How to Paint Furniture: Old Wooden Chest of Drawers

How-to-Paint-Anything overlay on image of just painted piece of furniture.

Today I am going to show you how to paint furniture or how to paint over a chest of drawers that has a stain and varnish/urethane finish on it.

Before and After

Chest of drawers before and after painting images.

This chest of drawers was a hand me down that my daughter wanted for her apartment –just didn’t want it brown.   She chose turquoise to coordinate with fabric on her bed pillows.

Note: If you would like to know how I transformed the drawer pulls.   You can find the post – How to Update Brass Drawer Pulls.

The paint I used: Glidden Peacock’s Plume # A1249 satin sheen.

How to Paint Furniture with Stain or Varnish Already On It

supplies needed:

Furniture-Painting-tools  tray, rollers;; brushes and stirring stick on table.
  • Paint
  • Primer
  • High quality (Purdy is my favorite) angled paint brush
  • Foam paint roller or a high quality low nap roller
  • Paint tray
  • Tack cloth
  • Sander or sanding block
  • Sandpaper of various coarseness – fine to medium
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandwich bags to place hardware in
  • Paint stirring stick
  • Optional: paste wax and soft cloth

Prep The Furniture for Painting

Mask out any areas you don’t want painted with painter’s tape.

Line up drawers on their back ends on a separate drop cloth. When it comes time to paint them, the process goes fast. I use a roller to paint the flat sections an an angled brush comes in handy to brush away any paint drips.

How-to-paint drawers by lining the up in their ends.

Remove the Hardware

Mark the back of hinges and knobs with a magic marker or wrap painters tape around them and use the tape to write on what door or drawer they came from. Place them in marked baggies.

Furniture-Painting-tips-showing to mark and place hardware removed from furniture before painting in a baggie.

This is very important especially when it comes time to put hinged doors back on. They have to go back exactly where they came from or the doors may not line up and close correctly.

Sand the Surface

Sand all surfaces to remove as much of the shiny surface as you can.  You don’t have to take it to the bare wood, but just remove the shine.

I find a sanding block the best and easiest way to sand the surface of the furniture to rough up the finish so the paint has something to adhere to. You can see the one I use in the above photo. It have had it for a long time!  It is one of those well designed tools that stands the test of time.  If you have an electric sander then use that especially if the surface is very slick or beaten up.

Sanding with an electric sander will smooth the surface imperfections making the piece not only look better, but accept the paint better.

Furniture-painting-sanding sheets to use.
  • Use it with medium 100 grit sandpaper. Coarse 60 sandpaper is too rough and will leave deep scratches in the surface. 
  • When I do touch up sanding between dried coats of paint – a sponge style “Fine Grit” sanding block works perfectly.

Once you are done sanding, clean the surface well with a tack cloth to remove all the sanding grit. If there is a lot of grit, use a hot water and dish detergent on a damp rag to remove it. Then let the wood dry completely before painting.

Using a Deglossing Product or Liquid Sandpaper:

A deglossing liquid focuses on dulling a previous old finish in place of sandpaper. If the finish is irregular, rough, dented or scratched, deglosser won’t fix it. Only sandpaper can repair bad surfaces, smoothing them with its abrasive qualities. If the previous finish needs smoothing in any way, sanding is the only way to accomplish it

I tend to not use deglossers as I want to save money and sandpaper is inexpensive in comparison. Both de-glossing and sanding take time to do, and sanding – de-glosses and smooths in one step.

Use a Good Primer

The priming and prep are the key to getting a perfect finish.

the-Best-Paint-Primers on a garage shelf. Glidden Gripper in white and grey and Kilz Original formula.

When painting furniture, if you are not using chalk paint, you will need to use a primer first.  Do not skip this priming step or your paint will come right off or will discolor.  Trust me, I learned the hard way when I first started painting furniture.

My go-to paint primers are Glidden Gripper and KILZ Original or KILZ Max.  Glidden Gripper is best used when you are painting over shiny or slick surfaces.  It is water-based. It comes in 2 formulas – grey – to use under dark and vivid – and white.  I used the white formula on my kitchen cabinet makeover.

There are many formulas of KILZ brand primers:

  • KILZ MAX is my favorite water-based formula.
  • KILZ Original. It is the best all-around primer. It is oil based – but don’t let that scare you.  It only smells a little bit and dries in 30 minutes. If you are painting over a piece that has knots or smells like pine or is bare wood – use this. Since it is a primer – you can use latex water-based paint over it. I used this on my dining room hutch.
    • I use a sponge roller and/or brush when using this formula so I just throw them out when done. 
Painting-furniture-tips showing where to use a paint roller and where to use a paint brush.

How Many Coats of Primer? Apply two light coats of primer, letting the first dry completely before applying the second. Then wait for the surface to dry before painting.

What If You See The Previous Stain Color Come Through the Primer?

When the primer is dry, you should not see any brown color seeping through the paint. If you do – roll on another coat. 


When the primer is dry, use your sanding block to go over any areas that need smoothing.  Clean with a tack cloth;

Now it is time to add 2 light coats of paint, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.  Use a foam roller on the flat surfaces and a high quality angled brush on the beveled and raised sections.

I chose a latex satin paint, but you can paint furniture in any finish you like.  Satin, semi-gloss, or gloss will give you more of a polished look – satin the least shiny – gloss the most shiny.

If you can find a latex enamel paint in the color you want, then I would go with that as enamel has a very durable finish and is perfect on kids, bathroom, and kitchen furniture where a lot of abuse and moisture can occur.

Furniture-Painting-Tips not to forget to to. Paint the inside edges around drawers and doors.

When priming and painting, make sure to paint the inside edges where doors and drawers go.  If you don’t do this then when you place the drawers or doors back on you will see a sliver of the inside wood and your efforts will not look professional.


Once you have a coat of paint on and it is dry, look for placed where dust has settled, drips, or bugs that have dried into the paint. I go over the areas with the sanding block covered in fine grit sandpaper.

I then use a tack cloth to remove all the sanding dust and roll on the next coat of paint.

Sealing The Painted Surface

If using an enamel paint there is no need to seal the surface. If your paint is not an enamel, then you can seal the painted finish with a water-based poly. Minwax Polycylic is my go to, but you any water-based brand of poly will be fine.

  • DO NOT use oil-based poly over paint. It will darken and yellow the color.
Turquoise paint on corner top of chest of drawers.

Why I Like To Seal Painted Furniture With Wax

Many years ago I used to poly over painted pieces, but I no longer find it necessary with the very durable paint formulas that are on the market today. I have found however on some pieces adding a little bit of polish in the way of paste wax brings the paint color to life.

This step is totally optional. I have painted plenty of pieces where I skipped this step and they still look great.  Certain colors just seem to pop when wax is applied.  I learned this when painting with chalk paint. I was also told that wax doesn’t work over latex paint, but I beg to differ. I waxed this piece and it going on 8 years and looks amazing still.

