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Geneva Metal Kitchen Cabinets: Painting, Removing Dents, Replacement Handles


Q. I have a 3D printer but I'm not super skilled at its use, and I'm wondering if anyone has files to make those plastic inserts (as they're being called here). I found something on Thingiverse, but it's not quite right--it's got right angle edges, not curves. Thanks in advance.

Kathy Howard
- Las Cruces, New Mexico
September 6, 2022

A. If someone would post a good picture it would probably help. Some of us who don't have Geneva cabinets have seen various metal and plastic shelf holders elsewhere but have no clue whether they'd be appropriate for a Geneva metal cabinet.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Closely related historical posts, oldest first ...



Q. My metal kitchen cabinets are from the 1950s or earlier. I would like to paint them since I cannot afford to replace them. They are in good shape but they are ugly. Someone told me there is a no prep metal paint that requires no preparation of the surface - just paint it on. If this does not exist is there an adhesive type primer I can use before I paint and not have to strip or sand the cabinets?

Susan L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Gloucester City, New Jersey

Q. I also have metal kitchen cabinets that I would like to paint. They are Geneva cabinets and in very good condition, but awful color. Any ideas on how to best do this and the type of paint to use will be appreciated.

David D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Bowling Green, Kentucky

Q. I have Geneva cabinets that are from the 1950's. They are white and in great shape except for the ugly paint. We are trying to redo the kitchen and keep it as retro as possible. What can I use?

Nancy J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Nebraska City, Nebraska

Q. We have Youngstown 1950's to 1960's vintage cabinets. They have been repainted with an enamel paint and the paint has adhered well but need refreshed again (white). What brands of primer/paint would you suggest ? Do I need to use both, or is there a self-adhering paint that will work ? Also, is it true that I should be looking for an auto body paint, or would an enamel paint be sufficient ?

Cheri Head
Consumer - Geneva, Nebraska

A. We have Geneva Metal Cabinets in our kitchen and we had a company come and spray paint the inside and outside. They did a great job. I believe they used a special sprayer and paint for working on metal. They look great and were finished in a few hours. Well worth the money since we can't afford to gut the kitchen. I would look under appliance and metal painters in the phone book. Our guy was local to our area.

Carmelina Mattera
- St. Louis, Missouri

A. When you don't really care how much it costs, you can do as I did with the 15 piece Geneva Kitchen I salvaged: Disassembled all chrome and plastic, Soda blast to bare metal ($3000) and powder coat ($3200),then reassemble.

Robert Srour
- Rockville, Maryland

A. I also have a kitchen that featured metal cabinets made by Geneva. They were dirty and ugly. After cleaning them up, I used a roll-on, epoxy appliance paint manufactured by Rustoleum. When you roll the paint on, the surface will be covered with tiny bubbles. This freaked me out at first. As the bubbles began to pop (immediately after application) they formed a nice, orange peel texture. It took two coats of white appliance paint to cover. I love the result.

My cabinets have white, plastic inserts that fit behind the chrome handles. I painted these with white spray paint intended for plastic to clean them up a bit. They also turned out great.

Susan Eastin
- De Smet, South Dakota

Q. Sirs:
I have the ugly green cabinets Geneva Metal. I have lived in the house for 50 years and cannot afford to replace a new kitchen. How can I have these painted?

Shirley Chamberlain
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
February 14, 2008

A. I have Geneva Metal cabinets in great condition and I can not justify replacing them. I have painted them with regular acrylic paints - use a sponge, not a brush - and then polyurethaned them. You can get a low odor, flat to gloss finish with the polyurethane. My parents and my aunt have both painted their cabinets with different methods, but have not had my success with durability. My aunt had her's sanded down to the metal, primed and painted with car paint. These cabinets started to yellow and degrade within a couple of years. My parents sanded and sprayed their cabinets with an initial great finish, but, alas, they too, started to yellow and the paint is wearing off as we speak (or, rather, read). Painting with the acrylics and polyurethaning has had the most lasting effects. Painting with a sponge is scary, but the air bubbles "dried out" and the finish is a matte finish that is very smooth. The polyurethane just makes the cabinets very cleanable. From the voice of twenty years of experience...

Lori Hart
- Franklin, Pennsylvania

Q. I was wondering where you had your cabinets repainted. I have a great set, as we bought a house previous GENEVA salesman. Sorry, no extra parts, but I do DESPERATELY need to know where to get my cabinets painted. Thanks!

Luby Kelley
- Crestwood, Missouri
June 2, 2008

A. Hi, Luby. Any auto body shop (collision repair shop) will have the right equipment and the competent people to spray the cabinets. Although not all auto body shops want to do that kind of work, some are happy to.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I have Geneva cabinets in my kitchen that were installed in 1951 by the original owner. We have had them painted twice using epoxy paint.They did wonderfully and I am considering painting them again. The shelves are coated wire so no bugs on the shelves and you can see up into the top shelf easily. If you use epoxy paint you must not stay in the house for 24 hours as the fumes are toxic.

