Painted Plastic Drawers

DIY Project Space Organization Series | The Craft Room -Part 1

How to make ugly plastic storage drawers look good, by painting them! This is the first mini project specifically for the craft room. There will be more to come before the final craft room post where I will explain the whole process I went through to figure out how I organized everything, as well as the humble interior design of the room.

This project took me about 8 hours to do, which is completely ridiculous. :0] It will NOT take you that long to do. I had multiple compounding issues such as:

  • I had 4 frames and 21 drawers to paint.
  • Some of my storage units were in a basement that had mice and the mice had gotten in and all over everything, plus some of these had been in an attic that had some bugs, so I felt extremely compelled to wash the heck out of these. Washing them was a problem in of itself, because when you wash the frames, water gets in between the rails that separate each drawer and even after drying them all off, the water would still drip out so I had to dry them 3 times.
  • Even though I know about overspray being a concern, I stupidly laid everything out at the same time so overspray powder got all over each piece. It was kind of dark in the garage and some of it I couldn’t see so this all caused 2 more problems.
  • The overspray of the blue frames got on the drawers that were getting painted white, since I couldn’t see this, the blue showed through and I ended up having to do 3 or 4 coats instead of 2.
  • The overspray also got on all parts of the drawers that I wasn’t even painting, so the clean up was enormous. Boy, the “What Not To Do” list is long.

I will explain in this tutorial how to save yourself a lot of time and grief.

I’m surprised how actually durable the paint ended up being. If you take your finger nail and try to scrape it, it will scratch, but even though I haven’t been super gentle using these, they have held up quite well. However, it’s only been a few days, but they’ve gotten used quite a bit.

If you missed my post that started this whole series, you can find it under My Big Move post.

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     Difficulty level- Easy


  • (2) RustOleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint & Primer- Midnight Blue | Satin
  • (2) RustOleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint & Primer- White | Flat
  • (2-4) 9 x12 drop cloths (depending whether you do this outside or inside-like a garage
  • Sand paper 600 grit
  • Rags
  • Latex Nitrile Gloves
  • Wood shims or scrap wood
  • Blue painters tape
  • Scrap cardboard – as large as your drawer
  • Olive oil- potentially (to clean up overflow)

Painted Plastic Drawers Tutorial Steps

Step 1 | Clean The Drawers:

First you will need to sand both the frames and the drawers. I’m assuming they are clean to begin with, unlike mine were. If they aren’t clean, then you should clean them after sanding.

So first, take your high grit sand paper and sand all the parts you will be painting. I didn’t worry about painting anything but the drawer fronts, and part of the sides of the drawers that were visible in front of the frame. Then for the frames, I only sanded the tops, the rail that the drawer sits on, the rails between the drawers and the sides.

After sanding, wipe down with a rag to get the dust off. If you need to clean them, try to do it with a wet rag, rather than immersing everything in a tub. This way you will be able to dry off everything easily.

Step 2 | Prep For Painting:

I don’t have a photo of this because it’s one of the many missteps I took, but follow these instructions and you’ll do great.

Prepping for painting. After sanding, you will lay out your paint station. Since spray paint particles are very fine and will blow all around, you must protect everything around, especially your other pieces. Think Dexter! Seriously, if you half-a** this part you’ll regret it. :0}

Take 1 drop cloth and cut it onto as may squares as you have drawers and frames (each square just needs to be the size of the piece you are painting. Each time you lay a piece on the ground to paint, you will want a fresh piece underneath.

Outdoor set-up:
You can do this outside, but only if there is no wind. You don’t want dust getting on your freshly painted surfaces. This is a good option if it’s not a humid day and the temps are mild. Check the can for specifics. Make sure there’s nothing in a 15ft radius, and if so, then you only need one drop cloth and your cut squares. Make sure your unpainted and freshly painted pieces are nowhere near the piece you are spraying.

Garage/Indoor set-up:
Here you will need possibly a few drop cloths. Have one for the floor, one that you will cut up for underneath the pieces (see above), one for behind the piece you are spraying, and possibly one to protect whatever is on each side. Make sure both your unpainted and freshly painted pieces are nowhere near the piece you are spraying.

Now take blue tape and tape the inside front edge of the drawer. Additionally and important! Use a piece of cardboard to lay on top the inside of the drawer so you don’t get paint inside. Prop up the piece a bit with some shims or scrap wood so it doesn’t stick to the plastic.

Step 3 | Paint The Plastic Drawers:

plastic drawers ready for paint

painting plastic storage drawers

white painted plastic drawers

Painting- make sure to shake the can for a full minute. Then with wide sweeping strokes, spray in a back and forth motion, about 12-18” from the piece. Don’t get too close or you will get drips. After you have finishes, wait just a few minutes and then do the second coat. That is all it should need. Wait about 24 hours before re-assembling all the drawers.

Final Step: Re-assemble The Drawers:

Did you notice the cool concrete drawer labels? Stay tuned for my post on how to make these concrete labels!