DIY Upcycled File Cabinet Using DecoArt Chalk Paint

As I look around my house I am always thinking of how I can make old things new or reinvent them.

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Restoring furniture has become a big thing. I am not sure if it is because it seems that newer things are made with less quality and a higher price tag.  Or just the fascination with being able to make something old look and feel brand new all over again.  It’s truly an art.

For me, it is a combination of both.  I don’t mind spending good money on good things.  But what I will not do is spend top dollar for things that will deteriorate, break and all out not last.

So I have been jumping on the restoring of old things bandwagon too.

I have been wanting to try the whole chalk painted antique look furniture thing.  But I just wasn't sure on what.

Enter my parents with a cute little file cabinet they found at the local Habitat For Humanity Restore.

upcycled file cabinet
Structurally this baby was perfect in every way. But my parents inspired by all my DIYing got bit by the bug and thought they’d like to update it.

So we did.

We used DecoArt chalk paint from the Americana Decor line, found at Home Depot and Amazon, to give this cute little file cabinet a whole new look.

We started out by cleaning it with a vinegar and water solution to remove all dirt, grime, and a sticky spot we found.

woman cleaning thomasville file cabinet

After letting it dry for a few minutes we got to painting with a paintbrush for the first coat.

When the first coat dried, we were worried about the strokes the brush left due to the texture of the paint.

Let me also tell ya that this paint dries FAST!

Because we were worried how those brush strokes would go we sanded it a bit to smooth it out some before applying the second coat of paint.

To avoid further brush strokes we used a foam roller for a smoother finish.

Let that dry, and then we were ready to wax!

The wax, also from the DecoArt Americana Decor line was applied with a brush too. We let the wax go on for like 2-3 minutes and then wiped away.

deep brown creme wax from decoart

This allows the wax to fill in the creases.

With that said I figured out that had we not sanded the first coat, it would have been just fine. It would have been a little more strokes for the wax to seep into.

Lesson learned.

That is what I love about DIYing, it is truly an art form and the outcome of all projects will be based on the artist.

I’m an artist yall… lol!

But what I will say is that it still came out beautifully.

What We Used to Upcycle The File Cabinet

We only used a small 8 oz container that we got from Home Depot on this whole file cabinet. A little goes a long way!

The color we used is called Vintage (ADC17).

decoart americana decor vintage chalk paint

And for the wax, we didn’t even use half of the 8 oz container.  We went with Deep Brown (ADM07) Créme Wax.

DecoArt Deep Brown Creme Wax

Materials List

My parents have officially been not just bitten, but completely overtaken by the DIY bug.

As they pulled off they both stared at the cabinet as if they were leaving a child behind. And they both kept saying how pleasantly surprised they were with the outcome.

The next day they left to go back home to Cleveland for a few days. And on their way back they drove two hours out the way to pick up some nightstands they found on the Facebook marketplace that they want to refinish.

Looks like I might be building a team y’all.

Interested in chalk painting a piece of wood furniture. Pin this for future reference when you get started.

Have questions about the project?  Drop them below and I’ll be sure to respond.

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  1. This turned out beautifully!!! I just picked up an old filing cabinet that I want to restore very similar to what you did with your parents’ cabinet. Did you use a primer as the first coat? Also, what did you use on the hardware?

    1. Thank you! The beauty of chalk paint is you just need to clean the surface good. You don’t usually need to do all that stripping and priming. For this one, I removed the hardware before painting and put it back after.
      Thanks again!

  2. I did the chalk paint and applied some clear wax and dark wax but got scared and rubbed most of it away..! This is my first diy furniture makeover. Anyway I want to add more dark wax. I noticed it’s easier to control the amount of dark wax if I use clear wax first… how long do I let the clear dry before applying the dark? How long after I apply dark do I wait to buff it? I don’t want to rub it all away again! Maybe I didn’t wait long enough.?? Help would be appreciated!

    1. Hey Meghan!

      So for this one, with the darker wax I used, it was liquid. I applied the wax and then came back and wiped with a white cloth after a few minutes. You can go as light or as heavy as you want. If you go lighter, you can keep applying it until it where you want. I have never combined clear and dark though so not really sure. If I am trying something new and am scared, I find a test piece of wood and try that first.

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