What Paint to Use on a Dresser

If you’re looking to give your dresser a fresh new look, then you’ll need to know what paint to use on a dresser. Luckily, there are lots of options out there that, when used correctly and with care, can produce stunning results. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best paints for painting a dresser and what kind of look you can expect to get with each one.

Don’t forget to get more tips and tricks for painting furniture here.

closeup of navy blue dresser and what paint to use on a dresser
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What Kind of Paint to Use on Wood Dresser

Honestly, it all depends on what you are wanting your dresser to look like in the end.

  • Are you after a sleek modern look?
  • Shabby chic?
  • Farmhouse style?
  • Distressed dresser?
  • Chippy paint look?

It’s best to pick what paint you want to use by first deciding on what you want your dresser to look like.

There are easier, faster, and better options out there to get the look you want, on a budget. Take your pick from this list – with examples and more detail below!

  • Latex Paint
  • Chalk Paint
  • Milk Paint
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Mineral Paint
  • Pigmented Poly

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No Prep Furniture Paint

I want to be super clear from the very beginning. No matter what, if you don’t prep your dresser for paint, you will run the risk of it not sticking to the dresser.

I know a lot of paint companies boast that they are a no prep furniture paint, but that’s just a gimmick to make you want to buy their paint.

You really need to prep your furniture for paint! If you don’t prep, your painted finish won’t last long at all! Learn more about preparing furniture for painting here.

Latex Furniture Paint

Latex paint is the easiest paint to get ahold of locally. It’s in every hardware store. It is made for painting walls.

Yes, it may be a cheap option, but when you add in the primer needed before the latex paint, and then the polyurethane to go on top of the latex paint, it’s not cost-effective, or even easy!

Because of those things, I don’t really recommend latex paint. But if you’re in a pinch, you CAN paint furniture with latex paint. Learn the secret to painting furniture with latex paint here.

Chalk Paint

Chalk painted furniture is the hot thing right now. I got the chalk painting bug a few years ago, and it’s one reason why I’m painting and selling furniture now.

Green Country Chic chalk paint for dresser

Chalk paint is one of those paints that have claimed to be a no prep furniture paint.

And to be honest, it does a great job of sticking to most furniture. But if there is any shine or slickness to your furniture, it can and will easily scratch off.

Side note: Country Chic Paint is my favorite chalk style paint. They are a very generous company, and their eco-friendly paint line has such pretty colors. The paint itself has great bonding properties and is so easy to use.

Green chalk painted dresser
View this makeover – The Green Painted Modern Dresser

Chalk paint doesn’t require a primer like latex paint does, but it’s super porous, which means that it will suck up any water, oil, stains, or basically anything super easily.

So if you want to be able to easily wipe food or grime off of it, it has to be sealed.

You can seal any chalk paint with water-based polyurethane, hemp oil or wax. My preference is in that order. Water-based poly being the most durable of them all.

Here are some ways to seal chalk paint.

Chalk paint also comes in spray cans. Check out how to use spray chalk paint here.

What Paintbrush to Use with Chalk Paint

Honestly, you can use anything from a dollar store paintbrush to an expensive Annie Sloan paintbrush. Each brand of paint has its own paintbrush that they say work best with their paint.

But in all reality, you can paint with any brush that you want. A dollar store paintbrush will do the job, but it will also create more texture with brush marks in your finish than other paintbrushes.

My personal favorite paintbrush for Country Chic Paint is their painting sponge.

It helps get rid of brush marks when you thin the paint out a bit, but it also makes it really easy to get into details and paint spindles.

The painting sponge is also really really amazing for applying polyurethane topcoat to chalk paint!

How to Make Chalk Paint

For a budget-friendly option, you can make homemade chalk paint! After using homemade chalk paint for a few years, this is my favorite homemade chalk paint recipe.

Favorite Chalk Paint Dresser Makeovers

Milk Paint

Mixing Shackteau Interiors milk paint for a dresser

What is Milk Paint?

Milk paint is another one of my favorite paints for furniture! Milk paint makes your furniture look old! It is used to create an old-world look, a chippy painted finish or even a solid painted finish.

