stands for "oil rubbed bronze", a metallic paint finish. If you google it you could spend months on the internet reading about all the fantastic makeovers that have been done with this spray paint finish. It would seem that ORB is the go to choice for what seems like 99% of the spray paint fanatics aficionados out there in blog land. Just writing that makes me a bit worried that this is a fad that will soon pass, if it hasn't already. Nevertheless, I had a can or two in my basement paint cupboard just waiting for an appropriate project to come along.

And eventually it did, or they did, because I have two to tell you about. Neither one is anything to write home about - which means it's blog worthy ; ) - but even a little bit of ORB can make a difference in taking a project from nice to oooh nice.

A few weeks ago, when I was finishing my porch painting project, I mentioned that I wanted to do something about the brass hardware on my back door. There's no other brass in sight so it stuck out like a sore thumb. Below is the before photo of it again. Black chair, dark shades, black screens. The shiny yellow brass just didn't go with the black and gray.

The outside of our house has black window frames and a black metal railing so originally I was going to go with plain black. But since I already had the ORB I figured I'd save some dollars and make a little room in my paint cupboard at the same time. The color reads as mostly black anyway, with just a tinge of brownish tones and a bit of subtle metallic fleck. 

I started by taking all the hardware off the door and made sure to document how it all went back together (with my camera) so I wouldn't forget or omit anything. Since the project was stretched out over a couple of days it doesn't hurt to have that back-up to the sometimes unreliable memory bank. The parts included the door handles, backplates, the lock mechanism, strike plate and bottom kick plate on the door.

In prep I gave everything a light rub down with some fine steel wool. I opted not to use sandpaper because it might leave scratches in the metal that could be visible after painting. I followed up with a good cleaning using TSP substitute and finally I applied Zinsser deglosser to ensure proper adhesion of my primer.

I started with one coat of gray spray primer specifically made for metal. I'm partial to Rustoleum products because I've always had good luck with them, but you can find good metal primers in almost any of the major brands. I let the primer dry for the recommended time. I think it said to recoat within an hour or wait at least 24 hours. Being impatient I put the first coat of ORB on as soon as the priner was dry to the touch, which was maybe a half hour or so. It dries pretty fast. It'll depend on weather conditions and temperature of course. For the second coat I waited 24 hours, mainly because rain was threatening and I was working outside. And, because there were still a few little spots that looked uneven, I did a final light third coat. I don't know if it was necessary, or even recommended, but I decided to put a clear coat on top of everything. I'm sorry I don't remember exactly what I used. It was something I had in my stash that I have used before on metal. It cures to a nice hard finish and I thought that wouldn't hurt for something that's exposed to lots of daily use and the weather.

Here is the outside before. It's not the greatest photo but you can see that the windows, roof, screens, and handrail are all black and then...hello brass! Ugly. It looked a lot more yellow and shiny up close.

Afterwards, much better! I still need to paint the risers on the steps. It's on the list. By the way, that handrail is made out of old pipes painted black. It was there when we moved into this house and we've never changed it. It serves its purpose and now it's almost kind of trendy. I like that it is simple and minimalistic yet still very sturdy despite it looking rather flimsy.

I opted not to paint the actual lock on the outer door plate because I was afraid it might get scratched when fumbling around with our keys. However I have seen where others have painted the lock. If you want to do that you can fold a small piece of tape or paper to insert into the keyhole or alternatively put your key in part way and mask off the part of the key that sticks out. The main thing is to not get any spray paint in the keyhole so that it gums up the lock mechanism. 


So far, so good. It's held up fine with daily use for a month now. It's a definite improvement over the brass and I'm happy with it.

My second project involved a little cabinet I refinished last spring. We found it at a thrift shop and intended to fix it up as a media cabinet for my mother-in-law. In the end she didn't want it and I didn't have a place for it. So I decided to rehab it with some left over paint from another project and sell it. Unfortunately the weather was still too cold for spray painting so I couldn't redo the antique brass hardware.


I put it up on craigslist anyway and didn't get a single bite. I already knew the ORB would look great with the turquoise because I'd used it on my daughter's dresser. So I made room for the cabinet on the porch and there it sat until I needed to move it to do my porch painting. Since I was doing the door hardware anyway I decided to go ahead and take care of the cabinet hardware at the same time. Doesn't it look better?

I finally listed it again and this time it sold quickly. Whether that had anything to do with the ORB hardware or not will never be know, but maybe? It does seem to have magical properties. Now that the cabinet is gone I kind of miss it. I liked the pop of color it lent to the porch but alas there really wasn't enough room for both the cabinet and two chairs. I do have a pine bench on the other side of the room, with a brown stain finish that's seen better days, and I'm thinking it would look nice painted in a bright color. Future project.

So, are you an oil rubbed bronze fan? Or should I say a fan of ORB? I suppose a person could ORB a fan too. That might look pretty nice. If you've used it to do some fun makeovers I'd love to see. Feel free to show and tell in the comment section below. Happy spray painting! And have a safe and fun holiday weekend. I have a big project I'll be working on. More about that next week, if I make enough progress.

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