DIY: How to paint a dresser

Don't throw away your old furniture! Give it a second life!

Say you find a really nice piece of furniture on Kijiji for only $50, but you’re not a huge fan of the colour.  It might be hard to see from the picture, but this cabinet had seen better days, and we weren’t fond of the colour. All it takes to make this old cabinet great again, and match any decor, is a little TLC.


What you’ll need:

  • 4-5 x lint free paint rollers
  • 1 paint tray
  • Various paint brushes
  • Primer
  • Sandpaper + holder (electronic orbital sander is a huge plus if you have it!)
  • Latex paint + stir sticks
  • Tack cloth
  • Polycrylic protective finish
  • Garbage bags


Step 1: Lay Down a Garbage Bag / Tarp

This stage can be a bit messy. You probably do not want paint all over your floor, so lay something down before putting your furniture on top of it.  Garbage bags work, so does a tarp, or even a shower curtain from the dollar store.


Step 2: Take out the Drawers

Take out the drawers and set them aside facing up.


Step 3: Sand it!

You will have probably read a lot of tutorials that say you do not need to do this.  However, for the best results, sand it! Take 150-grit sandpaper with a sander (no need for anything fancy for this project), or a hand sander to save money.  However, an orbital sander with multiple speeds should make this way easier!

Remember: This is just to rough up the surface a little bit so that the primer has something to adhere to. There was a varnish on this piece, so 80-grit sandpaper was used.


Step 4: Wipe!

To remove any dust, sand, and residue use the tack cloth.  Regular towels and paper towels will leave behind lint that will get into the primer or paint.


Step 5: Prime the Furniture

Grab your mini lint free roller and prime the furniture.  Foam brushes are the easiest for those hard to reach corners.  Then, let it dry!


Step 6: Sand Again! Wipe Again!

After the primer is fully dry, hand sand using 220-grit sandpaper and clean it with your tack cloth.


Step 7: Keep Wiping!

Wipe again using a new tack cloth. Wiping is really important at this stage to make sure there is no dust, shavings, or residue before painting or it will be visible in the paint!

Step 8: Paint!

Grab a fresh mini foam roller and apply three thin coats of latex paint.  For this cabinet a non-toxic and odor free latex paint was chosen.

Remember to sand between coats once the paint is dry.  This will give a smooth finish.  Use a brand new tack cloth to remove all residue.  The last thing you’d want is to finish painting and have bits in the paint.


Step 9: Protect it!

Once you’ve applied three light coats of paint and it has fully dried, give it one more rub down with the tack cloth.  Now, protect it!  Grab a new foam roller and apply a thin coat of   Polycrylic protective finish.  For this cabinet a clear satin finish was used, but you can go to the hardware store and pick a finish that suits your needs better.


Step 10: Leave it Alone!

While the desire to place your new piece of furniture in the house might become overwhelming, leave it alone. Let the furniture dry for two full days or so.  Even if the label says it dries quicker, it can get sticky if moved too early.


Step 11: Admire Your Handiwork!


Are you a DIY expert? Was there a better way? Have you done something like this? Share your advice in the comments!


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