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Faux Zinc Painted Chalkboard File Cabinet

This summer I was thrifting with a few friends and stumbled across an ugly cabinet at the Goodwill. The metal chest had extra wide and deep storage, but the worst colors imaginable! The hot pink and mint green were disguising the true potential of the chest, but like a color-blind dog, I was able to see beyond its garish appearance. In my mind, I pictured a vintage metal cabinet with a faux zinc side and chalkboard drawer fronts.

I scooped it up and brought it home. Then the poor chest sat in our garage for months and months until I had a chance to work a little spray paint magic and turned it into….this thing of beauty:

Yes, that is the same chest of drawers! You could do the same transformation.


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Clean off the drawers. Remove any dirt or debris (I actually had to use a little Goo Gone to get rid of some sticky residue. But, lemon essential oil will also work for this task.)

Remove the drawers from the chest. Tape over the drawer glides and slides. Mask off the drawer sides and insides by covering the drawers with tape and craft paper, leaving only the drawer fronts exposed.

Spray paint the chest and drawers with automotive primer. (I prefer the automotive primer because it sticks to metal and can withstand a lot of abuse.) Let it dry.

Spray paint the drawers with chalkboard paint. (Use three fine coats of paint instead of one or two heavy coats.) Set them aside to dry.

Adding a Faux Zinc Texture:

This is the most exciting part of the tutorial. I created this technique by trial and error and I’m excited by how well this method works for creating a faux zinc texture.

Getting a faux zinc texture is really easy. Just have some gloves on and use a crumpled up piece of craft paper. (A loose crumple works best.)

Spray paint the chest with a thick coat of the hammered silver spray paint, (but not so thick that it runs). Let the paint get tacky by waiting a few seconds. Then use the crumpled piece of craft paper to blot into the wet paint.

Work in small 1 foot sections and pounce the paper a few times. (Too much pouncing and you’ll lose the large textured pattern.)

Let the cabinet dry thoroughly.

Insert the chalkboard drawers back into the cabinet frame.

Add chalkboard art to your drawer fronts.

This metal chest of drawers is the perfect size for my large tablets of art paper.

The cabinet has a wonderful texture now.

I have the flexibility to move my art supplies around and just change the chalkboard label.

Did I mention this little chest is the perfect height to rest my palette on while painting.

I’m soooo thrilled with the results!

102 replies
  1. Tracie@MiddleClassModern
    [email protected] says:

    Our sixty year old kitchen cabinets need HELP. We could use that money for stripper, stain, and new hardware (okay, maybe not all of these things).

    Not only do I love your cabinet, but my husband was looking over my shoulder and was amazed! It looks fabulous.

  2. Mona
    Mona says:

    I have so many projects in my mind, but time is always so short. The one highest on my list right now is an old desk I want to paint to a glossy chocolate-brown color and rusted hardware on it to be painted and turned to bright silver. Hope I win!

  3. Svietka
    Svietka says:

    i live overseas so i dont want to win:):) but i do want to tell u it is fantastic job and i also want to see the pic of the wall behind it…it seems wonderful as well. we just did something wild with our wall that is based on the same concept–but very different. I will be posting it on my fb page if u r interesting in seeing it sometime later

  4. lannie
    lannie says:

    a dresser that I started to repaint, but didn’t prime it well enough on the sides and top so the spray paint job looks awful 🙁 I need to re-sand, re-prime, and re-paint it….

  5. Shanna Uptergrove
    Shanna Uptergrove says:

    Oh man.. I’d LOVE to win this. A Lowes gift card or Home Depot card is on my Christmas list- seriously. We just moved into a new house a year and half ago and I am SO ready to tackle the kitchen- there’s lame half wallpaper of a picket fence and wildflower garden with a border that matches.. that needs to go. And cheap vinyl flooring that is just laying there, not glued down. I’d like to be able to redo the cabinets as well. This would REALLY help me out!
    shanna.u at gmail dot com

  6. Amber E.
    Amber E. says:

    My kitchen table is in dire need of some TLC. Funds would help! The ugly green paint is chipping and it’s begging for a new paint job! I’m thinking chalk blue or something teal. 🙂

  7. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Love the file cabinet – especially the chalkboard part. The faux zinc technique is really great – will have to try it. Would love to win the Lowe’s card to aid in finishing our master bath. I stripped the wallpaper off this week and it’s looking pretty sad at this stage…..

