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August 18, 2017

DIY File Cabinet Makeover

By Mary Blow
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Are the file cabinets in your classroom getting worn out or just plain boring? Jump into a DIY file cabinet makeover using chalk paints to add a splash of color to your back-to-school classroom décor. Included are step-by-step video directions.

    Prepping Materials

    • All-purpose cleaner
    • Paper towels
    • Masking tape
    • Screwdriver
    • Razor blade (to remove stickers)
    • Protective gloves

     

    Painting Materials

    • 2 8-ounce bottles of chalk paint
    • Chalk paintbrush
    • Recycled plastic resealable container
    • 1 can Rust-Oleum Spray Paint and primer

     

    Waxing Materials

    • 1 8-ounce Waverly Inspirational Wax — Clear
    • 1 8-ounce Waverly Inspirational Wax — Antique (optional)
    • Lint-free cloth

    I used Waverly Chalk Paint by Plaid ($5.97 per bottle) because it was the only brand available at our local Wal-Mart, and it is cheap. Feel free to select your favorite brand. The materials listed are for a four-drawer file cabinet. Adjust the materials according to the size of your file cabinet. If you are worried about durability, you can use a polyurethane finish instead of waxing or BEFORE waxing. I haven't had any experience with using polyurethane on a metal surfaces, but I have read where some have successfully used it instead of wax.

    Below are three file cabinet makeover styles that I created, and it only took about three hours over a two-day period to refurbish each cabinet.

     

    Step 1: Prep the File Cabinet

    It takes about 30 minutes to remove the hardware on the front of the drawers. Most handles unscrew, and the silver frames pop off using a screwdriver. Wash the file cabinet with an all-purpose cleaner, scrape off any residue from tape or other adhesives, and sand rusty spots. Note of caution: Rust will bleed through, so be sure to sand and prime rusty areas down to the metal.

     

    Step 2: Paint the File Cabinet

    It's time to unleash your inner Picasso! Apply two coats of paint for lighter-colored file cabinets and three coats if the file cabinet is black, like the red one in the image above. Give yourself about 30 minutes for each coat with two hours of drying time between coats.

    Pour the chalk paint into a resealable plastic container, anything that will prevent the paint from drying out until you finish the second coat. I do this because it ruins the paintbrush bristles if you try to squeeze them into the small bottle neck.

    Generously apply the paint, using long brush strokes until the paint is well blended. Because the paint is thick, it covers easily with minimal streaking. Don’t get overly worried about fine paintbrush lines because they will diminish after applying the wax. Apply the second coat and let it dry overnight. Chalk paint is a water-based acrylic paint, so it dries quickly. On warmer days, it dries in about two hours or less. On rainy days, it took a little longer.  

    I wash the brush with dish soap and warm water while between applications to prevent the bristles from hardening and ruining the brush.

     

    Step 3: Seal the Paint

     

    Waxing seals the paint like varnish, except it is a softer finish. Polyurethane will provide a harder, more durable finish; however, I chose to go with the wax because it adds character. You can get creative with colored waxes. The process takes about 15 minutes, and requires a little elbow grease.  

    First, I applied the Waverly Inspirational Wax — Clear using a lint-free cloth, rubbing in a circular motion to work the wax into the paint. Work quickly, transitioning to long, smooth strokes following the same direction with which you applied the paint. The fine paintbrush lines fade during this stage. Waxing a two-foot area at a time worked great for me.

    I used clear wax on the four-drawer file cabinet. However, if you want to add character, like I did in the industrial and country file cabinets, apply the Waverly Inspirational Wax — Antique or other complimentary color wax of your choice after the clear wax. Using the accent wax, dab a clean lint-free cloth into the wax, scrape off excess, and lightly streak small amounts of the wax to the edges and corners, creating natural stress marks. Rub the wax in quickly with a clean cloth. If the streaks turn out too dark, you can lighten it by adding clear wax over the top and blending it in. Let it dry overnight.

    A note of caution: When I painted my first cabinet, I attempted to create a French country look, using Waverly Wax — Antique over the agave-colored chalk paint. The wax grabbed too quickly, creating darker streaks than I expected. The industrial look is okay, but it wasn’t the effect I was trying to achieve. Applying a coat of clear wax first creates a seal, thereby extending the work time of the colored wax, which is the process used on the country crimson cabinet.

     

    Step 4: Refurbishing the Hardware

    Spray paint the hardware with your favorite color and let them dry while waiting for the first layer of paint to dry. I used a combination paint and primer spray paint in a complimentary color, spraying one side, letting it dry, and then spraying the other side. After the wax dries, re-install the hardware.

     

    Add Optional Bling

    I will be visiting my niece soon, so I am going to borrow her Cricut machine to make quotes from my favorite Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken" to decorate my drawers. I am also adding a dry erase board to the side of the contemporary cabinet, so my students can sign out in the morning, allowing me to take accurate attendance if they have to be somewhere other than homeroom. Feel free to add bling that suits your classroom needs:

     

    Scholastic's Back-to-School Classroom Décor

    In addition to starting the year with colorful, refurbished file cabinets, I am really excited that I can splash more color around my sixth grade classroom using the newest Scholastic's back-to-school classroom décor:

    Are the file cabinets in your classroom getting worn out or just plain boring? Jump into a DIY file cabinet makeover using chalk paints to add a splash of color to your back-to-school classroom décor. Included are step-by-step video directions.