You can test the wax on the back of a piece of painted furniture if you are not sure if it will make a difference in your color vibrancy.    I used satin latex for this chest of drawers and the wax also does give a thin layer of protection.

Johnsons Paste Wax can and soft buffing cloth on top of newly painted chest of drawers.
  • To apply wax:  Wait until the paint is thoroughly dry or overnight to wax.  Only use wax that is clear – Johnson’s is clear. Minwax is not, it is orange. Fiddes and Sons and Annie Sloan both make clear waxes.
    • Apply a very, very thin coat with a soft cloth.  Rub it on in a quick circular motion. Less is more – so use just a little bit of wax.
    • Let sit on the surface for about 5 – 10 minutes. You will know when it is ready to buff as it will look a bit hazy and feel slightly tacky or sluggish when a dry cloth is wiped over it.  
    • Buff with a blue Shop paper towel or a section of an old soft t-shirt. Buffing the wax into the surface with circular motions until when you wipe over the surface it feel slippery or smooth.
    • Buffing with wax will bring out the shine and color vibrancy. Even on latex paint. On chalk paint, it goes deep into the flat finish. It will sit on top of latex, but can still help.

Wax drying time can vary depending on the temperature.  30 minutes to overnight.  It will take a few weeks to cure and when it does you will have one hard and durable finish.

How to paint furniture in a garage and setting it up to easily paint.

Place Hardware Back On.

When the piece is dry, place hardware back on making sure to place hinges and doors in the same place it was originally.

If you don’t need to use the piece right away – let it sit for a few days before using so the paint can cure. This should be done with or without waxing.   After a day or two you can start to use it and will be rewarded with a beautiful finish for many years to come.

How to paint furniture tutorial showing the after image of a turquoise painted chest of drawers.

I made over the drawer pulls for this chest of drawers using paper napkins and a very cool sealing product.

Purple napkin covered drawer pulls on a turquoise painted chest of drawers.

You can read more about how I did this in this post:

Image of golden brown chest of drawers and after it is painted turquoise.  Written overlay says, First time? Furniture painting success.

You May Also Like These Painted Makeovers

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  1. I love your beautiful piece of painted furniture and detailed instructions. If drawers have metal on sides, how do I tape or mask off?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lovie – If you need to mask the sides of your drawers so you can paint the drawer fronts and sides of the dresser, use Painter’s tape – either 3M or Frog Tape on the side edges and any back part of the drawer front. Does this answer your question?

  2. I am new to refinishing furniture and have the vision of the end result in my head. I started with a dark stained bedroom suite from the brick. I sanded, primed, and 2 coats of good quality light yellow paint. I want a slightly distressed look at the edges and typical wear spots. My problem is coming from trying to find a good sealer. I have tried a oil based varathane and also a clear coat spray. The spray resulted in bubbles and crackling where I had distressed it, the varathane resulted in slightly less bubbling, but still unacceptable. Suggestions?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kelly – Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with getting your furniture sealed right. Oil-based poly will darken and yellow the paint, so it is not recommended. Good to use over stain, though. Working with spray formulas can be tricky – the bubbling happens because the underside of the paint is not dry and when you add another coat – it wrinkles.

      The best protective clear finish is Minwax Polycrylic. It is water-based and comes in different finishes -matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. It also comes in a spray can, but I would use the brush-on formula. Use a high quality brush and apply using thin coats. Let the first one dry completely before adding a second coat. 2 coats should be enough. You can see the product here: It can be bought at any home improvement store and Walmart.

      1. Thank you so much. I will give that product a try. And will report back!

  3. Naco Design says:

    Nice blog to read.

  4. Judy Liwder says:

    Thanks for the painting tips. My daughter and I going to start this project tomorrow.,what brand of paint do you recommend?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy – All brand name paints are fine to use. I prefer Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Line or any Behr or Valspar line of paints sold at Home Depot or Lowes.

  5. I just finished painting a dresser. When I put the bottom drawer back in, the paint along the edge of the bottom scraped off. I repainted it, but I’m wondering how to prevent it from happening again?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth –

      This happens a lot when painting drawers. The way to remedy the problem is to either sand down the side of the drawer or the opening for the drawer on the dresser. Sand using 100 or 60 grit sandpaper and then once you have knocked down enough of the surface so that the door slides in easily, go over with 220 sandpaper to smooth.

      Then paint a light coat of paint on the area. When it is dry, go over the surface with clear paste wax and buff or rub the side of a candle over the side of the drawer. This will help the drawer to slide in easily and not have any paint scrap off when you open and close the drawers.

  6. Michelle Simon says:

    If using a paint and primer in one would I still need a primer coat

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michelle –

      If you sand the piece to rough up the surface and use light coats of the paint and primer, you do not need a separate primer. The only time you would is if the piece you are redoing is old, dark wood like walnut or mahogany or if the finish looks like coffee grounds. I would use a stain killing primer first, then the paint and primer. Paints that have primers in them already are good for adhesion and will stop some wood tannins from seeping through the paint, but not as well as a stain killing primer like KILZ or Binz brands of primers.

  7. Yolanda lewis says:

    Thank you for this post. They are clean ta all surface with a tack cloth. They are wonderfully wooden. They are suppliers in Paint , high quality brush, primer, paint tray , tack cloth, sander or sanding block. I will sharing in this post

  8. Hi. Great article. How much primer and topcoat would you recommed I buy for a wide 5 drawer chest, assuming I am painting the outside of the drawers only and allowing for 2 coats of primer and 2 topcoats?

    I’ve read dozens of articles on painting furniture and none of them give any advice on amounts!!

    I seem to have the choice of 0.75 litre or 2.5 litre cans (UK sizes). I think 1 litre is 0.22 US gallons

    If successful I might do 2 or 3 pieces.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Phil – In the US, a quart of paint is what I would use for a 5 drawer dresser. 2 light coats of primer and 2 light coats of paint. I did a conversion in Google for you. 0.946353 liters will be plenty.

  9. Can, I use a clear gloss on internal oak wood drawers , they have wood rails they ride on, repairing wood rot with midway wood filler and sanding, then can I apply clear gloss spray?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy – Yes, but make sure there are no bumps or ridges in the wood filler along the rails. Then apply a very light even coat, let the first coat dry well before applying a very light second coat. Let dry for a few days if you live in a humid area. Depending on how tight the drawers fit, you don’t want to add too much as it may effect how easy it is to open and close the drawers.

      If you just want to provide some protection and add glide, I think if you applied clear paste wax – Johnsons Paste Wax ($8 a can sold in cleaning aisle) over the rails and buffed with a soft cloth to bring up the shine, you would provide protection and very nice glide for your drawers with no stickiness or build up.

