How to make a decorative fire extinguisher for home

Hopefully by now you know how important fire safety and prevention is for your home, but sometimes the reality doesn’t meet with ideals when it comes to home decor.

Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan and should be placed in your home on every floor.  If you’re going for the industrial/commercial look then a big red extinguisher might fit right in.  However, a little flair might be in order to finally make the plunge for wall-mounting your unit.

Before getting started, let’s talk about why we should and why we shouldn’t do this:

Pros

  • Allows safety and decor to coexist and complement each other
  • Given a choice between A) NOT having an extinguisher because it’s “ugly”, or B) having a decorative extinguisher, pick “B” every time!
  • Can be a talking piece and encourage others to install their own

Cons

  • If your establishment is required to meet fire extinguisher fire codes, this process is not for you as it modifies the unit and possibly removes safety instructions (for example, in-home daycare, etc. might need to meet commercial code)
  • In a fire situation, even those familiar with the non-standard fire extinguisher may panic and look for a standard red unit costing valuable time.  Also visitors, friends, babysitters, etc. will be less familiar with its look & location.

Original

Modified

fire-extinguisher-pro210 fire-extinguisher-pro210custom

Items Used

Kidde Pro 210 Fire Extinguisher, ABC
3M Paint Project Respirator
70% Iso Alcohol Pint
3M Rubbing Compound
AmazonBasics Thick Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Purple Nitrile Exam Gloves
Avery Color Printing Labels, 8.5 x 11 Inch (8255)
Home Depot 3M Pro Grade Precision 400 grit
Home Depot 3M Imperial Wetordry 800 grit
Home Depot Plastic bag
Home Depot Painters tape
Home Depot Bucket

 

Steps

Old Sticker

If you choose to keep the instruction sticker, tape it off so it doesn’t get painted.  I will be placing an 8.5×11 sticker so I took it off.

customfire-01

Bag it

Unscrew the hose (turn counter-clockwise) and wrap the nozzle in plastic to protect it from paint.  Secure it with painters tape while trying to uncover as much of the red paint on the stem as possible.

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Sanding & Painting

Get a bucket of water and stand the red paint using 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper.  Get it wet and rinse often.  The goal is to remove the glossy finish and leave a matte red so the new paint will adhere.  I tried using 60-grit to remove the white adhesive residue – don’t do that.  Keep going with the 400, or use a 120 to 200-grit if you have it.  Try not to use the coarse sandpaper anywhere other than the white part since it’s going to rough it up and we don’t want to make a career out of this extinguisher mod.

You’re finished with this part when the entire container is matte.  Wipe it off with rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth.  Let it dry (5-10 mins).

customfire-03 customfire-04 customfire-05

Shake your paint can well and give it the first coat.  Back off about 12″ and don’t over spray.  I sprayed it too thick and it left some weird colored paint runs.  Also, find something really thin to set the extinguisher on — don’t use wood blocks like I did or else it turns into a gooey mess at the bottom.  Hang it so the sides and bottom can dry overnight, or however long your paint says its fully dry.

Repeat for your second coat and let it dry overnight again.

customfire-06  customfire-07  customfire-08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By now you might be wishing you never started, but it’s too late.  If you don’t finish you’ll be disappointed and be at risk of dying in a fire.  Really what choice do you have now?  Start sanding with the 800-grit wet/dry, rinsing the sandpaper frequently in your bucket of water.  Clean it off with the rubbing alcohol and lint-free cloth again.

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New Printed Sticker

So now you’re done painting and it (might) look awesome.  Or if not, the sticker can cover up many unfortunate “artifacts”.  Here’s how I did the sticker:

  • Buy a pack of Avery 8.5×11″ full sheet sticker (inkjet or laser depending on your printer)
  • Select your theme (Vintage French, Foodie, Flowers of the Night, Son of Satan, whatever)
  • Find a bunch of pictures that match your theme (Bing Image or Google Image search).  It’s easier if they’re roughly the same dimensions — at least if they are all portrait or landscape
  • Assemble your pictures as desired in a desktop publishing program.  I used Microsoft Publisher.  Mac folk can use Pages.  There might be some other program that will randomly make a collage for you (Google Picasa perhaps).
  • In your desktop publishing application, set a background image, gradient, or solid color the coordinates with your paint color.  It’ll help it blend or compliment it.  If you have no clue what color to pick, check out Adobe Color to get a rough idea.

