Homemade Chalk Paint Dresser Makeover

Today I’m sharing the good, bad, and ugly of this dresser makeover that I did when I tested out the HomeRight paint sprayer. I went back to my roots and used homemade chalk paint, I made my share of mistakes, and I had some bleed-through issues that I had to fix.

Get more DIY dresser makeover ideas here!

old worn out dresser before getting a new paint job

This is what the dresser looked like before. We bought it from Facebook Marketplace for $50, which is a steal in my area.

If you want to know the best places to get good furniture for cheap, check out this post to learn more.

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Supplies Used for this homemade chalk paint dresser makeover

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Prep Dresser for Paint

First things first, we did all of the boring prep work. Learn why it’s so important to prepare furniture for painting here!

We removed the hardware, cleaned it off, and filled in the old hardware holes.

Removing hardware from an old dresser

I recently did a tutorial comparing the most popular ways to fill holes when replacing furniture hardware… I thought it was super interesting!

The top had a lot of scratches, so I decided to sand it down and get all of those scratches out of it. I started with 100 grit sandpaper on my orbital sander to eat through the finish fast.

*Update: Since this project, I have bought and used a handful of power sanders! Read this post to learn about the best sanders for furniture!

I did really good and didn’t blow through the thin veneer at all on the top. But when I got to the sides, all of my luck was gone. Oops

A few spots got sanded through the veneer on the top edge of dresser

I blew through that thin veneer in a few spots. I probably shouldn’t have used such a coarse grit on the sides huh?

Or I should have stuck with what I do best and removed the stain with a chemical stripper so I didn’t have much chance to sand through the veneer. Read this post to learn how to remove wood stain.

Oh well. You live and you learn right? Anyway, so I continued sanding, and did the whole move slowly through the different grits of sandpaper until I got it to where I wanted it to be.

So I sanded everything with 150 grit. And then I hand sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it a little bit more for paint. Learn more about sandpaper for furniture painting here.

Then, since I had the sander out, I sanded the filler in the hardware holes down so it was flush, and I took a minute or two to lightly sand the rest of the dresser’s surface with 220 grit sandpaper.

Since this dresser was pretty flat, I was able to use the orbital for most of the scuff sanding. Learn more about the importance of sanding before painting furniture here.

Then my husband vacuumed out the inside of the dresser. And I glued a drawer back together that was falling apart.

If you need to make repairs to your drawer, here’s a guide on dresser drawer bottom replacement.

Gluing a dresser drawer back together

Prime Dresser to Prevent Bleedthrough

The next day, with the repair done, and the drawers all taped off to prevent overspray when painting, I sprayed clear shellac all over the dresser.

Spraying shellac on the dresser before painting

Have you used this stuff to block stains on your painted furniture? Check out the best primers to stop tannin bleed here.

Why Do I Prime with Clear Shellac?

If you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about… Hi, welcome to my furniture makeovers. Haha

I like to use clear shellac to block stains from showing up in my painted finish. It also makes paint stick really really well, which is weird because it’s mostly known as a topcoat.

Someone out there, please explain why it makes paint stick so well to even really slick surfaces. I don’t know why it does what it does. I just know that it works.

And I love the spray can version because it’s easy to spray on. It does stink a lot though. That’s its downside.

Anyway, I sprayed 2 really good coats of clear shellac all over the dresser, letting it dry for at least an hour between coats, and then overnight before painting.

Painting A Dresser with Homemade Chalk Paint

And then the next day I made some homemade chalk paint to spray onto the dresser.

How to Make Homemade Chalk Paint with Latex Paint

I used the color Almond Wisp from Behr. I personally really like this homemade chalk paint recipe that uses 1 cup flat latex paint and 5 tablespoons food grade calcium carbonate powder.

**Note: I’ve since used BB Frosch Paint Transformer Powder to make chalk paint from latex paint. It is amazing and much better than my homemade chalk paint recipe.

Check out my honest BB Frosch Paint Transformer Review to learn more about the features and pros and cons of this product.

Here is my list of chalk paint recipes for your future painting projects.

I mix together a little bit of water, maybe a tablespoon or two of water… and the calcium carbonate powder.

Mixing calcium carbonate with water to make chalk paint

Then I put that mixture into the flat latex paint and mix it together really well. Check out the best white chalk paint for furniture here.

Homemade chalk paint is a super cheap alternative to regular chalk paint, you can mix it with any color or brand of flat latex paint, and it sticks really well!

Check out this post if you’re wondering what is the difference between chalk paint and regular paint.

Check out these rustic blue nightstands we painted with latex paint turned homemade chalk paint! Have you made homemade chalk paint before??

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Spray Chalk Paint Using the HomeRight Super Finish Max Paint Sprayer

Then I sprayed the homemade chalk paint onto the dresser.

Spraying chalk paint onto dresser with the Homeright Super Finish Max

Check out this HomeRight Super Finish Max paint sprayer review to see how I thinned the paint, the settings I used, and all the tips you need to know when using the HomeRight paint sprayer.

Here’s a guide on how to clean HomeRight paint sprayer to learn more.

After the first coat was dry, I noticed a lot more scratches that should have been filled or sanded out, and I even noticed a slight paint drip.

Read through my post on how to fix spray paint drips to learn more.

Since I sanded the top down to bare wood, there was a lot of wood grain that needed filled in on the top. So I took a break from painting the next coat, and worked on covering those things up.

