DIY Friday: Painted Filing Cabinet

At the beginning of summer, I decided to check out some garage sales for items for my new classroom. I picked up a black filing cabinet for just $5. It had a little bit of rust but otherwise was in good shape. I decided to spray paint it a very bright and cheery yellow.

I used the following supplies:

  • Metal spray paint primer
  • 2 cans of spray paint in yellow
  • Plastic roll (Trust me, you need it! Spray paint floats in the air and gets everywhere!)
  • Painters tape
  • Light sand paper


First, make sure you find an area with very good ventilation and cover the area thoroughly with the plastic. I used our porch.

Next, use the sand paper on the rusted areas and VERY LIGHTLY sand the rust away as best you can. It’s ok if there is a little left, but you don’t want a lot. If your filing cabinet is in pretty good condition, you can probably skip this step. DO NOT try to sand your entire cabinet. It is unnecessary (because that’s what the metal primer is for) and if too vigorous, could lead to scratches on the surface of your cabinet which will be almost impossible to hide with spray paint.

Make sure to wipe off the cabinet well, especially if you sanded it. Then use the metal primer spray paint to do one or two light coats.


  • Each coat should be LIGHT and you should allow a good amount of dry time between each coat (I usually give a minimum of 15-20 minutes).
  • To avoid drips, always hold the spray can a minimum of a foot away and use a side to side sweeping motion. If you do get a drip, wait till it dries and then sand it down lightly. NEVER try to touch up wet spray paint, it will only make a sticky mess.
  • Make sure to shake the can OFTEN. This will ensure the paint comes out evenly.

After the metal primer, you can begin coating with your color of choice.

Finally, display proudly and show off those DIY skills!

~ The Girl