Friday, November 8, 2019

And now for something completely different

Ever get tired of that black fridge now that the "black" phase has gone out of fashion?  Want to dress it up with some stainless steel?  Or just want to make your garage fridge look better?  It's easy! 

Tools you'll need:

4 cans of Spray paint.  Get more if your fridge is extra large. Get more than you think you'll need - you can always take the extra back.  I love Rust-oleum paint.  It lasts a long time, is easy to spray, and covers really well.

Spray paint can handle. Gah, those things are FAB! I can paint all day using one of those.  Without it, I'm about done halfway through the first can.  Don't get the fancy schmancy most expensive one get the cheapie.  The more expensive one doesn't work as well, doesn't lower itself enough to depress the can button so you have to stick things in there between it and the can button to make it spray.  Pain in the ass.  Just get the cheapie.  It doesn't do that. 

Sandpaper!  Lots of sandpaper.  220 grit for sure, and if you have some rust or scratches to get rid of, get some rougher 150 grit, too.  I think I used half a dozen sheets total on the fridge I did here.  Like the paint, get extra.  It's handy to have around since it comes in handy later for all sorts of things: sanding down that splintered spot on the deck, scuffing up the soles of your new shoes so they grip better, removing gummy ick from some things (don't do it on things that you don't want sanded below the ick), and sanding the tips of your wooden knitting needles.

Rags.  Lots of rags.  They sell these at the store, but if you hang on to old t-shirts, they're PERFECT for this.

Masking paper and tape, to cover all the parts you don't want to paint.  For tape, get the thin "regular" width roll and a wider one as well.  Both come in so handy if you're not used to masking things.  Whatever's left, store inside, not in the garage or other "outside" building.  When tape freezes, it damages it so it doesn't unroll well, tearing off as you pull it.  Trying to unroll a roll of previously frozen tape will definitely drive you to drink.

You can use newspaper if you have it - it works great.  If you don't, then get some masking paper.  In the store, it's usually right there next to the tape.  You can get the small-ish rolls or the large 3' one, whichever will work best for your scenario.  If you get the big roll, you can use the rest for sheet mulching a path in the garden later.  Just don't get plastic - it's too thin, so flies around a lot when you're trying to tape it down.  Maddening.  Besides: plastic. Ick.    

I used to paint for a living, so I have a masking machine.  If you think you might be repainting your house any time soon, GET ONE.  They aren't really expensive, but man do they ever save you time.  

And of course, you need a fridge.  This is the one a friend of mine Terry gave me.  He's a closer friend of Karina, and she's staying in the cabin where this fridge is going.  She happened to be talking to him about the need for a fridge, so he offered it up for free!  It works great and is really clean inside.  Yeah, he's a great neighbor. 

First step: sand it down.  All over.  Every square inch of metal that you want to change the color of.  If you want to paint the gaskets, you might want to hit those a little, too, but just the outsides - there's no need to paint the insides or faces of those since they won't be seen when the fridge is closed, and painting the faces might just impair it's ability to seal.  (One note: sometimes, plastic will peel after you paint it, but sometimes not, so keep that in mind.  It's a crapshoot, but even if you come up snake eyes, you can always repaint it with a brush later.)

If your fridge is still new and not rusted or beat up, you are doing it to roughen up the surface so the paint will stick to it.  In that case, just use the 220 grit and go lightly all over the entire thing.

Since I needed to remove some rust, I used 150 grit sandpaper at first to knock the big chunks off, then finished it all with 220 grit.  If you're starting with a rusty one like me, you don't need to remove all the rust, but you do need to get most of it, and for sure get the pitted parts.

You might think it better to wash it first, but you'd just end up washing it again after sanding since you need to get aaaaaallllllll the dust off.  So unless it's really filthy (and this one certainly wasn't), wait for washing 'til after you sand it.

