How to Paint a Fridge ( Inspired by a $2,999 Retro SMEG )

Are you wondering whether you could ( or should ) paint a fridge? The answer is YES! It is surprisingly easy, hugely impactful, and 100% worth doing!

When we bought our house a few months ago, it came with this refrigerator. Talking about potential, like Cinderella-sitting-in-the-ashes kind of potential!

I just knew that painting this fridge was going to be our first big makeover project in our new home! Check out our entire (mostly DIY) IKEA kitchen before and after here!

old white fridge

My dream fridge is a $2000+ retro SMEG fridge in the dreamiest shade of pastel mint color. However,  I also feel that everything has potential to become more beautiful, and I should at least try to transform this perfectly working bland looking refrigerator. What is there to lose?

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

It took $20 and less than a day to paint a fridge. While no one ever noticed any fridges in all the places we have lived in before,  everyone that comes to our house now raves about our “new” fridge and asks where we bought it! Can you recognize it?!?

bohemian style room with anthropologie style mint fridge inspired by SMEG fridge

In this detailed tutorial with video, I will share with you everything I have learned about painting a fridge so you can get a successful result, and avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Video tutorial on how to paint a fridge ( or skip to written tutorial below)

I want to thank Sherwin Williams for generously providing all the paints and primers for many projects in our new home! We really love their high quality products and can’t wait to show you more projects in the coming weeks!

anthropologie boho style mint colored fridge inspired by smeg fridge

Materials and tools you will need to paint a fridge:

( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )

Step 1: clean and sand the fridge surface

Surface preparation is SUPER important! A well prepared surface will ensure a durable paint finish.

Remove the handles and vent cover (if any) and thoroughly clean the fridge surface and all the parts with soap and water. Wipe clean and let dry.

how to paint a fridge: start by removing door handles

I also taped some of the ice and water buttons, and the screw holes for the refrigerator handles. You can use painters tape or scotch tape for the small buttons.

Because we decided to change the location of this big refrigerator and put it in a wall cut-out, I taped half of the sides as they won’t be visible. Always trying to reduce my work load! 🙂

tape areas before painting a fridge

Next, take a sanding sponge with 220 grit or similar grit sand paper and quickly sand all the surfaces that will be painted. The sanding sponge makes better and even contact with the entire surface of the refrigerator.

Sanding is very important because it will create tiny grooves for the primer and paint to grab onto. Wipe off all the dust from the sanding process.

Step 2: prime the fridge before painting

The purpose of a primer is to ensure better adhesion of paint to the surface being painted.

There are many types of primers, such as water based, oil based, and shellac primers. Here’s a more detailed comparison of these 3 types of paint primers. Oil based and shellac primers can be great for tough to adhere surfaces, but water based primers are a lot easier to use and to clean up.

how to paint a fridge using a paint roller

I applied one coats of Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond primer using a 4″ paint roller which works a lot faster and easier than brushes. Remember to sand and prime the sides of the refrigerator doors too!

This primer is great! It drys flat and matte in 1 hour, and our fridge is ready for painting.

apply primers on fridge

Step 3: how to paint a fridge

It took me a while to find the dreamiest mint color paint ( think retro mint SMEG fridge):  Sherwin Williams SW 6757 Tame Teal in satin finish. It is such a perfect soft pastel mint color, and looks beautiful in changing lights from morning to evening!

boho style room with anthropologie style mint fridge inspired by SMEG fridge

I used Sherwin Williams Emerald Latex paint which is certified by super high health standards, and the paint has such amazing coverage, one quart will still give you plenty leftovers for future projects!

Use a 4″ paint roller and apply 2 coats of paint, allowing the first coat to dry for at least an hour before the second coat. If you are painting your fridge a dark color, you may need more coats.

Step 4: paint the handles and vent cover

spray paint fridge handles gold

For the fridge handles and the bottom vent cover, I used this gold spray paint and this clear sealer spray for extra durability.

Lessons learned: Initially I used only gold spray paint, however, I noticed some gold was rubbing off on our hands! Refrigerator handles are the most used parts of the fridge, so they need to be super durable. I re-sprayed the handles and sprayed a coats of clear sealer, which has held up very well.

boho style room with anthropologie style mint fridge inspired by SMEG fridge

The handles are much more challenging to paint than the fridge, here are some helpful tips I learned the hard way:

First make sure you are doing it outside in a well ventilated area. Clean the painting area so dust don’t get stuck on the fresh painted surfaces. Spray lightly and quickly to avoid drips and puddles.

turn the handles to their sides to paint fridge handles gold

Wait for each coat to dry completely (usually about 30 minutes), then turn the handles to their sides and spray.  Try not to touch the handles too much until after the clear coat, because you can easily leave finger prints on the fresh painted surface.

After the gold spray paint dries for about 1 hour, you can spray 1 – 2 coats of this clear sealer spray for extra durability.

new bohemian style room with anthropologie style mint fridge inspired by SMEG fridge

Here it is, our “new” fridge! We are crazy in love with it, and so are our friends and family. Even strangers coming to our house would compliment on this fridge and ask where we bought it! 🙂

Additional tips, resources, and FAQs

1. The burning question: how is our painted fridge holding up? Any scratches? Is it easy to keep clean?

It’s been quite a few months now, and I am happy to report that the fridge has held up great through active daily use, and all the commotions and pushing around during our complete kitchen and bath remodel. We clean the surface regularly with a soapy sponge.

It did get one tiny scratch when a sharp metal bar bumped onto it, but it was super easy to touch up. Remember to always save a little leftover paint!

In Step 4 I mentioned why I had to apply a coat of clear sealer for extra durability on the gold spray painted handles. The handles have held up great since then.

add gold handles

2. What kind of paint can you use on a refrigerator?

You can successfully paint a fridge using many kinds of paints, some work better with a primer first. Appliance epoxy  (usually comes in white) and liquid stainless steel are the most commonly used. Here‘s a great article on how to paint rusty refrigerator or other appliances with liquid stainless steel.

If you want a unique color, you can use latex paint, which comes in unlimited colors, and is super easy to clean up. When you use water based paints, make sure to use a good primer first for better adhesion.

3. What painter colors can I use to transform an old fridge?

There are many wonderful examples to inspire all of us,  like how to paint a fridge with chalkboard paint here, (and write your grocery list or practice chalk art!). Keep in mind that if you are painting your fridge a dark color, you may need to tint the primer (optional), and apply more coats.

You can skip painting all together and use contact paper or peel and stick vinyl to transform your fridge. Here is a video tutorial on DIY peel & stick stainless steel!

4. Would you paint a fridge again?

Absolutely YES!!! I was really inspired by what Marie Kondo wrote in her amazing book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that we should surround ourselves with things that spark joy.

So often we are surrounded by things that are generic and neglected, like our old fridge. This DIY project has been so rewarding, and we feel sparks of joy every time we walk by our “new” fridge!

Check out our entire (mostly DIY) kitchen before and after here!

You may also love this other makeover ( when we were renters) : we changed a bland looking patio into a boho outdoor paradise, using mostly pallets!

Dramatic patio makeover! Lots of patio design ideas and tutorials from DIY pallet furniture, beautiful DIY planters, bohemian decor to renter friendly tips! - A Piece of Rainbow

Happy creating! See you next week!

57 Comments

  1. Did you paint the water and ice dispenser paddles, too? How did you get into all the nooks and crannies in that area?

    • hi Dawn! we don’t use our ice dispenser, and i painted it partly, and left some parts white (unpainted). sticky vinyl can also be a good option for these areas 🙂

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