Milk paint comes in a powdered form, so you have to mix it with water before you can paint. I love milk paint for how unique it is. It’s the easiest way to make your dresser have a chippy finish.

And the way that it dries just makes it look like the dresser has been painted for years and years. Learn how to use milk paint on furniture here.

The best milk paint for furniture is Shackteau Interiors Milk Paint. It mixes up really smooth, she has great customer service, and she actually paints with her milk paint every day!

I’ve also used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint with great results. This milk paint is not the same as General Finishes Milk Paint. More about that later (in the Acrylic Furniture Paint section).

What Paintbrush to Use with Milk Paint

Again, you can use any paintbrush that you want, but my very favorite for milk paint is the Zibra paintbrush line! They are easily found at Home Depot or Amazon.

But the best thing about Zibra paintbrushes is that they come in different shapes. The round brush is nice for spindles and getting into details and tends to be my very favorite!

If you really want a true brush-free finish with chalk paint, learn how to spray paint a dresser with chalk paint here!

Favorite Milk Paint Dresser Makeovers

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Chalk Paint vs Milk Paint

Comparing chalk paint to milk paint is like comparing apples to oranges. They are two different things. But we get this question all the time.

They are both great types of furniture paint, but the finish that they create is different.

Some of the biggest differences between chalk paint and powdered milk paint are:

  • Chalk paint comes pre-mixed, while milk paint comes in a powder form.
  • Chalk paint creates a solid color finish, while milk paint has variations of color.
  • Milk paint is known for the chippy finish it can create while chalk paint is known for an opaque finish.

Some of the biggest similarities between chalk paint and powdered milk paint are:

  • Both are easy to use.
  • Both are very porous and need to be sealed with either water-based polyurethane, hemp oil, or wax.
  • Both can be distressed easily.

Acrylic Furniture Paint

General Finishes Milk Paint on Nightstand Makeover

This type of furniture paint isn’t as well known by its name. It’s typically actually known as General Finishes Milk Paint.

I’m really not sure why they call it milk paint, because it’s nothing like the real thing (the powdered form of milk paint).

General Finishes Milk Paint comes in a pre-mixed liquid form (like most paint does), unlike the real milk paint.

Pair of Nightstands Painted in Acrylic Paint
View this makeover – How to Upcycle a Desk into a Pair of Nightstands

It has AMAZING leveling properties which basically just creates fewer brush marks. (Compared to chalk paint that typically is thick with brush marks and texture.)

This acrylic paint also doesn’t need to be sealed like chalk paint or milk paint. But for extra durability on high traffic surfaces, it should be given a few coats of water-based polyurethane.

What Paintbrush to Use with General Finishes Milk Paint

Again, you can use whatever brush you want. But I would recommend either the painting sponge or a Zibra paintbrush (find out more about those above in the chalk paint and milk paint sections).

If you really want to remove brush marks though, you can thin the milk paint out with some water and then use a Cling On brush.

They are way more expensive, but holy moly they do an amazing job at removing brush marks!

Favorite General Finishes Milk Paint Makeovers

General Finishes Milk Paint vs Chalk Paint

General Finishes Milk Paint (the acrylic kind) and chalk paint are a lot more similar than powdered milk paint and chalk paint.

Some of the biggest similarities between chalk paint and General Finishes Milk Paint are:

  • Both are very easy to use!
  • General Finishes Milk Paint has great adhesion like chalk paint. It doesn’t require a bonding primer in all cases, just like chalk paint.
  • It’s also very very thick like chalk paint. Actually it may be thicker than the thickest chalk paint brands. No worries though, it’s easy to thin General Finishes Milk Paint out with some water until it’s a better consistency.
  • Both can be easily distressed, though chalk paint distresses into a fine powder, and milk paint distresses with a more gummed up texture, closer to how latex paint distresses.

Some of the biggest differences between chalk paint and General Finishes Milk Paint are:

  • General Finishes Milk Paint has amazing leveling properties that help create a brush free finish. Chalk paint is known for texture and brush marks, so if you’re looking to get a brush free finish while painting with a brush, milk paint is the best option.
  • Milk paint also has a built-in topcoat for things that are lightly used. Chalk paint requires a topcoat, so this might be a huge difference to you. For heavy traffic areas though (like the top of a dresser), the extra protection of polyurethane is needed for milk paint.
  • General Finishes Milk Paint dries to a low luster sheen, kind of like an eggshell sheen. Chalk paint is very matte and porous. But when you put a different sheen of poly over either of them, you can change the sheen to your preference.

