Painting a Dresser White can be pretty easy as long as you use a good primer and use the right paint! Check out this simple way to get a durable and professional finish on a white-painted dresser!
Find more DIY Dresser Makeover ideas here.
So, we found a set of dressers… and thought it would be fun to have a little friendly competition between my wife and me.
Now it’s my turn to paint this tall dresser, and you get to decide who did it better!
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Painting a Dresser White
- Sand & Topcoat Drawers
- Attach New Hardware
- Electric Screwdriver
- Flexible Drill Bit Extension
- Cordless Drill
- Wood Glue
- Krud Kutter and a Damp Rag
- Wood Filler
- 220 Grit Sandpaper
- Tack Cloth
- Painters Tape
- Pre-Taped Painters Plastic
- Plastic Wrap
- Cheap Paintbrush (for the stripper)
- Sponge or Steel Wool
- Mineral Spirits
- Lint-Free Rags
- BIN Shellac-Based Primer Spray Cans
- SurfPrep Sander (Get 10% off with code RAY10)
- Fine Grit Foam Sanding Pad
- General Finishes White Eduro Poly
- Paint Sprayer
- Paint Filter
- Polyurethane Topcoat
- Tile Grout Sponge and Pantyhose
- Small Detail Paintbrush
- DIY Leather Pulls
Want to know what my favorite paint & supplies are for painting furniture?
Download my FREE Must-Have Supply List here!
Step 1: Prep
Remove Hardware/Make Repairs
I got started by removing the old hardware and then fixing the drawer.
The top-drawer track was cracked so I glued it back together and clamped it. When the glue was dry, I screwed it back into the dresser.
It was a really tight spot and my small screwdriver wouldn’t fit in the back, so I used a handy little flexible drill bit attachment to screw it back in back there.
Then I used some Krud Kutter and a damp rag to remove all the nasty dirt and grime.
I also took some time to vacuum out the drawers and the inside of the dresser too.
There were also a few minor dings and scratches that I filled in with a little wood filler.
When the wood filler was dry, I sanded the areas that I filled, and I scuff-sanded the rest of the dresser with 220 grit sandpaper.
Then I vacuumed off the dust and wiped off any remaining residue with a tack cloth.
To get the 3 bottom drawers ready to be stripped, I put small pieces of tape on the inside of the hardware holes to help keep stripper from dripping into the drawers.
And then I wrapped the drawers with pre-taped plastic.
Now I was ready to generously apply Citristrip on the drawer fronts.
We love this stuff because it doesn’t have the harsh smell that some other strippers do!
One trick that Natalie has taught me is to cover the stripper with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
This keeps the stripper from drying out too fast and lets it work its magic on the wood a little bit longer.
The next day I removed the plastic wrap and scraped the stripper off the drawers.
Then I used a sponge and some mineral spirits to scrub the drawer fronts to remove the stripper residue.
We usually use steel wool for this part, but we didn’t have any, so I made a sponge work.
Learn more tips and tricks on how to remove old stain from wood here!
It took a few days for the wood grain to dry out to see how the drawers looked, so we went back to work on the dresser and moved it outside to prime it.
Step 2: Prime
I sprayed 2 coats of BIN Shellac Based Primer on the dresser, letting it dry for 30 minutes between coats.
Not only does primer help the paint to stick better, but it also helps your paint have much better coverage and this primer helps prevent stains from bleeding through and staining the paint…especially when painting white like I planned to do with this dresser!
When the second coat of primer was dry, we moved the dresser back into the garage and I lightly sanded down all of the primed surface to make it nice and smooth.
I personally have a fear of sanding primer too far and having to redo it again and again, so I sanded pretty lightly.
And of course, I cleaned off all that dust I created while sanding with a vacuum and tack cloth again.
Step 3: Paint
Then it was finally time to paint! For this dresser I used General Finishes White Enduro Poly, mixed it really good and then poured it into my paint sprayer.
This paint doesn’t need a topcoat, and it’s already thin, so you don’t have to thin it before putting it in the sprayer, which makes my life as a beginner so much easier!
I was pretty happy with how well it sprayed on…until I looked a little closer and saw a nice drip on the side by the leg.
So, I rubbed the drip out with my finger as much as I could while it was wet, and then I sanded it down smooth after it dried.
The rest of the dresser felt a little more textured than I prefer, so I also did a quick hand sanding job with a fine grit foam pad.
Then I cleaned all the dust off and sprayed a second coat…and whoopsie!!!! I thought the first coat dripped bad, but the second coat had some pretty thick drips and runs.
So, I brushed those drips out the best that I could, waited for them to dry, and sanded them back down smooth.
I figured before spraying the third coat that I better test out the sprayer and lower the amount of paint that came out.
After that I sprayed the third coat and it went on so much better with no drips!
The finish felt pretty good on the dresser after 3 coats, but I did rub a brown paper bag all over it just to smooth it out a little bit more.
The top also still felt a bit rough from the overspray that settled on it.
So, we laid the dresser on its back and sprayed the top and sides with a 4th coat, hoping it would be smoother as it dried vertically instead of horizontally…and it worked!
Step 4: Sand/Topcoat The Drawers
There were a few spots where the finish on the drawers didn’t come off all of the way.
So, I sanded that off with 220 grit sandpaper.
Oh, and remember this top drawer with all the detail on it that we painted white!?
Well, I stole Natalie’s idea to sand the raised part down to bare wood and leave the white paint in the recessed areas.
Then I cleaned all the drawers off and gave them 3 coats of varathane polyurethane for a topcoat…
But when I wiped the poly over the wood detail on the top drawer, I accidentally got poly on some of the white-painted areas too.
And the poly had somehow picked up the dust from the wood, so it wasn’t clear anymore.
And since Natalie has a much steadier hand than me, she offered to fix my mistake and touch up the white paint for me.
And I think it looks so much better now!
Step 5: Attach New Hardware
All this dresser needed now was some new hardware!
I wanted to try these leather pulls that you might have seen Natalie use on some of her other makeovers.
The bolts were a little big for the existing hardware holes, so I used a drill bit to make the holes slightly bigger.
Learn how to make these DIY Leather Pulls here!
Here’s what it looks like now!
I personally love the white with the contrast of the wood drawers and the leather pulls.
I think this is my favorite makeover I have done yet…even though its only my third one!
But the real question is… do you like my dresser better or Natalie’s dresser better!?