How to Paint a Dresser White

Are you tired of your old ugly furniture and want a painted white dresser instead? It’s easier than you might think! Learn how to paint a dresser white with this easy white dresser makeover.

See and learn from a list of more of our DIY dresser makeovers and get inspired!

Vintage Thomasville Dresser Before Paint

This is what the dresser looked like before painting it white.

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We recently refinished this stunning Thomasville Dresser that we had for 6 months! I can’t believe we waited that long to bring it back to life because it sure didn’t disappoint in white!

This dresser was solid, super well-built, and in excellent condition. The only problem was the old and outdated orangey wood finish.

The wood grain was pretty, but the vintage Thomasville drawer pulls were a little bit much for me. Look at how big and ornate they are!!

Supplies Used to Paint a Dresser White

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

Prepping Dresser for Paint

Start by removing the hardware.

You’ll want to clean off the dresser really well with something that will remove grease, grime, and build up. I use Krud Kutter for this because it cuts through all of these things so easily.

Read this post to learn more about how to clean furniture before painting. And learn more about how to prepare furniture for painting here!

Then fill in the old hardware holes (more about the best way to fill hardware holes here.)

Once the filler is dry, sand down the filler with 220 grit sandpaper until it is smooth and flush with the rest of the surface. Learn more about sandpaper for furniture painting here.

To help your paint stick to the wood dresser, lightly sand the rest of the dresser by hand with 220-grit sandpaper.

You don’t need to go down to bare wood by any means. But you do need to scuff up the surface so the paint has something to hold onto. Learn all about sanding before painting furniture here.

Vacuum off all of the dust and wipe it down with a clean damp rag.

How to Remove Drawers from Thomasville Dresser

A quick little sidenote: If you’re specifically working with a Thomasville dresser, you may be having a hard time with the drawers.

On this Thomasville dresser and another one I have worked on, the drawers seemed stuck. But they really just needed a good straight pull to get them out.

Before trying to put all your muscle into pulling these drawers out, double and triple-check that there isn’t a latch or lever on the underside of the drawer, or even on the side drawer slides (depending on your drawers).

If your drawers are still giving you trouble, here’s a guide on how to repair worn drawer runners that can be the cause.

How to Prevent Bleed Through When Painting

The last step in prepping to paint a dresser white is to prevent bleedthrough, AND it’s the most important step to a white dresser makeover.

What?? If you skip this step, your white paint will end up with yellow, pink, or brown splotches or stains all over. Sometimes you won’t notice it until after it is completely done!

And then you have to start all over to get these stains to go away, and no matter how many coats of paint, these stains will just keep reappearing. Unless you take this step to prevent it!

This step is really simple though!

Grab a can or two of this BIN shellac based primer. Then paint at least 2 coats of it, all over. Wait a few hours in between each coat, and then for best results, wait overnight after the second coat.

It works the very best if it has a chance to really dry! Learn more about the best primer for painting furniture (and how to choose the right one) here.

Spray Painting Dresser White

After a couple of years of painting furniture, I invested in this cheap Wagner sprayer. I can’t believe I waited so long to get one!

Wagner paint sprayer

Not only does it make painting faster, but it also provides a smooth, brush-free, even finish on all of my pieces! Plus those dreaded chairs or super-detailed pieces are a breeze!

But don’t worry if you don’t have a paint sprayer because you can also get a brush-free finish with just a brush using this little trick in this post on how to paint furniture without brush marks!

Learn how to use a paint sprayer on furniture – how to thin out paint, how to protect everything from overspray, and so much more!

You NEED to have it in your life if you’re painting furniture very often. It’s cheap and doesn’t need an air compressor. It basically pays for itself even if you’re doing just one or two large projects!

Learn all about the best HVLP paint sprayers for furniture here!

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Painting with Homemade Chalk Paint

One of my go-to paints is a homemade chalk paint recipe made with Behr paint and calcium carbonate powder.

Because I use Behr paint my color options are endless, like these dark navy blue nightstands we painted with homemade chalk paint from latex paint!

But for this project, I went with the plain and simple “Pure White”. Yep, I just walked up to the paint shelf in Home Depot, grabbed a can of flat interior paint in Ultra Pure White, and continued on with my shopping.

Check out my list of the best white paint for furniture here.

No need to tint the paint, it’s already a great shade of white, plus I hate when the line is so long just to get one can of paint tinted. Get the tried and true homemade chalk paint recipe here.

When using my Wagner paint sprayer, no matter the exact paint, I thin the paint out, but it’s super simple and beats painting a huge dresser with a paintbrush.

You can use any brand of chalk paint in the sprayer too! I just always stick to water-based products for easy cleanup. Check out the best white chalk paint for furniture here.

And you can even use other paints that are not chalk paint too…like this white dresser we painted with General Finishes White Enduro Poly. Get more white painted furniture ideas here.

