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My Oil Rubbed Bronze Door Hardware – One Year Later

Sometimes what is popular on the blog and what is a flop surprises me. The most visited posts on my blog aren’t even project posts, it’s the followup posts I do a year or more later showing how a project or item has held up over time.

I get why these are popular, people (myself included) don’t want to spend time and money on something if it’s not going to hold up. So today I have a followup post about something you may have been wondering about…oil rubbed bronze hardware.

What does oil rubbed bronze hardware look like after a year of use?


Now oil rubbed bronze is a “living finish”, which means that (unlike a metal that is its natural color or something that is painted) the finished will change over time. That doesn’t matter so much when it’s a light fixture or something that doesn’t get touched frequently, but it certainly matters on door hardware. I knew going in that my oil rubbed bronze knobs would change over time, but I honestly had no idea what exactly that would look like. We went ahead and installed them throughout the house anyway, which was about a year and a half ago. (We have these.)

So what do they look like now?

The door knobs that see a minimal amount of action look the same as they did a year ago.

oil rubbed bronze door hardware

does oil rubbed bronze wear off?


The ones that get touched the most are showing a bit of wear.

natural wear on oil rubbed bronze

ORB door handle finish wearing off

There is one door though, the mudroom door that leads out to the breezeway and garage, that looks completely different.

Oil rubbed bronze finish will wear over time

This door is by far the most used one in our home… it’s used by us, by guests, and by grimy handed little boys that are coming in from playing outside (and then are told that it’s not time to come in yet, followed by them coming in and checking every 42 seconds to see if its “iPad time” yet.)

Is oil rubbed bronze good choice for door hardware?

The wear on this one has made it through the brown stage, right past the orange stage, and is now in bright yellow territory. I’m guessing that in a few years a good percentage of our doorknobs will look like this, which I can’t decide if I’m okay with or not. I actually really like the wear when it peaks through as orange, but the bright brass yellow is a bit much. The knobs we chose (these, by Schalge) are less than $20 each and function beautifully, so I may just throw a new one on the mudroom door every few years.

We have the same knobs inside and out, and the weather seems to have zero effect on how they look and wear. Here is the front door, still looking brand new (except for where we ran into it with some metal scaffolding, that part is chipped.)

ORB door hardware

Also, I can’t end this post without telling you about our keypad deadbolt.

keypad deadbolts are the best

Adam and I designed and built our dream home, and out of all the things I love about our house, this $99 item is at the top of the list. I’m not even kidding, this deadbolt and our crazy amazing dishwasher are tied for making my life easier. No more keys, no more fumbling around in the dark with my hands full of four kids trying to get the door open. Family and friends know the code, the kids know it, and it’s just super convenient for everyone. These keypad deadbolts can get pretty fancy (with apps and alarms and all that) but ours is bare bones and works for us. I highly reccomend getting one…keys are so 2008.

Anyway, that is how our door oil rubbed bronze hardware is wearing… hopefully this information makes someone’s decision easier!

You may also like –

My painted shower – one year later

My paper bag floors – one year later

My butcher block countertops – two years later

My painted kitchen cabinets – five years later

10 home improvement projects I wouldn’t do again





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  1. I wonder how that would work if I sprayed my door hardware oil-rubbed bronze myself? I’ve been considering doing that. Have you heard of people spray painting their door hardware?
    I can only imagine that keypad would be a godsend. It’s like the button to open the car locks – by far my favorite feature among our very limited number of features on our car.

    1. I have spray painted several of my door knobs, and I found they hold up best when covered with a clear coat over the bronze.

  2. We bought out house 4 years ago and all the hardware was oil rubbed bronze. It looks the same today and it did when it was new, so the type/brand must have an effect on wear too.

    1. Do you know the brand of your hardware? It makes sense that brand would matter, though I figured they would all wear at least a little. I bought some of my hardware from Amazon and some from Build.com, and before I checked out at Build.com a rep contacted to me make sure I knew my oil rubbed bronze hardware would change over time.

  3. I’ve had ORB handles for about 5 years now and they aren’t even close to looking like that. Our most used ones simply got shiny, but no finish differences. Could be that we got the cheapie house brand from Lowe’s and it’s not actual painted metal? Who knows, but making the change from a contemporary nickel to the ORB was one of my favorite decisions.

  4. This post couldn’t be more timely–we are shopping for new outside door hardware tomorrow night! I want the keypad lock for the door we use the most (carport). My question, though, is: Is it easy to change the combination on these?

    1. I have a different combination keypad on my door from the garage to outside, and it’s pretty easy to change. (I have to look up the instructions each time, but it’s not complicated, and if you did it frequently, you wouldn’t have to look it up.) I will say, though, that the battery needs to be replaced about once a year, and I didn’t get the kind Ashley has because of a fear of a dying battery locking me out. Mine (don’t remember the brand) has a lever that you have to turn after you’ve put the combination in, so a weak battery will still disengage the lock but doesn’t have to actually turn it (since I do that with the lever thing). Hope that makes sense.

  5. I don’t normally comment but I’ve been stalking for some time :) I spray painted our door handles and hinges on our bedroom/bathroom/closet doors. They are all indoors but they’ve lasted 6 years! They were very very brass and I spray painted them satin nickel. If it’s just the one knob thats really bothering you, do you have a can of Rustoleum ORB around? It’s def worth a shot :)

  6. We moved into a new-to-us house in June… And that is exactly how the doorknobs look. We couldn’t figure out why. Now, thanks to your post, we are pretty sure that our knobs are oil rubbed bronze. Thanks so much!

