How can I resurface one side of a metal file cabinet?


Just had a family member move to an apartment. The side of the file cabinet used to have many magnets on the side of it. Now, that side of the file cabinet is exposed. Any ideas of things that can be done to resurface, paint, perhaps contact paper, etc, etc, the side? Thanks so much for ideas and help. Side of file cabinet

q any ideas on how to resurface one side of a metal file cabinet
  16 answers
  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Mar 01, 2020 can paint..mod podge with 1 ply napkins or contact paper will work..good luck

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      I have received so many replies, and thank yours as well. I will check them all out before deciding which one to do. Thanks again.

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Mar 01, 2020

    Hi! Thiis is a quick job with contact paper!! Have fun!

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      Thank you for your reply. It is greatly appreciated. There have been so many responses and will check them all before deciding which one to go with. Thanks so much.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 01, 2020

    We had a file cabinet a cat sprayed on repeatedly and when it dried we couldn't get that mess off. Ended up just putting that side against the wall. But you could spray paint it.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mogie Mogie on Mar 01, 2020

      You can tape off all metal parts (pulls, etc.) and spray paint it would look like a new piece of furniture and be nice and clean too! Good luck and let us see a picture of the finished piece please. Thanks!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 01, 2020

    Scuff with fine steel wool, wipe with denatured alcohol, spray with RustOleum. You might want to do entire cabinet to match or frame one color and leaves drawers.

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      The file cabinet cannot be moved since it is so heavy with 5 drawers. There is nowhere to paint other than in the apartment where it sits for a family member. I have received many replies and will check them all before deciding. Thank you very much for your response.

  • Dee Dee on Mar 01, 2020

    Clean it really well with Acetone, then get some Rustoleum auto primer and spray it. When dry, Use Rustoleum in the color of your choice. I would actually redo the entire cabinet. It is not hard and it will look brand new.

    • See 1 previous
    • Dee Dee on Mar 02, 2020

      Rustoleum makes a non spray paint. You can roll it on.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Mar 01, 2020

    You could clean it then apply chalkboard paint and have a place to write notes, lists, etc.

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      Thank you very much for including the link to the video. After watching it, and others, it has given me some ideas. Thank you so much for your response.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 01, 2020

    I would scrub it, sand it and paint it. I like Rustoleum spray paint for jobs like this. Consider changing the hardware and adding legs to it.

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      Thank you for your response, and I do plan to clean, however, because the cabinet now sits in an apartment, and cannot be moved, I will have to come up with an alternate solution other than painting it. I received so many responses and will check them all out. Thanks again.

  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 01, 2020

    Hello Bp, you can easily paint this with any kind of paint, or chalk paint, or use a nice looking peel and stick to cover the surface! They make a great faux stainless steel look peel and stick! Whatever you decide, be sure to clean it thoroughly before attempting, use a TSP mixture.

    • See 1 previous
    • Deb K Deb K on Mar 04, 2020

      Happy to help, there are a ton of peel and stick designs to choose from too!

  • Em Em on Mar 01, 2020

    Metal paint. Lightly sand then paint. You can also use wall paper to cover. Prepasted wall paper is a piece of cake to soak and apply. Cut to size, follow directions on roll. So simple so quick.

    • See 1 previous
    • Em Em on Mar 02, 2020

      I have done ceiling tile with wallpaper and backs of cabinets. The prepasted sticks to just about any smooth surface and it requires virtually no work but cutting a piece to size. You wet in according to package directions and stick it on. Done.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 01, 2020

    Hi there,

    You could stick Cork tiles etc. to the side and use as a pinboard or just as is or use to hand art or a mirror or maybe even mirror tiles............Hope that helps

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      Because the file cabinet now sits in an apartment and cannot be moved, your idea about using cork squares sounds like it could be just the answer since I will be unable to sand and paint the cabinet inside in such a small space. Thank you for your suggestions.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 01, 2020

    You could sand it well and then spray paint it with whatever color you love. You could also find some attractive cotton fabric you love and use spray adhesive to smooth the fabric onto the file cabinet, or contact paper, or wall paper. Remember, if you paint it, you could stencil it or mask it off and paint in various colors that coordinate with your home. You can still use magnets for function too.

    • Bp Bp on Mar 01, 2020

      The file cabinet now sits in an apartment, therefore, sanding and even spray painting are out of the question but using contact or wall paper would certainly be an option to consider. I received so many responses and I thank you for yours as well.

  • Sure, you can use contact paper -- just make sure the cabinet is super clean. Spray paint is easiest and fastest.

  • William William on Mar 02, 2020

    Contact paper is the easiest and quickest. Cork tiles will give you a bulletin board, wall paper for a different look. Decoupage can give you different patterns.

  • Bobbi Bobbi on Mar 04, 2020

    Hi BP I have these metal lockers in my entry way that I use for the kids coats and shoes. They are Red and cute on the front side but the back is a ugly off white with lots of scratches. Winter was coming and I had no time to paint them. I had this Brick fabric that I glued magnets on to. I think it looks pretty good untill we can haul them back outside to paint. You can also add cool magnets to it to add to its charm if you like. Have a Great Day 🌻

  • Anita Anita on Mar 04, 2020

    I decoupage fabric to a metal file cabinet, it looked great