Painting a Wooden Dresser with Two Tone Finish

If you’re looking for one of those unique DIY dresser makeover ideas, here’s a treat for you! Painting a wood dresser with two tone finish would be an exciting project to take on. It will not only make your dresser stand out from the rest, but also give it a fresh and modern look.

It’s also a great cost effective alternative to buying a brand new dresser, especially when the current one just needs a little bit of love. So have your old wooden dresser ready and let’s get started!

wooden french dresser before painting

Welcome to Furniture Fixer Upper day, where we join 4 of our talented furniture friends and bring you brand new makeovers! I’ll link to my friend’s makeovers after our after photos at the bottom of this post! Don’t forget to check out their masterpieces!! Okay, back to our makeover!

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When painting a dresser, it’s common to stick with one color for the whole piece. You have tons of colors and finishes to choose from, but if you want to make a statement and add some personality, why not go for a two tone finish?

A two tone finish can mean using different colors or leaving raw or stained wood exposed in some areas. This creates a beautiful contrast and makes a piece truly unique. This works for both modern and rustic styles, so it can fit right into any home.

So if you haven’t tried this style yet, now may be the time! We will show you the steps on how we transformed our wooden dresser and how you can also turn yours into a stunner with a two tone finish. Let’s dive in!

scroll down to see the after photos

Supplies Used for Painting a Wooden Dresser with Two Tone Finish

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Prepping Dresser for Makeover

First, we removed all the hardware from the dresser using a screwdriver. Getting them off is important to make sure no paint gets on them and they can easily be reattached later. You can even use this chance to change into new hardware if you want a more updated look. Here’s how to change hardware on a dresser for a detailed guide on this!

removing furniture hardware

Next, we thoroughly cleaned the dresser inside and out using Krud Kutter. Our dresser was extra dirty, so we vacuumed and sprayed Krud Kutter all over the inside of the drawers and wiped it all out to make sure it was completely clean inside and out.

You want a clean surface for the paint to adhere well to. Check out our guide on how to clean furniture before painting to learn more how to properly do this step.

After cleaning, we filled in scratches and dings on the surface of the dresser using Elmer’s natural wood filler. This step is important for a smooth and flawless finish for painting. We let the filler dry completely before sanding it down to be flush with the rest of the dresser using a SurfPrep sander with medium grit foam pads and 220 grit sandpaper.

using wood filler to repair scratches

GreenEZ Furniture Strip and Clean

For the two tone finish, we’re removing the finish on the top of the dresser and leaving it as raw wood. The top already had scratches from water damage, so it did need to be stripped down. We used GreenEZ stripper, a great eco friendly option to removing old finishes from wood.

We brushed a thick layer of the GreenEZ stripper onto the dresser top and let it sit for over 3 hours so it could do its job. When we scraped off the stripper, most of the finish came off but there was still some texture and stain left behind. So we scraped those off using a carbide scraper while the wood was still wet.

applying GreenEZ stripper to remove old finish and scraping it off with scraper

What if we waited a little longer to remove the stripper? It might have worked better without so much elbow grease. Anyways, it still worked out in the end. Then we cleaned off the remaining residue using paper towels and the GreenEZ cleaner. We let everything dry for a day before moving on to the next step.

Here’s how to remove paint from wood without sanding to learn more about the different methods of removing paint without sanding!

Sanding and Priming Wood Dresser

We sanded the raw wood with our SurfPrep Sander and 150 grit sandpaper. We did this to finish removing the old stain and topcoat and smooth out the wood. We were also extra careful not to sand through the wood because it was veneer and thin, as well as to keep the wood natural.

We vacuumed all the dust from sanding with shop vac with a hose and brush attachment, and wiped off any remaining dust with a tack cloth. Again, we need a clean surface to paint over to create a smooth finish.

To prevent getting any paint on the raw wood top while painting the rest of dresser, we taped it off with 3M pre-taped plastic and painters tape. We also taped off the drawers to prevent any overspray from getting inside. Here’s how to prevent overspray when painting furniture for more tips on avoiding messy mistakes.

using pre-taped plastic to prevent getting any paint on the raw wood

And to really make sure the paint sticks, as well as stop any bleed through or discoloration from appearing, we sprayed 2 coats of clear shellac on the dresser. We let it dry overnight before proceeding to the painting stage. You can learn more on how to stop stains from coming through paint here so you don’t face any unwanted surprises after painting.