  7. We have had a keypad lock on our house for many years–just a basic model similar to yours. I love it. I never need to worry about finding keys, or making sure the kids have keys. If someone needs to get in when I am not home I can give them the code over the phone, and then change the code if needed.

  8. Hi Ashley! So glad to have found your blog as I just purchased oil rubbed everything, and I was told it was a living finish and no clue what that meant :) I personally like the wear because it makes the home look lived in and loved. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more :)

  9. We put in a keypad deadbolt and we love it! The buttons light up if you touch the pad making it easy to see. Plus, we will never have the problem that we had when we got stuck in traffic 8 hours from home – with our dogs crated and locked in because the thoughtful house sitter had left the key behind when he left – thinking that we would be back in 4 hrs.

    If we need to let someone in, we can just give them the code (or their own code) and it’s easy to change if you ever need to.

  10. I had a contractor coming today to measure for door/window trim and I also had to pick out doors and hardware. I was really leaning towards ORB finish but after reading your post, I decided on aged bronze as it won’t wear off. I’m not crazy about the ‘forced aged’ look but it seems like the better choice for us. Thanks for the posting, it’s so helpful to see how things like hardware hold up over time.

  11. Wow, thank YOU for showing this. I was about to enter my card info on some ORB cabinet pulls. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m going to have to research this as I would not like it if this happens on cabinet pulls too. It’s for my kitchen, which is the center of the house and is seen from the entry. Thank you.

  12. Wow. Thank you. I didn’t realize that oil rubbed bronze would change like this over time and I really don’t like the inconsistency of the patina look.

  13. I was waffling between oil rubbed bronze & rushes nickel…. to answer your question, that made my decision easier. Thanks!!!!

  14. I am so glad I found this post. This is the only information I have found so far confirming what I thought having to do with my door hardware. I have Kitchen cabinet pulls in ORB and was searching for a way to restore them and found this. I’m Still actually wondering if there is a way…I liked the dark finish, not I have some cabinets/drawers with that and some (more used) ones with the bronze look coming thought. I’m on the hunt to see if there’s anything to make them “go-Back!” I really do not want to spray paint them. I spent a lot on them and hate to have to do that. Any and all advice is appreciated!

  15. Thanks so much for the post! I tried to redo a bunch of doorknobs in one of our homes but ended up with a sticky mess and just bought a bunch of doorknobs on the internet for about $5/piece (before all the China tariff stuff). I had thought about trying it again but maybe using an auto primer for good adhesion to the metal, the paint, and a couple of coats of enamel of some sort. This post has motivated me to maybe just try one and see how it holds up. Some may be able to finish their DIYs in their home before the test run is up but, knowing me, if I do one knob now, by the time I am ready to do the rest, I’ll be able to see if it withstood the test.

    And, I love it when people post how it is actually holding up (instead of pretending that all of their DIYs were the best thing they ever did)! Uggh! It makes me so mad because then I try it and find out that they must have withheld truth about the “stands the test of time” issue. I know that I could make a book out of all my failed DIY attempts! Thanks for posting the truth and saving some of us the huge waste of time. Keep it up!

  16. ORB is a notorious for short longevity unless you go up in price. Schlage won’t warranty ORB like their other finishes. Some manufacturers call ORB a “living” finish and talk up how it ages, but truthfully it wears off and looks bad. I had to replace an ORB knob with a Yale YH collection since that was the price point where ORB came with a lifetime warranty. Other higher priced brands may be the same. Maybe consider this for high-traffic knobs. If you’re trying to keep cost under control, I’m sure you can get by for a number of years with lower end ORB knobs on seldom-used doors. You can also substitute into something like matte black or aged bronze at the lower price point since Schalge offers a lifetime warranty on those finishes.

    The same holds true for ORB finishes on other metal hardware, i.e., faucets, drawer pulls, etc. Be mindful of the ORB’s durability at lower price points.

    As for painting, I’ve tried that multiple times, and it never holds up on high-traffic door knobs. Paint is much better on things you don’t touch much, i.e., lamps. light fixtures, curtain rods.

  17. Thank you for this post! My spouse and I like the look of the oil-rubbed bronze hardware and were considering switching to it in a remodel, but were wondering how it holds up. Having seen your pictures, we are less enthusiastic about it! Not only does the finish look scratched and worn out after only a year and a half, but I hate to think what minerals (lead?) might be in the layers that rubbed off on the family’s hands…

    1. I purchased Nostalgic Warehouse ORB plates with glass round plain crystal knobs. They were somewhat pricey but they have held up great albeit the knob is glass the plate has a very simple modern look and the ORB has not changed at all in 10 years. Amazon is always having price changes as I needed a couple more a couple years ago and waited until the price dropped to $79.00 when two months earlier they were $175.00 a piece. Nostalgic Warehouse still has the same inventory and has added some new models.

  18. Our orb doorknobs look bad… if we had known they would peel , never would have got them… what to do.. replace? How to match hinges that are same color?

  19. This was so helpful! I know this is older so not sure you’ll see this. I’m new! I am deciding between black and oil rubbed bronze hardware (door knobs, cabinets knobs). I assume you would suggest black but currently both look the same to me :)

  20. We bought our Schlage exterior hardware in 2020. I didn’t know it would “age”. This aging is apparently written into the warranty as an exception to the warranty because of this “normal” process. Maybe it wouldn’t be sooo bad, but it is peeling too. Kinda disappointed overall. I would post pics here if I could.

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