Upcycle your Filing Cabinets with Paint

by Cheryl Pendenza - Realtor®/Broker Associate 01/23/2020

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Is your workspace feeling a little blah lately?  The new year is just the right time to make a change!  Make it part of your New Year's resolution to create a cheery, bright, and welcoming workspace by upcycling your old, dingy file cabinet into this blackboard-sided, pretty yet utilitarian piece of office furniture!

You'll Need:

  • A filing cabinet or cabinets
    You probably have a filing cabinet sitting in your office or garage already and if not, you can easily source one from a thrift store or used office supply warehouse.  If you do buy your file cabinet(s) used, be sure to check them carefully for rust and make sure you can easily open and close each drawer before making your purchase.
  • Spraypaint and spray sealant
    Choose a cheery color several shades more intense than your wall or carpet color. 
  • Blackboard paint
    Blackboard paint is the best thing since sliced bread.  It may seem like an expensive buy, but you won't use it all on this project unless you're working with multiple filing cabinets, and you'll find yourself wanting to use it all over your house: it's addictive!
  • Tools to remove your hardware
    You will need a screwdriver to remove the drawer handles and locks from your file cabinet.
  • Sandpaper
    You'll need fine-grained sandpaper for this project.  An electric sander would come in very handy!
  • Primer and/or Sealant
    You'll need to use a basic primer to ensure that your paint stays put!
  • Garbage bags and painter's tape
    If you don't have a dropcloth, several large black garbage bags taped together with masking tape do just fine!
  • Spongy applicators for blackboard paint (or a small roller)

Steps:

  1. First, remove all your hardware: the drawer handles, locks, and so on.
  2. Sand your filing cabinet.  Your goal isn't necessarily to remove the paint, but to create a rasp to which your primer can adhere, and to remove any peeling paint or flakes of rust.
  3. Remove the drawers and lay them out on your dropcloth.  Next, use a spray primer to create a tacky surface to which your paint can adhere.  Make sure you spray everywhere you'll paint, including your fittings if you plan to paint these.  Some blackboard paint doesn't require a primer; read the instructions on your paint to find out.  
    Note: Spray the back of the cabinet as well as the front; you never know which way it will face in the future! 
  4. Wait the prescribed amount of time for the primer to dry.
  5. Next, paint the left, right, and back of the cabinet and the space between the drawers with blackboard paint using your roller.  Continue applying coats until the look satisfies. 
  6. Using painter's tape, wrap a garbage bag 'cape' just beneath the top of the cabinet so only the top is exposed.  Then, spray the top of the cabinet with your spraypaint.  Then do the same with the drawers.  
    Note: Slower is better: do several light coats instead of trying to apply a great deal of spraypaint at once.  Check out this great article for ultimate spraypainting tips!
  7. You may choose to apply spraypaint to the hardware, keep it plain, or paint it with blackboard paint as well.  If you choose to spraypaint your hardware, be sure you've primed it thoroughly, first.
  8. Keeping the 'cape' in place, spray a sealant over your spraypaint.  Do not spray the sealant over your blackboard paint.
  9. Once the cabinet is completely dry, re-attach your hardware and place the drawers back inside the cabinet.

Now you have a beautiful, bright, blackboard-sided filing cabinet!  The blackboard paint along the edges of each drawer allows you to label the contents with chalk markers and easily erase them if you rearrange your filing system.  You can put to-do lists or draw your calendar on the sides.

Some Additional Ideas for this Project:

  • Do the entire filing cabinet in blackboard paint!
  • Apply stick-on decals before applying a sealant over your paint.
  • Mod Podge over textured paper, wallpaper, contact paper, old maps or newsprint to the front of your drawers rather than spraypainting them.  Apply a sealant as usual when you're done.
  • Use painter's tape to create amazing patterns on your drawers or on the top of your cabinet.
  • Edge the top and bottom of the drawers -- or the top of the cabinet -- with washi tape.  Use Mod Podge and sealant to ensure it doesn't peel up over time.
About the Author
Author

Cheryl Pendenza - Realtor®/Broker Associate

Bringing more than 27 years of experience to the table, Cheryl has a paralegal degree, banking background, and is a member of many professional, civic, and community organizations.

Qualified • Experienced • Skilled

"As a full-time REALTOR®, I am dedicated to providing my clients with a high level of service by building relationships, marketing, and negotiating on their behalf. As a homeowner, I realize how important homeownership is.

Cheryl brings warmth and compassion to her client relationships and referrals have become the backbone of her business. "I’m grateful for every referral and welcome the opportunity to help clients achieve their real estate goals.”

Cheryl Pendenza, Broker Associate affiliated with RE/MAX Andrew Realty Services since 1999 is a local businesswoman and formidable negotiator who can help you achieve your real estate goals. Supporting family, community and local business is important to Cheryl and she can often be found at one of the local restaurants, shops, or galleries.