How to Spray Paint Couture Paint

We sprayed the dresser with Paint Couture Paint in Vintage Moss and a paint sprayer. It’s a gorgeous green color that perfectly complements the natural wood top. And to make sure the paint sprays evenly and smoothly, we thinned it with 15% water. Check out our post on how to thin paint for a sprayer for a more detailed guide on this process.

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How to Use Vonforn Paint Sprayer

We sprayed the Paint Couture Paint with the cheap Vonforn paint sprayer. It came with 4 nozzles, and we used the 1.5mm one. It’s the blue/green tip that’s best for furniture and fine finishes.

We painted our dresser with 2 coats, spraying with a side to side or up and down motion about 5-6 inches away from the surface. We made sure to overlap our spray by 50% each time to guarantee even coverage and no missed spots. Then we let the painted dresser dry overnight.

green spray painted dresser with Vonforn Sprayer

The Vonforn paint sprayer actually worked so well, especially for its price! There was no texture in the paint at all. If you’re curious about this tool, here’s our Vonforn paint sprayer review. We also have a guide on how to use Vonforn paint sprayer with more tips and tricks for a successful painting experience with it.

taped off dresser to prevent overspray

Sealing Two Toned Dresser

The next day, we applied a topcoat onto the dresser, including the raw wood. So we first removed the plastic from the top and wiped it off with a tack cloth.

And still using the Vonforn sprayer, we put Varathane waterbased polyurethane into it, thinned with about 10% water, and applied 3 coats of topcoat all over the dresser for maximum protection and durability. Here’s our sealing painted furniture post for more helpful tips about sealing furniture!

sealing the dresser with polyurethane using vonforn paint sprayer

We let the sealed dresser dry for 24 hours before continuing with any final touches. Then we reattached the old hardware, but we did flip them upside down because we love it that way.

Here’s what to use to seal wood before painting for more details about the sealers we recommend for your wood furniture.

And here’s how our dresser turned out! The two toned finish is such a beautiful combination of natural wood and vintage green. We hope this tutorial was helpful and inspires you to try this style on your own piece!

green dresser with wood top
green painted french provincial dresser with raw wood top

More Before And After Makeovers

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

green painted two tone dresser

Don’t forget to check out these other awesome before and after furniture makeovers from my Furniture friends!! (Click the links below the photos!)

collage of 5 pieces of wooden furniture before paint
scroll up if you missed the after photos

Painting a Wooden Dresser with Two Tone Finish

Wooden dresser with two tone finish

This makeover on painting a wood dresser with two tone finish features the beautiful combination of a natural wood top and vintage green paint.


  1. Remove the hardware from your dresser to make way for easy painting. Proceed to clean the dresser with Krud Kutter for a clean surface to work on. After cleaning, fill in any scratches or dings with wood filler, and sand it smooth once dried.
  2. For the two tone finish, strip off the top layer using an eco friendly stripper like GreenEZ. Let it sit for a few hours and then scrape it off, removing most of the old finish. For any leftover texture and stain, use a carbide scraper to get rid of it while the wood is still wet. Once you're satisfied with the stripped top, clean off any residue using paper towels and the GreenEZ cleaner.
  3. After letting the dresser dry for a day, sand the raw wood with a sander and 150 grit sandpaper to remove any remaining old finish and smooth out the surface. Vacuum off any dust and wipe down the surface with a tack cloth for a clean base.
  4. To prevent overspray, tape off the top of the dresser with plastic and painters tape. You can also tape off the drawers to avoid any paint getting inside.
  5. Spray clear shellac onto the dresser to make sure the paint will stick and to prevent any bleed through or discoloration. Apply 2 coats and let it dry overnight before painting.
  6. Thin the Paint Couture Paint with 15% water and spray 2 coats onto the dresser using a Vonforn paint sprayer with the 1.5mm nozzle. Spray the paint in a side to side or up and down motion about 5-6 inches away from the surface and overlap the spray by 50% each time for even coverage and no missed spots. Then let the painted dresser dry overnight.
  7. Thin Varathane waterbased polyurethane with about 10% water and use the Vonforn sprayer to apply 3 coats as a topcoat for maximum protection and durability. Let the sealed dresser dry for 24 hours before adding any final touches.
  8. Reattach the old hardware and enjoy!

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