How To Paint A Dresser

how to paint a dresser

Learning how to paint a dresser can be an exciting and rewarding project for homeowners and apartment renters alike. With the right supplies and methods, you can turn your outdated furniture into a stunning centerpiece that adds charm to any space.

In this comprehensive guide on how to paint a dresser, we will cover everything from preparing the surface for painting to adding personal touches that make your piece unique. You’ll learn about evaluating sanding needs based on the condition of your dresser, selecting appropriate primers for optimal adhesion of paint, as well as choosing between different types of paints such as latex or chalk paint.

We will also delve into applying even coats using various tools like brushes or sprayers while avoiding brush strokes and achieving smoother finishes. Finally, we’ll discuss protecting your painted masterpiece with wax or sealers and maintaining it over time so that it continues looking fresh for years to come.

Preparing the Dresser for Painting

Before starting your dresser painting project, it’s essential to prepare the surface by emptying all drawers and removing any hardware such as knobs, pulls, and decorative elements. Clean the dresser thoroughly using a steam cleaner or wiping it down with Krud Kutter or Simple Green to ensure a smooth finish.

Emptying Drawers and Removing Hardware

To begin preparing your dresser for painting, first remove all items from inside each drawer. Next, carefully unscrew any knobs or handles attached to the front of each drawer. Secure the knobs and handles in a secure location so they can be reattached when needed.

Cleaning Methods for Dressers

Now that your dresser is clean and hardware-free, it’s time to start painting. Depending on the type of paint you choose, you may need to take additional steps to ensure a smooth finish.

Painting the Dresser

Choosing the Right Paint

When it comes to painting furniture, there are several types of paint to choose from. Latex paint is a popular choice for its durability and ease of use. Chalk paint requires less prep work and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including laminate. If you’re looking for a smoother finish, consider using a paint sprayer instead of a brush.

Filling in Deep Scratches and Holes

If your dresser has deep scratches or holes, use wood filler to fill them in before painting. This will ensure a smoother finish and a more polished look.

Starting to Paint

When you’re ready to start painting, begin with a fresh coat of paint. Apply the paint in thin, even coats, using a paintbrush or sprayer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time between coats.

Applying Additional Coats

Depending on the type of paint you’re using, you may need to apply additional coats to achieve the desired look. If you’re using chalk paint, it’s recommended to apply at least two coats for best results.

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve finished painting, allow the dresser to dry completely before reattaching any hardware. If you notice any brush strokes or imperfections, lightly sand the surface and apply another coat of paint. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can transform your dresser into a beautifully painted piece of furniture.

After ensuring the dresser is completely emptied and hardware removed, it’s time to evaluate sanding needs. Sanding your dresser will help ensure a smooth surface for painting, so choosing the right grit of sandpaper is important.

Evaluating Sanding Needs

Before diving into the painting process, it’s crucial to assess whether your dresser needs sanding. This step is necessary for creating a smooth surface that allows paint to adhere properly and ensures an even finish.

When to Sand Your Dresser

If your dresser already has a smooth finish and you plan on using chalk paint, you can skip this step. If you have an uneven surface or need to smooth out any rough edges, sanding is necessary; that’s true even if you’re planning on using latex or oil-based paints instead of chalk paint.

Choosing the Right Grit of Sandpaper

  • Medium-grit (80-120): This type of sandpaper works well for removing old finishes and evening out rough surfaces before applying primer and paint.
  • Fine-grit (150-180): Ideal for light scuff-sanding between coats of primer or paint; helps ensure a smoother final result without damaging underlying layers.
  • Extra-fine grit (220+): Better suited for very delicate projects where minimal material removal is needed; not typically used when prepping furniture for painting but may be useful in specific situations such as refinishing antique pieces with intricate details.

To get started with sanding your dresser, choose medium-grit sandpaper appropriate for the condition of its surface. Afterward, wipe down any dust particles created during this process using a tack cloth or damp rag – ensuring optimal results upon completion overall.

Evaluating sanding needs is an important step in the process of painting a dresser. Priming your dresser before applying paint helps to ensure that the end result will be smooth and long-lasting.

Priming Your Dresser

After prepping the dresser, you should apply a primer to guarantee superior bonding between any paint and its underlying surface, as well as blocking out any earlier coatings that may seep through later. Priming helps ensure better adhesion between the surface being painted and subsequent layers of color while also sealing in previous finishes which could bleed through later on. Before beginning the painting process, this section will provide guidance on how to select an appropriate primer and explain why it is beneficial.

Benefits of Priming Before Painting

  • Better paint adhesion: Primer creates a uniform surface that allows the paint to adhere more effectively, reducing the risk of peeling or chipping over time.
  • Sealing in previous finishes: Applying primer can help seal any stains or old paint colors, preventing them from bleeding through your new coat of paint.
  • Smoother finish: A good quality primer can fill small imperfections on the dresser’s surface, resulting in a smoother final appearance once painted.

