How To Paint A Dresser The Right Way

Do you have a piece of furniture that really needs to be redone? Or perhaps you’re building a piece and are a woodworking boss but aren’t an experienced painter. Either way, we have a great guide to help you get that piece painted. 

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Today, we’re focusing on painting a dresser or repainting a dresser. Because while some pieces of furniture, like benches, are easy to paint, dressers can be quite a pain. But they don’t have to be difficult! 

Note: a dresser is a set of drawers used in the bedroom primarily to store clothing. It is usually waist height or shorter and has anywhere from three drawers to a dozen drawers. This is the piece of furniture we are referring to. 

How To Paint A Dresser

Painting a dresser is similar to painting anything else. But dressers consist of a chest with a load of drawers. Each door needs to be painted separately so it can be difficult to find out how to do so properly. 

Keep in mind that this is a primed and ready dresser. A dresser that has wood filler used on it, that is sanded, and that has been primed with a good primer. That’s when you can begin these steps. We’ll go over the other steps on how to repaint a dresser. 

Step 1: Paint The Sides Of Each Drawer Face

After the dresser is ready to paint, you will start with the sides of each face. Use a good brush with bristles rather than foam and brush in the same direction all the way around. All four sides of each face should be painted. 

Give them a couple of coats. The first drawer should be dry by the time you get to it again. So you can slowly paint each of them, making sure that no paint drips or bubbles. This will affect the way the drawer closes.

Step 2: Paint The Faces

After you get the sides done, you can paint the faces of the drawers. Each face needs to be painted carefully and soon after the sides of the faces are painted. go with the grain on this one which will probably be longways.

This is probably the most important part of the process because the facing is what will be seen. It is better to drill holes for hardware before you paint so it won’t crack or disturb the paint whenever you install the hardware later. 

Step 3: Paint The Base

This can be done first or last, it doesn’t really matter. But it does need to be painted separately from the drawers. You need to let both the drawers and the base dry before putting them back together again.

When you paint the base, you should go with the grain and you can either use a roller or a soft and fine bristle brush depending on how large the dresser is. Either will work as long as there are no streaks or bubbles. 

How To Repaint A Dresser

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If you’re looking for a quick repainting dresser guide then this should do you well. This will take you through the steps of painting a dresser that is already painted but it can also be helpful on a new dresser.

When I say repaint, I mean repainting a dresser that is already painting, as previously mentioned. But keep in mind that these two guides are all you will need to paint any dresser no matter the condition. 

Step 1: Sand The Wood

Using fine-grit sandpaper, sand the dresser. Make sure you get every corner and face. Just don’t sand so much that you smooth off any edges that you wanted to be kept sharp. Instead, sand and smooth softly. 

Step 2: Use Wood Filler

Chances are, if the dresser is repurposed or is being repainted, then it has some imperfections. So, you will need to use wood filler. This can be helpful for new dressers if they are made with wood you purchased. 

Use a putty knife to apply the wood filler to any holes cracks, or knots in the wood. Smooth it and let it dry. Then sand the entire surface again, being careful not to sand away the wood filler that you just applied. 

Step 3: Prime The Dresser

After you sand the dresser again, you will need to prime it. But first, you need to clean it with a damp rag. You don’t want to use any chemicals that will break down the primer or paint. So just use water.

Then, prime the dresser by painting it with a coat of primer. You shouldn’t need more than one coat of primer unless the wood is very dark. So one coat should do. Then you can move onto painting the dresser. 

Step 4: Follow The Painting Guide

After you prime, you can follow the steps above for painting a dresser for the first time. It is much easier to paint a dresser after it is primed so this is a good idea and almost necessary if you want a smooth painting job. 

Painted Dresser Ideas

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If you are looking for tips and ideas on how to paint your dresser, then good! We have gathered a few ideas for you to get started and inspire you. These tips on painting your dresser will definitely help your dressers stand out. 

Chalk Paint

No, I don’t mean chalk-based paint but rather chalkboard paint that can transform a surface into a chalkboard. When you do this to a dresser you can make a child’s dream come true because all kids like chalk.

But chalk paint isn’t just for kids. You can use chalk paint on a dresser to label the drawers so you always know what is in which drawer. Plus, you can switch it up and still remember which one is which.

Bleach The Wood

Bleaching wood is a fun technique to use that doesn’t require much. You can use real bleach but other techniques are usually better or at least safer. Bleaching wood is a way to make your furniture look distressed.

For a full guide on how to bleach wood safely and properly, check out this bleaching wood guide. It will take you through the steps and give you a few options that will make you feel comfortable, bleach or not. 

Picking Your Paint

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Choosing the right color of paint is important. If you are having trouble picking paint out then you can always get a few samples. Samples are affordable and you can always use them for small projects later. 

If you find two shades that you like you can also get them both and experiment with mixing them. This is a great way to make sure that you have a unique color that no one else in the world will have. 

Use Hardware That Stands Out

Sometimes all you need to update your dresser is new hardware. So if the stain or paint is in good condition then consider using new hardware instead. You can get really nice hardware if you aren’t buying paint.

Or you can paint it and buy new hardware. Then people will wonder where in the world you got your new dresser. When you’ve actually had it around for decades! This is a wonderful way to save money. 

Stain Instead Of Paint

Stain and paint can cost around the same amount of money. So this one is more about preference than anything. You want to decide on stain if you want a more natural and shimmery look for your dresser.

If you want something more modern or playful then paint is your better bet. When it comes to the farmhouse, shabby chic, or beach house, either can work as long as the stain looks distressed like bleached wood. 

Choosing To Go Rainbow

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If you can’t decide on a color, a trendy way to paint your dresser is to go rainbow. You can use all of your sample colors and paint the dresser rainbow. Just remember, the rainbow doesn’t have to be bright and bold.

You can use monochrome colors, pastels, or a mix of random colors. Find the colors that you like and work with them. You can try a different variety of shades in one color too which is a fantastic look. 

Finding The Painting Techniques That Work For You

Your dresser might not need to be sanded. It might not even need to be primed. This guide isn’t here to tell you what you have to do but to give you a quick lesson on what you may need to do to make the most of painting your dresser. 

It all starts with choosing the right color of paint and then the right technique. You may want to whitewash and you may not even want to use paint at all and bleach the wood. This is all entirely up to you. 

When it comes to painting dressers, there are no set rules. Paint patterns or only paint the base. It is all up to you and what you want out of your dresser. So have fun and experiment because this is your space.