  8. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I actually have been thinking about doing some industrial style projects in my home and this is exactly the texture I needed for a bunch a shelf brackets that I have. I want to line my pantry walls with wooden shelves and textured brackets. I have a butlers pantry so I think it would kinda fantastic. With 5 kids, I need as much storage as possible for spices, snacks, and of course pretty things!!!

  9. Kathe
    Kathe says:

    Oh wow! If I won I’d be able to revamp the laundry room! Oh wait, I meant the powder room. No, I meant the kitchen. Oh heck with $100.00 I bet I could do all 3!

  10. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    Cute chest! It might be easier to list the projects I have actually completed! 😉 I have a couple of end tables that really need to be refinished. I would use the gift card for those!

  11. Anne
    Anne says:

    My stepdaughter and I are going to frame out some huge mirrors as statement pieces – I could use the gift card for lumber and supplies!

  12. Nancy Clark
    Nancy Clark says:

    If I won a $100 gift card to Lowe’s, I would jump in the car and buy a light fixture or lamp that would put off enough light that I could tell what color clothes I am pulling out of the closet. I get so frustrated when I think two things match and find that they don’t when I get them into decent light.

  13. Janis Hill
    Janis Hill says:

    Oh my goodness! My imagination runs wild…Mirrors, wood, canvases, orchids, closet organizers, and paint . That’s it ~ paint for the living room and an orchid to compliment teh new color!

  14. Karen
    Karen says:

    I always have a lot of projects but would give it to my daughter and son-in-law who just bought a house. They need tools, yard stuff, you name it!

  15. lisa thomas
    lisa thomas says:

    What an awesome find! I love the redo.
    I would use that gift card to but track shelving for my linen closet or paint and lumber to finish the kitchen or bathroom or I could redo the porch or finish the redo on my bedroom furniture! The possibilities are endless!!!

  16. Jenny@thelavendermagnolia
    [email protected] says:

    I would use it for paint for the exterior of our house. We picked our colors out and we are just waiting for the funds (and warmer weather). The house is so faded and sad. Really sad. Sad, sad sad. So sad I wish I was hammered like that can of paint……………..


  17. Bridget Belardi
    Bridget Belardi says:

    I LOVE anything chalkboard inspired. I have an old globe that I want to chalk…that and create a backsplash for the kitchen out of glass tiles I’ve made. I need some grout and tiling supplies.

  18. Beverly Roberson
    Beverly Roberson says:

    Love the way your project turned out! Its hard to think of which project I would do first, but I know it would require lumber, lots and lots of lumber : ) I want to build a custom island and 100.00 would sure come in handy!

  19. Missy W
    Missy W says:

    I would pick up the molding that I need to finish my table remake and then pick up more crown molding for a bedframe I saw this weekend…and I need to get some faux paint for the headboard project, too!

  20. Marissa Avigne
    Marissa Avigne says:

    I found a $6 coffee table, that I want to makeover. The plan is to sand, prime and paint the legs. Then I plan to sand the top and stencil leaves in different colors, overlapping. Lastly , I plan toglaze the top with a pretty brown. That gift card would rock my table and leave some to try out a file cabinet makeover!

  21. Alicia Appel
    Alicia Appel says:

    I would use the gift card to finish a dresser that has been sitting in my garage and also redo our hall bathroom which the kids use. It has old ugly wall paper in it and the counter top needs help. I would love to win it!

  22. Dee
    Dee says:

    Great job!! My daughter would like a magnetic chalkboard for room which is currently being “tween-i-fied” . I could get lots of my painting supplies, light fixtures, drawer pulls, and maybe even a wall clock. Would just luv to win!

