Using Appliance Paint To Upgrade A Refrigerator

So yeah… our fridge is white now.

It’s not a new fridge, it’s just our old almond-colored one “freshened up” a bit with some appliance paint so that it would play along more nicely with our white cabinets. After tons of you (literally dozens) mentioned that you had great luck with appliance paint in this post, we were encouraged to give it a try.

I’ll admit that I initially had my doubts, but after hearing such rave reviews from you guys, we figured at its best, this update would help an old fridge blend in more until we save up enough money to replace it during Phase 2 of this kitchen makeover. And if it completely tanked, we could tell you guys the truth, share the awful photos, and just generally save you the trouble of doing whatever it was that we did.

After doing a little bit of what-had-good-long-lasting-reviews research, we settled on this Specialty Appliance Epoxy that was $15 from Home Depot, which was only available in exactly the color we needed: gloss white. I know it’s not as cool or trendy as something like chalkboard paint (which Sherry had mentioned a few times) but I’m weird about chalk and all that dust near my food source gave me the heebies jeebies. Plus I knew if we craigslisted this fridge down the line we could probably ask more for a white one than a chalkboard painted one.

The refrigerator “refinishing” process itself was pretty darn easy. It was the prep that took some muscle – namely moving the fridge outside so that I could paint without stinking up the house (the epoxy smelled like rubber cement, so we definitely wanted to follow their “do this in well ventilated area with a mask on” instructions). After I turned off and disconnected the water line, my dad came over and with a dolly we got it ready to head out to the sunroom… until we realized the handles made it too big to fit out the doorway.

So off came the handles (well, and one of the doors too – it’s a long story) so we could bareeeely squeeze it out the door. We actually left most of the food inside (except for some especially heavy, breakable, and spillable stuff that temporarily came out during transport) to avoid the extra hassle of unloading and reloading everything. Oddly enough, it worked.

The move took place on Friday night so that we’d be ready to go on Saturday morning, since the weather forecast was nice for the weekend and the epoxy is supposed to be used in 50°+ temperatures. We weren’t the classiest neighbors for a couple of days, but at least it’s better than having it on the front porch. We even plugged it in out here so the food would keep. Nothing like going outside to get milk for your cereal in the morning.

The project didn’t get going until later in the day on Saturday (once temps crept up enough to meet the can’s requirements). Obviously I had reattached the one door that we took off to keep the food cold, but Sherry decided it’d be best to have both handles off when painting for the most seamless and hopefully drip-free result. All it took was popping off a cover on either end and then unscrewing them.

Per the directions on the can, Sherry and I started by lightly sanding the whole fridge – just enough to get the gloss off. A power sander felt like overkill, so we each used sanding blocks of 150 grit.

I did the front two doors while Sherry did the sides. You can see the difference between the door I roughed it up and the door I hadn’t done yet in this picture.

Then we went over it with a damp cloth to get all of the sanding dust off followed by a dry cloth to, um, dry it.

I used a foam roller to apply to epoxy while wearing a mask, just as the instructions suggested (and Sherry, Burger, and Clara went inside and steered clear, so they weren’t exposed to the stink). This stuff basically has the exact consistency of paint so the process wasn’t unfamiliar at all. It goes on a little bubbly but it quickly smooths itself out.

I did break out a brush to help me get into some tight spots, like some of the nooks around the doors and the ice dispenser. We chose to just paint right over that whole area too (covering up the much coveted “Hot Point” brand logo – gasp!). The paint doesn’t actually touch the water/ice dispensing apparatus (that’s tucked up under a cover) so it was nice to know that this definitely-not-food-safe product wouldn’t interfere with anything that goes into people’s mouths – but we could achieve an all-white look from the front instead of having to leave some trim parts cream or something.

I painted three sides and the top, leaving the backside unpainted. There were enough cords, tubing, and venting back there that it didn’t seem worth the hassle (in what installation scenario is that visible?). I probably didn’t need to do the top either but someone even an inch or two taller than me would get an okay view of it, so I just did it to be thorough.

Sherry had spread out all of the little parts – the handles, door hinge covers, bottom grille, etc – on a piece of cardboard so that I could paint them separately. It was easier this way and also minimized the opportunity for drips on the main fridge.

The can said you can recoat in one hour assuming that 70° temperatures were met, so I decided to give it at least overnight before continuing since it was only around 55 degrees on Saturday. But at least the fridge was looking somewhat less offensive out there in white. I’m sure that’s exactly what the neighbors were thinking: “Oh nevermind, honey! It’s white now so no need to call the HOA anymore. I wonder if there’s any beer in that thing…”

You can’t really tell in pictures, but it did need a second coat. So on Sunday morning I rolled on another one pretty quickly and let it dry in the awesome 70° day that we were suddenly having.

