Tutorial Tuesday – Microwave Makeover!

Guys.  Hold on to your wigs and hug your loved-ones tight.  I actually got Ryan to write up the post for the microwave makeover he did.  I did add some editorial comments – I couldn’t stop myself.  Ryan…take it away…

Alright, so we don’t have the nicest looking kitchen. It could be worse, but it could also be a million times better. So, forgiving the overall un-greatness of the kitchen, there is still one glaring eyesore that over the years we have tried to trick our eyes into not noticing. Submitted for your approval, a microwave. Once white, clean, and uncracked, now worn from years of sunlight and turned a color of yellow only previously seen on the teeth of a chain-smoking coffee addict who’s allergic to toothpaste. I warn you, what you are about to see is not for the weak-stomached or faint of heart.BeforeCrackYeah, pretty rough, right!? But we’re renters so what can we do? I can only imagine what good calling the landlord would do.

[Ring ring]

Me: “Hey how are you doing? It’s me, the never-complains-about-anything-and-always-pays-on-time renter :)” [Ed note – Ryan ends all text messages with a smiley face to depict his overall niceness, so he apparently felt the need to convey that here.]

Landlord: “Yeah, what do you want?”

Me: “Well I was wondering if it would be possible to get a new microwave.”

Landlord: “What’s wrong with the one that’s there now?”

Me: “Well it’s old and gross-looking. It’s cracked really badly and pieces are falling off.”

Landlord: “Does it still work?”

Me: “Yes it st . . . [dial tone]”

So the first thing I did was resolve myself not to ask or tell the landlord anything. Better to ask forgiveness, right? Then I decided to go look at spray paint colors at Home Depot. I thought about going with something interesting or unique, like a red or blue [Ed. note – I hope he meant orange or turquoise because he’d be nuts to think I’d like red or blue – what is this, a day at the yacht club?  Should I wear my anchor earrings?], but then decided that since it’s not my microwave, I’d just go with something that would be generally accepted and that if the landlord saw it, he’d like it (fingers crossed). So I found this:

Rust-OleumIt bonds well to plastic and is a paint and primer, so it’ll cover over old color well and stick. Also, while not fooling anyone, it will hopefully have the look of a stainless steel microwave. Whatever color you choose I would recommend that it be rated to stick to plastic and be glossy. This paint was only a few bucks at Home Depot, but for a little more money I’m sure you can go to a paint store and order a custom color spray paint.

So, step one –  as our microwave is over the stove (as many are),  it has accumulated plenty of grease. There are a lot of degreasers you can buy at the store, but most of us already have a cheaper and effective degreaser in the kitchen.

CleaningThat’s right, warm water and dish soap will work fine. Just make sure you scrub and clean until it’s gone. YOU CANNOT PAINT ON TOP OF GREASE. Once you have it all off, give it one more wipe down with clean water.

Next, since I had cracks and a completely loose piece on the front that I could take right off, I super glued the pieces back together as best I could. Then let them dry. Hopefully you won’t have any cracks, as this is the only tricky part of this project.Super GlueNow that the pieces are stuck together, you can still see the cracks. And in my case, the pieces didn’t fit together smoothly, so the surface is actually uneven. So I took some Bondo and fixed it up. If you haven’t used it before, you’ll be amazed at how nice it is to use. It dries fast and sands down nicely. You just slather it on in thin coats until it’s built out enough, let it dry between coats, then sand it down with a 200 grit sanding block until it has the shape you want. Then put another thin coat over it and sand it down with some 400 grit sandpaper until it’s nice and smooth. Keep putting coats and sanding until it’s smooth. Otherwise every single uneven edge or pit will glare at you after you’ve painted. Trust me, you might think the paint will hide or cover over a little imperfection, but in fact it will accentuate it.BondoApplying BondoSandpaperSanded BondoBy the way, this is messy and it would be ideal to remove the microwave for this whole project. But if it’s too much work to do, just make sure you put plastic on everything around and tell yourself you’re okay with some dust.

Next I was able to remove the vent cover at the top and paint it outside. Then I taped off and put plastic on everything that I did not want to get painted. I forgot to take a picture after I had done this, but I’m sure you get it. As a side note, I found some cheap blue tape at Big Lots and was happy to save some money, but then ended up having to rip it all off since it didn’t stick well. I then went with FrogTape.  It costs a dollar or two more than good blue tape, but sticks really well and makes for very clean lines.

BE AWARE! Spray painting indoors creates a cloud of paint that will float in the air and land a good 15 feet away from where you’re spraying. It doesn’t stick, but it is a fine, colored dust that will need to be cleaned. Especially in the kitchen, cover or remove canisters containing edibles, cooking utensils, toasters, coffee makers, etc.  You get it. Don’t be stingy with the plastic!

Then to painting. Make sure you don’t spray too close to the surface your painting or you will get drips and runs. If this happens, let the paint dry and sand down the unevenness with 400 grit sand paper. Paint in thin even coats allowing some dry time between coats until it looks the way you want. I chose not to paint the underside of the microwave since you can’t really see it and I wasn’t sure how the paint would hold up with the heat of the stove. They do make paint that is designed specifically for hot areas if you want to go with something like that.


I painted in two phases. One phase with the door open and the inside all taped off to get to areas that could not be sprayed with the door closed. And then another phase with the door closed.

All in all it was a casual 6 to 8 hours of work and ended up costing about $25. So without further ado, I give you the finished product.

First the before.Before 3And now the after.AfterOpen doorI did not have high hopes for this project. But I figured I couldn’t make this thing look any worse. And it turned out way better than expected! The before was even worse in person than in the picture, and the afters are even BETTER in person than in the pictures! It’s been about a month since I did this and after using the stove plenty of times, the paint shows no signs of loosening or bubbling.

Overall, this is a fairly easy project that can be done in a day. I would do this again without any hesitation. And you should’ve seen Lizzie’s face when I surprised her with this simple microwave remodel. [Ed. note – for one split second, my heart turned human again. It’s glorious!  The microwave, not my stoney heart.]

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  1. Joy
    Posted May 13, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    It IS glorious. Great job, Ryan!

  2. Raffaella
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

    Amazing job!

  3. Bre
    Posted December 4, 2014 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    Love it u should pin to Pinterest. I have a huge ugly “white” micro that I wall be doing. Thanks