A well-organized home is a happy home, and adding more storage is among the easiest things you can do to make it more functional. Whether you’re installing built-in shelves, assembling a new bookshelf, or buying products with hidden storage features, there are lots of ways to improve home storage in a functional way.
If you’re considering the recycled route, lone kitchen cabinets and cabinetry sets are plentiful at secondhand and salvage shops, and like most good salvage finds, if it’s not broken, you can find new life in it. Upcycle these materials to improve any space in your home.
Not only is there a handsome economic benefit to purchasing and installing recycled cabinets, but they’re also a great product to tap into if you’re desiring a custom look for your home. You can paint, re-stain, and install them wherever it makes the most sense.
The two metal cabinets that I bought at Rochester, NY’s ReHouse cost $25/each. They had been upper cabinets in an old kitchen set. Their size (24″ high x 15″ wide x 12″ deep) made them a great candidate for the small entryway in my home. Rather than installing them high on the wall, I set out to use them as sideboard-height floating cabinets.
But first, I had to refinish them.
Though these vintage metal cabinets were in great shape with no dents, they did have surface scratches and a little rust – not really surprising. Years of wear and tear could have left them in much worse shape.
To refinish old metal cabinets, you only need a few things:
- warm water
- dish soap
- cotton cloth
- fine sandpaper (300+ grit)
- microfiber cloth
- epoxy spray paint (appliance-grade)
- clear gloss spray paint (optional – I used it to blend in some hot spots from the epoxy)
Now, the below tutorial reviews how to refinish metal cabinets. The easiest way to refinish metal cabinets is with a coat of epoxy spray paint. If you’re refinishing old wood or veneered cabinets, you might want to consider Gel Stain. I used it when refinishing my kitchen cabinets, and always recommend the product.
1. Clean the Metal Cabinet Surface
Prepping your cabinet surface begins with cleaning it well. Use warm water mixed with a few drops of dish soap to create a solution that can cut through grease and residue that may remain on your cabinets. Kitchen cabinets are more likely to have layers of grease on the surface, even if they weren’t over the stove, so this cleaning step is important. Wash it down, and dry it off (or let it air dry).
2. Sand the Cabinet
Once dry, use a fine sandpaper to break through the original enamel finish. Sanding very lightly will roughen the surface just enough for new coat of paint to adhere well. Pay attention to exposed raised rusty spots, and sand them down to be smooth.
3. Remove Dust
Sanding the surface will create some dust. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface so it’s dust-free.
4. Apply Epoxy Spray Paint to the Cabinet
When it comes time to paint, work in a well-ventilated and clear area. This part of your project is likely to take several days, and you won’t want to risk carrying the cabinets around while it cures. You’ll just end up smudging the finish or leaving fingerprints in your fresh coat of epoxy.
For the metal cabinets, as shown above, white appliance spray paint is my product of choice. Epoxy cures harder than ordinary spray paint and stands up to washing too. It’s good as a base coat, and its glossy finish makes for a good top coat too.
Applying spray paint is an art. Light coats are a must to prevent dripping and pooling, and sanding in between each coat helps to eliminate any splatters (no matter how pro you are at this, spray paint splatters happen to the best of us).
I allowed the cabinet to dry for a day between coats so that I could pass over the surface with a fine sandpaper in between coats. After 3 coats, the problem areas were well-covered.
5. Apply a High-Gloss Top Coat
At this point, even though coverage was great, I was still seeing some glossy “hot spots” where the spray paint had landed on one spot more than another spot. (This was a consequence of me not moving the paint can consistently enough, or overlapping an already painted area). High-gloss products are a little more susceptible to this than others. Matte finishes are easier to apply.
To even out some of the “blotchy” gloss areas, I passed over the entire cabinet surface with two coats of clear gloss spray paint. Applying this extra gloss layer worked perfectly, and the finished surface looks as good as new. It’s as close to a professionally powder-coated cabinet as I believe I could achieve.
Once dry, I installed the cabinets, created new leather handles, and made a maple countertop. This floating cabinet is a great place for our family to store hats, mittens, and other wintertime accessories.
P.S. Yes, the wallpaper you see in the entryway is a vinyl adhesive product! It’s been there for nearly 10 years, and has held up perfectly well.