We didn’t get it rolled back inside until it was too dark to take pictures on Sunday night (which is why this post is coming to you today, and not yesterday as we originally planned) but here it is, back at home looking much more blendy with the cabinetry.

It’s not a perfect color match (the fridge is slightly whiter in color) but it’s only about a shade off instead of being a lot more noticeably clashy like it was when it was cream. Our white range hood is the same slightly whiter tone as the fridge, so we think appliances just tend to be that color when they’re “gloss white.” It’s actually a surprisingly big help in making the room feel a bit more current (I’ll admit that I didn’t think it would make as much of a difference as it does).

And it’s definitely a vast improvement from what this corner looked like back in the day:

As for how the epoxy feels, it’s very smooth, very hard, and looks/feels pretty much just like the fridge was always this color. If you stare at the glint of light reflecting off the fridge in the picture below you can see how the sort of lightly marbled texture of the fridge was maintained, and it’s glossy and convincing, just like a factory finished white fridge would be. I actually don’t think you could tell that it was painted unless someone told you. And I’m not just saying that. Picture me as the negative naysayer who had to see this to believe it.

We’ll keep you posted on how it holds up over time, but from what we’ve heard from you guys and read in reviews, it seems to be good for 5+ years and we’re hoping to get to Phase 2 a good deal faster than that. So it won’t be a big loss if it nicks or chips as we go, but it’ll still be interesting to see if this stuff is as good of a cheap and easy upgrade ($15!) as it seems so far.

Has anyone else had luck with appliance paint? We hear for a stove you need to use high heat paint, which seems to only come in spray form. Or has anyone done anything different or bold with theirs? We were contemplating painting the handles an accent color (like navy or ORB) but it just didn’t feel right for our goal, which was just to let this guy blend into his surroundings and draw attention to the better stuff like our succulent art, rope chandelier, and the rough wood dining table nearby.

Comments

  1. taetae says

    looks awesome guys!! never would’ve thought painting an appliance was possible! crazy!

    can we assume the absence of a wide shot of the kitchen means those counters are getting the concrete treatment? so excited to see phase 1 finished!!!

    • says

      They just were full of clutter! Haha! But we’ve tracked down a local Ardex vendor, so as soon as the snow melts (we’re snowed in thanks to freezing cold temps and snowy/icy roads) we’d love to run out and grab some.

      xo
      s

  2. Alex says

    Looks lovely!

    Ha, for a second I forgot you bought those prints of the succulents and I was thinking, “Succulent art? Man, they are really grasping for adjectives these days!” :) :)

  3. John says

    Looks really great! Add me to the list of people who can’t stand chalk dust. The idea of having chalkboard paint in my house creeps me out too. All that chalk dust to clean….yuck!

    • Allison Nelson says

      I too was creeped out by the chalk dust. I discovered they have chalk pens. CHALK PENS!!! They are not dusty! They are not messy…they have CAPS! (yes, yes, I’m weird…shhh!) So there is one mystery solved. If you want a chalkboard wall, etc. Get the pens. Great for drawing really nice art too.

    • says

      I’ve heard good things about those except that they etch (if you don’t erase them often they can leave marks permanently in chalkboard paint – sort of like a ghosted image). Have you had that experience? Or have they gotten better?

      xo
      s

    • Allison says

      Oh! (about the etching) I don’t know, it’s too soon to tell. I *just* bought them. And my chalk pen was for chalk labels which I don’t intend to change. Anybody else?

    • says

      I’ve only used the chalk pens on this tiny window we have above our front door. I was thinking vinyl lettering there but couldn’t decide on something. Now I draw. On the house. :) Change it up about once a month and no etching on the glass. Can’t speak for an actual chalkboard surface as that project is half-finished in the garage.

    • Bethany Ann says

      I used Chalk Markers (which I’m assuming are the same as chalk pens? or at least similar?) on a chalkboard for a friend’s wedding coming up soon. They worked really well, and felt basically the same as using a paint pen. I was nervous they wouldn’t erase well, but everything came off really easily with a damp rag whenever I goofed up and needed to fix something. I can see how they’d leave a ghost image if you left them on for too long, but I’ve had that same experience with regular chalk too. I think if that happens you should be able to just recondition the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk all over it and then wiping it off right away.

    • says

      I use chalk pens on my spice jars. They do leave a “ghost image” behind, but I’ve been able to remove that with a magic eraser.

    • says

      I used chalk markers/pens whatever you call them, on a chalkboard at school once. Hated them. Took every ounce of scrubbing to get them off. On the bright side, worked great for those announcements that needed to be on the board for a whole quarter. Kids couldn’t erase them by leaning against the board.

      It was about 4 years ago, so maybe they have changed? I sure hope so, because the ones I bought were crazy expensive!

