DIY Distressed Painted Dresser

Are you looking for a fun and creative way to spruce up an old dresser and turn it into piece of black painted furniture? With some basic supplies, you can easily transform any tired piece of furniture into a beautiful statement piece. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to create a DIY distressed painted dresser that will look perfect in any farmhouse-styled home.

From removing hardware to topcoating, we’ll walk you through each step so that your DIY project is successful!

photo of dresser before the makeover

Here is what our dresser looked like when we bought it off of Facebook marketplace. It’s a large dresser, and we spent $100 on it… which at that time was a lot for a dresser. But it all worked out in the end!

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I loved the style of it as is, but thought the finish could use an update, so what better thing to do than to use some paint on it.

I thought the style of this dresser was very Pottery Barn, rustic looking, and black was the first thing I imagined it in.

Painting furniture black has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason! It brings an elegant and sophisticated touch to any room, while also creating a striking contrast with lighter decor.

Black is also a timeless color that will never go out of style. If you’re up for a furniture painting project, why not give your dresser a sleek black makeover?

Supplies for DIY Distressed Painted Dresser

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Grab our list of the must have painting furniture supplies here!

DIY Distressed Painted Dresser Makeover

First I removed the old hardware with my electric screwdriver and kept them together in a bowl so I wouldn’t lose them.

This hardware looked just fine and I planned to put it back on. I love when I can put the hardware back on, instead of having to find new hardware.

removing furniture hardware using electric screwdriver

Sometimes the hardware is just plain weird though. That was not the case with this project, the hardware was perfect.

Then I cleaned the dresser with Krud Kutter to remove any grease or grime on the surface so the paint can stick better.

If you aren’t sure how to clean furniture before painting, here is our cleaning before painting furniture post to guide you through the simple process.

When it was all dry, I sprayed a coat of clear shellac onto the dresser to help the paint stick even better.

It’s great because it is clear so you can still distress the paint without seeing a coat of primer under the paint.

Spraying shellac is also a trick on how to get rid of smoke smell in furniture, especially if you bought your piece at a thrift store.

applied clear shellac onto dresser before painting

But it is stinky, so I only use it outdoors. If you want to use a different primer, here is our list of the best primers for painting furniture.

Painting Furniture Black

Then I made homemade black chalk paint with Behr latex paint in the color black. Homemade chalk paint is a cheap way to paint furniture because you can use cheap latex paint, but make it better.

Latex paint doesn’t stick to furniture very well without this trick. Here is our homemade chalk paint recipe post to show you how easy it is to make it. Check out more chalk paint recipes here.

Check out more black chalk painted furniture ideas here.

I put the homemade chalk paint into our Wagner Double Duty Paint Sprayer, using a paint filter to filter the paint while pouring the paint into the sprayer so the sprayer didn’t get clogged while spraying.

Note: We have linked to a new model of the Wagner paint sprayer above.

Then I thinned out the chalk paint with some water to help this sprayer spray the paint. Here is how to thin paint for a Wagner paint sprayer.

This Double Duty sprayer is really not meant for paint, but it works well with thinned out chalk paint. It does take some more time to get it right though, so I prefer to use the FLEXiO sprayer instead.

spraying homemade chalk paint with wagner sprayer

Read more about the best Wagner paint sprayers for furniture if you want to get a paint sprayer for your furniture projects.

It’s really worth it if you are going to paint a lot because it makes the projects faster, and look better!

Of course, you do have to tape off some things to prevent overspray when painting furniture. But it’s still faster to tape off a couple of things than to brush the paint onto a large dresser like this.

If you do want to brush on the paint, more power to you! Here are the best paint brushes for painting furniture!

I sprayed on 2 thin coats of chalk paint onto the dresser, and let it dry between coats, which really only took about 30 minutes with the chalk paint.

Distressing a Painted Dresser

Then I used 220 grit sandpaper to distress the paint all over the dresser. I rubbed it on the edges, and below each piece of hardware on each drawer, but really, I just sanded alllll over.

Some places were lightly sanded, others were heavily sanded. Then I vacuumed off the dust and used a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.

Topcoating Black Painted Furniture

For the last step, I cleaned out the sprayer so I could put some waterbased polyurethane in the sprayer and topcoat the chalk paint.

Here is how to clean a Wagner paint sprayer… spoiler alert, it’s really easy and takes less than 10 minutes total.

The I put the waterbased polyurethane in, making sure to run it through the paint filter before it got into the sprayer’s container, and then I sprayed on 3 coats of it.

Of course, I let it dry between coats for about an hour.

stirring polyurethane before pouring to filter through the sprayer

Spraying waterbased polyurethane is the easiest way to topcoat painted furniture, especially black painted furniture, because if you apply it with a brush, you’ll most likely get a streaky or foggy looking finish.

Here’s more information on how to spray polyurethane so you can topcoat your painted furniture with ease.

After 24 hours, I attached the original hardware, and here is what it looks like now! A heavily distressed dresser, perfect for any farmhouse styled home.

Check out this guide on finishing touches of painting furniture for a successful painting project. Pair this up with the perfect DIY farmhouse drop cloth curtains to complete the look.

Are there any alternative methods for distressing furniture besides sanding?

There are several alternative methods for distressing furniture without using sandpaper.

One method is wet distressing, which involves using a damp cloth or sponge to rub away the paint in areas where you want it to look distressed.

Another method is reverse paint distressing, which involves painting very thin coats of paint and using a dry brush to lightly apply paint in certain areas for a worn look.

To learn more about these and other techniques, check out our distressing furniture post.

How to maintain distressed painted furniture?

Maintaining distressed painted furniture is fairly simple and requires minimal effort. First, it’s important to keep the furniture clean by regularly dusting and wiping it down with a damp cloth.

This will prevent dust and dirt from building up and making the distressed areas look dull. If there are any spills or stains, make sure to clean them up immediately to avoid permanent damage to the paint.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid harsh chemicals or cleaning products that could strip away the paint or damage the distressed finish.

close up view of dresser after the makeover
full view image of dresser after the makeover

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

close up view of dresser after the makeover

DIY Distressed Painted Dresser

full view image of dresser after the makeover

Get this DIY distressed painted dresser look on your old worn out furniture. Use cheap homemade chalk paint to update your furniture today!


  1. Remove the old hardware with an electric screwdriver and keep them together in a bowl.
  2. Clean the dresser with Krud Kutter to remove any grease or grime on the surface.
  3. Spray a coat of clear shellac onto the dresser to help paint stick better.
  4. Make homemade black chalk paint with behr latex paint. Put homemade chalk paint into Wagner Sprayer, using a paint filter. Thin out chalk paint with water
  5. Tape off areas for overspray when painting furniture, then spray 2 thin coats of chalk paint onto dresser and let it dry between coats.
  6. Distress the dresser by sanding edges, below each piece of hardware on each drawer, etc.. with 220 grit sandpaper. Vacuum off dust and use tack cloth to remove remaining dust.
  7. Clean out sprayer so you can put some waterbased polyurethane in it and topcoat chalk paint with 3 coats of polyurethane.
  8. Attach original hardware after 24 hours after the last coat of topcoat.

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photo of dresser before the makeover

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