How to Change a Cupboard Into a Filing Cabinet

red office #2 image by Val Thoermer from

You need a place to keep your bills and other paperwork, or maybe a spot to organise files in a home office. Find a piece of furniture in your home that you no longer have a need for and you may have found the perfect solution. An empty cupboard or cabinet in your house is an innovative place to store your home office files. You can convert an old cupboard into a home filing cabinet with just a few simple modifications. A coat of paint and some new hardware will give the cupboard brand new life and will inspire you to get organised.

Clean the cupboard thoroughly with ammonia-based cleaner. Make sure to remove all grease and grime from the surface of the cabinet.

Sand the cabinet with medium-grit sandpaper. Use a palm sander to make the job quicker and to make the final sanding smoother. Palm sanders are available at most hardware stores for about £19. Sand the entire cabinet. Wipe away sanding dust with a damp rag.

Paint the cupboard with any colour paint. Use enamel paint with a high gloss to mimic the appearance of a high-end filing cabinet. Paint the corners and crevices with a trim brush. Paint the larger portions of the cupboard with a foam roller. Enamel paint works well with foam rollers because you can apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Apply multiple thin coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Add sliding file rails to the drawers of the cupboard. Use screws and a screw driver to install the rails. Drawers should be at least 11.5 inches deep to accommodate files. Pre-drill holes in the front and back panels of each drawer. Insert screws through the holes in the rails and attach the rails to the drawer. Insert hanging file folders onto the rails.

Assemble a file box or file frame to sit inside the cupboard. File boxes will be more versatile and will allow you to stack multiple boxes on top of one another. Installing file rails will give you easier access to your files, but you will not be able to stack the frames on top of one another. Attach rails to the base of the cupboard with screws. Pre-drill the holes with an electric drill. Insert screws through the base of the frame into the wooden bottom of the cupboard.

Install new hardware on the cupboard. Use filing cabinet style hardware with paper tags to mimic the look of a traditional filing cabinet. Label each tag to indicate the contents of the drawer or door.

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