  4. Tamara says

    John, I find it amusing how you and your father have the exact same stance as you push the fridge out the doors! It looks great! I’m curious to see how it holds up, especially in the water dispenser area. I had to laugh about the whole HOA comment. We had our microwave out on our patio for over a week once to air it out after our teenager had a small cooking emergency! No authorities were called in. ;)

    • says

      So funny about our stances. I didn’t even notice that! I’m also relieved that no reinforcements were called in for the loitering microwave.

      -John

  5. says

    So. Much. Better! Very interested to see how this holds up for you guys! Seems like a fridge would be a much better candidate for the painting routine vs. an oven or dishwasher. Since it’s more textured, it seems like the paint will be more likely to stick over time. Definitely need an update post on this one! :)

    • says

      We’ll definitely keep you posted! So far this morning Clara slammed a tiny stroller into it while pushing Barnacle around the kitchen and it held up like a champ. It’s still early days though, so who knows if the periodic Clara-beatings will wear it down over time ;)

      xo
      s

  6. Abby says

    I have used the epoxy touch up paint for my stove when it got nicked while cooking. That lasted pretty well and you had to really look to find it. My white stove top hadn’t yellowed so it matched pretty well.

  7. Evelina says

    What a great update! I totally agree that it looks like it’s always been that white. Job well done.
    Can’t wait for the big secret reveal!!!!

  8. says

    Looks awesome! I’ve never heard of appliance paint.. but.might want to use it on our fridge! Also, I think photos #12 and #17 might have been accidentally switched… :)

  9. DanielleR says

    We had to bite the bullet and buy a new fridge last year when ours died in the middle of summer. Our 10 year old white warrior finally quit on us. I had NO IDEA how expensive a new one would be til we were forced to look. $1400 later, we ended up with a stainless one with a bottom freezer. Huge upgrade but OUCH. Yay for paint, looks much better and that’s a huge money saver while you wait til you have enough to buy a new one!

    • Jamie D says

      I LOVE!!!!! my bottom freezer! It is nice for our family since the fridge is the more-used of the two, so it is nice to only bend down when reaching in the freezer. I would add that to your phase 2 appliance must-haves! Also think about whether you want the water dispenser inside the fridge or on the front. Having it outside is probably more energy efficient and convenient.

      Awesome post today!

    • mailergoat says

      I think for efficiency it may be better to have a dispenser on the inside…I think it’s not as well insulated as the rest of the beast, so the ones on the outside let air leak more.

      I expected to love our bottom freezer when we got it three years ago, but find it’s not conducive to organizing things so stuff gets lost in there all the time. It also doesn’t feel like it holds as much, but maybe that’s because there’s old, lost stuff taking up all the space?? Not sure how that works…

    • Amanda says

      Mailergoat, try using baskets to organize things in your freezer. Do a quick “drawer freezer organization” on Pinterest for lots of ideas on how to organize it, so maybe that would help your need!

  10. says

    Wow, what a transformation! And yet… with such a simple thing, like paint (paint always seems to have that magical effect, huh?).The fridge looks great! I am new to the blogging world and just found YHL- I am having fun exploring your site and learning some of the ins and outs. Thanks for posting!

  11. says

    Wow–looks great. My fiance has been on a mission to freshen up our used-to-be-white-slightly-yellowing appliances. Its especially the plasticy parts like handles, so this could be a great fix. Do you know if it works on microwaves?

    • says

      I think for anything that gets hot they recommend the high heat appliance spray paint (as opposed to something you can brush on), so you’d have to tape things off like the glass window but I think it would work. Anyone have experience with a microwave or oven?

      xo
      s

    • says

      I’ll pass it on to him for sure. He must have missed painting in all of his searching. He made various concoctions that he soaked the handles in already and this sounds way easier!

    • says

      They do make a brush on version of that same high heat spray paint. I used it inside our fireplace. It’s held up fine on the back wall but not as well on the floor beneath the fire. You know, where burning embers fall and husbands scrape up ashes with the tiny fireplace shovel. Ok, fine. Just one husband. :)

    • Karen J says

      Has he looked for just new/replacement handles? We replaced our scratched up dishwasher control panel; it was easy and affordable. The plus is you get a brand new part.

    • Elizabeth says

      I spray painted the yellowing plastic handles on my white fridge and they have held up extremely well. I used the spray paint specifically made for plastic (can’t remember which brand). I have to scrub them periodically with a magic eraser to get the grime off, but the paint is still perfect and it has been a few years. Made a HUGE difference in the look of the fridge. I did take them off (and outside) to spray them.

  12. LesleyL says

    Nice work! My mother deeply adored her 70s avocado green appliances and misses them very much. I wonder if this paint could be colored?

    • says

      That’s the sweetest idea ever! I didn’t see if you could tint it on the can (and was honestly surprised it only came in gloss white). Anyone know of a way to get avocado green going on for Lesley’s mom?

      xo
      s

    • Cathy C. says

      Does she want a functional double oven? I have one that will be moving along shortly…