Painting a dresser white with a paint sprayer

Using a Paint Sprayer on Furniture

We took the dresser and drawers outside to our favorite paint spot. It’s in the rocks in a wide-open area so I don’t get overspray on anything that shouldn’t get painted.

Learn more about how to prevent overspray when painting furniture here!

We laid down a few cheap dollar tree shower curtains with wood blocks on each corner to keep the plastic from blowing away and put the dresser and doors up on 5-gallon paint buckets and a box.

I like to have the dresser up a bit, and those 5-gallon buckets do the trick.

I’ve used the same paint buckets for many years now, and they are still holding up! The best part is that I got them for free from a paint company after a project.

Learn more about spray paint tools you need when painting furniture here.

Spray about 3-4 thin coats to prevent the paint from dripping. White paint is notorious for having bad coverage. Thankfully the BIN primer used to prevent bleedthrough also helps with getting full coverage!

Once all the paint is dry, grab more 220-grit sandpaper and lightly sand along all the edges and flat surfaces to provide an even smoother finish as well as create a distressed look.

Learn more about the 6 best distressing furniture techniques here!

Top view of White Painted Dresser with distressed edges

Vacuum off the dust, and wipe it away.

Seal White Dresser and Add Hardware

Chalk paint is very porous and needs to be sealed with something. My very favorite and the most durable product is 3 coats of Varathane polyurethane

For the best-looking finish, I spray the water-based polyurethane on. Learn ALL of my tips and tricks on how to spray polyurethane here! And learn about all the options for topcoats for painting furniture here.

Last but not least, update the old vintage hardware with new modern hardware.

I opted to reuse the original knobs, so I sprayed all of the hardware with Rustoleum Metallic Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze before attaching it all back onto the dresser.

Learn how to paint hardware so it lasts!

The contrast between the hardware and the dresser looks so good, check out more black and white painted furniture ideas here.

Closeup of white painted and distressed dresser with bronze knobs
Dresser Painted White with bronze knobs

More Before And After Makeovers

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

Painted White Dresser with middle cabinet doors open

I couldn’t believe how it went from being an okay dresser to being a completely stunning piece that sold within a few hours of being listed for sale. Get more white painted dresser ideas here.

Check out some more DIY 9 drawer dressers here for inspiration.

For the farmhouse lover, add a weathered wood paint technique to the top of your white dresser! We’ve done this on white farmhouse end tables (in this post about how to create a weathered wood gray finish) and on a white painted coffee table!

For more about painting furniture white, check out this black TV stand that we transformed into a beautiful white tv stand!

White painted Thomasville dresser with distressed edges

How to Paint a Dresser White

white painted thomasville dresser

Give your old ugly furniture a fresh and new look with easy and simple steps. Here's how to paint a dresser white.


  1. Remove old hardware and clean the dresser with a degreaser to remove any dirt, grime or gunk.
  2. Fill in the hardware holes with wood filler then once the filler is dry, sand it down until it is smooth and flush with the rest of the surface.
  3. To help your paint stick to the wood dresser, lightly sand the rest of the dresser by hand. Vacuum and wipe off the dust.
  4. Paint 2 coats of primer to prevent bleedthrough. Wait a few hours in between each coat, and then for best results, wait overnight after the second coat.
  5. Mix up latex paint with some calcium carbonate powder to make homemade chalk paint.
  6. Paint 3-4 coats of white chalk paint onto the dresser. Once all the paint is dry, grab more sandpaper and lightly sand along all the edges and flat surfaces to provide an even smoother finish as well as create a distressed look.
  7. Seal the white chalk painted dresser with 3 coats of waterbased polyurethane.
  8. Paint the hardware and attach it to the dresser.

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Before and after of a Thomasville dresser getting painted white


  1. Heather Carter says:

    Love your projects! Would love to know more details about how you thin your paint and get it ready for the sprayer. Your "recipe" of paint to water, how much conditioner, do you strain the paint, etc

  2. Hey Heather!
    You'll be happy to know we have some blog posts coming up very soon with that info! Make sure you're subscribed to our blog so you don't miss it.

  3. Can you spray paint the primer or do you have to use a brush? What is better?

    1. I prefer to spray paint the primer. Actually, I prefer to buy the primer in the spray paint cans so I don’t have to clean it out of my sprayer. I only like to put water based products in my sprayer.

  4. Cindy Shiltz says:

    i have arthritis in my hands. can you recommend a sander for scuff sanding furniture?

    1. The SurfPrep Sander is amazing. It comes with foam pads that make it possible to scuff sand furniture that isn’t flat. My hands get cramped really easily and it has really helped. You can learn more about it here. (It’s an investment, but there is a cheaper alternative too!)

  5. Natalie, I love your work! For cramps in your hands try eating a bag of potato chips, and also eating bananas helps with that. Make sure to eat salty potato chips.

    1. Oh interesting! Good to know. Thanks for sharing!

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