Saturday, July 17, 2010

easy peasy dresser how-to

at the request of sweet friends, with inquiring minds, i thought i would share {in detail} how we repainted our new dresser.

& i feel like i should put a giant disclaimer on this post.

ben & i don't really know what we're doing.  we 'trial & error' through our projects & just see what sticks so just be warned that this is not the only way {or even the best way} to redo a piece of's just what we happened to try!  if you refinish furniture professionally, please don't read this.  if you are a novice diy-er {like me} please enjoy!

we dragged our goliath sized dresser into the house to work on because, while we do have a garage, it is about a billion degrees outside & i hate sweat.  so into the den it went.  after taking all the drawers out and scattering them throughout our den & dining room there was literally no more free space {giant dresser}.  i we placed the frame of the dresser on a big ol' drop cloth {like you would use for painting a room} & put the drawers on an old sheet doubled over.

i first removed all the hardware from the drawers.  super fast & easy step.  i can't why anyone would want to skip this step & try and paint around the hardware.  i encourage you...take those things off!

next i taped {with painters tape} around the drawers so that i could have a clean edge.  i learned from our desk redo that if i don't want to paint the entire drawer that i need a little guidance or else it will look sloppy.  doing that really only took a couple of minutes & really helped me speed through painting the edges of the drawers without worry.

next we primed using oil based primer {you can find it at any hardware store}.  you aren't supposed to prime in a closed-off area aka a den, but like a said...a billion degrees is HOT!  we didn't sand the furniture or anything before priming because if you use a primer like ours it covers & seals any type of stain or treatment that was originally on the piece.  if there had been unlevel sections {dents, grooves, etc.} we likely would have sanded &/or wood puttied them but any nick that this piece had was a-ok with us.  we did two coats of primer & like i said it was pretty time consuming with all those little crevices to take care of.  an important note for anything oil based: you cannot clean up oil-based products with soap & water.  there may be other products but we always use mineral spirits to clean out our primer.  it stinks & is a pain in the rear so i bought a cheapity cheap brush for the primer that i could toss once finished & only took the time to clean my mini brush that was used for the detailed portions.  if oil based paint or primer dries i hear that it's nearly impossible to clean out so stay on top of those projects! 

one neat trick that i've learned from projects is that if you are waiting in between coats or need to take a break, you don't have to clean out your brush.  just get a damp cloth and wrap your brush in it & the paint/primer will stay wet!  treat.  i've also hear of people doing that & placing it in a plastic bag if you want to leave it overnight {but i haven't tried that myself}.

after two coats of primer we did two coats of paint.  it is behr acrylic-based paint in martha stewart's 'glass of milk' shade.  so perfect for us.  i used a brush {one wide & one little} even though ben insisted that i use a roller.  the rollers we have may get more paint on the piece & faster but they also leave fuzz all over my fresh paint.  there is nothing more annoying than fuzz while you're painting.  so brushes for me ...until i find good rollers.  brushes for primer, brushes for paint, brushes for sealant.

post primer & paint we moved on to sealant.  we used minwax polycrylc.  i've heard that it is really important to use water-based sealant on light colored paint if you don't want it to yellow your piece.  we just brushed it on.  sealant is hard because it's clear so you're not really sure what you've done & what you haven't.  we did two coats of that because the pail said to but i was completely content to do one.  ben made us do round 2.

sanding edges = intimidating.  holly from {life in the fun lane} is actually a huge inspiration to me.  she renovates furniture for a living and is a master-distresser.  sometimes she does super subtle distressing {maybe even less than this piece} and other times, she roughs those things up!  no matter what she does it's perfection, so we thought we should take the plunge. we agreed to go for the less-distressed look & just do the corners & edges where it would naturally wear over time.  i think that the sanding really does make the piece much more interesting and i would advise if for nearly any project {if, like me, you like things to look "loved"}.  we used 400 grit sandpaper that i bought at home depot months ago for some forgotten other project.

we put the original hardware back onto the drawers and gave our new dresser a new home!

wah-la!  so pleased.

hope this is helpful for anyone who is about to take a the leap into furniture repainting.  be brave...if we can do it, i promise you can too!


  1. I've heard of that paint brush trick too but also heard of keeping them overnight in a plastic bag in the freezer- and it actually does work.

    Thanks so much for posting this!! I found my shelf and I'm hoping to use this technique on it! I'll be sure to take pics and post. This will be so helpful! Have a great rest of your weekend!!

  2. JEN! keenan and i have been looking/wanting a new dresser for a while now and you have totally inspired us! thank you haha! i cant wait to start our own furniture makeover! ill keep you updated! your awesome! thanks again!

    - Jen

  3. The dresser looks great in your room. I think it is great that you and Ben did this together. Mom


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