Charlotte Wolfe
- Savannah, Tennessee

Q. My question is, I have purple St. Charles metal cabinet that are in great condition, need advise on changing colors.

Jomain Brown
- Lake Charles, Louisiana
June 30, 2009

A. Hi, Jomain. Just scrub them with detergent to remove any film of kitchen grease, very lightly sand them to remove some of the gloss from the existing paint, and spray them with a rattle can of paint. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Air Compressor

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A. Okay, well, I painted these myself. I have the textured fronts and smooth sides and I am not a painter but with a small air compressor and a gravity feed paint gun and some 1-step auto paint, this did an awesome job. I however removed all the cabinets to the garage and lightly scuffed them with a green scuff pad, prepped the surface with some cleaner used for auto paint, and taught myself how to do this... and only one paint run on the whole job.

Dave Kavana
- Marthasville, Missouri, USA
November 28, 2012

Need handles and inserts for Geneva Metal Cabinets





Q. Need handles and inserts for Geneva metal cabinets [circa 1953]

I have white metal Geneva cabinets with plastic inserts that chrome handles fit into. I want to know if there is a source for parts for these cabinets.

Michael Cooney
Homeowner - St Louis, Missouri

August 31, 2008

Q. I am also in need of the plastic inserts! Can anyone help?

Angela Murray
- Falls Creek, Pennsylvania
March 22, 2008

Q. I am looking for a response to the questions from others looking for plastic inserts for metal Geneva Cabinets. Thank you, Jim

James H McRoy
- Southbridge, Massachusetts
September 8, 2008

Need clips for wire shelves in Geneva Cabinets

Q. We are looking for special clips that hold wire shelves in Geneva Cabinets. Any ideas? Thanks!

Martha Gallagher
Hobbyist - Sandwich, Massachusetts
September 2, 2008

Q. Looking for Geneva metal kitchen cabinet hinges... used or new....can anyone help.

Thank you!

William Colby
architect - Montville, New Jersey
October 15, 2008

Q. I'm in the process of re-organizing my kitchen and find I could use more shelves in my upper cabinets.

The majority are 24" cabinets with the slats in the back. Any idea where I might find some?

Fia Swartwood
hobbyist - Olathe, Kan, USA
October 21, 2008

Q. I, too, am looking for white plastic inserts for Geneva cabinets. I have looked everywhere I can think of, including local salvage warehouses, but with no luck. Anybody have any suggestions?

Margret Schnitzer
- Baltimore, Maryland
February 5, 2009

Q. We are in need of the plastic pieces for our cabinets. Does anyone know where we can purchase some?

Julie Taylor
home owner - Crawfordsville, Indiana
April 23, 2009

Ed. note: Craigslist and E-bay are possible places to look. Good luck.

Q. I also have 60 year old Geneva cabinets, and would like to repaint them. I need new handles, however. Does anyone have a source for these? Thank you.

Amy Medeiros
- Arlington, Virginia, USA
December 29, 2010

Q. Hi,
I have a set of vintage Geneva cabinets that have a couple of styles of handles, and some missing handles. Does anyone know where to get the original style of handles? I have not been successful finding any handles. Does anyone have ideas on what I could replace all of them with? There are holes in the doors, where the plastic inserts fit. I cannot use just regular handles.

Thank you

Janine Lee
- Grand Ledge, Michigan, USA
February 10, 2013

A. I found this recommendation and link earlier from several people that were looking for replacement parts for old metal kitchen cabinets. Am going to contact them to find replacement sliders for drawers in my own similar cabinets.


Susan Raguse
- Cedar Michigan USA
April 4, 2016

Q. We have beautifully redone white Geneva cabinets that we love, but we are wondering how one would go about repairing a dent?


Terry Ross
- St. Louis, Missouri
March 30, 2008

Dent Out

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Q. I am just wanting to know if there was any response to the question about removing a dent from a metal cabinet?

Elizabeth A Bates
- Garwin, Iowa
September 10, 2008

Q. Any idea on the fixing of dented Geneva cabinets?

Sally Costik
- Bradford, Pennsylvania, USA
August 23, 2010

A. Hi folks. Removing a dent from a metal cabinet is probably very little different from removing a dent from a car, so you can google for endless advice. But just as most people will make a mess of it if they try to fix a dent in a car -- leaving crinkles or ripped metal, they'll probably make the same mess of it with a metal cabinet.