      1. Robin Guelta says:

        Hi Diane, loved reading your information here. Just wanted to add, that on those old wooden slides, you can rub plain old wax on them like a leftover bit of candle, paraffin or beeswax. Ladies used to do this during “spring cleaning” in times past. Works like a charm.

  10. Mike Brenner says:

    Do you ever use a heat gun to remove old finishes? I invest volunteered at a Trolley Museum where I have helped restore century old trolleys. We always used a heat gun before scraping old varnish. Our goal was to bring each piece down to bare wood before refinishing. Needless to say I have spent several hundred hours heating, scraping and sanding old oak and mahogany.
    Thank you for your extensive information about painting old furniture. My wife has placed several large projects on my Honey Do list

  11. Have you ever used Polyvine Varnish instead of waxing? Do you prefer the flat or the satin? If you are using chalk paint do you need to prime the piece of furniture first? I read where when using the Polyvine that it needs to be primed to keep dark stain you are painting over from bleeding through. If you want to get an antique look like the dark wax will do can you put a glaze over the area you want to look antique and get the same affect as the dark wax?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – I have a series of posts all about using chalk paint that will answer all your questions. You should start here:

      and then follow the links to read the other posts.

      To answer the question about using Polyvine varnish. I have never used that brand. I like wax better than polyurethane. Some wood may bleed through the paint. This is especially true on older wood. If you plan to sand to distress to show some wood, you should use clear shellac first, then chalk paint. If you use a primer (usually white) you will see the white layer when you sand to distress your piece.

      Yes, you can use antiquing glaze instead of dark wax. It is what I used for this piece:

  12. I have an old french provincial cocktail table with a marble top from Italy handed down to me. It doesn’t fit my decor and the base which is a yellowish tone wood is scratched and weathered. What would be the best way to update the look? paint? stain? I’m not sure what type of paint or stain would work with this material. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori –

      If the table is not your style, then I would paint the base in a color that goes with your decorating color scheme. Staining would require you to strip it first, then re-stain. Most stains are wood tones or black. If you want that color, then stain is the way to go.

      If you want the table to look more modern, then I would use gloss or semi-gloss paint. Satin finish paint if you want a more casual feel. You would need to sand the surface first with 100 grit sandpaper, clean it off, and then paint. More light coats are better for adhesion then one or two thicker coats. Once the paint is dry you can protect it with a clear coat of water-based Polycrylic. It is make by Minwax. You can also use this to seal and protect the stain if you go that route.

      For more info on how to paint over a stained surface, check out this post:

  13. Hi Diane,
    I’m painting a knotty pine desk I purchased at a second hand place. There is no varnish or stain on it from what I can tell. Is it still necessary to prime? I purchased Sherwin Williams Duration an Acrylic Latex as my finish. Thanks, Irena

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Irena – I think SW Duration is a paint + primer in one, so you should be good to go without using a separate primer.

  14. Hi. I purchased an unfinished mantel from Lowe’s several years ago. A friend recommended someone to refinished the mantel. Even though the gentleman did an excellent job, the end result is not what I wanted. The wood is oak and too much of the grain shows. I am pretty sure it has a coat/s of polyurethane on it. Can I paint this mantel, say white, and how is the best way to do it? Will Kilz cover the poly and help with the painting. If you have answered this in your blog I apologize for asking the same question. Thanks for any help.

  15. I’m painting a dresser according to your directions, but want to add a few simple painted designs in what probably won’t be the same kind of paint (either satin latex or latex enamel). Do I need to seal the desigs alone, or the whole drawer surface?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy – You do not want to seal the surface first. Paint your design on, then seal. If the paint (acrylic craft paint?) is thick, make sure to apply thin even strokes when painting your design. You don’t want to apply the design with thick strokes, they will just peel off. If the design in concentrated in one area, use 220 grit sandpaper lightly over the area to help with adhesion. Then paint your design. Once it is dry – 24 hours, then use a water-based sealer over it. If you plan to wax the piece, I would wait a little longer before waxing to make sure the paint has started to cure. Some waxes may remove the paint. Briwax is one that does remove some paint so I would not recommend using it. Annie Sloan, Miss Mustard Seed, or Fiddes and Sons, and Johnson’s are good waxes to use over painted designs.

      1. Judy chew says:

        Thank you for such a quick response, Diane. Two quick questios and then I wo’t bug you again with this should-be-simple project.
        1. I painted the dresser in a satin enamel and am painting the simple designs in the a satin enamel also. So I still have to sand and seal?

        2. For the drawers and flat surfaces of the dresser, I put 2 coats of Kilz on it to prime, and then used a roller with a knap for the satin enamel top coat and it looked terrible. I immediately switched to a brush, which was better, but the surface looks brush-stroked. Am going to put the second, and hopefully final coat on tomorrow…or soon. I have a sponge roller…would that be better, or do I embrace the brush stroked look? … Thanks

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Judy –

          To answer your questions:

          1.If you are using the same type of paint, you don’t have to seal it, but sealing will protect your design. If you are on the fence about sealing, just let the piece cure for a few weeks and then decide if you want to seal it. It doesn’t have to be done right away. IF you find the design is getting marks on it that you can’t wipe away, you may want to add two light coats of sealer to protect it.

          2. Rollers with naps are not good for furniture as you found out. As for getting rid of brush strokes, you should smooth them out with 160 grit sandpaper before adding another coat of paint. A light going over should do it. Once it is smooth to your liking, you can add some Floetrol to the paint for your second coat if you want to brush it on. I never use this, but know that when you add it to paint, it is suppose to minimize the look of brush strokes. It is sold in the paint aisle. I try to keep things simple and always use a foam roller with rounded edges when painting furniture. The round edges on the foam roller help minimize roller edge lines in your painted finish. I use a 1″ Purdy angled brush to paint the crevices, corners, and detailed areas that a roller can’t get to.

  16. thanks a lot , you are amazing and your article is verrrrrry helpful.

    my question is about after painting, which is the best to use for a restaurant custom tables
    1- varnish
    2- polyurethane
    3- wax

    what kind of varnish to use? or what kind of poly i should use? or what kind of wax should i use?

    many many thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Samar – Varnish or polyurethane would be best. Varnish is the most durable, but is oil-based and will give whatever you put it on an orange cast. If you don’t want the color altered like this, use a brand name water-based Polyurethane. Zinseer Ultimate Polyurethane creates one very durable finish that would hold up to a lot of wear, but any brand name will work just as well. If you want the glassy bar top type of sealer on the tables you could use an epoxy resin type sealer. These are hard to work with, but do provide a durable glass like finish.

  17. Kristine V. says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I’ve been debating a paint job on a old dresser to refresh it, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to take on the task. After reading your step by step process I feel more confident and can’t wait to give it a try!

  18. Hi, love the blogs some amazing tips, I have finished a chest of draws multi coloured in fluorescent acrylic paint for the inside of the draws and gold spray paint on the outside. Sanded/primed/sanded/light coats etc etc. draws got let to dry for a few days. But still would get stuck and paint would peel off. I decided I wanted it in a gloss finish so have used POLYVINE decorators varnish gloss finish and still the draws are getting stuck and peeling the Acrylic paint off to the white undercoat.

