How to Paint a Dresser

Last week I shared the big reveal of our dresser/changing table.  (here)

Now, I would like to share the steps I used to paint it.  This dresser was originally like most you would find at a yard sale, antique store, or your grandmother’s house… exposed natural wood.  Thankfully, we were able to find one that had already been sanded and primed.  If not, I would have had to add these two steps to my “To Do” list as well.

I began by first removing all the drawers and hardware.  Since the hardware wasn’t removed during priming, I sanded this area down until it was smooth.

It didn’t matter that this area wasn’t primed since I planned on reusing the same hardware.   A smooth finish is helpful though, so there is no rough edges or bumps around the hardware once it is reinstalled.  After sanding I used a damp washcloth and to wipe down all the surfaces.

Next, I got to start adding color to the dresser.  This is my favorite step because the work is so rewarding (watching a white surface be completely changed by the stroke of the brush in your hand).  Even though the color we chose was Glidden Professional- Del Sol, we had it mixed at Lowes.  They are able to color match any manufacturer’s color.  Since I don’t really have the desire to get high from paint fumes or need to because I am prego, we used Olympic Premium Interior Latex Semi Gloss.   It is low odor and has zero VOC… it’s not harmful for me or the baby.

Mainly, I used a two inch roller to apply a thin coat of paint.  Rollers are good for beginner/play-it-safe people like me; they have a better chance of preventing drip marks and don’t show brush strokes.  I did have to use a brush for some of the corners on the body of the dresser though.  I applied three thin coats of paint allowing two hours between each for drying.  Using three coats instead of two allowed for a good, smooth coverage.  By the third coat, it wasn’t as rewarding since I was basically applying yellow on top of yellow.  But I knew it would pay off in the end and give me a beautiful finish.

After three coats, a little of the wood still shows through where the hardware fits, but it has a smooth overall finish and will not be noticeable once the hardware is reinstalled.

For protection, durability, and the sake of kids, I used Minwax Waterbased Polycrylic protective finish in Clear Gloss.  To me this was the icing on the cake.  The Clear Gloss gave the dresser the professional looking finish that I was looking for.  The directions suggested to use a professional brush and apply in one stroke.  I used my semi-professional brush (which worked fine) and applied an even coat.  It really doesn’t take much.  If the brush is loaded too much, it might cause dripping or uneven surfaces.  I was able to go over places where it was too thick at first with a second (or third) stroke without any problems.  I was scared to chance it with more than that though.  After allowing the first coat to dry, the directions recommended using a fine grit sand paper over all surfaces.  This was a little scary for me because I didn’t want to take any paint off in the process.  Unfortunately, it did happen to some of the edges.  I think probably because I might have missed them with the Clear Gloss, so it had nothing to sand but the paint.  Just be careful around hard edges.  Finally, I was able to apply the last coat.  Minwax recommends three, but I felt pretty safe using only two.  I might use three for flooring or a heavy duty surface (of course, furniture in children’s room is heavy duty).   If needed, I can always apply the third coat later.

Since the hardware will be one of the most used pieces of the dresser, I applied the protective finish to it as well.  Before applying the finish, all the edges of the hardware were sanded to remove any primer buildup.  Paint could have also been applied to the hardware, but I wanted to leave them white to contrast with the yellow.  I knew the protective finish would take away the matte finish of the primer, so I wasn’t really worried about adding a coat of white paint.

Michael Luke took the time to poke holes in a cardboard box for the hardware to sit on, so I could brush over them easily.  Toothpicks were placed in the hinge part of the handle, so the handle would stay upright and not stick.  Two coats of protective finish were applied to the hardware as well.

And here is the end result!

You can see the shine of the protective finish in this picture.  I also love how the white hardware stands out.  Does anybody else use any other steps or techniques that would be helpful for painting a piece of furniture?

This project ended up stretching out longer than I originally thought (about a week and a half).  Mainly, just because we have a crazy hectic schedule.  It was worth it in the end though, and I am more than pleased with the finished product.

P.S.- The insides of the drawers are not painted.  I would like to decoupage them in some way to add color and update the interior of the drawers.  I’m still working on that though and not even sure what color I should use.   Any suggestions?

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9 thoughts on “How to Paint a Dresser

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    1. Krystle Post author

      I was really nervous the first time I used it too. Slow, straight lines seem to be the key for me but every project is different.

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  5. Louise Leite

    im new to your post and i think you are great. you should have your own tv show. i can’t wait to see the kitchen cabinets painted. im so tired of mine.
    i will kep watching what you put on. Thank
    Bless you


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