The best way is probably to find a shop which does body work and repainting. Baring that, you'll probably have to read a lot but -- mostly -- practice on scrap metal before trying your hand on actual cabinets and ruining them.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I am a painting contractor and have finished numerous Geneva Cabinets over the years. I find the best way is to give a good cleaning, light 220 sand, prime and paint with a quality gloss or semi-gloss. No need for epoxies or any of that crazy stuff. We have found an HVLP turbine sprayer similar to the auto shops to be best. There are numerous products that will spray well and will last. One thing, we do isolate the room and use a negative air machine to withdraw airborne particles and keep odor from migrating into the house. Also the sprayer should be wearing proper respiratory protection.
I guess a talented homeowner could attempt but I would leave it to the pro's as even a lot of my competitors stay away from this as they need auto body talent mechanics.

If approved, I will post some photo's of before, during and after.

As for the dents, just like auto body, use Bondo

Price: for full protection, containment, prep, prime, paint, replace hardware, and final clean. My usual price for a normal kitchen is $1,750.00. I may even be too cheap.

David E. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Plainview, New York, USA
December 15, 2011

Ed. note: Thanks for the excellent technical information, David! Sorry, but this is a public forum and we don't put readers into contact with each other ( huh? why?). Supporting advertisers make the forum possible and the site would drown under spam in a week if companies could advertise their services for free here.

Disassembly of Geneva Countertops?

Q. I have also refinished and am looking for 4 plastic handle backs. I think these cabinets are great, but has anyone out there replaced the counter tops. I want to replace them. How do we disconnect the original ones and attach the new?

Yvonne Frydenlund
- DeForest, Wisconsin
June 4, 2008

Come to Fresh Meadows for Geneva Cabinets

! If anyone is that interested in Geneva cabinets from the late 40's early 50's come to fresh meadows queens(new york). Fresh meadows apartments complex houses 3000 families and many of the kitchens still have Geneva kitchen cabinets. Fresh meadows recently began gutting out the kitchens after tenants move out and most likely throw away the Geneva kitchen cabinets.

Ryan S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Fresh Meadows, Long Island, New York
August 3, 2009

A. Hey I live in Fresh Meadows and yes the guy above me is right. I have seen them toss out the metal cabinets and placing in wood ones. But I did find an image of someone who painted their metal cabinets. Look at the "before" image:


Lena [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fresh Meadows, New York

"How to Make Money with 3-D Printing"
by Jeffrey Ito
from Abe Books

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3-D Printer

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thumbs up signHello Folks,
I also have a full compliment of beautiful and rare Geneva Metal Cabinets in the house that I just purchased... I was told by a gentleman on another forum that the cabinets in my house were rare because they have rounded doors vs. square ones... not to mention that they still have the original stickers and I even found the original blueprint in a closet!

Dennis Whitnall
- St. Louis, Missouri
April 25, 2010

How about 3D Printing of replacement handles for Geneva kitchen cabinets?

Q. We've just had our Geneva cabinets repainted (first update in decades as far as I could tell). Some of the handles are discolored and chipped so we are thinking of having replacements 3-D printed. Let me know if anyone has tried this.

Libby McDuffee
- Nashville, Tennessee USA
January 9, 2015

Painting frames that cannot be removed on Geneva metal cabinets

Q. I am in the process of having an auto body shop strip and repaint my Geneva metal cabinets. The cabinets and doors have been completed in a high gloss metallic. They are gorgeous. I now am left with the challenge of their coming to the house to try to spray or brush paint the 2" frames that are not removable as well as to figure out how to remove the Lazy Susan to spray paint. Any recommendations are appreciated.

Donna Halloran
hobbyist - Northborough, Massachusetts USA
April 16, 2016

A. Hi Donna. The powder coating shop may have or be able to make touch-up paint to use as your topcoat which will quite closely match your cabinets.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. I have a huge kitchen, 14x25. My house is from the 1850's. When we bought the house it had no cabinets in the kitchen just a stove. 5 years ago I acquired a bunch of Geneva cabinets.
As a D-I-Y-er, I sanded all the cabinets down with 220 and heavier grit where kitchen food had gotten into space between old cabinets. All work done in the garage. Use masks and eye protection when working on the cabinets. After repairing and making sure the cabinets looked good, I sprayed them with rustoleum hammer primer/ paint. They look fantastic and are easy to wipe down. If a door gets scratched or paint gives an issue, remove the door, repaint. 5 years haven't had to yet. 29 cabinets, 750 dollars paint and supplies, a little over 30 man hours. I spread the time out over a few weeks. A lot a paint colors to choose from.

john ludka
- west warwick Rhode Island usa

Q. I have just moved into a house that has Geneva kitchen cabinets. The cabinets were originally harvest gold and have since been painted twice. The original handles and hardware on the cabinets were removed at some point and new hardware was added. When the new hardware was added, new holes were drilled into the doors and drawers. The new handles covered the original holes. Is it possible to patch up the two sets of screw holes and start over?

