July 26, 2016

Drab to Fab: Spray Painting an Old Filing Cabinet


I inherited this old, ugly, scratch, dented, written-on-in-sharpie, filing cabinet.  I am not really big on filing cabinets because I keep everything saved on my computer.  However, I have several word sorts, experiential learning items, and other reusable things I have made, and I need a place to store them!

1) Prepare the Cabinet
Wipe down the filing cabinet with a disinfecting wipe or wet paper towel to get all of the dust off.  There is no need to sand it.  Tape any parts of the cabinet with painters tape that you don't want paint to get on.  In my case it was the keyhole.  I always paint outside so I have the best ventilation possible, however, I do not recommend painting outside if it's cold.  The paint tends to shrivel up in really cold temperatures.

2)  Remove the Hardware
Take each drawer out and remove all the hardware.  On this cabinet, there is a panel on the back of each drawer face.  It easily popped off, revealing the bolts you need to remove to take off the hardware.  You will nee a socket wrench or adjustable wrench to get these bolts off.  Don't let this part freak you out.  As long as you have the right tools, it's very easy.  If you have let that part freak you out, take a picture of it, go to a hardware store, and ask an associate what you need to get it off.  To take off the label frame, just use a pair of pliers to bend the metal slightly (not too hard or you might break it) and slide it out.

3) Prime
You need to prime the cabinet.  You need to get a white paint and primer, found with all the other spray paint.  I did two coats on this filing cabinet so the blue paint would look even.  Don't forget to prime all parts of the filing cabinet that can be seen...including the edges between the drawers.  I typically buy my spray paint at Walmart.  The price is low and they have a huge selection.  I prefer to use the brand Krylon because it is less messy.  Other brands have a lot of excess spray that gets all over your hands, feet, and floor.

4) Paint!
After you let the primer dry for about 15 minutes between coats, you can start spraying with your color.  I did two full coats on this filing cabinet, allowing about an hour of drying time in between.  I touched it up a little after that second coat, so more like two-and-a-half coats.  I used a little less than three cans.  Allowing it to dry is important so you can see how evenly the paint is on there.

5) Allow for Dry Time
This is very important, and can feel like the hardest part!  You want to get your finished product all set up, but it's important to let the paint dry completely.  Any time I paint something, I like to let it sit for a couple days before I mess with it...especially before I set anything on top of it.  You should be safe to put the drawers in after a couple hours, though.

Other tips I've picked up along the way:
- Use a painter's mask to keep from breathing in paint
- Shake the cans very well before spraying
- Use a cardboard moving box to put under the cabinet.  It makes it easy to turn your cabinet around if you need a different angle of light or to spray with the wind rather than against it
- When opening a new can, spray the first spray out on the cardboard to make sure there is a good flow of paint
- I always start with a side that won't be seen.  For example, with this I started with the backside.  It takes me a minute to get into a good rhythm of spraying, so I like to start out with a side I don't care as much about.


I made some labels on Word to add some extra cuteness to my filing cabinet!



This is the color I used for this cabinet.  It's Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze.



These are my other favorite spray painting colors that I've used in my classroom. :)



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