Updated: Aug 22, 2019
You don't have to be a professional to refinish a dresser, but having a few tips in mind will definitely save you time and money. In this blog I am sharing with you a step by step process on how to refinish a dresser in just a couple of hours.
I love older pieces. They don't make furniture pieces that well anymore and if it is made well, it can be pretty pricey. This dresser is an Ethan Allen piece that my sister gave to me. I decided to refinish it for Mila's room since her dresser needed work and was just not working that well for us in this season. Obviously, this piece was redone before but I decided to go with a lighter color.
Take off all the handles using a screwdriver. For single knobs, the easiest and the fastest way to take them off is to hold the screw driver against the screw and then unscrew the knob instead of turning the screw driver. (See the picture)
Step 2: This step is optional depending on the handles that you decided to use. Since it had really good knobs already I just patched up extra holes from outside and inside using the plastic wood filler.
Step 3: Once the patched areas have dried, sand down the dresser using and electric sander. I used my faithful craftsman sander that I've had for several years now. Even though this dresser has been painted before, I am just sanding it down lightly without actually stripping all of the paint off. Most people use a damp cloth to wipe the furniture piece down after sanding but I use the blower on high setting. Just make sure that you are in an open space because the dust will get everywhere if you are not. I found it to be more effective than wiping it down.
Step 4: The next step is to paint. I usually use a foam roller because it doesn't leave anything behind and it creates seamless coats that look more professional. I would also like to mention that I like to go with a satin finish which is in between a matte and a glossy finish. I find it easier to clean but it still looks modern with like a semi-matte coat. Also, for furniture pieces I usually like to use an exterior paint because it has latex so its more durable but if interior paint is all you have, you can still use it. The last step will be important for you if you are going with that option. The picture below is not the prettiest because I've reused this tray so many times, but nevertheless these are the tools that I use for the painting process. (a foam roller, a foam brush for hard to get to places, and a small makeup brush for touch up or for an optional step 5) Before painting the piece, elevate it on two pieces of wood. This will help you get to the edges and also avoid painting your floor. (see the picture below)
Step 5: This is an optional step but I like to do this because it makes the furniture piece look more luxury. I use a brown sample paint to paint the top inside ridges of the drawers. (see the picture for more clarity) I have seen this on many mid-century furniture pieces and it really does make a difference. It helps to cover up some imperfections especially if you end up painting over some areas that you didn't mean to paint over. I use the small makeup brush for that area because it's smaller and you end up being more precise.
Step 6: Make sure that you are in a very open area to do this last step and wear a mask to avoid breathing in too much of the fumes. Using a clear gloss, lightly spray the piece in even strokes about 6 to 8 inches away from the surface. I usually spray the top several times because it will be used the most and it will be more durable that way. There are different kinds of clear coats that you can purchase. I used the one below also in a satin finish.
Step 7: Attach the handles using the same tip that I shared with you in step 1 except you will be screwing it in instead unscrewing. If you are attaching handles instead of knobs this method will not work for you. I would highly recommend an electric screw driver since that will expedite your process but if you don't have it, a screw driver will do.
Step 8: Allow the piece to dry for a few hours before bringing it into the house. Don't put anything on top of it for at least 24 hours so that the paint really has time to dry completely.
You can also line the shelves with some decorative paper or a sticker lining paper.
If you follow these steps, it should take you only a few hours to refurbish a dresser like this one.
I hope that you find this helpful. If you have any other questions in regards to a piece that you might want to refurbish, comment below. :)
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