  23. Lori Choman
    Lori Choman says:

    I’m finally getting ready to do some more work in my kitchen and could really use the gift card to build in a spice rack where I’m removing a small 12in cabinet that is just taking up space beside the fridge!

  24. Autumn
    Autumn says:

    I am in the process of launching my new business. I make soap and other bath products, really good ones at that. I have a big craft show coming up, sort of my coming out party. I have all of my products ready, but am now starting to work on my display. That money would go a long way for me, as I do adore some DIY. Which is exactly what it is going to take for me to get my booth ready for the craft show. I need to start out with a big bang to keep it rolling to make this business work. Thanks for considering my entry.
    Also, I am starting a blog on all of my pinterest projects. I adore this file cabinet redo and feel rather inspired by it. My blog today in fact was on chalkboard paint. That stuff is awesome! Many thanks, and keep up the good work!! It looks fantastic!

  25. Lora W.
    Lora W. says:

    I need to repaint my son’s room. I was noticing yesterday that the walls are terrible in there. I love your project. Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    we are in the middle (well, hopefully more towards the end) of our guest bathroom makeover. it has to be done before my family comes for thanksgiving, so we’re getting into cruch time!

  27. Kacey
    Kacey says:

    It’s my birthday in a couple weeks and my present to myself is to (start and) finish two furniture projects so my apartment will stop looking like a war zone (650 sq ft…I’m currently lacking crucial storage space). I’m going to build an end table for my living room (kentwood plan from Ana white) and a pseudo-media table (from Kara paslay), so $100 would definitely get me started 😉

  28. Tina
    Tina says:

    I just texted my husband that I wanted some 2×4’s for christmas! We need some additional basic shelving in my basement craft room. BADLY!

  29. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I have a great, old dresser and mirror that i got from a friend. it has SO much potential, but right now, it’s sitting in our basement with the back off and drawers out. the top has been sanded, but that’s as far as i’ve gotten. i don’t even know exactly what i want my end result to be, but i know all the drawers pulls need to be replaced. That Lowes gift card would help with that a lot!

  30. becky
    becky says:

    I have 4 or 5 upcycling projects a Lowe’s gift card could really help with getting started AND finished! But the piece I can’t wait to start is an old coffee table that I picked up from a yard sale site on facebook a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to give it a make-over with all the pinspriation I have and get it in my living room!!!

  31. Laura Jacobson
    Laura Jacobson says:

    Oh Im just amazed by your cabinet! Beautiful!
    I would love to put in a new front door to my home! I think that would be my project. We get such huge drafts! Would love to save on heating costs this winter!

  32. seansmom
    seansmom says:

    We’re working on “phase two” of our library and that gift card would be great for getting some of the oak faced plywood that we need for the upper bookcases.
    LOVE your cabinet!!!

  33. Cherie
    Cherie says:

    Gorgeous Project!
    What project do I have?? acid Staining my kitchen floor, painting the living and kitchen. Re finishing my kitchen table… the list goes on and on. 🙂

  34. Laura Bennett
    Laura Bennett says:

    Wow! The drawers turned out beautifully!
    I am working on revamping our kids playroom/den. I’d like to put up some shelving to create more storage, paint, and change the fireplace from a dangerous eyesore into something that works better for the room. Thanks!

  35. Destiny
    Destiny says:

    I love this chest of drawers! AMAZING!!!

    We’ve just started on our bedroom. The ceiling has had its first coat of paint so there’s still plenty to do.

  36. Koliti
    Koliti says:

    Awesome results with your faux zinc! And fun chalk art drawers!

    I am working on reconfiguring the closet in my craft room into my “tool and paint” supply closet
    (I don’t have a garage). Would love shelves, peg board, hooks, a fun paint color, …..

