Pinterest Fail: Spray Painting a Filing Cabinet

There’s a good reason I only took one photo of this sad, pathetic project. Pinterest usually doesn’t lead me astray but every once in a while I hit a dud. While this project sounds great in theory, it’s actually a huge wallet buster and dare I even mention the fumigation.

Here is the standard tutorial I followed:

File down rust, clean with soap and water, remove hardware, spray with standard rust oleum base coat, spray with color coat, let dry, reassemble and your done.

Firstly, I couldn’t remove the hardware. This is a newer filing cabinet I found at Salvation Army and I didn’t have the right sized tool. The painting started out fine until I got halfway through applying the base coat. I used an entire can of spray paint and the results where patchy and unattractive. I blew it off thinking it’s base coat, no one will know and now the color coat should go on evenly. Wrong!

The picture above is halfway through a can of the green spray paint and only the sides you can see have been painted. It’s stripy and patchy and barely covers the white base coat. It looks like I’ve never spray painted anything a day in my life. Try as I might, no matter how I held the can or the distance with which I sprayed that’s the result I kept getting. Sam helped me move the cabinet several times trying to account for the wind to no avail.

After thirty minutes I had a headache from the fumes even though I took breaks and tried my best not to breath it in. After an hour and a half I gave up. I don’t know how anyone got their cabinets to look even without going through 2-3 cans of spray paint. I have two filing cabinets to paint so I could go ahead and double the amount spray paint and time invested.

The reason so many tutorials suggest spray paint is because acrylic paint bonds better to metal. The problem is most acrylic paints made for metal come as spray paint. Spray paint limits your color selection and it’s noxious. There was the slightest breeze yesterday and half my spray paint blew away before it ever touched the metal. That’s a huge waste of money.

After some brain storming I remembered I had a similar color of sample paint in a bucket in the garage so on an impulse I brushed a little on and oh my what a difference! I think the perfect balance here is to slap on a can of spray paint base coat for adhesion and then roll or brush on the top color coat. It takes way less paint, way less time, and the coverage is even.

When I get them both done I’ll post them here so you can see the finished result. I hope you found this helpful!

Take Away: Painting a filing cabinet is still a great idea, I just wouldn’t use spray paint.

Maegan