Nov 15, 2012

Past Projects: Media Cabinet

The red media cabinet was my first furniture refinishing project, done in our old apartment. While I never took before pictures, I can tell you that my favorite red media cabinet used to be a blond faux Ikea laminate and it just didn’t fit in with the rest of our dark wood furniture. Here you can get an idea from these snapshots of the original color:

Painting laminate was intimidating at the time. I had just learned it could be done thanks to Ikea Hacker, but I was nervous about how it would come out. Would the paint even stick? Would it scratch off easily? I was really unhappy with the light wood clashing with my other furniture, but I loved the storage and versatility of the piece overall. So we jumped in.

We started off by emptying out all of the shelves and removing the doors, then lightly sanding the whole thing to rough up the laminate to help the primer stick. We put on a coat of high adhesion primer in a prescribed bubble gum pink color as a good base for the candy apple red I wanted (if you’re going to paint something, why not go bold?). I used a 3” foam roller as much as possible, and a sponge brush for the corners. During the priming process I learned that when painting the inside of a cabinet, there is an order to what you do first to prevent you from bumping into and smearing your work. First you do the top/ceiling of the cubby area, then the back, then the sides, then the bottom. Once you’ve completed the whole area, then you can work on the outside. If you do the outside first, you keep touching/bumping it.

After letting the primer cure for 48 hours, it was time for paint. I chose Benjamin Moore Enamel in crimson with a satin finish. As with the primer, we put it on with a sponge roller and a small sponge brush, using the same techniques. It took forever because there were so many shelves and cubbies and deep nooks to paint with two coats. When the paint had dried for a full day, we put on 3 coats of polyurethane. Since this was my first project, I had not yet discovered the wonderfulness of wipe-on poly, so I used polycrylic instead. I wouldn’t recommend it compared to the wipe-on stuff - it took a lot more time to put on, more sanding, more bubbles to deal with. And they both smell terrible. Also over time I’ve found that the wipe-on poly has a harder finish.

Since this was a media cabinet for a lot of gear, we waited more than a week before putting it back together. I wanted to make sure everything had fully cured. I even had a chance to add some extra screws to make a repair to the bottom of the cabinet and add some new hardware from Anthropologie to finish it off.

Source List and Supplies:
  • Paint: Benjamin Moore Enamel in Crimson with a satin finish
  • Primer: Benjamin Moore high adhesion primer in a custom tint
  • 4” sponge roller and disposable sponge brushes
  • Sandpaper in 220 and 400 grit
  • Finish: Polycrylic in a semi gloss
  • Hardware: 2 Anthropologie antique style glass knobs 

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