  37. TracieMcOB
    TracieMcOB says:

    ooooo – I love giveaways – I would use the gift card to finish up some “half” projects I have going – most likely I would put it towards a new floor in my boys’ bath. They have very patiently been waiting for a long-overdue re-do 🙂 Thanks so much PHG!

  38. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I would use the gift card to patch the drywall in the basement my husband made to find the leak. Winning the gift card he shouldn’t have any excuse getting it done! Loved your file cabinet.

  39. The Girl @ POS
    The Girl @ POS says:

    We are deep in the throes of renovating a hall bathroom, and possibly turning it into a walk-in closet and true master bath. What could we NOT use this gift card for?? Thanks for the tips on the faux zinc texture, too! I am a serial spray painter, so I will definitely give it a try.

  40. PeggyAnn
    PeggyAnn says:

    Due to emergency pipe problems our bath project got bigger and bigger. I would love to win the Lowe’s gift card and use it towards a light fixture or faucet. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  41. Holly Makowski
    Holly Makowski says:

    I’ve got about 5 projects going on! Winning the gift card would allow to buy the supplies to finish up some of those projects 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity.

  42. Lisa F
    Lisa F says:

    My husband just moved bats of insulation from our garage into our attic (they had been there for…a long time…while he rewired our house himself). Now that we have more room in the garage, I would love to build him a simple workbench so he has dedicated space to work on future projects.

  43. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    I’m looking to build a small coffee table for the basement using one of Ana White’s designs! This would be my first attempt at building something and I can’t wait!! PS We just finished our entire basement using all materials, including carpeting, from Lowe’s. We made lots and lots of trips there! 🙂

  44. Jessica Culp
    Jessica Culp says:

    Boy do I have a garage full of stuff, but I’d really like to get started on a vanit I would like to take apart and make two nightstands out of. I need paint, hardware, etc;)

  45. Susan
    Susan says:

    Love everything on your website! You are a girl after my own heart! I have always been a diy person even before it became popular – just grew up in that kind of household. You are so talented and have to say this is one of my favorite blogs. Not sure how I would use the gift card – too many projects going on – lots of painting, fixing kitchen sink etc. Thanks so much

  46. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    I think you snagged a great find! I have so many projects going, I could use the gift card for any of them! I’m in the middle of reupholstering a chair, but first need to figure out how I want it painted.. Let’s see, um.. I have a vintage cabinet in need of paint, and my kitchen chairs need a coat of paint. Whew!! That’s only the tip of the iceberg!!

    Keep on crafting!

  47. Lindsey M
    Lindsey M says:

    Hi –
    I have a very ugly lamp that needs to be painted and my dogs chewed thru the cord of another lamp so I need to replace that. It was unplugged at the time so no doggies were harmed!

  48. Susan
    Susan says:

    Hi PHG,

    I just bought a round dining table off of Craig’s List that I’ll be repainting, so I need lots of Lowe’s supplies. The number one thing on my list, though, is that handy dandy spray paint adapter!

    Thanks for the giveaway…

  49. Tina
    Tina says:

    That is about the coolest chest EVER. I seriously love it, thanks for sharing! I ‘d be boring right now with a Lowe’s gift card. New house day four around here (after truck arrived) and I need things like toilet paper holders that aren’t awful and new light switch covers……. zillions of curtain rods. Stuff like that. Not exciting but necessary! 🙂

  50. judy
    judy says:

    Having just suffered through SANDY, we could really use the gift card to help on repairs inside and out. Would lift the mood of this Long Islander and her family. Hoping to win. Thank you.

  51. Alexa's mom
    Alexa's mom says:

    I’m currently working on my bedroom – just picked up some paint samples for the walls, trying to figure out what would look good on the floor (stained concrete or engineered wood). I also need to find a way bring together the furniture, since the pieces are all hand-me-downs or sale finds. The biggest thrill is I think I’m getting my parents’ bedroom set from PA and will fit that into the mix!

  52. Audra Norton
    Audra Norton says:

    What a cool cabinet!
    I have a bookshelf and a dresser that I am planning to paint as soon as the weather dries out! looking forward to taking on the project on a cool, crisp fall day.