Margaret Warnusz
- St. Louis, Missouri, USA
March 6, 2017


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A. Hi Margaret. Auto body shops can do much more complicated repairs than that with simple body filler. You can certainly do it yourself if you have the patience to do the proper sanding. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. One of the drawers in our 1950s Geneva metal kitchen cabinets has a broken roller. Any suggestions on how to fix it?

Also, I am contemplating having a company come in and spray the cabinets electrostatically. Should I have inside and outside done or only inside. Insides are in good condition.
Any suggestions for good electrostatic painting company in Chicago area?

Holly Reiter
- Chicago, Illinois USA
January 3, 2018

Ed. note: Sorry, we can't post suggestions of painting companies (huh? why?). There are sites better suited to sourcing home contractors like Angieslist and HomeAdvisor.

A. You can get rollers for Geneva Cabinet drawers at Home Depot - 1 1/8 inch nylon. To install, you need to pry off the bolt at the front of the rail that holds the drawer by sticking a thin but sturdy spatula under the bolt and pulling until it comes out. Then you can lift the rail off the back holes on the cabinet itself.
Next you need to grind off (go to an auto body shop if you don't have a grinder yourself) the piece holding the wheel so that you have a completely flat hole. You need to grind on the front and the back to get rid of all raised areas. This is very impt. Your hole will be much bigger than the screw holding the wheel.
Then go to a local (old style) hardware store and experiment with different washers until you find a good fit to hold the new wheel securely in the rail. it took us 1/2 hr of experimentation. We found three washers - two different size washers with teeth and one other (can't remember which type) to be best.

Holly Reiter [returning]
- Chicago
August 9, 2021

Q. I have a drawer with the Geneva Modern Kitchen label and I've been trying to find out some information about it. It is a green drawer that slides open but has a top that raises.
I have pictures if that would help identify.


Any help would help.

Linda Smith
- Show Low, Arizona
May 25, 2020

A. Hi Linda. You can do a web search for "Geneva metal cabinets" or "postwar metal cabinets" and (after wading through stuff for sale) you'll find several websites offering some history.

Your specific item does seem strange, opening both with a hinge on top and as a drawer; I don't understand why. I suspect it may just be just a joke conversation piece where someone took a medicine cabinet style Geneva item and reworked the standard parts to add a drawer.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. We have Geneva metal cabinets in a house we are renovating and I'm looking for the plastic insert for the cabinets. I have all the metal handles but a few of the plastic inserts have split apart.
Please let me know if you have any idea where I can find the plastic insert.
Kind regards

Stephanie Parker
- Meeker, Colorado
August 9, 2020

A. Hi Stephanie. You are the 7th person to ask on this page, and I'll bet a lot of readers didn't bother asking after seeing the question left unanswered 6 times :-)

I'm sure a local plastics fabricator could easily make them, or a guy with a 3-D printer could as well; but if you can put up with endless running in circles first, exhibiting more patience than me, google might find you a supplier :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I can't figure out how to adjust the lazy susan in my Geneva kitchen cabinets. It's scraping against the base and I need to adjust it before painting. I've searched online, but find nothing so far like what I have. Would appreciate guidance please.

"Crystal Clark"
Owner of my home - VAN WERT [Ohio?]
July 27, 2021

A. Hi "Ms. Clark". If you find nothing like it online it sounds unlikely that people can properly envision what it looks like or how to adjust it. Please send a photo or two to mooney@finishing.com for posting here, and give us a fighting chance :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I live in an apartment building that opened in 1967, and my unit has the original Geneva metal cabinets (originally "harvest gold" and painted over twice).

I would like to remove the enamel paint and return to the original finish. Are these cabinets powder coated? Would chemical stripper destroy the original finish? I am looking at various methods to strip the cabinets, and have already nixed the idea of sanding.

Any direction on accomplishing my goal would be appreciated.

Carolyn Madsen
homemaker - Colorado Springs, Colorado
August 31, 2021

A. Hi Carolyn. You can certainly try various paint removers in inconspicuous spots if you wish. But personally I don't think it's a realistic project trying to remove two layers of paint while leaving the third unharmed. A dab of a vandal's paint removed from a Masterpiece by an art specialist for five figures maybe ... but all the non-original paint from metal cabinets? Unfortunately, I doubt it. Maybe someone else will be more encouraging.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. Try various solvents and solvent mixtures too (9 parts water, 0.9 parts alcohol, 0.1 part ammonia 25%), acetone, white spirit, toluene, 3 parts acetone/1 part ammonia 25%).
Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski Vrh 157, Croatia

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