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
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  1. 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;)

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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! 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.


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