Our refrigerator is almost 55 years old and over the years, has seen a lot of wear and tear. It had the usual collection of minor dents and dings, along with a long scratch that Grandma made in the door some 25 years ago.
When it comes to repairing a scratch in an old kitchen appliance, there’s really only three options available. The first is to hire a professional to restore the finish, which may cost more than what the appliance is worth. A second option is to try to restore the appliance yourself. This can be done by completely stripping the surface of the appliance, lightly sanding with steel wool until the surface is smooth to the touch and then gently spraying with enamel paint. This sounds easy but takes patience, a skilled hand, and a well ventilated room that is free of dust and floating debris.
The third solution which is both the easiest and least expensive way to repair an appliance scratch is with a do-it-yourself enamel repair kit. Do-it-yourself enamel repair kits are available in a wide range of colors and prices, with most kits starting at $9.99. These kits typically contain a small vial of enamel paint, an applicator, some sandpaper, and instructions.
To repair the scratch in our refrigerator, we first washed the scratched area with a mild cleanser, and then wiped away any loose particles of enamel paint. The scratch was towel dried and lightly sanded with the abrasive cloth included in the kit. Once the area was sanded and felt smooth to the touch, we let the door dry overnight to avoid trapping residual moisture behind the paint. The following morning, we applied the paint using the applicator and let it dry for 24 hours. It was that simple.
There is one trick to touching up an enamel appliance that makes the repair look a little less obvious. Instead of painting the enamel as if you are applying nail polish, try using a “stipple” technique instead. Stippling is method of painting using dots of color to paint with instead of brush strokes. Applying white dots within the scratched area will break up the reflective surface of the new paint and make it less obvious. By stippling the scratch in our refrigerator, we were pleased to see that from three feet away, the touch up was very difficult to see. It’s been nearly 12 years since we’ve touched up the paint on our refrigerator and the repair still looks as good as ever.
Of course, a $9.99 patch job isn’t going to look as fabulous as a $500 restoration. But for a family on a budget, it’s a great alternative to mending an ugly scratch. Do-it-yourself enamel repair kits are available in hardware stores and home improvement stores.