Filling in scratches on dresser with wood filler

I filled the wood grain on top, and filled in the scratches and blemishes everywhere else. Learn more about how to hide wood grain when painting here.

When those things were dry, I sanded them all down flush, and even sanded out the paint drip. Then I cleaned up my mess.

Prime and Paint Filled in Areas

And then I sprayed more clear shellac over those repairs. I know, from past experience, that filling in wood grain tends to bring out bleedthrough issues, so I didn’t want to give it a chance to give me issues.

Read this post to learn how to prevent bleedthrough and how to stop stains from coming through paint.

The next day I sprayed another coat of paint all over the dresser. Actually, I think I ended up with 3 coats of paint on this dresser by this point.

This paint dries so fast though, so the painting part didn’t actually take long. Everything else was taking forever. Haha

Topcoating A Painted Dresser with Polyurethane

So after that last coat of paint was dry, I lightly sanded the dresser with 400 grit sandpaper to make the paint finish feel smoother.

Then I sprayed a coat of waterbased poly onto the dresser. Learn more about how to spray polyurethane here.

Spraying the painted dresser with varathane polyurethane

After the poly is dry, I like to sand it lightly with 400 grit sandpaper again to make it feel really smooth again.

Fix Bleedthrough

And that’s when I found a few bleed-through stains coming through.

Bleed through stains coming through the tan paint

This is such a common thing. You don’t see any stains coming through the paint and think you’re almost done.. and then once you put your topcoat on, the stains show up.

It’s SO annoying. Basically, you’ve just gotta start over.

Thankfully it was just on one drawer, so I pulled that drawer aside and I sprayed it with a couple of coats of clear shellac. And then I let it dry overnight again.

Then the next day I just wiped on some paint all over that one drawer, because I didn’t want to get my sprayer dirty for such a small area.

Topcoat with Polyurethane Again

After the 2 coats of paint were dry, I sprayed the dresser again with a topcoat, so I ended up with 3 coats of topcoat on all of it.

Did you keep track of how many coats of everything I used?? I lost track haha. Learn more about the best topcoats for painting furniture here.

Add New Hardware

To finish it off, we put new hardware on each drawer. I really wanted to put the edge drawer pulls on, but since the bottom drawers really are one drawer and not 2 drawers, I couldn’t pull those off.

So I ended up going with these simple knobs.

Close up of black knobs on modern chalk painted dresser

And I love them! It looks so sleek. I had such a hard time deciding on what hardware to put on this piece.

These knobs weren’t my first choice, but because of how the drawers were, I couldn’t use my first choice. I love these knobs though, so I think it worked out in the end.

The bleedthrough was a bit of a pain, but it could have been so much worse. I’m so glad it was only a few spots on one drawer!

Watch the full video of this makeover here or scroll down to see what it looks like now!

Closeup of cream dresser painted with homemade chalk paint
Modern tan chalk painted dresser with black knobs

More Before And After Makeovers

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

Full view of cream chalk painted dresser with black knobs

And the homemade chalk paint went on like a dream. It sticks super, super well too…Actually, I forgot how good homemade chalk paint is. So I’m so glad that I tried it again.

Anyway, what do you think??

Homemade Chalk Paint Dresser Makeover

Homemade chalk paint dresser makeover

Turn any old or thrifted furniture brand new. Here's how to make and paint with homemade chalk paint.


  1. Prep the dresser for paint. Remove its hardware, clean it off, and fill in the old hardware holes. Then sand everything with 150 grit and then with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it a little bit more for paint. Vacuum all the dust from sanding.
  2. Apply 2 coats of primer onto the dresser to prevent bleed through stain. Let the primer dry for at least an hour between coats, and then overnight before painting.
  3. Mix up 1 cup of latex paint, 5 tbsp of calcium carbonate powder, and 1-2 tbsp of water to make homemade chalk paint. Mix it together really well.
  4. Apply homemade chalk paint onto dresser. After the first coat dries and there's any wood grain and scratches, fill them in then sand them down. Prime then paint those filled in areas after. Paint dresser with 2-3 coats.
  5. After that last coat of paint dries, lightly sand the dresser with 400 grit sandpaper to make the paint finish feel smoother. Then seal the painted dresser with 2-3 coats of waterbased polyurethane.
  6. To finish it off, add your new dresser hardware.

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Old worn out dresser before getting a new paint job


  1. Can you please share the brand of shellac you used? Is it water based? Thanks so much! jodie

    1. The exact shellac that I used is linked in the supply list. It’s just regular clear shellac. I don’t recommend anything that says that it’s synthetic or waterbased shellac. Only the real, alcohol based stuff will really work.

  2. Sue Sherman says:

    Hi , Natalie, Great timing! I have this a dresser very similar to yours and planning on painting it a dark color. I normally use the spray shellac before moving on to painting but the dresser is in my basement and I have no way of of moving it at this time. My question is can I just scuff sand this piece and use an all-in-one paint? I’m torn now whether I’m doing the right thing by skipping the primer. You wouldn’t think it wouldn’t be a bleeder being a blonde finish to the dresser but i’m questioning myself now cause of your video. By the way, now I may change my knobs because of how beautiful yours looks now. Thank you again!


    1. Hey Sue!
      Ohh that’s so hard. You just never know if it’s going to bleed. If you go dark, you hopefully won’t have any issues!
      If you are really worried, you can prime it with a waterbased primer like grey zinsser 123 primer. And let the primer dry for a day before painting over it.
      Good luck!!

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