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How to Refinish A Dresser

Trash to treasure with a new coat of paint & these tips...

Learn how to refinish a dresser with these steps and easily give new life to a dingy old piece of furniture...for cheap! The chest of drawer sets that we revamped on this page were free! That is right, totally free yet solid wood pieces that still had lots of life in them. Yes, they were dusty and scratched and totally out of date, but they were just the right size for a kid's room. All they needed was a makeover!

If you don't have a dresser in mind to refinish already, check your local thrift stores, garage sales or classified ads. Look for solid wood and be sure to test each drawer for ease of opening and closing. Avoid ones with stuck drawers! Functional and sturdy (ugly is okay!) is just perfect for a furniture facelift. Picture your piece with a new color and perhaps new hardware and you may easily find a diamond in the rough on the cheap.

dresser before and after before and after dresser

How to Refinish A Dresser

Step One - Sanding

refinish dressers

Take the drawers out of your dresser and remove all the knobs or other hardware. Then sand and sand some more. Start with an all-purpose medium grit, like 100. Yhe goal is to get off the glossy finish (if your piece has it) to give the primer optimum chance to stick. Even if your dresser has aleady been painted and you aren't starting with wood, a sanding will give you a nice, clean surface to start from. You can certainly use a small handheld power sander, but good old hand sanding is just fine too, especially if you have helpers!

Sanding is messy business, do it outside if you can and avoid the mess. After sanding, use a tack cloth (a sticky cloth made for cleaning dust after sanding) or a slightly damp towel to remove all of the dust. This step is very important!

Step Two - Prime & Paint

how to paint a dresser

Prime your dresser...don't skip this step! Use a good quality primer, I personally like Zinsser Bulls Eye for furniture revamp projects. Let dry completely. Even though many primers have a one hour dry time, I strongly suggest you wait a bit longer if you can be patient.

Finally, paint! We chose a semi-gloss for our project since they were for a kids' room, as glossy will be easier to clean. Tip: Use small paint rollers for the large flat surfaces to get a smooth, even finish. We kept the same vintage hardware for the drawer pulls, we just cleaned them up.

refinished painted dresser

More Options

how to refinish a dresser

Experiment with new hardware, this can change the whole look! Stencils, handpainted details or vinyl decals can add even more visual interest. We added the white letter monograms with easy as pie vinyl decals. For an even more durable finish you can use a wipe-on poly sealer if you wish, but this is optional.

Happy painting!

After all, it's your might as well love it!



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