Painting a Dresser to Give It a Custom Look




About: I love the DIY lifestyle and find it personally rewarding to try new projects and create things from scratch. Instructables is a wonderful place to find and share new ideas with others.

Do you have an ugly dresser or piece of wood furniture you can't stand to look at but can't bear to part with? Before you get rid of it, think about the potential it can provide with a new look. Try painting it in your favorite colors to make it a nice statement piece for your room.

Step 1: Gathering the Materials

After several years of scraping, sanding, and painting furniture and lots of trial and error, I have found the best products and techniques that work for me. There are many great products and different ways to get similar results, but the following instructions were used to complete this painted finish. For additional information:
  • Drop Cloth
  • Two Colors of Latex Paint - 1 quart ea.
  • Stain
  • Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Clear Satin Finish
  • Elmer's Carpenter Wood Filler
  • 2" Foam Brush
  • 1 1/2 -2" Disposable Brush
  • Putty Knife
  • Rock
  • Nail Set
  • Chisel
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Rags
  • 220 Sand Paper
  • Palm Sander

Step 2:

Remove drawers from dresser, hardware, and any undesirable pieces attached to the dresser. Yes! You can remove curved toe kicks, scallops decorative strips, or any piece you can remove with a putty knife. Just push the knife between the dresser box and the decorative strip and gently tap the end of the knife with a hammer until it can be pulled off. Use wood putty to fill any nail holes or cracks. When the putty (wood fill) dries, sand it smooth and flat. To prevent a dip in the fill, put on a little extra so it covers it when it is time to sand it off. Wait! Not too much. You will be there all day. Work smarter, not harder right? Lightly sand with 220 grit sand paper or pad to give the surface a light scratch coat. That means 1 or 2 passes across the surface with the sand paper and that is it. Wipe off any dust before painting.

Step 3:

Paint your dresser with 2 different shades of one color choice. To save money, I used a shade of blue and added a little white to make my second color shade. Use one color as your primary color and the other as your secondary color. I thin my paint so it blends colors better and easier to sand when it dries. Brush paint randomly over the most of the dresser but leaving wood exposed in different places. Use a rock with rough edges to randomly create nicks and dents. Turn the rock as you go to create different marks. Use the nail set to create worm holes in different areas.

Step 4:

After paint dries, sand the dresser with 220 grit sand paper using an electric palm sander. This is to blend paint together, sand off painted edges and bare spots. Sand sharp edges and corners to give it a worn aged look. This step makes a big difference in appearance so you can add your creative touch. Wipe off all dust. Apply stain with a rag and wipe off excess immediately with a dry rag. Allow stain to dry over night.  Apply 2 - 3 coats of clear finish allowing each coat to dry between each application. Apply new hardware to give it a personal touch and new look. For additional information:



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    8 Discussions

    Thanks! The best part of a distressed piece of furniture is that you don't have to worry about it getting dinged up in a move or through the years. I will just add to the character of it.

    Phil B

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Something very similar to this was popular in the late-1960s and early 1970s. Then it was called antiquing the furniture, or simply antiquing. Kits were available with the basic color and an accent color. I do not know if they still are available.

    We were married in 1969. I made some of our furniture with plywood and fir pieces I used for trim. The intent was always to antique the pieces, never to finish them in a bare or wood finish. We are still using those pieces, although they have since been painted in a subdued solid color.

    1 reply
    4wardthinkersPhil B

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah! I've used those kits at first, but hated them. They have too many instructions and their version of a custom painted furniture from a box is exactly that. Ugh! I like the more creative approach; trial and error and the sky is the limit.


    5 years ago

    Looks great! I like how you turned that old ratty dresser into a stylish piece of furniture you could find in a retail store.

    1 reply