Lining up the sticker can be a pain.  Just take your time.

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If doing more brings tears to your eyes, you can stop here, it’s OK.  If you want to keep going for the final touches, let’s continue.

Clear coat

Now we’re going to apply a clear coat to a) protect the sticker, and b) give it a nice glossy finish.  Take it outside (don’t forget your 3M face mask), and give it a 2-3 coats.  You don’t have to wait as long (a couple of minutes) between coats.  Let it dry according to the clear coat instructions (I let it dry overnight again).

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Rubbing & Buffing

Next we use the 3M Rubbing Compound and the microfiber cloth to buff everything out.  Apply the compound, let it dry for 1-2 minutes, and then start buffing.  Be careful with the sticker — if you didn’t give it a thick clear coat you could start rubbing off the paper, so mostly focus on the painted portion.  Give it another wipe down with a clean microfiber cloth.customfire-12

Reassembly & Finish

OK you’ve made it!  We’re ready to reassemble, but here’s another gotcha:  Be extremely careful with sliding on the hose retaining clamp since it could tear your sticker.  If it’s catching (because the diameter of the container is now slightly larger due to paint + sticker + clear coat), try to relieve the pressure where it’s catching as best you can.

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Lastly, let this thing air out for 2-3 days before bringing it inside and prevent fuming up the place.

 

Problems & Mistakes

This project didn’t go according to plan and there were many problems along the way.  Learn from my mistakes.

Peeling off sticker left tons of adhesive residue.

The paint won’t stick well to the residue, but since a sticker will be covering this area it may not be as problematic as I first thought.  Still, perhaps an adhesive remover would have worked better at removing.

Using 60-grit sandpaper to remove residue

  • didn’t remove the adhesive
  • left deep scratch marks in the paint, fortunately it was mostly covered by the sticker

Try using a 150-grit or  Goo Gone

Spray Painting — Round 1

Paint too thick and left lines down the tank.  Try shaking can more often, make sure can is 15″ or so from extinguisher, wait longer between coats for it to dry.

Set the tank down on wood blocks preventing the bottom from drying.  Plan a better thin base to set the extinguisher on (cup, etc.)

Wind blew plastic into tank messing up the paint

Get a smaller piece of plastic, weigh down the corners with bricks.  This forced another touch-up round of paint.

While bringing in the tank to dry, tarp scraped across tank messing up the paint

Easy solution here would be if it isn’t a surprise your work area can hopefully be less hokey and open.

Sanding – 800-grit

After it dried, I tried to sand it down with 800-grit. The paint discoloration from #3 never went away, but then I sanded down too far to the original red paint.

Spray Painting — Round 2

  • Goal was to repaint the spots I had sanded down too far and the bottom where it was pulled off from wind damage
  • After almost being done, the tank bottom touched the dirt and so there was a bunch of dirt stuck to the bottom and I didn’t have anything to wipe it off

Sticker

8.5 x 11 sticker started straight, but ended up being crooked

Clear coat

This went fine until it dried when it left a strange line texture.  Not sure how to prevent this.

Doing a final polish with rubbing compound started to rub off the paper.  Make sure it’s a nice thick clear coating on the paper since it will absorb some of the coating.

When slowly putting the bottom plastic house retaining ring on, it ripped part of the sticker.  Ideally with more clear coat this may not have been an issue.  Otherwise, go very slow and try to keep the hose clamp on the ring from digging into the paper.

 

Thanks for reading and be safe.

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