Thursday, February 4, 2010

DIY: How to Paint an Old, Rusty, Filing Cabinet

As a continuation of my massive office reorganization (and now everything is in its place), I knew that I needed to corral my piles of bank receipts, bills, and various other floating papers.

I needed a filing cabinet.

I visited furniture stores, used furniture stores, Ross, and goodwill. Everything was way beyond my price range, so I visited Craigslist.

I found this beauty for $25. I drove to the other end of town, (about 40 miles) to the suburbs, in a snow storm, to look at it.

The picture does not do it justice. The ad said, minor rust spots, but the minor rust was over the entire lower half, including the sides, back, and drawers.

But unable to pass up a deal, I coughed up the cash, and loaded the metal beast into my trunk-- and then proceeded to drive it 40 miles back to my house in the snow storm, with my trunk open, and the end sticking out. I prayed the whole time that nobody would slam on their break in front of me, as I imagined the filing cabinet flying free from the trunk and either killing me or someone else on the highway.

But we arrived safely home.

I bought metal primer, spray paint, and emery sandpaper, which is specifically designed for metal.

A little elbow grease...

and my brother and I used the emery cloth to sand off all of the rust spots.

I decided that since the hardware was also rusty that I'd simply paint over it instead of trying to remove all of the hardware, and it proved to be a huge time saver.

After sanding off the rust, I used a damp cloth to wipe down all of the metal. This is a step that you really need to do, because every little dust fragment will appear bigger and will be permanently affixed to the cabinet after painting.

Then I primed the metal, using a rust resistant metal primer. Don’t skimp on the primer! It took two spray cans full of primer to get adequate coverage on this.

Letting the primer dry for about an hour – and since the garage with the open doors still allowed me to inhale too much fumes, I downed a few aspirin and drank about a quart of water. (I think those brain cells I lost in painting this filing cabinet will be missed when it comes to law finals this spring!)

I ended up using about three and a half cans of aqua spray paint to get an adequate cover on the filing cabinet. More would have been better, but my index fingers were cramping—how do graffiti artists handle the finger cramps!?

But there we go—

Craiglist rusty filing cabinet $25
Emery Cloth $2
Primer $8
Spray Paint $20

A beautiful, unique filing cabinet to hide hold all of our paperwork?



Catherine Blake said...

Congratulations! That filing cabinet is super cute.

Michael said...

That's a great idea and very eco-friendly..... I did a similar thing with a filing cabinet that was even more battered years ago and made it into a tool-chest.

Great stuff! :D

JI said...

Cool, I am doing this today with an old rusty filing cabinet in my garage!! - the old owners left it to rot. Your post definitely provides some well needed guidance.

Cowgirl in the City said...

Good luck JL! I hope it looks great!

Cristina Mcvay said...

Thanks for sharing some great ideas abut how to paint old rusty filing. Really useful post.

Kelly said...

That's a great idea ! i like it' colour.

Ida C. Angus said...

Congratulations! This cabinet is so amazing :D

Ida C. Angus said...

Congratulations! This cabinet is so amzing :D

Elizabeth said...

Great post! I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

Pearson said...

Great idea. This is a great little project. Why spend money on something new and expensive when you can create something unique that costs a dime and looks unique.

Juan P. Easley said...

Congratulations! You did a really good job with the cabinet. I'm doing some research on painting, too. I have an old coffee table and I want to paint it. But I have no idea.


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