Painting a Dresser

Painting a dresser is a fairly easy way to make it look new again, or make it match your style of decor. Here’s a great way to paint a dresser so it looks like a pro did it! (And so it will last a long time!)

Get more blue painted furniture ideas here!

long dresser before getting painted

Alright, we found this set of dressers… and thought it would be fun to have a little friendly competition between my husband and me.

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I’m painting the long dresser and he’s painting the tall one… and you get to decide who did it better.

Both of these dressers will be for sale too… sooo I wonder which one will sell faster and which one for more money. Haha

If you want to know how to make money painting furniture, check out this post to learn more.

Today I’m sharing my makeover, and next time we’ll share his.

scroll down to see the after photos

Supplies Used For Painting A Dresser

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Grab our list of the 10 must have painting furniture supplies too!

Prep Dresser Before Painting

Okay, so of course I removed the old hardware and cleaned the dresser with Krud Kutter. Krud Kutter is my favorite cleaner to clean furniture with before painting.

I just spray it on and then wipe and scrub the surface to remove all of the gunk. Learn more on how to clean furniture before painting here.

And read this post to learn more about how to prepare furniture for painting.

Cleaning the dirt and grime off a dresser with Krud Kutter and a damp rag.

The inside got a good vacuum job as well. Haha I’ll come back and freshen up the inside of the drawers later with some Wise Owl furniture salve.

Then I sanded the dresser with 220 grit sandpaper on my SurfPrep sander.

Read this post to learn more about SurfPrep sander and why I love it so much! Or learn about the best sanders for furniture here!

The top of these dressers are made of laminate, which is basically a plastic, so I sanded the laminate extra well.

When I got down to the areas that had some more detail, I switched the sandpaper for a fine grit foam pad to help me get into the curves and details better.

Learn more about sandpaper for furniture painting here.

Using a fine grit foam pad on my SurfPrep sander to scuff sand.

This step is called scuff sanding and a little bit of it goes a long way to help make the paint stick to wood and laminate. Read this post to learn more about sanding before painting furniture.

This sander is hooked up to my shop vac, so most of the dust gets sucked up, but not all of it, so I always go back and vacuum up the dust, and wipe everything off with a tack cloth, just to make sure the dust is all gone.

Prime Dresser Before Painting

An hour after I started this project, I was done with the prep, so I moved on to priming. I sprayed 2 coats of clear shellac all over the dresser, letting it dry for an hour between coats.

Spraying clear shellac on a dresser before painting

Do I Need to Prime?

This clear shellac helps make paint stick, but it also blocks this annoying thing called bleedthrough. Bleedthrough is basically stains that come through the paint, from wood.

And they will just keep showing up even if you keep painting more coats of paint on…until you use a product that will block them.  

So far, it has worked well with every paint that I have used it with. Chalk paint, mineral paint, latex, all-in-one, acrylic, enamel…

Learn more about how to stop stains from coming through paint here!

Why Clear Shellac?

I like it because I can spray it on easily, it dries quickly, it’s clear, it helps the paint stick to wood and laminate, and it blocks bleedthrough really well… It’s just my preferred primer.

But, you can definitely use a different product that is actually technically a primer instead. haha (Shellac Based is best for furniture!) Learn more about the best primers for painting furniture here.

Paint Dresser

Now that we have all that cleaning, sanding, priming, and prep work out of the way, our dresser is finally ready to get painted!

If your dresser has existing paint, there might be a few things you need to look into. Here’s our guide on how to repaint a dresser.

Painting and Whitewashing Laminate Top

Alright, this makeover I wanted to try something I haven’t done before… and it was a total flop. But… it is what it is. I wanted to see if I could whitewash the laminate top.

So I brushed on some thinned-out paint, but I didn’t wipe it away because well, it obviously didn’t soak into the laminate like it usually would soak into the wood…

Read through this post to learn how to whitewash wood.

Brushing thinned-out paint onto the top of the dresser.

I let it dry like that… and it honestly… just didn’t look good. So I tried sanding it a bit. But this Fusion paint was on there pretty good.

I could have tried harder, but I decided to just try a different technique. So I guess I’ll have to find another piece to whitewash in the future. Check out whitewashed furniture ideas here.

By the way, learn more about how to paint laminate furniture without sanding here.

So, I painted a second coat, and let it dry.

Staining Whitewashed Top

And then I put some water-based wood stain on it. Water-based wood stain is… different than oil-based. It dries faster, it’s more workable… which is a good thing and a bad thing.

I ended up going back over it with more stain on the whole thing 3 different times, all within 25 minutes before I finally got it looking decent.

Check out the best wood stains for refinishing furniture here.

Wiping water-based stain on dresser top

So then I let that dry. I’m still not sure that I love it, but I thought you guys might like it, so I left it… and moved on to the next part… thinking I may or may not paint over it.

Spraying Fusion Mineral Paint Onto Dresser

The next day, I mixed up a few different paint colors from Fusion. I mixed what I had left of Little Whale and French Eggshell. And then I mixed in some Homestead blue and Casement.

Then I poured it into my favorite entry-level paint sprayer that you’ve seen me using in soo many videos now.

Pouring and thinning Fusion Mineral Paint into a paint sprayer

And I mixed a little water in as well to thin it out and make it spray a nicer-looking finish.

Learn more about using the Wagner FLEXiO 3000 paint sprayer in this DIY blue painted nightstands makeover. And here’s how to thin paint for Wagner FLEXiO sprayer.

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Fusion Mineral Paint

Let’s talk about the paint for just a second shall we? Fusion Mineral Paint is a super durable paint. It adheres very well, dries quickly, and dries hard.