  19. Kristy Siegel says:

    Help! I think I did something terribly wrong, Diane! I am in the middle of painting a 30 year old wooden dresser, chest and nightstand with a total of 15 drawers. I sanded it, painted it with several coats of primer and two coats of my paint color. It was looking beautiful and I was almost finished, but I think I messed up the last step. To seal it, I applied Minwax Wipe-on Poly with Polyurethane protection in Clear Satin. I rubbed it on with a cloth. I let it dry over night and today it is rough and sticky and very tacky to the touch. What should I do now? Should I sand it again? I tried to buff it off yesterday, but this isn’t a wax so it wouldn’t buff. I fear all my hard work is for nothing. Thanks for your help.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kristy –
      Try not to panic as there is always a way to fix the finish. I think the problem could be the Wipe-On Poly. I am not a fan. I prefer their Polycrylic. It is water based and one of the best ways to protect a painted finish while not changing the color. It also could be that if you were working outside or in an open area, dirt and dust could have blown in and stuck to the surface to make it rough. Since it is summer and the air can be humid, drying time can take much longer. If it felt tacky, it was not dry yet.

      The way to fix it is let it dry – Wait a few days and let the finish get really really dry. If you don’t you will just make a mess of the finish as it will get glumpy. Then take super fine sandpaper and wet it. Rub this over the surface to smooth it. You may need to go over the surface a few times. Once it feels smooth, clean off the sanding debris and see how the finish looks. If it needs more poly for protection, test a small area with brush-on Polycrylic to see if it adheres well on top of the wipe on poly. If it does then you an move forward. If not, you may have to sand the wipe on poly finish off and then touch up the paint and then protect with brush on Polycrylic.

      1. Kristy Siegel says:

        Thank you for your quick response! I am working in a bedroom, not the garage, so there’s no humidity. Although, you are right, it is summertime. Thanks for your suggestion to just let it dry for a few days. Would you recommend the Johnson Paste Wax you mentioned above or should I stick with the brush on Polycrylic? Was my problem that I used an oil based finish instead of water? Thanks again!!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Kristy – I would not wax it. I would use Polycrylic. I never use oil-based poly. It is smelly, tacky, and takes forever to dry, plus it yellows the paint color. I always go with water-based poly. It has little smell and dries to the touch in a hour.

  20. I’m going to paint a dresser I just purchased today. I went to Home Depot and after asking several questions I was directed to buy “Valspar Paint+Primer, flat: white.”
    Should I be worried that I’m using a Paint and Primer vs. doing the steps individually?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Courtney – Are you going to use this one paint to both prime and paint the dresser? Do you plan to put poly or wax over it? I am asking because I am not sure you should have gone with a flat paint. It will smudge easily. Normally when painting furniture – satin to gloss finishes/sheens are used. The only time I would use flat paint on furniture is if I was using it to make chalk paint. Even then you put poly or wax over it.

      As far as the primer in the paint being OK to use on the dresser…If the dresser is old wood, tannins could still bleed through the wood if the primer is not a stain blocking type. If the dresser is newer the primer/paint combo should be fine. I always like to use a stain blocking primer on old furniture to make sure the previous stain and or poly finish does not change the color of the paint. I would sand the piece and test out the primer + paint to see if the color changes after it is dry. With white paint, you would see brown or a pink color come through the paint in places.

      I hope this helps you.

  21. ValeriaBurton says:

    After reading this post, I can’t wait to paint the dresser for my baby’s nursery! This is very detailed and it answered a lot of questions that I had when I decided to paint the dresser.
    I have a question, if you can help me. How much paint did it take for that chest?
    I have a regular size, six drawer dresser, and I don’t want to buy too little or too much…
    Do you have any idea of how much I should need?

    I appreciate any help you can give me!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valeria –

      1-2 quarts will be plenty. If you use very light coats – 1 quart may be enough depending on the size of the dresser and how well the paint covers.

  22. Ren Jetton says:

    This post is so informative. I found out about the orange in min wax the hard way! I am wondering about the hardware. I recently painted a dresser and have been unsuccessful in finding hardware. It looks like you reused the original stuff but now it has an interesting pattern. I would love to know more about what you did. Thanks!

  23. Hi ,
    I just saw this piece of furniture and i really liked it.
    I would like to ask you from where did you bought the handles.Can i find to buy it somewhere on interenet pls?

    Best Regards;
    Maria Mizzi Paris.

      1. Hi,
        I would like to Thankyou very much for the instractions and help .

        Best Regards
        Maria Mizzi Paris

  24. Anwen Pritchard says:

    How much paint did you use to cover this dresser in all please, thank you anwen

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      A quart will cover it.

  25. Great article — very useful. I plan on doing some dinning chairs. Since they will be getting a lot of use I wonder if I should poly coat when I have finished painting.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Diane –

      You can never go wrong putting a poly coat over any painted piece. Just make sure it is a water-based poly. It will not yellow or give your paint color an orange tint. I like Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in a few different sheens.

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  27. Christina says:

    Hi. My problem when painting wood is the scratches I get afterward. Let me explain. When the piece is all dry and ready to use. (Like my dresser I just did) When opening the drawers or putting something on top of the piece, it scratches so easily. How do you prevent this??

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Christina –

      It sounds like you did not use a good primer or the paint needed more time to cure before you used the newly painted piece. If I am using regular latex to paint, (not DIY Chalk paint) I sand to rough up the surface and then use Glidden Gripper primer or Kilz Original primer. 2 light coats of primer, letting the first dry throughly before applying the next. Let that dry overnight and then apply 2 light coats of paint. After the piece is painted, let it sit as long as you can live without it so it has time to cure. Some paints can take up to 4 weeks to cure completely depending on the temps and humidity. When painting over drawers, I sometimes sand the edges down, so that when the layers of new paint are on, they still glide in easily. If you don’t do this, they may be tight and then the paint would come off.

  28. Stephanie says:

    In your post you mention to paint the inside edge of the drawers. I was wondering if it would work if I actually primed and/or painted the whole inside of the drawers. My piece has been sitting in our garage for 25+ years and I worry if I don’t cover every inch with primer that the musty smell will linger. The drawers have a wooden center guide rail just like the dresser you painted above. Would painting this area cause the drawers to stick? I would like to use this piece for its original purpose, a buffet, but not if it is stinky!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stephaine –

      Paint and primer alone will not mask the smell of old furniture. There are a few different ways to combat the smell. 1. To remove musty smells from old furniture, fill plastic containers with white vinegar; seal, and punch holes in lids. Put one inside each drawer or cabinet overnight to absorb odors. For extreme cases, clean interiors with a vinegar-dampened cloth. 2. Clean with wood soap or TSP Cleaner that is sold in the paint aisle. Place outside in the sunshine to dry. If it still smells you can use clear shellac over the surface. It will get rid of the smell.

