How to Redo a Dresser

How to Restore a Dresser

Has your dresser seen better days?

Do you love the design and the way it’s made?

Well, hear us out before you get rid of your precious, old piece of furniture. What if we told there was a way to restore it back to its former glory? With just a little bit of work and some creative thinking, you can turn your gloomy dresser into an enchanting décor piece.

We have provided a complete DIY guide on how to redo a dresser in this article to help you revitalize your furniture. Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy! Instead of replacing it, we’ll show you how to redo a dresser.

Step 1: Find a Place to Do Your Work

The first step in our guide on how to redo a dresser is to find a good space to work in.

All experienced DIYers will tell you that this sort of work can get messy. If you have a garage, basement or studio, they will be your best workstations.

Do none of these sound like viable options? No problem! You can paint the dresser anywhere inside your house since modern furniture paints have a negligible concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOC). However, make sure to cover everything with plastic sheets to keep your home clean.

However, you’ll probably have to do the stripping outdoors or in an area with decent ventilation as a lot of old dressers have lead-based paints that emit toxic fumes.

Step 2: Take the Dresser Apart

Now that you’ve found a dresser that needs restoration and space to do your work, you need to take it apart. Take out all your forgotten keys, pieces of stationary or any other personal items from the dresser.

Remove all the drawers and other accessories like knobs, which can be attached back later. Use a screwdriver to take off the drawer handles by undoing their screws. However, don’t lose them! They will be needed later.

Step 3: Deep Clean Your Dresser

The next step on how to redo a dresser is to clean it thoroughly. Often, a good old cleaning is enough to transform the look of your dated dresser completely.

Use a solution of vinegar and water to really get rid of the gunk and dirt. Use a spray bottle filled with the cleaning solution and a cloth to methodically wipe down every nook and cranny of your dresser. Make sure that you reach into the tiny gaps and corners that can be easy to miss.

A mixture of liquid soap and water will also do the trick. Use a sponge to scrub the dresser to remove all the dirt and grime. Once you’re done with that, you can ‘wash’ the dresser with a sponge soaked in water and dry it off with a cloth/towel.

If you’re unable to reach into small gaps or corners, you can use a paintbrush to do so. Remember to be gentle when scrubbing to avoid any damage to the dresser wood. If your deep clean leaves you satisfied with your dresser, you can choose to put your drawers back in and leave it at that.

Otherwise, let’s move forward!

Step 4: Remove the Old Dresser Finish

Now we’re in the thick of it. This is the longest, most painstaking step when restoring a dresser, but the results are worth it. Firstly, you’ve to figure out what finish your dresser is sporting between paint or stain. It’s simple: if you can see any wood grain, it’s a stain finish, and if you can’t, then it’s most definitely a paint finish.

It’s now time to don your safety gear: goggles, N95 mask (or any other dustproof mask) and gloves. Now that you’re DIY-ready let’s proceed.

Removing Stains

Wrap a 300-grit sandpaper around a wooden block or hand sander and start sanding. You can use steel wool for any nooks and crannies that are hard to reach. Once you begin to see the bare wood, switch your coarse-grit sandpaper to medium-grit sandpaper to avoid damaging your dresser’s integrity. Finish off with fine-grit sandpaper to eradicate the old stain and get your dresser ready for your new finish.

If you don’t want to go through the sanding route, there is another way. You can use chemical strippers that are available for special use with stains. We would recommend that you find a stripper that contains methylene chloride as it’s really potent in cutting through the stain.

A word of caution: chemical strippers can emit toxic fumes, so you need to follow all safety instructions mentioned on the product container.

Removing Paint

There are two options here, like with stain removal. We recommend that you sand first as it’s cheaper and gentler on the wood. Use a power sander to scrape off the paint quickly. Again, use steel wool for any areas that are hard to reach. Sanding is slightly inefficient because you won’t get rid of every last speck of paint. But that’s ok, just try to get as close as you can to naked wood.

Stubborn paint may not give way to sanding, so you’ll have to resort to a chemical stripper. Again, these are dangerous substances, so make sure you have adequate ventilation and follow all safety procedures. On a deep-cleaned dresser, apply a 1/8-inch layer of chemical stripper using a brush and let it sit for a while.

You’ll start to see the paint bubble up as the stripper begins to work. Use a putty knife to scrape off the old paint and discard it. You may need to apply a second layer of stripping agent if any extra residue remains.

Wash the dresser down and get it ready for your new finish!

Step 5: Bring Your Dresser Back to Life!

Phew. That was difficult! But we’re finally at the fun part! We’ll tell you how to do the basic finishes, but we’ll leave the designs to your imagination. Think about what will be a good fit for your living space, and explore the artist within you!

You can choose to apply either a stain finish or one with paint.

Applying Stain

You need to carefully choose your stain to make sure it gives you the finish you’re looking for. Test it out on a small piece of similar wood or a small, non-visible spot on the furniture. Make sure it gives you the look you want as stain reacts differently to various types of wood.

You can choose to only use stain or a stain-polyurethane mix if you want to avoid sealing the finish. Apply the stain according to the instructions on the container. Always brush with the grain and use a high-quality brush.

Apply a thin coat at the beginning. Make sure that you avoid doubling-over so that you have an even layer. If your stain looks light, wait for it to dry before applying a second coat to get the desired tone. You can fix a stain that is too dark by wiping it off with a cloth before it dries.

Seal a stain-only finish using a poly-protective sealer or butcher’s wax for a classy finish and protection from damage.

Applying the Paint

Spray or brush a layer of primer paint onto the surface of your dresser before you begin painting. This is done to achieve a solid and elegant finish. Use grey primers for dark finishes and white primers for light ones.

Check back in after 1 hour. The paint should now be opaque, but if it isn’t, you can let it dry for another 2 hours. You can apply another layer of primer if it doesn’t turn opaque after 3 hours.

Now, get your paint and brushes out and get to it! Use water-based acrylic paint for a classic matte finish or enamel paint for a glossier and more durable surface.

Brush the paint evenly onto the entire dresser and let it sit for 2 to 4 hours. Apply a second layer of paint and sand it with 300-grit sandpaper. You will need four layers of paint. Sand between each one except the last.

Voila, you’ve done it!

Final Words

Knowing how to redo a dresser can save you a lot of money that you would have otherwise spent buying a new one or spending on professional help. Plus, old furniture can have sentimental value to a person, and they may not want to throw it out. Whatever your reasons may be, we hope that this guide can help you with restoring your precious old dresser.

If you have any other old wood furniture in need of some DIY magic, we suggest you check out our guide here.

This sums up How to Redo a Dresser. Comment Below! 🙂

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