    Prepping Materials

    • All-purpose cleaner
    • Paper towels
    • Masking tape
    • Screwdriver
    • Razor blade (to remove stickers)
    • Protective gloves

     

    Painting Materials

    • 2 8-ounce bottles of chalk paint
    • Chalk paintbrush
    • Recycled plastic resealable container
    • 1 can Rust-Oleum Spray Paint and primer

     

    Waxing Materials

    • 1 8-ounce Waverly Inspirational Wax — Clear
    • 1 8-ounce Waverly Inspirational Wax — Antique (optional)
    • Lint-free cloth

    I used Waverly Chalk Paint by Plaid ($5.97 per bottle) because it was the only brand available at our local Wal-Mart, and it is cheap. Feel free to select your favorite brand. The materials listed are for a four-drawer file cabinet. Adjust the materials according to the size of your file cabinet. If you are worried about durability, you can use a polyurethane finish instead of waxing or BEFORE waxing. I haven't had any experience with using polyurethane on a metal surfaces, but I have read where some have successfully used it instead of wax.

    Below are three file cabinet makeover styles that I created, and it only took about three hours over a two-day period to refurbish each cabinet.

     

    Step 1: Prep the File Cabinet

    It takes about 30 minutes to remove the hardware on the front of the drawers. Most handles unscrew, and the silver frames pop off using a screwdriver. Wash the file cabinet with an all-purpose cleaner, scrape off any residue from tape or other adhesives, and sand rusty spots. Note of caution: Rust will bleed through, so be sure to sand and prime rusty areas down to the metal.

     

    Step 2: Paint the File Cabinet

    It's time to unleash your inner Picasso! Apply two coats of paint for lighter-colored file cabinets and three coats if the file cabinet is black, like the red one in the image above. Give yourself about 30 minutes for each coat with two hours of drying time between coats.

    Pour the chalk paint into a resealable plastic container, anything that will prevent the paint from drying out until you finish the second coat. I do this because it ruins the paintbrush bristles if you try to squeeze them into the small bottle neck.

    Generously apply the paint, using long brush strokes until the paint is well blended. Because the paint is thick, it covers easily with minimal streaking. Don’t get overly worried about fine paintbrush lines because they will diminish after applying the wax. Apply the second coat and let it dry overnight. Chalk paint is a water-based acrylic paint, so it dries quickly. On warmer days, it dries in about two hours or less. On rainy days, it took a little longer.  

    I wash the brush with dish soap and warm water while between applications to prevent the bristles from hardening and ruining the brush.

     

    Step 3: Seal the Paint

     

    Waxing seals the paint like varnish, except it is a softer finish. Polyurethane will provide a harder, more durable finish; however, I chose to go with the wax because it adds character. You can get creative with colored waxes. The process takes about 15 minutes, and requires a little elbow grease.  

    First, I applied the Waverly Inspirational Wax — Clear using a lint-free cloth, rubbing in a circular motion to work the wax into the paint. Work quickly, transitioning to long, smooth strokes following the same direction with which you applied the paint. The fine paintbrush lines fade during this stage. Waxing a two-foot area at a time worked great for me.

    I used clear wax on the four-drawer file cabinet. However, if you want to add character, like I did in the industrial and country file cabinets, apply the Waverly Inspirational Wax — Antique or other complimentary color wax of your choice after the clear wax. Using the accent wax, dab a clean lint-free cloth into the wax, scrape off excess, and lightly streak small amounts of the wax to the edges and corners, creating natural stress marks. Rub the wax in quickly with a clean cloth. If the streaks turn out too dark, you can lighten it by adding clear wax over the top and blending it in. Let it dry overnight.

    A note of caution: When I painted my first cabinet, I attempted to create a French country look, using Waverly Wax — Antique over the agave-colored chalk paint. The wax grabbed too quickly, creating darker streaks than I expected. The industrial look is okay, but it wasn’t the effect I was trying to achieve. Applying a coat of clear wax first creates a seal, thereby extending the work time of the colored wax, which is the process used on the country crimson cabinet.

     

    Step 4: Refurbishing the Hardware

    Spray paint the hardware with your favorite color and let them dry while waiting for the first layer of paint to dry. I used a combination paint and primer spray paint in a complimentary color, spraying one side, letting it dry, and then spraying the other side. After the wax dries, re-install the hardware.

     

    Add Optional Bling

    I will be visiting my niece soon, so I am going to borrow her Cricut machine to make quotes from my favorite Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken" to decorate my drawers. I am also adding a dry erase board to the side of the contemporary cabinet, so my students can sign out in the morning, allowing me to take accurate attendance if they have to be somewhere other than homeroom. Feel free to add bling that suits your classroom needs:

     

    Scholastic's Back-to-School Classroom Décor

    In addition to starting the year with colorful, refurbished file cabinets, I am really excited that I can splash more color around my sixth grade classroom using the newest Scholastic's back-to-school classroom décor:

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