  53. rebecca a
    rebecca a says:

    Love the cabinet!! I’m in the process of painting my dining room furniture. After I’m finished with that project I plan to get started on a credenza, a couple of beds, and a nightstand. I also need to paint walls! 🙂

  54. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    You know what I like about it (other than everything)? It’s unique, and has your own “fingerprint” on it (well, hopefully not literally).

    What project(s) need attending to around this here place? Where do I start? I guess the largest one is painting a hand-me-down overstuffed 90s couch that I inherited from my son. Yep, you heard right-painting a couch, attempting to make it look like leather. I’ve done it on chair seats, and I think I know enough now to be dangerous, and perhaps effective.

    Using someone else’s money will also help me be super confident, too!

  55. Janet
    Janet says:

    I really want to start adding crown molding through out my house. I hope to be purchasing a compound miter saw soon and the gift card would help a lot! Thanks for the chance to win.

  56. farmwife79
    farmwife79 says:

    I have several projects underway but not completed. This gift card would help me finish those I have started and, very likely, start a couple more! 🙂

  57. Debbie Adkins Fischer
    Debbie Adkins Fischer says:

    Oh my gosh this is great! I have a few old, ugly beige file cabinets that I might have to try this on! But my first project is to refinish my bathroom cabinets and stair railings before our Christmas visitors arrive… and a Lowe’s Gift Card would help me buy that Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation kit I have been wanting to try! Thanks for the fun blog – and wonderful ideas! Debbie

  58. ann casey
    ann casey says:

    I’m working making the basement a complete craft/workshop area – and have been trying to build some cabinets and storage to make it more functional!

  59. Sally B
    Sally B says:

    I love this look! I’ve been wanting to paint my front door and surrounding window frames (sidelights) everything on my house is TAN…blech shades of tan…and badly faded siding, it’s so boring…it needs punched up into a new brighter color scheme…thanks for your wonderful ideas;)

  60. Patrice
    Patrice says:

    I just discovered your site and LOVE IT! My 1st project will be to bring life back to a dresser that my Dad made my older brother in 1980 before my Mom gave birth. After he turned 7 it became mine, then my younger sisters. My Dad never bothered to strip it. He just painted over it each time. I can literally chip layers of paint off. I don’t know where to start or what I will need but we shall see…

  61. Misty Boren
    Misty Boren says:

    Wow, am I behind the times or what? I am just now totally absorbed in all of the faux zinc textures and stuff. I am an avid diy, crafter, painter, can barely type this because I need to get to Lowes, and Micheals, because I always need something! But, I used the technique on your file cabinet in a different way, because using my hands is like old news, but to get it to come out right with some spray paint, that was the challenging part! Now, of course I know, the contest is far from being over, snake noise, HISStory as they say, but let me tell ya, if you want to bring it back again, for a nice bathroom redo from a painted pink tub gone wild… need to come see me! 2 cousins in, both flaked, no money, and yes, a pink bathtub. I want a galvanized tub for a sink, an old farm cabinet, chicken wire on the doors. I want galvanized, corregated steel on the outside of the tub to cover up the pink hideousness. And, of course I need a galvanized watering pitcher for the shower. Oh, and not to forget, I think I will upcycle and reuse a galvanized oil pan to keep towels in. What, I cleaned it and I am sealing it……..Its going to be awesome! It will take a while, not all my dreams will come true, true! But, its fun. 3 broken mirrors later, yep, its fun.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  3. […] 4. A metal cabinet that’s seen better days gets a second chance with some hammered metallic spray paint and chalkboard paint. By using chalkboard paint on the drawer fronts, you can have an ever-changing design. You won’t believe the before on this project! Faux Zinc & Chalkboard Metal Cabinet Tutorial […]

  4. […] 1. Faux Zinc File Cabinet […]

  5. […] you may remember, I already showed you how I created that faux zinc chalkboard cabinet in the […]

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