Selecting an Appropriate Primer

To choose the right primer for your dresser painting project, consider factors such as the type of wood, existing finish, and desired end result. One popular option is Zinsser Cover Stain oil-based primer, which works well with various surfaces including wood furniture. When applying primer, use a paintbrush for detailed areas and a small foam roller for larger surfaces to achieve even coverage. Allow adequate drying time according to the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding with painting.

Priming your dresser is an essential step in achieving the desired finish for any painting project. Having primed your dresser, it is time to choose the right paint for a perfect finish.

Choosing Paint Type

Different types of paints have their own advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account when selecting the best option for your project. Weigh the options carefully, taking into account desired appearance, strength of finish and application difficulty when selecting a paint type.

Pros & Cons of Different Types of Paints

  • Fusion Mineral Paint: This paint is eco-friendly and has excellent adhesion properties. It does not require a topcoat but offers limited color choices. Learn more about Fusion Mineral Paint here.
  • Chalk Paint: Chalk paints provide more color options yet typically require wax sealants afterward to protect the finish. They’re known for their matte appearance and easy distressing capabilities. Check out Annie Sloan’s range of chalk paints here.
  • Latex or Oil-Based Paints: These types offer greater durability compared to chalk paint but may require additional preparation steps like priming before painting furniture surfaces – especially if you want a smooth finish without visible brush strokes. Browse through Benjamin Moore’s selection of latex-based paints by clicking on this link: Benjamin Moore Interior Latex-Based Paints.

Factors Affecting Choice in Selecting Ideal Furniture Paint

When selecting the perfect paint for your dresser, consider the following factors:

  1. Finish: Determine if you prefer a matte, satin, or glossy finish.
  2. Durability: Consider how much wear and tear your furniture will be subjected to and choose a paint that can withstand it.
  3. Ease of Application: Some paints are easier to work with than others – especially when painting intricate details on dressers like moldings or trimmings.

Taking these factors into account will help ensure that you select the ideal type of paint for your dresser makeover project. Once you have chosen your paint, it’s time to start painting.

How to Paint a Dresser

Before you start painting, make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including:

  • Paint of your choice
  • Paintbrush or paint sprayer
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood filler (if needed)
  • Clean cloth
  • Drop cloth or newspaper

Follow these steps to paint your dresser:

  1. Prepare the dresser: Remove all hardware and drawers from the dresser. Clean the surface with a damp cloth and let it dry completely. If there are any deep scratches or holes, use wood filler to fill them in and let it dry before sanding.
  2. Sand the dresser: Use sandpaper to rough up the surface of the dresser. This will help the paint adhere better. Sand in the direction of the wood grain and wipe away any dust with a clean cloth.
  3. Start painting: Apply a fresh coat of paint to the dresser using a paintbrush or paint sprayer. Start painting from the top of the dresser and work your way down. Use long, even strokes and make sure to cover all areas evenly. If using a paintbrush, be sure to smooth out any visible brush strokes.
  4. Let it dry: Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely before applying a second coat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time.
  5. Apply a second coat: Apply a second coat of paint using the same technique as the first coat. This will help ensure a smoother finish.
  6. Reattach hardware and drawers: Once the second coat of paint is dry, reattach the hardware and drawers to the dresser.

With these simple steps, you can transform your old, worn-out dresser into a beautifully painted piece of furniture that will look great in any room of your home. Happy painting.

Selecting the correct paint for your dresser is essential to achieving an optimal outcome. To achieve the desired outcome, proper application of the paint is essential.

Applying Paint to the Dresser

For an even, smooth finish on your dresser, proper tools and techniques must be employed. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the best practices for applying paint to your dresser.

Best Tools for Painting Dressers

To ensure a professional-looking result, invest in high-quality brushes like Purdy brushes. These synthetic or natural bristle brushes are designed specifically for furniture painting projects. For larger surface areas on your dresser, use a small foam roller which will help you achieve an even coat without brush marks.

Techniques for Even Coverage

  1. Preparation: Before starting to paint, make sure that your workspace is well-ventilated and free from dust or debris that could affect the final result.
  2. Loading Your Brush: Dip only one-third of the brush into the paint can; avoid overloading it as this may cause drips and uneven coverage.
  3. Painting Technique: Apply paint using long strokes in one direction (either horizontally or vertically) while maintaining consistent pressure throughout each stroke. This helps minimize visible brush marks on your finished piece. If you’re using a paint sprayer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
  4. Drying Time: Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before applying additional layers if necessary. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on drying times specific to your chosen type of paint (Fusion mineral paints, chalk paints, latex-based paints).

Incorporating these tips into your painting process will not only give you a beautiful, even finish but also ensure that your dresser’s new look lasts for years to come. If you’re working with a laminate dresser, use a wood filler to fill in any deep scratches or imperfections before you start painting. Chalk paint requires less prep work, but it may require more coats to achieve the desired finish. For a smoother finish, sand between coats with a fine-grit sandpaper. And remember, whether you’re using furniture paint, chalk paint, or latex paint, always start painting with a fresh coat for the best results.

