Welcome to another edition of the Projectophile series, “Yes, You Can Paint That!” where we find new and unusual things to paint.
This past weekend, Scott went on a trip by himself to a city multiple time zones away. It was the longest he’d been away from the family, and I marked the occasion by feeding the kids a lot of (fully cooked) frozen pizza, and sleeping sideways across our bed, sometimes with my shoes and the lights still on. I would make a terrible bachelor.
I wanted to surprise Scott when he got home. Not a “Surprise, I got my teeth fixed!” sort of way. More like, “That’ll teach you to leave me alone for 4 days with a fresh supply of white spray paint” sort of way. But in a good way.
Lately I had noticed something askew in our kitchen, color-wise. We’d managed to match the new fridge and shelving to the existing 1950s white sink, stove and cabinets. But then there was the microwave. The microwave already felt out of place in our (mostly) period kitchen, like a satellite dish in a Norman Rockwell painting.
And worst of all, it was black, sucking all the gleaming whiteness out of the room. Suddenly, while heating up another frozen pizza, a spray-paint shaped light bulb metaphorically appeared over my head. SPRAY PAINT!
Can you spray paint a microwave? Nobody really knows for sure – the Internet was silent on the issue* – so it was up to me to find out.
STEP ONE – PREPARE: Slide all the crap off the top of your microwave. For our family, the top of the fridge/microwave is the best spot to hide things from the kids, or hide things from ourselves, or from each other. You’d be amazed at what ends up in that sweet spot between adult arm-reach and adult eye-level: candy, permanent markers, past-due utility bills, but mostly candy.
Now give your microwave a sponge bath with dish soap and hot water. It has probably grown a thick coat of FurGrease™, my trademarked name for the grey layer of dust and debris that clings to the airborne grease on your exposed kitchen appliances.
Don’t forget to pull out the glass turntable, since it will inevitably fall out and shatter while you carry the microwave to your scary back porch. Try explaining that to your jet-setting husband.
Next, cover up any sensitive parts. I found it easiest just to tape off the front door and control panel, which attach to the body of the microwave in one continuous line. While that leaves some black showing, there’s also enough chrome to pay homage to the vintage stove.
Just before you grab the paint can, slip on your painting pants, or what Sam (age 3) now calls my “embarrassing pants,” because I refuse to pop out and say hi to the neighbors in the morning if I’m wearing them.
No – of course they’re not sweatpants from the bargain bin at Walgreen’s. I’d like to think of them as thick cotton “harem pants;”in this case the harem is full of antsy housewives and an ample supply of spray paint.
STEP TWO – PAINT: Hold the can about a foot from the microwave and spray in a continuous, fluid motion. Don’t hover over a certain spot, keep it moving!
If possible, keep the paint flowing the entire time as you swoop over your appliance. You may start to feel an ache in your wrist—ignore it. Some of the best things in life cause sore wrists.
While you’re waiting for the paint to dry, go ahead and reheat that cup … uh, never mind. Enjoy a cup of room-temperature coffee! After about an hour you can peel off the protection to see how you did:
Not bad! After a few more hours you can safely return the microwave to its perch on top of the fridge.
Time to admire your work from a few different angles, how it blends seamlessly in with the rest of the Babushka kitchen, as if the refrigerator were merely wearing a festive top-hat.
STEP THREE – WAIT FOR YOUR HUSBAND TO NOTICE: This step can take anywhere from 12 hours to 6 months, based on the quality of your spouse. For extra excitement, casually shake your head “no” when he finally asks, “Honey, was this microwave always white?”
* Silence = acquiescence, but in a good way.
Looks good! My Grandmother won an Olympic medal for “My Husband has Gone Away” projects. Tired of his unfulfilled promises to replace the floor of their farmhouse, she waited until he went into The Big City to sell the pigs, pulled up all the floorboards and burned them in a bonfire they could see from the neighbour’s farm. When he came home, the choice was jump from joist to joist or replace the flooring.
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Wow, your Gram is a serious badass. I’m definitely going to add arson to the already potent mix of nagging, cajoling and occasionally shutting off the water supply.
My husband and I actually have complementary DIY skills — I’m better in woodwork and he’s better in plumbing. So, for example, I’ll refuse to make him the wood frame for his light box until he fixes the running toilet. We happily follow the Cold War tradition of Mutually Assured Destruction, home improvement edition. In this case, I’m not sure which of us is America and which is the USSR. But it’s this kind of tension that helps us all get to the moon faster.
What about ventilation holes (left and top side), did you just painted them over and let the paint to get inside? I think it would be easier to remove microwave’s cover and paint it separately. The only issue I had with my microwave, is that some of the screws are designed to keep you from disassembling it (something like this: http://web.tradekorea.com/upload_file2/sell/35/S00011735/torx_head_self_tapping_screw.jpg). Fortunaltely, iFixit toolkit (https://www.ifixit.com/Store/Tools/54-Bit-Driver-Kit/IF145-022-1) had fitting one, so no problems.
I love that link — “The key to getting inside modern hardware.”
I located some very tempting screws on the sides of the microwave, but did not have the courage to remove them.
The good news is that paint did not get inside any of the vents. I actually checked after a very light spraying. It helps that the vents were “pointed” down, so as long as the direction of the spray was above the level of the vents (which it was), I was fine. And I was very careful to use several very light (almost mist-like) coats to avoid any dripping, into the vents or otherwise.
And yes, I’ve used the microwave a bunch of times since then and everything seems intact. 90% of my microwave use is reheating coffee (don’t make that face), so if I’ve unleashed some toxic paint fume machine, it will probably only affect me.
Nice trick, I forgot about vents being punched out, that solves the mistery. Anyway, I assume that you’ll be fine, there is no really hot parts inside, it’s microwave, not an oven, after all.
I read this and immediately thought of our washing machine, also known as the Beast in the Basement. My husband had had it for many years before we got married, and was reluctant to replace it (why? why?)with my spanking clean, new, improved model, which we sold when I moved in. I have never regretted and missed any domestic appliance so much… The Beast is rusty, lurchy, leaky, ties everything in knots and puts flecks of a mystery greenish black substance all over my clean whites (but ONLY the whites, his dark blue work clothes are untouched). It’s also a nasty yellowish beige attractively festooned with creeping rust. I’d paint it, but I think it’s too late. one day, not too long from now, I’ll be engineering a terminal breakdown….
Kate, I think the only option at this point is sabotage. Life is too short for crummy appliances! Maybe “accidentally” leave a wrench in there? Or a grenade?
I keep trying to kill it by overloading, but all it does is lurch across the floor like Quasimodo and then smirk at me in a gloaty way…
The microwave looks terrific, Step three is too incredibly cute!