Hello amazing friends! Today I’m going to share how to paint an antique dresser, and we’ll address all the issues that come with painting an older piece as well! Bringing an antique dresser back to life can be intimidating, but just go through the steps one by one, and don’t feel like you have to tackle everything in one day!
If you’re dealing with an antique, there is a good chance that it will need a few things before getting the painting party started!
I’m going to show you exactly what to do using this once gorgeous dresser that was part of my Mother’s Day haul:
You may remember the taller mate to this dresser that I shared HERE.
I asked y’all if you thought I should paint this one to match or give it its own look, and the responses leaned more toward making it match.
Funny thing because when the delightful lady who blessed me with my Mother’s Day haul saw the first dresser made over here on the blog, she asked if she could buy them back!
She had held onto them as long as she could in their current state but was in the process of downsizing and just did not have the space to store them any longer. I knew she was heartbroken to have to let them go as she regaled me with stories from each piece on the day I picked them up.
This dresser had belonged to her father, and I believe her grandparents before then.
So, let’s see how I took it from its current state, to a painted beauty!
I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.
First, fill any gouges, holes, or deep scratches.
For this, I like Dixie Belle’s Mud in brown. You could use any color really if you plan to paint over it.
Allow plenty of dry time, as in several hours to be sure it is completely dry all the way through. I like to leave it out in the sun if possible as it dries super quickly. Then sand with 220 grit sandpaper. If I can run my fingers over the area with my eyes closed and still feel what I was trying to fill. I apply another coat and repeat.
Address Missing or Damaged veneer
If you have missing veneer, sometimes it can be filled in also as in this instance:
If the veneer is loose, it can sometimes be secured with wood glue and clamps. However, if it needs to be removed, there is a great solution for tackling that as well. You can see that HERE.
Sand any areas to be stained
Avert your eyes from the tarp-covered mulch that has been sitting in our driveway since April. We ordered too much lol.
Vacuum and clean
Once you’re finished with all the sanding, vacuum using a shop vac and brush attachment. Then, give it a good cleaning! I usually use Lysol-type wipes, but I’m getting awfully low and there are none in sight anywhere. An alternative is White Lightning by Dixie Belle. It is a cleaner AND deglosser that comes in powder form that you can mix in small batches right into a spray bottle.
Get rid of musty odors
Yes! This is absolutely possible! The magic sauce for ridding furniture of musty smells is BOSS by Dixie Belle.
I used the clear formula to completely coat the inside of this dresser. I found it easiest to tackle while the dresser was lying flat on its back:
As you can see, I covered every surface inside. Most dressers don’t have the drawer areas divided like this one, so those should be easier to tackle.
I only used one coat and the musty smell that was quite strong before was eliminated completely.
After cleaning the drawers, I applied Big Mama’s Butta in Orange Grove. It smells so lovely and hydrates the wood while adding a layer of protection:
Prime for possible bleed-through
Not all woods will bleed through paint, but anything considered antique gets a coat of BOSS from me if I plan to paint it a lighter color, especially white.
I chose the white formula since not only will it seal in any tannins that may possibly bleed-through, it will also save me a coat of paint!
I allow the BOSS plenty of dry time as well before painting, at least overnight. You can see areas that might still bleed through if you see any pink or brown splotches coming through the BOSS. If there are a lot, give it another coat. You should not need more than two coats. I only had two places that wanted to bleed through so I spot primed those with the Boss.
Finally, it is time to paint! I ended up giving this dresser three coats of Cotton, Dixie Belle’s brightest white, but I probably could have gotten away with two since I BOSSed first.
You can see how I paint a piece of furniture in this video if you like:
If you have trouble viewing, find it on YouTube HERE.
Sand to smooth
I like to smooth out the surface of my painted piece using 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around an old foam sanding sponge. I show that at the end of the painting video I included above. (I buy my sandpaper in sheets and cut them into four.)
If you like a bit of a distressed look, hit the edges a bit harder. If you like a really distressed look, break out the electric sander.
After sanding, clean up all the dust once again using a shop vac, followed by a good wipe down with a clean, soft cloth.
Stain the top
If you plan to stain the top, I like to do that last. I start by conditioning the top with wood conditioner. This allows the wood to absorb the stain more evenly:
I applied it with a low lint, terrycloth applicator pad, or you can use a clean soft cloth.
I immediately followed up with No Pain Gel Stain in Espresso:
I love the gel stain as it is so easy to work with! The applicator pads are a one-time use if you use them with the oil-based stains, but can be used multiple times when using them with water based stains like the VooDoo gel stains. I kept wiping with the grain until I had pulled any excess stain from the surface.
I also applied another coat of stain right over the existing stain on the gorgeous detail work at the bottom using a soft cloth:
Seal the surface
Finally, seal and protect your piece! When working with the oil-based No Pain Gel Stain, wait 48-72 hours to seal with a water-based stain. If you can leave your piece in the sun, it helps speed up the dry time.
I sealed the body using Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat in Satin, applying it with the blue applicator sponge. When I sealed the stained top, I used the same thing, but I felt this fancy of a dresser needed a little more sheen, so opted for the Gloss sheen this time instead.
Add the jewelry
Time to add the pulls! I like to think of it as jewelry. Luckily we had four good original pulls that I could use. They got a good cleaning and two coats of Cotton. The other four came from Hobby Lobby.
Having trouble with the drawers sticking?
If you have trouble with the drawers sticking, which is quite common in antique dressers, rub a candle along the bottoms of the drawers on the edges on either side and on the insides of the opening, or anywhere the drawer is sticking.
Ready to see the final product??
It’s like deja vu ha ha:
Leaving those amazing details on the bottom stained really makes them stand out:
I think the combination of Espresso and white adds sophistication to these already beautiful lines.
It was difficult to get a goo photo of the stained top, but here you can see how rich the color is…
I used the same combination of pulls from the first dresser.
The top ones are original and the others are from Hobby Lobby:
And I had enough of this paper left to add some pretty to the insides too:
This was a roll of thicker wrapping paper I found at HomeGoods. I cut it using my rotary cutting set and adhered it the bottom with a glue slick.
Don’t forget my pals have makeovers to share today too!!
And now I only have ONE piece left from my Mother’s Day haul!!
Visit any of these makeovers you may have missed at the links below:
A huge thank you again to Mary for giving me the opportunity to bring these pieces back to life! It makes my heart so happy to see her getting them back to enjoy!
If you missed the dressing table I painted for her:
You can see that HERE!
Brennan starts 5th grade virtually here in Virginia Beach today. I expect some challenges as we navigate a full school day via Zoom. So, I am not planning to share another brand new makeover this week, but I will be back with this $15 yard sale bookcase I shared a couple of years ago:
UPDATE: See how sweet this turned out HERE now!
Have an amazing day and kudos to all the teachers out there, both professional and at home navigating this virtual experience!
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