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.

 

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