How to Make a Metal File Cabinet Look Better

By Lisa Wampler

Filing cabinets usually come in gray, white, tan or black and rarely complement the look of a room. You can modify the color of the filing cabinet to improve its looks by painting it. Painting metal is relatively easy, and an oil-based enamel paint not only maintains a great shine, it protects the surface of metal. It also mimics the baked-on look of the enamel paint your filing cabinet likely came with.

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Filing cabinets are not exactly visually appealing.

Step 1

Place a drop cloth onto a flat surface and then place the filing cabinet onto the drop cloth.

Step 2

Cover any chrome pieces like name tag holders and locks with painter's tape.

Step 3

Open the drawers and sand all of the painted surfaces with a dry piece of 600-grit sandpaper. This creates texture over the existing paint and gives the new paint a surface for proper adherence.

Step 4

Wipe the surface of the cabinet down with a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust from the surface of the metal.

Step 5

Spray the surface of the cabinet with an oil-based enamel primer. Allow two hours for drying time.

Step 6

Lightly sand the surface of the primer with 600-grit sandpaper and wipe down with a tack cloth again.

Step 7

Spray the surface of the cabinet with an oil-based enamel paint in the color of your choosing. Allow at least 24 hours for drying time before you remove the tape from the cabinet. Then allow 48 hours for drying time before you use the filing cabinet again.