NOW wash it up.  Terry had stored this one in the barn, so while it wasn't filthy at all, it did have a lot of dust on it and a few dirt dauber nests.  I knocked all those off, then went over the whole thing with dish soap (Dawn, to cut any grease that might have been on it) and a rag.  Then I let it dry.

Once your fridge is good and dry, make sure it's up on some sort of blocks with a drop cloth below it.  The drop cloth will keep paint off your driveway if that's where you're painting, and if you're painting it in the grass, it'll keep bits of grass and dirt from blowing up on your smooth finish.  (Speaking of that, if it's windy, don't do this. It will only end in tears.)

Next, tape off anything you don't want to paint.  Look over your fridge carefully, running your hands over the entire thing to make you notice each thing.  Decide if you want to paint that thing or not: hinges, gaskets, medallions with the company name on them, handles, metal back.  Mask if off if you don't. 

Masking just means covering it.  If it's small, just use the tape.  If it's large, use the tape and paper.  Make sure you get right to the edge.  If you don't have a masking machine, you can roughly tape the paper up first to cover it, then go back over the edges with wider tape, getting VERY close to the edges of the area you are going to paint, but not up on them of course.  If you unroll a bit, stick it down, then unroll a couple feet of tape, you can use the hand holding the roll to keep it all taught and straight while your fingers of the other hand stick it down perfectly and closely.   

The gasket cleaned up really well, so I didn't need to paint it.  It tapes off really easily.

Ladies, start your painting!  It's going to take multiple coats to get this done, and you have to put them on fairly thinly so they don't run.  Smooth metal surfaces like appliances don't have much to "grip" the paint like a wall of your house does, so you have to go thin and wait just long enough for each to dry enough to be sticky so it'll grip the next coat.  The first light coat is called a "tack coat" for just that reason - it's the first sticky one.

If  you haven't spray painted before, practice on some newspaper taped to the front of your fridge first.  Start spraying before you hit the fridge, then sweep to the side across the face of the fridge, then stop spraying.  Do each sweep like that.  You don't want to start spraying when the can is pointed at the fridge and not moving or you'll spray so much paint in that one spot that it'll run.  Long, sweeping motions across the face are what you want, not stopping or starting the spray of paint until it's not pointed at the fridge. 

Once you get the hang of it, cover the whole thing with a thin coat of paint.  Here's what a tack coat on the freezer door and side look like.  I haven't gotten to the fridge door yet.  That's how light you want to spray. 

Also, to help you not miss any sides later, pick a spot to start every time and go all the way around the fridge from that spot each time, the same route.  Visualize it before you start, then once you do that repeatedly, it'll come as second nature and you'll be a lot less likely to leave a spot out.  I went
- very uppermost top, right to left -
- left side, top to bottom - 
- front, top to bottom - 
- right, side top to bottom - 
- the back edges - 
then looked all over to make sure I didn't miss anything. 

Over and over again, around and around I went, waiting between each coat 'til it had dried enough to be sticky.  Here's after about three coats:

You can still see the spray strokes.  That's what you want - paint layers so thin that after three, you can still see a bit of the original color.  Thin coats also dry faster, so it doesn't take as long as you might think.  It does take a while.  This took me about three hours.  But really, that's not bad for a new fridge.

I think this is after the fourth coat, before it had dried completely. 

I might have put another coat on after that though.  You want to watch it closely as it's drying, looking from multiple angles to check for bleed through of the original color before it dries completely.  Drying too much will make the next coat not want to stick as well.  So make sure you've really gotten it all covered before you decide it's done. 

Let it dry at least overnight.  Even if the paint is dry to the touch, it's still "green", or soft.  If you use your fingernail on it, it'll dent it.  Don't move it until you can't put a dent in it with your fingernail.  Or just wait overnight.  If it's been really humid, wait a couple days before moving it. 

Then move it in!  
(If you're doing this alone, a tractor can come in handy.)

Looks nice, doesn't it?

Next time, I might try a stove.

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