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How to Refinish Old Refrigerator Wire Shelves

Updated February 21, 2017

If the wire shelves in your refrigerator are tarnished or rusty, breathe new life into them by applying a brand new finish. Unfortunately, wire shelves don't accept new finishes easily. A metal-etching base primer can combat this problem and promote a durable finish that will last and last. If the shelves are rusted, an ordinary etching primer will allow a recurrence. For best results, choose an etching-base equipped with rust-inhibiting properties.

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  1. Remove the shelves from the refrigerator and take them outdoors.

  2. Wash the old wire refrigerator shelves. Grease, oil and food particles will inhibit adhesion. Thoroughly scrub the wire shelves with a coarse steel wool pad.

  3. Rinse the shelves with a garden hose. Place them flat on a canvas dust sheet and let them dry under the sun for two hours.

  4. Coat the wire refrigerator shelves with etching primer. Be sure the primer has rust-inhibiting qualities. Maintain 8 inches between the wire and spray tip to prevent runs and sags.

  5. Let the shelves dry for on hour. Flip them over and prime the other side. Let the final coat of etching primer dry for two hours.

  6. Finish the wire refrigerator shelves as you primed them. For lasting, attractive results, apply an appliance epoxy. Let the shelves dry for two hours before returning them to the refrigerator.

  7. Warning

    Latex primer won't bond to wire refrigerator shelves. Latex paint won't prove durable when used on a refrigerator shelf.

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Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreasing soap
  • Steel wool
  • Water hose
  • Canvas dust sheet
  • Rust-inhibiting metal-etching spray primer
  • Appliance epoxy spray paint

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

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