General Finishes Enduro Poly

General Finishes Enduro Black Poly

The Enduro Poly is another great General Finishes product! It is a pigmented poly that doesn’t need to be top-coated. As the name suggests, it’s durable like poly, but it’s pigmented like paint.

It creates a super smooth and very pretty satin sheen! The biggest downside is that it was made to be sprayed, so if you don’t have a paint sprayer, this isn’t the best option for you.

But you can invest in a cheap paint sprayer (my favorite budget-friendly sprayer that I used for years!) to spray it!

Dresser painted with General Finishes Enduro Black Poly
View this makeover – How to Easily Paint Black Furniture

Currently, it comes in black and white, but you can special request another color to be mixed up.

This retailer on Etsy can handle that for you! And they even offer it in quarts instead of gallons like most retailers!

The Easiest Way to Paint a Dresser – Mineral Paint

There is one last type of furniture paint on our list. And honestly, this is the easiest way to paint a dresser in my opinion. It’s called Fusion Mineral Paint.

Fusion Mineral Paint in Little Whale

They claim to have a built-in topcoat, which basically just means that you don’t need to put water-based polyurethane on it to make it durable.

In very high traffic areas, like tabletops, I would recommend a topcoat. But if it’s a lightly used dresser, I wouldn’t worry about top coating it.

I used to be very skeptical of their claim to a built-in topcoat until I tried it, and tested it. And now I’m a total believer!

It also has great bonding properties like chalk paint (though I still recommend prepping your dresser for paint!). It is also easy to distress, just like the rest of these paints (except for latex paint).

So if I were to recommend an easy way to paint a dresser, it would be with Fusion Mineral Paint.

What Paintbrush to Use with Fusion Mineral Paint

Again, any paintbrush will get the job done. But if you’re looking for a better quality finish, I really recommend the Staalmeester paintbrush!

Like the Cling On paintbrush, the Staalmeester paintbrushes are very high quality and help remove brush marks in your paint.

I was honestly blown away when I used a Staalmeester with Fusion Mineral Paint.

It went on SO well, and there were very very few brush marks left in the finish! I haven’t tried it with other paints yet, but it’s totally worth an investment for Fusion Mineral Paint!

Favorite Fusion Mineral Paint Dresser Makeovers

Blue stenciled Dresser Painted with Fusion Mineral Paint
View this makeover – How to Stencil Painted Furniture

Cheap Furniture Paint

You may be wondering what the best cheap paint is though. The cheapest option for just the paint is latex paint at less than $15 per quart.

But when you think of the primer and water-based poly needed to complete a dresser in latex paint, it really isn’t the cheapest option. (But it is typically the most locally accessible.)

If Fusion Mineral Paint is available in your local area, (see if you have any Fusion Mineral Paint retailers in your area here) I would say that is the cheapest furniture paint.

It covers very well, which means that a little bit goes a long way. And it doesn’t require a primer or topcoat. It also comes in pints so you don’t end up with a lot of waste.

If Fusion Mineral Paint isn’t available in your area, General Finishes Milk Paint (the acrylic kind) is usually a cheaper option, but I would recommend a topcoat as it doesn’t seem as durable as Fusion without a topcoat.

Check out this post to find out where to buy General Finishes Milk Paint locally.

Popular Furniture Paint Colors

Now you know the best types of furniture paint, but what color is the best? Here is our list of popular painted furniture colors so you don’t have to go through so many color options.

I hope that helps you choose what paint to use on a dresser! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below! And as always, please share this post with others!

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  1. Alma Hanlon says:

    Hi I bought the blue whale fusion mineral for my table and chairs and I also got cashmere to go with my table is oak but I do have to sand it down but I was told to use a primer because my table is oak and the oak grains may bleed through the paint she told me the name of the primer but I forgot could you help me with this thank you.

    1. Hey Alma!
      A great primer for bleed through is BIN shellac based primer. Clear shellac will also work with fusion mineral paint.

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