Your office at home doesn't have to look like this.

How to Cover a Metal Cabinet With Fabric

by Brigette Brown

The boring, monochromatic colors of the corporate office don’t need to make an appearance your home. Redecorating is one way to make the time you spend working in your home office or studio a more enjoyable experience. Start by turning that gray or beige metal file cabinet into something fun and funky. Cover those drab cabinets with fabric -- it's a fun and easy way to change the style and personality of your workspace without all of the mess of paint.

Measure the surface of the cabinet you want to cover and write the numbers down, leaving an extra inch for folding over the edges. Multiply to figure the amount of fabric you'll need. Covering the entire file cabinet isn’t necessary if not all of it can be seen, but you might want to if you think you may move the cabinet in the future. Use one long piece of fabric to cover the sides and top for easier application and cleaner lines.

Measure your fabric and mark the backside with a fabric pencil, using a straightedge.

Cut the fabric as straight as you can. Straight cuts provide cleaner finished products.

Remove the drawers and unscrew the handles and anything else that obstructs the cabinet's surface. Clean the file cabinet with a damp paper towel or lint-free rag to rid the exterior of any dust and debris.

Spray the cabinet with spray adhesive, following the instructions on the can, and smooth the fabric onto the surface with a thin, rigid tool such as a putty knife or credit card to work out bubbles and wrinkles. Turn any raw edges under. Wear a mask during the application process to keep from inhaling the fumes from the adhesive.

Set the adhesive by allowing it to dry for 12 hours, or as directed on the can, before putting the handles and drawers back in.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Spray adhesive
  • Straightedge
  • Thin, rigid tool such as putty knife or credit card
  • Pinking sheers or fabric scissors
  • Lightweight fabric such as cotton or polyester
  • Fabric pencil, chalk or pen
  • Paper towel or microfiber rag
  • Face mask


  • Choose a fabric that will coordinate with your color scheme and decor. Don’t be afraid to use bold graphic patterns.
  • Take your time when applying the fabric to prevent mistakes.
  • Add photos, magnets, rope and pieces of fabric to achieve a unique and personal look.


  • Read and follow the directions on your spray adhesive. Use in a well-ventilated room and wear a mask, or do the application process outside.

About the Author

Brigette Brown is a writer and editor from Southern California. She's a graduate of the MFA Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts and enjoys writing about design, architecture, art and museums. Brown has been published in "Surface Magazine" and "Taking the Lane."

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images