      I would not paint the drawer guides, it would cause problems – just wash them well with TSP or wood cleaner and dry them off quickly. You can paint everything else using light coats.

  29. Thank you for your invaluable advice on cupboard painting. We had painted some kitchen cupboards and found that the rim surface was completely uneven and looked very poor indeed. The trick of painting just a little way into the cupboards has made a more professional finish to our work.

  30. Thank you!! Followed your steps exactly and my old hope chest turned out beautiful!! Went to Home Depot on a mission and they told me flat latex paint could not be applied over oil based Kilz…I ignored the advice :) They also told me wax would not “stick” to latex paint…ignored that advice as well :) Next project I am going to give the fancy chalk paint a try and skip the priming. Thank you so much for the help!

  31. Kelly Phillips says:

    Never mind, I just read through again and saw it.

  32. Kelly Phillips says:

    I LOVE your dresser and the color. I may have missed it in reading through everything, but could you give me the specific color name and company. I’m looking for a ” robin’s egg blue ” but can’t seem to find this gorgeous shade.
    Thank you!

  33. I am purchasing a loft bed made out of pine and maybe some mdf pieces that is painted white. I was looking for a black or grey bed, but could not find one I liked in those colors. I want to paint it grey. Since it will be brand new do I need to sand or can I just primer and paint it before I put it all together?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Brandi – I would sand it. You don’t have to get out an electric sander. 60-100 grit sandpaper on a hand sanding block will do the trick. Sand and apply enough pressure to rough the surface up so the paint has something to adhere to. You will be rewarded with lasting adhesion for a 15 minute effort. :) Clean with a tack cloth, then prime and paint.

  34. I need help with a stained dresser,very old want to fix it up with a color stain.She’s fixed and sanded.The drawers i sanded inside to get rid of old wallpaper and glue.Looked nice in it’s day but it’s days were numbered.Should i give it a light stain inside to protect the wood and additional outside and underneath.The front will be stained color of choice to go with dresser.

  35. Thank you for the wonderful posting and photos!
    Do you have any problems with the drawer fronts sticking to the dresser front when the drawers are closed? The dresser I am planning to paint has a lip that is overlayed on the dresser front when the drawer is closed. Normally I would paint the inside of the drawer face so that it would look pretty when open, but I am worried about sticking.
    Thanks for any tips you can give!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathleen – Latex can get sticky. Use only one light coat on the back of the drawers – don’t have a build up of paint and it should be good. If you see any drawer sticking, run some paste wax over the back and then buff it. This will act as a barrier between the two latex painted surfaces. You could also rub a white candle over the back a few times to create a barrier. Another idea is to use chalk paint. It is latex based, but does not have that tacky feel that latex is know for.

  36. I have committed PAINT FAILURE! Okay, so I have this 1970’s UGLY furniture that I’ve had in my bedroom for years. Ugh. Totally ashamed of myself that I didn’t do anything until now. However, I was excited that my hubby was away with our youth at camp so I got OVER anxious and painted it. It’s that stereo type material. The paint I used is normal semi gloss samples that I had in my garage. I did NOTHING to prepare it. Oh wait, I wiped the dust off. hee hee. I can hear you all laughing already. To my shock I LOVED it!! HOWEVER, as anything rubs against it, I am afraid it will just chip off. Even my finger nails can do it. UGH! NOW WHAT? Please tell me…oh paint GURU…what do I do now???

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sonya –

      I try to look on bright side first -It may adhere better after a few weeks – it may just need to cure. Since you didn’t use primer or chalk paint – I think that will not happen and it will just keep chipping. There are two ways you can remedy the situation. 1. Sand the paint off or at least until it is smooth. Then go over with a gripping primer – I like Gripper from Glidden. Once that is dry – you can repaint.

      2. Sand it to remove loose paint or until it is smooth and paint over with chalk paint. Once it is dry, you can use either paste wax to protect it or non-yellowing poly – Minwax Polycrylic is a good one. You can use this over latex paint also to protect it.

      1. Thank you so much for your advice. I wanted to follow up with you and let you know that I again, did my own thing…hmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here. I went over it with a foam roller and poly with very thin coats. The first two nothing. But at the 4th coat I could not chip the paint off for anything. It worked amazingly. I went ahead and did 6 light coats of poly and that did the trick. I love love love it. Who will ever buy new furniture again? You have a WONDERFUL site. Can’t wait to learn about the chalk paint stuff. Have never tried that.

  37. rachel McAdams says:

    HI Diane,

    I am ready to work on my dresser but now I believe the top is a formica in wood look. Would I still sand and prime as if it was wood? I was planning per your instructions to use the Kilz primer. I also noticed the top edge of the drawers are brown plastic. I was planning on painting this all Valspar orange crush. Do I need different paint for this top edge? Or can I use some paper to decoupage that area. How well will that hold up with kids pulling it open all the time?

    Thanks for your time and expertise,


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rachel –

      You can paint and prep all the surfaces the same way – sand and prime. Formica may need to be sanded a bit more to remove the shine. You also may want to use a “Gripping” primer on the Formica and the plastic edge, instead of Kilz. Glidden and Benjamen Moore both make good ones. Gliddens is call Gripper and Ben Moore – AquaGrip. A gripping primer is the best primer to use over shiny and glossy surfaces that are not wood. For the rest of the dresser I would use Kilz. It will seal the wood tannins in as well as give you a great base for paint. I would do 2 light coats of primer – let each coat dry, before applying the next. Then 2 light coats of paint. In between coats you can use fine grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and then clean off the sanding grit before applying the next coat. If the dresser is going to see a lot of action – I would not decoupage the edge – better off priming it right and then paint. Light coats are key to getting a durable finish. Paint does need time to cure, so let the piece sit for a few days before using it.

  38. Hi!

    First of all, what a wonderful blog! Thank you for taking your time to share your experiences.

    I just wanted to ask you quickly whether you have any advice on what to do in a situation where I have mistakenly painted the sides of the drawers and the inner walls of a chest of drawers, and when I assembled everything back together the drawers now barely open at all because of the friction from the painted surfaces. I realise in hindsight what I should have done is left the sides of the drawers unpainted. Is it possible to remedy this so that I can still use the chest of drawers? Will sanding help? (The drawers are relatively small so sanding in some of the grooves may be tricky).

    Please help!

    Many thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Luke – Wow – I give you credit for taking the time to paint the inside of the chest – I have never done this – since you never see it once the drawers are placed in. The sides of the drawers do look nice painted on some pieces. I recently saw where someone painted the sides of the drawers in a coordinating color. To get the piece back in working order, you will need to sand. I would get a sanding block and use it to go over all the painted surface areas that are keeping the drawers from closing. You will need to remove some of the paint build up that is causing the friction. If you can remove the drawers – sand around the inner sides of the drawer openings on the body of the chest, too. If you see any heavily applied paint – knock it down with the sandpaper. Once you have sanded down the painted areas, you can touch up with paint – but make sure to use a very thin coat. You can also run the sides of a candle along the drawer edges to lessen the friction.

