How To Paint A Dresser In 7 Easy Steps

paint a dresser

Hey, ya’all beautiful people! How’s everyone doing? I can’t wait to share a tutorial with you on how to paint a dresser. It makes me so excited when I get to talk to you and show you something I worked so hard on. I can’t even tell you the excitement I have for the $35 old thrift store dresser I transformed into a beautiful piece of furniture. Are you ready? Let’s do it!

How To Paint A Dresser Without Sanding

Let’s talk about sanding! A lot of you don’t like to paint furniture because you have to sand. You know as well as I do that sanding can be daunting. So, my tutorial is all about how to paint a dresser without sanding…yay! I love all things creative.

Have I mentioned before that my husband has said that I’m in the wrong profession? He said that as opposed to me working in the medical field, that I should have been a designer instead because I’m very creative! My hubby definitely likes my ideas, especially when he sees the incredible results. He is a great help for me…hey he is my personal assistant…and I can’t imagine life without him.

Yes, I get it that it’s not about him, it’s about the dresser. But, on the other hand, you guys like to know me and I want to have a bonding relationship with all of you. This is the place where we can talk to each other and share values and creativity. I love your comments and your responses to my conversations and teachings.

how to paint a dresser

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Required Materials

Before we start painting a dresser, I should tell you the helpful materials you need in order to paint a dresser or any other furniture. Don’t go crazy on buying things. Just purchase the minimum required items. You can gradually stock up your DIY workshop.

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Here is what I think you really need:

If you don’t have all the supplies, don’t worry about it. You will gradually stock all these. Just get the ones you really need to start with.

Here you go. I took this picture right in the thrift store to show you the actual condition
The price made me really happy, and I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone by adding a storage place for the boy’s room, and also do a tutorial on “how to paint a dresser”..

Can You Paint A Dresser Without Sanding?

The answer is a big YES! You totally can paint a dresser without sanding, although not all the furniture falls into this category. Some of the pieces will need sanding. I will walk you through the steps on how to paint a dresser or any piece of furniture to adhere to paint on it without sanding.

Let’s start the real deal here:

Steps On How To Paint A dresser

Step 1: Thorough Cleaning

Cover your floor wherever you want to paint your dresser by placing a tarp on the floor. I painted my dresser in the garage but I don’t recommend it anymore and I will tell you why at the end. Next, it’s time to start with cleaning.

For painting anything, cleaning is the most crucial part. If the dresser you are going to paint is very messy and all in a bad shape, I would use TSP to clean it, but if it looks like mine that you saw above, then simply use warm water and Dawn soap, and that’ll do the trick. I simply used water with Dawn soap and wiped it thoroughly.

This will give you a spotless piece

Make sure no grimy or oily surfaces are on the dresser you are going to paint. Good prep is a key to a good start! Make sure you don’t leave any soap residue, though.

Keep in mind, all you DIY’ers, that paint only sticks to a clean surface, so clean like you mean it…lol! Now, go get rid of all the grease on your dresser… you have work to do!

Microfiber clothes are the best way to clean any type of furniture

Step 2: Filling The Holes, Chips, & Dents

Check your dresser to see if you have any holes or imperfections or any chipping on it. Then, fill it by using wood filler. This is the one I prefer to go with. After the filling, you need to sand down those filled areas with 220 grit sandpaper. However, if you don’t need filling, then no sanding is required.

I did need filling as it was a used dresser from a thrift store. Hence, I filled as needed. To make the dresser little more industrial and modern, I wanted to change the drawer pulls. For the pulls, I removed the old ones and filled in the holes for them as well.

wood filler
There are several other fillers in the market, but with my experience, I love this one
I use this little handy tool to fill anywhere on the furniture or walls.

Step 3: Sand As Needed

Once you are done filling dents, holes, and chips, it’s now time to sand those areas. You don’t need to sand the whole dresser if it’s unfinished wood or if you are going to use chalk paint, as most of the chalk paint will adhere to the surface effortlessly.

If you do need to sand, then use 120 to 220 grit sandpaper. Sometimes you only need scuff sanding in order to adhere to the paint better.

Step 4: Pick Your Preferred Paint To Apply

Pick a paint you like to use. If you are going to paint for the first time, I would recommend chalk paint, as it gives the best coverage possible and doesn’t bleed through that often. I have painted furniture with all kinds of paint, including latex, oil-based, chalk paint, and spray paint. I found chalk paint is the easiest one to deal with for the new DIY’ers as it’s very forgiving.

