DIY Home + Garden How to Paint a Dresser

Published on July 30th, 2014 | by Julie Finn

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Easy Furniture Refinishing: Paint a Dresser

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How to Paint a Dresser

Does it matter that this gorgeous dresser came from the side of the road?

Not to me!

Painting is about the easiest way to refinish a piece of furniture, especially if it’s got some laminate parts. It’s not terribly tricky, either, and the most time-intensive part of it is waiting for various pieces to dry.

Here’s how I turned this particular side-of-the-road find into my new TV stand with plenty of storage:

1. Give it the anti-bedbug treatmentI don’t take ANYTHING plush from the side of the road, and even hard furniture gets put into quarantine before I take it inside my house. This means that I take it apart, as far as I’m able, and leave it to sit isolated in my garage until it’s received at least a week’s worth of super-hot or super-cold weather–if it’s summer and the furniture can be encased in a clear plastic bag, even better. Nevertheless, if in that time I ever saw any signs that the piece had an infestation, I’d NEVER keep it.

2. Strip off wonky laminate and fill in major dings. I won’t generally rescue entirely particle board and laminate furniture, but often even otherwise gorgeous wooden furniture will have parts that are faced with laminate (what was WRONG with you, 1970’s?!?), as did just the top of this otherwise solid wood dresser–and wonky, scratched, stained laminate it was, too. I used a thin spatula to pry the entire layer of laminate off of the top of the dresser, revealing the lovely wood underneath.

3. Sand only if you need to. I use an eco-friendly no-sand primer, so I do not sand just to sand. I do sand to smooth down rough texture, however, as with this dresser top, and I sand after I’ve filled in dings with wood putty, to make sure that everything is smooth and even.

4. Prime, and prime well. Remove all hardware, tape off anything you don’t want painted, then whip out the primer. I haven’t found anything that two coats of this Zinsser Bulls Eye Zero primer can’t cover up. Here’s what it looks like after one coat:

How to Paint a Dresser

I’m pretty sure that most of those drawers only needed one coat, but I’m also pretty sure that in life you get bonus points for being thorough.

See how messy the sides are? I’m just going to sand those paint drips off when I’m done, after I double-check how well the drawers are sliding back in.

5. Paint. Using your favorite brand of eco-friendly paint or DIY paint, put at least a couple of coats on the dresser, letting it dry thoroughly between coats. I paint almost all of my furniture chalkboard grey, on account of I’m a nerd.

This is also a good time to repaint your hardware. I spray-painted the original hardware and some mis-matching drawer pulls that I bought at the Restore a flat black.

If you want to antique your piece by sanding it, here’s how. If you’ve got kids or pets, though, seal it afterwards to keep them from picking at it.

6. Re-install hardware, and do any touch-ups. My partner put some of the drawer pulls back on upside-down, but I don’t care.

The only tricky part about refinishing the dresser is touching up the slide of the drawers. Dressers can be finicky, and if you’ve gotten paint anywhere you shouldn’t, such as the sides or backs of the drawers, or sometimes even somewhere you should, such as the top lip, the drawer might not want to pull smoothly or shut completely anymore. Find the spot that sticks, and sand it down. I ended up having to sand down pretty much my entire paint job on the top lip of each drawer before they’d slide all the way in again.

Our dresser is now happily installed at the foot of our bed, where it holds our TV so that we don’t have to squint at our tiny screen from across the room. The drawers hold DVDs, video games, and exercise gear, all tidied up in a pretty small footprint.

And the price sure can’t be beat!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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