  39. I love this color, but I can’t find Peacock Plume by Glidden. Their website has peacock blue, but that’s too dark. Help!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –
      All of Glidden’s colors are not on display in the paint store. The color is in Glidden’s Master Palette. Home Depot has the fan deck under the paint desk. Ask to see it. Here are the numbers you will need:
      Peacock’s Plume
      Specify # 16BG 24/357
      Order #A1249

  40. Hi,
    I have a chest of drawers we bought a few years ago that I want to repaint for my kids’ room. However, the drawers cannot be removed, which is a nice feature so that my toddler can’t pull them out completely but now I’m concerned about painting it. Any suggestions? I really want to recycle this piece if I can, but it is currently white and won’t look right in their room. Thanks so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mandy – You can still paint the chest. Sand and prime first, just as you would any piece so the paint adheres. I would open the drawers as far as possible and then use a 1-2 inch angled Purdy paint brush to paint the body of the chest – manking sure to get the area under each drawer. Let it dry and add a second coat. Let that dry well. Then paint – roll on with a foam roller the drawer fronts. If you want to create a unique piece – you can paint the sides of the drawers in a coordinating color. This looks very colorful when the drawers are open – perfect for a kids room. Once it is painted and dry- add one or two coats of non-yellowing water based poly to protect it.

  41. Diane, now, that I found your website I am freaking out. :( My mom painted a desk for my father back in the 70’s. I now have ownership of that desk and am not a fan of the olive green color… drab and boring. My boyfriend helped me remove the old paint and sand it down to the natural pine wood… nice, smooth, and clean removal. Well having not completed very many painting projects in my life I apparently should have done more research. I just wanted a basic black color with grey on the drawer fronts. I was so excited after finding a “true black” that I painted Glidden interior Satin latex on the bare wood yesterday. Is this an uh-oh? I came across a remark today on a DIY website regarding priming and eventually found my way here. Have I just destroyed my project by not priming the wood first? It is true the wood sucked up the paint and the grain shows through (which in my opinion is beautiful). Can I rescue my project before moving forward? The natural pine is in beautiful shape for its age… no stains or bleed through previously or now. What can I do? What products would you recommend?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jeannette –

      Your piece may be fine since you sanded it to the bare wood. If there is no bleed-through of the wood tannins and the paint does not scratch off – you will be OK. It sometimes takes a week or two for this to happen – and it may not happen at all. Every piece of wood is different. The reason to use primer on wood before paint is to: 1. Block the wood tannins from changing your paint color and 2. To help the paint adhere to the surface.

      Since you sanded the piece to the bare wood – the paint has something to stick to – the roughed up wood. Since you are using black – you may not notice any brownish bleed through. It may happen over time, but again – since you are using black you may not notice and it may not even occur. If there are any knots in the pine – you may want to go over them with a stain blocking primer right over the paint, let it dry and then paint over it again with black – knots in the wood will change your paint color. If you have not painted the grey drawer fronts – I would apply 1 or 2 light coats of stain blocking primer on them first, then paint. Since it is a lighter color you may see the color change.

      I like Kilz or Zinseer Bulls brand stain blocking primers. They have oil and water based formulas. I always use the Oil Based Kilz on old and dark pieces where there is lots of the old finish still on the surface that I am not removing before painting. On a sanded piece – the water based formulas will work well.

      Your boyfriend is a keeper – sanding is the hardest part of the job. He deserves a big hug!

  42. Beautiful!!! Thanks you! I couldn’t help but notice the amazing hardware. How clever to enhance this beautiful piece. Can you share where you bought the hardware? Thanks so much!

  43. Hi Diane, thanks for the thorough step-by-step! I have 2 questions. 1. Do you not have to remove the original stain and poly coat before you first start to sand the furniture? 2. Have you ever used a “paint and printer in one” to save time and money in a refinishing project? I have about 9/10 of a gallon of semi-gloss paint and primer in one that I would like to repurpose on an old dresser if I can. Thoughts?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rhonda – No you don’t have to remove the stain and poly – just rough it up with sandpaper and clean it so the primer has something to adhere to. As for your second question – I am not a fan of 2 and 1 primers. They are still a new item on the market and could use improvement, plus they are more formulated for walls, not painting over previous stained and polyed furniture. You are much better off using Kilz or Gripper and then a separate paint if you want a durable lasting finish. You could test it out on a small area to see if it adheres and blocks the wood tannins from coming through the paint. Let it cure for a week or so and do a scratch test. Then make your decision on what to use.

  44. rachel McAdams says:

    Hi Dianne,

    If my piece of furniture is old do I need to worry if the stain is oil based? Will the Glidden Gripper still work or do I run the risk of it all peeling off later?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rachel – It does not matter – Latex or oil primer can go over oil.Use two light coats and let the first one dry before applying the second. Once a primer coat is on, you can use latex products. If the piece is really old and the finish is very dark, you may want to use Kilz Original on it.
      It will tackle the tannins in the wood that may bleed through better than Gripper. Gripper is good for smooth or glossy surfaces where the wood is in good shape, but smooth or shiny.

  45. Your instructions were the best I’ve found. I have a small chest I bought on Craigslist and can’t wait to transform it. I have a question. I think I’m going to use a warm cream shade on the chest. I’m a calligrapher and I want to add some writing on the top or even on the sides. I’ll be using acrylic paint for the letters. I want to age the piece possibly by adding a coat of a darker color over all and then wiping most of it off. Will the paste wax protect the calligraphy?
    Thank you very much for thorough directions.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      If you use a few layers of paste wax – the calligraphy will be protected, but you will have to apply more every so often to keep up the protection. I think you would be better off using colored glaze to darken the piece and Minwax Polycrylic to protect it. I like Valspar antiquing glaze sold at Lowes. It is easy to use – wipe 0n and and then wipe off. Polycrylic Satin is a non-yellowing, water-based poly. Two to three coats of it will do the trick. Let each coat dry before applying the next. You can distress before and after depending on the look you want to achieve. To see the glaze, I posted about it here:

  46. hi Diane … I have a question regarding wood sealers , I just painted my dresser and night stands with flat latex paint and I like the matte finish of the paint I don’t want to change it but I want to protect the paint as well , I tried wax over a painted piece of wood as a test and it gave it a sheen that I didn’t like , I’m considering polycrylic satin finish … is it shinier than wax or is wax shinier? If wax is better , when should i wax ? before or after distressing?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Polycrylic Satin will not be very shiny. Wax gets shinier the more you buff it. If you added wax and only buffed it a little – less shine – buff a lot – more shine. In your case, I think you may want to use the Polycrylic. It will protect without adding a high sheen. Test it on the back to make sure it doesn’t change the look of the finish in an undesirable way. When distressing – the Annie Sloan people – do it after waxing. I have done it both ways – it won’t ruin the piece. I like the distressing to be smoother so that is why I like to add the wax after. It is a personal choice thing.