My only complaint with it is that it dries to a matte finish. Otherwise, I love it! Check out this comparison post on Fusion Mineral Paint VS Heirloom Traditions Paint.

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Painting Dresser with a Paint Sprayer

Before I sprayed though, I taped the top off with some yellow frog tape, because it’s for delicate surfaces, like surfaces that have recently been painted.

Check out this post to learn how to prevent paint bleed through painter’s tape. Find out what is the best painters tape that doesn’t bleed here.

And then I put some pretaped plastic over the rest of the top to cover it all up. Read this post to learn more about how to prevent overspray when painting furniture.

And then I tested the sprayer out before I sprayed the dresser. I turned the little paint flow dial until I got it where I felt good about it. And I sprayed a light coat of paint all over.

Check out more light blue painted furniture here. And if you want to add a cool personality and style to your home, here’s our list of two tone dresser ideas!

spraying Fusion Mineral Paint onto a dresser using a paint sprayer

Painting the Inside of the Drawers with a Brush

When the paint felt dry, I opened up the drawers… and since I was feeling lazy, I brushed some paint on the top and side edges of the drawer front.

Typically, I tape the drawers in plastic so I can spray them… but I didn’t feel like it. So I brushed 2 coats on with the Staalmeester paintbrush.

Brushing paint on the top drawer fronts of the dresser

Whenever I use Fusion Mineral Paint, the Staalmeester brush is my go-to. It honestly really helps reduce the brush marks left behind with Fusion Paint.

Learn more about the best paint brushes for painting furniture here!

Taking Care of Paint Drips and Touch-Ups

When the drawers were dry, I pushed them back in and noticed some paint drips, so I sanded out the paint drips with a fine-grit foam sponge, cleaned up the dust, and then sprayed a second coat of paint.

Check out my guide on how to fix spray paint drips to ensure an even finish.

And then I noticed a nice scratch on the top of the dresser that I hadn’t noticed before.

Sooooo with a lot of annoyance, I filled it in, touched up the paint, sanded the paint, and stained it…. I ended up doing that a couple of times before I gave in and just painted that whole front edge again.

Why do I try to cut corners?? It always takes more time in the end!

Topcoat Painted Dresser

With that all done, I finally moved on to the topcoat. Fusion technically doesn’t need a topcoat to be durable.

But, I don’t care for the matte finish that gets dirty and scuffed up easily.. so I topcoat it. You can read all about the different options of topcoats for painting furniture here!

Spraying Polyurethane

But, with a sprayer, top coating is so stinking easy.

I mixed up my favorite topcoat, poured it into the sprayer, added a splash of water, mixed it again, and then sprayed 2 coats of it all over the dresser, letting it dry between coats.

Topcoat painted dresser using paint sprayer

Since I’m a bit OCD with how my furniture feels, I sanded the top with 400-grit sandpaper to help make it feel smooth, cleaned off the dust, and then sprayed another coat just on the top.

Check out this post to learn more about all my tips on spraying polyurethane.

Attach New Hardware

By the time all of the topcoat was done, I had figured out the hardware situation… But, the new hardware was just ¼ of an inch bigger than the original hardware.

Holding up the new hardware to the existing hardware holes.

Soooo instead of filling in the old hardware holes and drilling new holes, I just kind of used a drill bit to make the hole wider… wide enough for the screws to attach to the new pulls, but not too big that they would show past the base of the hardware.

Here’s what it looks like now!

Top view of the finished blue painted dresser with wood stained top.
Front view of blue painted dresser with a brown top and new hardware.

More Before And After Makeovers

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

Close side angle view of a blue dresser with a brown top.
Finished dresser makeover using Fusion mineral paint.

I’m still not 100% sold on the top. I love the color though! What do you think?? Do you think I should redo it? Check out more french blue painted furniture here.

It’s funny, my husband is getting close to being done with his makeover now, and I think I might like his better! I can’t wait for you to see it!

scroll up if you missed the after photos

Painting a Dresser

Light blue painted dresser with a brown weathered top

Painting a dresser is a great way to transform outdated furniture into a piece that would match your home! Here are the steps on how to paint a dresser like a pro.

Instructions

  1. Remove old hardware, clean the dresser and scuff sand the surface to prep for paint. For laminate tops, sand the laminate extra well. Vacuum and wipe all the dust.
  2. Prime dresser with 2 coats of shellac, letting it dry for an hour between coats.
  3. Whitewash the laminate top with some thinned-out paint to create a natural weathered look.
  4. Pour paint into the paint sprayer through a mesh filter and mix a little water to thin it out. Before spraying the paint, tape off the top to prevent overspray.
  5. Now, spray a couple of coats of paint all over the dresser. When the paint dries, you can brush 2 coats of paint onto the top and side edges of the drawers.
  6. For any paint drips, sand them out with a fine-grit foam sponge, clean up the dust, then spray another coat of paint.
  7. For topcoat, mix up polyurethane, pour it into the paint sprayer, add a splash of water, mix it again, and then spray 2 coats of it all over the dresser, letting it dry between coats.
  8. Attach new hardware and enjoy!

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Before photo of a long dresser before getting painted.

3 Comments

  1. Ok, I actually like it although I’d rather be able to see it in person! The whole time I was reading thing, I was thinking of my custom laminate dining table debachle. I guess I could try this, but it’s 72 inches plus leaf and I worry I wouldn’t get it to look as nice. Plus the durability part is equivalent to me just painting it. Thanks for sharing your process. I say keep it this way, don’t paint over it.

  2. So where do we see your husband finished product.

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