Once you have applied the paint to your dresser, it is important to protect and maintain its finish. To ensure that your painted dresser lasts for years to come, consider waxing or sealing the surface as well as other protective measures outlined in our next section.

Protecting Your Painted Dresser

After painting your dresser, it’s important to protect its new finish with either wax or sealer. This will help maintain the appearance and prolong the overall lifespan of your painted furniture.

Wax vs Sealer – Which is Better?

Choosing between wax and sealer depends on the type of paint you used and your personal preferences. If you’ve used chalk paint, applying a clear wax first followed by dark wax is recommended. You’ll need to reapply every six months as needed for optimal protection. For a latex or oil-based painted dresser, consider applying a water-based polyurethane topcoat instead of wax.

Tips for Maintaining Your Painted Dresser

  • Clean gently: Use a soft cloth dampened with mild soap and water to clean your painted dresser regularly without damaging its surface.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Steer clear of abrasive cleaners that can strip away protective layers from your painted furniture.
  • Mindful placement: Keep your dresser away from direct sunlight or heat sources that could cause fading or damage over time.
  • Routine touch-ups: Inspect your dresser periodically for any scratches or chips in the paintwork; promptly address these issues with small touch-ups when necessary.

Incorporating these tips into regular maintenance routines ensures that both aesthetics and functionality aspects remain intact throughout years’ worth of usage. It also preserves the original investment made during the initial painting process.

To protect your painted dresser from wear and tear, wax or sealer is the best option. Moving on to adding personal touches to your furniture, there are a variety of creative ideas that can be used for customizing drawers with decoupage techniques and materials.

Adding Personal Touches

Adding a bit of flair to your dresser by giving it an individualized touch can be a truly gratifying experience. In this section, we’ll explore some creative ideas for customizing drawers and learn about decoupage techniques and materials.

Creative Ideas for Customizing Drawers

There are countless ways to personalize your painted dresser, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Stencil designs: Use stencils to create patterns or images on the drawer fronts.
  • New hardware: Swap out old knobs or pulls with new ones that match your style – there’s a wide variety available at stores like Home Depot.
  • Add molding: Attach decorative molding around the edges of the drawers for an elegant touch.

Decoupage Techniques & Materials

If you’re looking for another way to customize your dresser, consider using decoupage. This technique involves adhering paper or fabric onto surfaces with glue and then sealing it with varnish. Here’s how you can use decoupage on your painted dresser:

  1. Select scrapbook paper or fabric in patterns that complement your paint color.
  2. Cut pieces to fit inside each drawer front or across entire sections of the dresser as desired.
  3. Mix equal parts water and white glue (such as Elmer’s) in a bowl to create a decoupage medium.
  4. Apply the mixture to the back of your paper or fabric, then carefully position it on the dresser surface. Smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles with a brush or squeegee.
  5. Allow it to dry completely before applying a coat of clear varnish for protection and durability.

Once you’ve put these tips and tricks into action, your painted dresser can become an extraordinary, unique piece that reflects your individual style.

FAQs in Relation to How to Paint a Dresser

How to Paint a Dresser Step by Step

If you want to give your old dresser a new look, painting it is a great option. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Empty the drawers and remove the hardware.
  2. Clean the dresser thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime.
  3. Evaluate if sanding is necessary. Sand any glossy surfaces or existing finishes that may interfere with new paint adhesion.
  4. Apply an appropriate primer to help the paint adhere better.
  5. Choose the right type of paint for your project. Acrylic-based latex paints or chalk-style furniture paints are great options.
  6. Start painting using proper tools and techniques for even coverage. You can use a paint brush or a paint sprayer.
  7. Protect your painted surface with wax or sealer, and add personal touches such as customizing drawers or decoupage.

What Kind of Paint to Use on Dressers

The best types of paints to use on dressers are acrylic-based latex paints or chalk-style furniture paints due to their durability, ease of application, and low VOC content. Both options offer excellent adhesion properties without requiring extensive prep work like oil-based paints.

Do You Have to Sand a Dresser Before Painting?

Sanding is not always required but recommended when dealing with glossy surfaces or existing finishes that may interfere with new paint adhesion. If your dresser has minor imperfections or rough spots, light sanding can help create a smoother surface for better results.

What Parts of a Dresser Do You Paint?

You should typically paint all visible exterior surfaces including sides, top panel, drawer fronts (excluding interiors), legs/baseboards if applicable. However, it’s a personal preference, and you can choose to leave certain parts unpainted or use different colors for added visual interest.


Painting a dresser is an easy and cost-effective way to give your furniture a new lease on life. Following this guide, you can give your dresser a unique look that expresses your personal style – from prepping the surface to adding finishing touches. From preparing the surface to adding finishing touches, we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to paint a dresser.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with colors and designs – painting furniture is all about expressing yourself! 

Tom Whitford
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