  47. I like to paint furniture, but don’t love to because I always end up with drips in corners or some other imperfection that makes it look cheap. I make an effort to look for drips but when I check on it 30 min. later the drips appear. What am I doing wrong? Love your blog! You are so talented!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Jayn – The reason your paint drips, is you are probably applying it too thick. Use thinner coats and you will notice the drips will lessen. Even the best painters get drips now and then, especially on carved areas or the recessed panel areas on doors. When I find a drip in my pieces, I remove them with fine grit sandpaper and then use a tack cloth to clean the area off before applying new paint. On your next piece – remember less paint loaded on the brush or roller is always better. More light coats, than fewer thicker ones. Painting using lighter coats will also help the paint adhere better and give you a long lasting finish.

  48. Hi..I just wanted to ask …can you skip the whole kill part if you buy the paint that already has primer in it? Wanted to see if that works. I love to do projects but I do not like to wait for the paint to dry and get sloppy. Let me know. I love this color you did. Beautiful!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amy – I would not use it. The 2 in 1 primers were made more for walls to cover and block previous paint colors. They don’t have the same stain blocking and super gripping abilities that Kilz or BIN has. If you want your paint job to last a long time – the primer step is the most important to get right, so I would make sure to do it with a primer made to block wood tannins, knots, and bleed through only. Maybe in a few years the 2 in 1 formulas will get better for priming over furniture, but they are not quite there yet.

  49. Dixie Ann says:

    Hi, really like your blog and need some advice on painting a long narrow chest with 6 shelves and 2 doors. I want to paint the outside black gloss after priming it and everything but my question is what color do I paint the inside since it will be seen everytime you open the doors and some of the center shelves are exposed all the time. I mostly keep books in it. Should I also paint the inside and all the shelves gloss black also? I have always used Kiltz primer and was wondering if I can get it in black or dark gray?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dixie Ann –

      Kilz can be tinted. Just tell the guy at the paint store that you are suing black paint. The tint will be more grey, but will help you get better color coverage. Unless you want the piece to look two-toned all the time – I would paint everything the same color. Using only one color makes it so much easier to paint, too. If you want to see more color or even pattern from time to time – you can make some simple fabric covered cardboard inserts to add to the back of the open shelves of the chest. I posted about how to do it here –

  50. Loved your tutorial and photos! I want to do the same to an old maple set in my sons room who is away at college. How do I choose a color of paint? Am looking for a subtle, beachy color and want to paint his room as well. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda -I am a bit behind in answering questions. I see you left me two. I will answer them both here. Yes, you can use chalk paint to paint the whole bedroom set. It can be repainted, too. You do need to wax each piece so even though you don’t have to do much prep work – (sand and prime) you do have to spend time on the finishing end – waxing. If you have never used chalk paint before, you may want to try it on something small first to see if you like it. I love the look and am sold on using it for just about everything.
      For your other question – How to choose a color of paint? I always go with my favorite colors. A light grey blue would look nice. Subtle and beachy, but neutral enough to go with everything. I would get a few paint chips at your local paint store and place them in the room on the actual furniture. Tape them onto the sides. Look at the colors in different light and edit out the ones you don’t like until you are left with only one.

  51. Hi,

    I’m in the middle of painting a corner cupboard/buffet that I got at a second hand store here in France where we live right now. It is a great piece, originally varnished pine I think. It’s not turning out that great. Wish I found your tutorial before I had started. I sanded until I lost interest to start with, then did a coat of universal (not specifically for wood or glass or anything) primer, because I already had a can. It adhered fairly well. Then I moved on to a satin finish white paint (acrylic…that’s what it’s called in French, don’t know if that’s the same as latex or not). I’ve put on 2 coats now of the paint, and I can still see my brush strokes and the pine kind of peeking through. It’s okay, kind of looks distressed, but I wanted a solid white, not distressed. I think I probably should have done 2 coats of primer, but thought I would run out so I didn’t . I don’t know if a third coat of paint is really going to help any. Can I go back and just do another primer coat now over the previous primer and two paint coats? And then another paint coat? That would be 5 coats total! Also, what do I do about the brush strokes? Thanks!

  52. Best tutorial I have ever read! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  53. Vicki Roberts says:

    Hi Diane,
    Found you on Pinterest and I love all of your posts! Quick question. Last summer I took my old dresser, headboard and mirror from my parents house and painted it white for my daughter. It did NOT turn out how I had hoped. I used white spray paint primer, paint and a top coat. It’s not shinny, a pain to dust…you can’t rub a cloth over’s rough. I’m going to attempt to do it again. I want it to be white, and I want it to have a smooth much shinier finish. Suggestions on where I should start would be SO helpful!! Thanks!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vicki – It sounds like you used a flat paint finish instead of a semi or gloss finish. White spray primer is flat. Any paint finish can go over that. You can buy white spray paint in a variety of finishes – you would need to use a gloss to get the shiny easy to dust surface you are after. You can also use regular white paint in a semi or gloss finish and a brush over the furniture instead of spray paint. Before you start though -You mentioned that you put a top coat on – was this a polyurethane or just a topcoat of paint? If it was a poly then you would have to sand it a bit to remove that finish so the new paint has something to grip onto and then reapply a white paint over it that is semi-gloss or gloss.

      If you did use a poly topcoat and don’t want to sand, you could make a batch of DIY chalk paint. That goes over any surface. Once the paint is dry – To get a shiny smooth finish – you apply paste wax over it and buff with a soft cloth to reveal a shine.

  54. Amanda Nelson says:

    I’m really loving this color!!!! I have an old two piece hutch of my husbands great grandmothers i am looking into painting this color or similar to add in the living room…..I just love this shade and maybe a softer shade. I actually have a huge wooden monogram in this color hanging over our bed, but I think I may need something softer for such a big piece.
    Can you suggest a brand of paint and a particular color? Help! Thank you

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amanda –

      The paint and color I used to paint the dresser is from Glidden. It is called Peacock’s Plume. Sherwin Williams has a similar color – Capri SW6788. Benjamin Moore has a color that is a bit lighter called Bahaman Sea 2055-40. There are many good brands of paint on the market. I have used them all. I prefer Glidden, Sherwin Williams, and Behr. If the piece is going to get a lot of wear – Behr makes a latex enamel that will give you a nice durable finish.