The paint I used to paint this dresser is Behr’s Timeless Blue. It’s a beautiful paint color and perfect for the boy’s room. I am totally in love with both this paint color and texture.

You can dilute with water if you want a very smooth look as opposed to having a little texture on the piece of furniture. This little can of paint not only covered my whole dresser but it also was enough to use on my nightstands to match with the dresser.

timeless blue chalk paint

Using The Right Brush

A paint brush is your most important tool for painting. You are only going to get a great result if you are going to use the right tools for any project. Painting is no exception, either. I highly recommend Wooster Brush Q3211-2 Shortcut Angle Sash Paintbrush, 2-Inches. This little brush is an amazing tool to have as it will give you a perfect stroke every time you apply paint on a dresser or anything you are painting. It is one of the must-have tools for painters.

A Pro Tip: No matter what, start painting with the grain. Use your brush strokes with the grain in long strokes. You can get an idea about this once you look at the furniture. If you run your brush against the grain, you will see that the brush will not run as smooth as it’s supposed to.

chalk paint to paint a dresser
Use your brush strokes with the grain
a painted dresser
My little boy was helping me. Hence, my paintbrush is full of paint…lol!

Don’t Overload The Brush

You don’t have to overload your brush at all as my little boy did for me. He wanted to be the part of the process as this dresser is going into his room. Just lightly dip the brush and start painting. Once you start it, you will realize how easy it is.

If you are afraid to paint a dresser or larger piece of furniture, start with a smaller piece, such as a small stool. This is how I tested the first time.

There you go all done with painting! The Paint is still drying, as you can see wet paint on the last drawer.

Step 5: How To Seal A Dresser With Clear Wax

This is the brush most professional painters recommend for the wax to get a professional look. The brush I had was worn out, so I used a piece of cloth for this project, but yes, I am a big fan of this brush! It doesn’t waste wax due to the smooth application when using it. This works (Amazon) with all brands of paint and wax for all furniture and colors

Apply Clear Wax, First

Grab a little wax with your brush and apply using the same technique you used for the paint. Go with the grain in long strokes. Clear wax (Amazon) seals your piece and prevents it from chipping. If you are painting a piece of furniture which has good detail, and you would like to show it with darker wax colors, I would still apply the clear wax first.

Waxing made the paint color look darker and glowy. On the right drawer is after waxing, and the left one is before wax.

Step 6: Replace Or Revamp Your Old Dresser Drawer Pulls

Although I purchased my pulls from the thrift store, they are very similar to the ones I found on Amazon. You can see in the picture below.

They come in a pack of 10 (Amazon)

You can see that the dresser came with the wooden hardware that is smaller and round. I was not planning to use them, as for some reason I didn’t like them. While I was buying this dresser, I spotted another dresser next to it with beautiful long drawer pulls. I purchased that one as well, and I took the pulls and donated the dresser.

If you are thinking that I ruined the dresser for the next person, the answer is “NO”. I talked to the manager and she placed the other pulls on that dresser. It was a win-win situation for the store and me. They only cost me $25.

I took the original knobs out and filled their holes with this filler (Amazon)

Next, I spray painted the gold pulls and my husband drilled new holes and put the new pulls in there as well.

how to change drawer's pulls (2)
A little cheat sheet for you for the steps I took to replace the new pulls with new holes.

Step 7: Beautify Your Drawers With Contact Paper

This step is an optional step. It is not part of the tutorial on “how to paint a dresser”. However, I like to make my stuff pretty. Therefore, I used this contact paper.

You can use contact paper of your choice or just leave them the way they are.

Simply beautiful, and it only took me just a few minutes

Avoid These Silly Mistakes While Using Chalk Paint

  • Don’t paint in an area where a lot of dust is, as I painted this dresser in the garage and I felt like it was a dusty area and I was having a hard time when I was ready to apply the wax. I had to clean the whole dresser again.
  • Don’t wait a day or two to apply the wax. Apply between 12-24 hours after the paint dries off.
  • No need of using two coats of paint on everything with chalk paint. Just observe after the first paint to see if you need another one. On the container, it says two coats but I only used one coat of paint, and it was just fine for the desired look I was after.
  • Wash your brush after you are done painting for the day. It will keep your bristles on the brush in very good shape and brush will last a long time for you.
  • Don’t overload your brush. Although the chalk paint is pretty forgiving, you still have to be careful.

Bonus Step: What To Do If Your Dresser Is Missing A Backing

As you know, this dresser was pretty cheap for only $35, and there was a reason behind it. It was missing it’s backing. I asked my husband before buying and he said, that it was no issue and that he could place a new backing on it.

For the backing, we purchased $11 1/4″ plywood from Home Depot. He placed it on the back of the dresser to check the size. Then he drew lines on it for measurements. After this, he measured the back side of the dresser, just to be sure, and drew a perfect line to cut. Once he was done the cutting, I held it for him and he screwed it together. It was a really easy thing to do.

How to paint a dresser
Doesn’t that look gorgeous?
how to paint a dresser
All done and I styled it pretty as well…I also like the mirror perfect for the dresser.

Relevant Questions On How To Paint A Dresser

What is the best brand of paint for furniture?

In my opinion, these brands are the best so far:

For Chalk Paint

  • BEHR (very affordable)
  • Annie Salon
  • Fusion
  • Beyond paint (affordable)

For Latex Paint

  • Behr premium
  • Glidden (I have used it and it’s awesome and no primer needed with this)
  • Kilz
  • Sherwin William (expensive, though)

Use satin or semigloss finish if you choose to go with latex paint. Always use a primer. You do have to sand though in that case, as this paint is not forgiving at all. It will show any imperfection very easily

Can you use latex paint on wood furniture?

Indeed, you can! I have so many time used the leftover latex paint for used furniture, but the key thing is to use the primer first. Once, I was out of primer for one of my little tables I was working on, so I just used the leftover over paint from our bedroom as a primer.

You can only learn with experience, and trial and error work the best. When we were in our old home, my husband used to tell me that I am obsessed with painting. I was not into blogging at the time, otherwise, I would have put a book together on “how to paint a furniture”

How do you paint IKEA unfinished furniture without sanding?

Mostly, IKEA furniture comes in a bare form with nothing on it, which makes it easy to paint. I would highly recommend going with chalk or milk paint. Follow all my above-mentioned steps I have on “how to paint a dresser” to paint any piece of IKEA furniture.

A Quick Recap On How To Paint A Dresser

I hope it was an easy tutorial for you on how to paint a dresser. Let’s recap what we said above:

  • 1- Thoroughly clean your dresser first
  • 2- Fill all the holes, dents, and chips using wood filler
  • 3- Sand as needed
  • 4- Pick your preferred paint to apply with a synthetic paint brush
  • 5- Seal your dresser with wax or clear top coat
  • 6- Revamp or replace your old dresser hardware
  • 7- Beautify your dresser drawers with contact paper
how to paint a dresser

I hope you have learned how to paint a dresser or any piece of furniture using chalk paint. The process is the same even if you pick any other type of paint. Let me know what your thoughts are, or if I missed anything. You know, I always love to hear from you!!

Happy Painting and, here you go with my 35 pages ebook for you on chalk paint!

chalk painting ebook

Yes Please, send me the “FREE” ebook!

18 thoughts on “How To Paint A Dresser In 7 Easy Steps”

  1. Looking at the title of the blog, I thought you are into DIYs and then reading your entire post I no where felt that you are into Medical field. The dresser looks just perfect. Very neat.

  2. This was so helpful! I painted a dresser once for my kids’ bedroom and I literally bought paint and slapped it on there lol. This came out so beautiful! Makes me want to upcycle some stuff TODAY!

  3. You did an amazing job! It’s beautiful! I really love the color you chose. Thank you for sharing these step by step instructions. I’ve been wanting to try chalk paint but didn’t feel confident enough to use it. Your instructions are simple and easy to follow. They make me feel like I can actually do it! ?

  4. Bushra, this is beautiful! You did such a great job and I just love the color you picked out! Our girls’ dresser needs a redo. I might have to try the milk paint idea and waxing is a great way to deepen the color 🙂

    1. Sarah, Milk paint is a great idea and tutorial is coming soon on that as well. I loved the milk paint. I will share the mistakes and pro tips both. I never tried milk paint before and working on my first project right now. Not completely done. I totally loved that paint. Thank you so much!

  5. Wow, what an amazing transformation! You did such a great job as always. Your son must be in love with that bright blue color!

    1. JoAnn, it’s right above the gray cabinet’s picture. It’s a very easy recipe yet very effective. Let me know please if you still need help with it. I can email you otherwise.

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