      1. Amanda Nelson says:

        Thank you so much for your reply…I just love all your projects and style, so I trust what you use will be perfect!!!! :)

  55. Michelle Yezbick says:

    Hi Diane,
    I am attempting to paint my daughters old wood furniture white. I sanded all the old stain off, used two coats of primer, three coats of flat paint (Gliddon White on White). I used flat at the suggestion of the Home Depot guy who said I should use polycrylic over the top so the finish of the paint didnt matter. However, after research, I decided to use Minwax Finishing Paste over the flat paint. I am so frustrated! After all my hard work, the finishing paste gave my white furniture a peachy tint. I read above how you said the Minwax is orange and the Johnson is clear. Ugh. Any suggestions how I can fix without starting the whole process over? Please help me:)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michelle – I have learned to never listen to what the guys at the home improvement store have to say about anything decorative :) They are knowledgeable on most things, but not color issues and pretty stuff :)

      On the first piece of furniture I painted with white chalk paint, I waxed with the orange Minwax and had the same problem occur. What I did was buff, buff, and buffed some more with the loop side of a terrycloth towel to get the orange look off the finish. Once I got most of it off, I touched up the areas that still had an orange tint with one thin layer of paint. I let it dry for a few days so it cured and then used the Johnson’s clear paste wax over it. It turned out fine. It is one of my favorite pieces now. A little more work and you will see results.

  56. I just redone a dresser sanded it , used Kilz Max then painted it …The paint comes off on the corners and edges …Gave ample drying time …What should i do now …Tried to touch up , but the white just shows through …Should i just start over with original Kilz ..I used a turquoise colored paint Sherwin Williams …

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – What is the surface on the dresser? Polyed wood, bare wood, or something else?

  57. Hi Diane!

    Love your post. I am ready to paint my new wood dining table, and I was advised at the store to just use a paint with Primer already in it. The paint I bought was the BeHr Premium paint with Primer. Should I go back and return it, and buy the kilz primer and the primer free version of the paint? Please advise! Thank you!!!! <3

  58. Just wondering if you have tried this method (or know of a good one) for painting that fake pressed wood material you find in cheap furniture? I have a desk I want to replace but I would probably like it if I could paint it… Thanks for your help!

    1. The best way to paint pressed wood that is sandwiched between a veneer is to use a gripping primer first. Then paint. If any of the veneer is chipped off. Spread some Spackle or wood filler over the exposed area. When it is dry- sand it smooth- then prime and paint.

  59. Connie Edelman says:

    Why didn’t you use that new Kilz primer that’s meant to go over stain and eliminates the need for sanding?

  60. Erin Snyder says:

    This is such wonderful information. I am so excited to refinish or replace some furniture pieces in my house and I didn’t feel I had the right information on how to do it correctly. Thank you so much for all of your tips and tutorials. I just found your blog and I will be folloiwng!
    Neaten Your Nest

  61. found you on pinterest. awesome tutorial, thank you! i will be back to visit your other tutorials cuz you explain everything so well!

  62. Where did you get te handles

  63. I have an old hand me down vanity dresser that was my moms when she was a child, so it’s from the late 60s early 70s. One day a few years back I painted over with some cheap paint in a can and it’s starting to peel off, which is fine because I did a crap job anyways, so I plan on taking a day and chipping away at it to get back to its previous state and repaint it white for my daughters nursery. It’s real wood under there somewhere I’m assuming since it’s held up this long. But it has this ridiculously shiny gloss on it (is this what is causing the paint to chip off and not stick?) I’m just wondering what I have to do to paint over and make sure the paint doesn’t chip off again becaue I don’t want my munchkin putting paint chips in her mouth one day.

    1. Hi Courtney-

      The shiny finish is what made the paint peel and chip + cheap paint doesn’t help much either :). Your piece can look beautiful again with a little work. I would sand the piece to get all the shine off of the finish, if it takes you to the bare wood in spots – that is fine. I would used Kilz Original primer – 2 light coats and then 2 light coats of a high quality paint – Sherwin Williams, Ben Moore, Glidden, Behr, etc. I would use either satin or semi-gloss and if you use an enamel formula – you will create a very durable finish.
      When a surface is shiny – paint has nothing to adhere to and that is why it peels and chips. The time you spend on the prep – sanding and priming will make all the difference.

  64. We built our home three years ago. The builder was supposed to stain the bannister dark brown and paint the spindles white. They did not do that and ended up just putting polyurethene on it (oak). Would we be able to stain/paint over the bannister and stairs using the same type of technique you used on the chest? I don’t want to ruin the bannister but cannot stand that it does not match the stairs (brown stain/white) and our dark hard wood floors. Thanks!

    1. HI Francine-

      Sorry to hear that your builder didn’t follow your plan.They always take the easy route when they can :( Stain will not take very well over polyurethane. Paint will, but stain needs to seep into the wood so you will get a nice even color coverage. Painting the balusters with Kilz and then paint will work fine. For the banister – you could find a paint that matches the stain, but that would look too opaque. I think the best thing you can do is sand the banister as best you can and then use a thick gel or spray on stripper to remove the rest. Once it is gone – use stain pre-conditioner (sold on the same aisle as stain) before applying the stain. This will ensure you get even coverage of the stain all over the banister. Then rub your stain on – then poly. It seems like a lot of steps, but if you do a little bit each day – you will be rewarded with what you want for a long time to come.

    2. Hi Again Francine – I just went to the hardware store and asked about your polyed oak banister. I was told you could try using gel stain over it. It comes in a can. I have used the black opaque stain over poly and it works, you just need to sand the surface a little bit. Since you need a wood color to match your floor this may work perfectly for the banister. So use Kilz and paint for the balusters – try gel stain in a tone that matches your floor for the banister.

  65. First, your dresser looks gorgeous! I love everything about it! I’m in the midst of painting a dresser and can’t get a smooth finish on the top. I primed first and have already sanded out and repainted my first coat of paint. If I use a foam roller, I get bubbles, if I use a fine nap roller, I get bumps, if I use a brush or paint pad I get ridges. I’m also using a latex extender recommended by the paint company (Dunn Edwards). Any tips on getting a truly smooth finish? And I don’t think climate should really be causing me any issues since I’m painting inside my air-conditioned home because it’s a bazillion degrees here in Arizona!

    1. Hi Tracy –

      The key with using a foam roller is to not press hard – just roll over gently – the bubbles appear when you press hard and the air is released, They do go away as they dry. If you get ridges with a brush – try to lessen them by going over with feather light strokes and then in between coats use fine grit sandpaper to smooth out. As far as a fine or low nap roller – you could be applying too much paint. Light even coats are better. I am not a fan of paint pads except the type with the wheels for painting at the ceiling line.

      It also could be the quality of paint or how well you mixed it. So many things determine the perfect paint job. It sounds like you are almost there – some pieces just seem to take the paint better than others. Using the best quality brushes – Purdy can make a huge difference. I would also make sure to use fine sandpaper in between each coat and a tack cloth to smooth the previous coat. It is an extra step, but can make a big difference.

  66. lin home blogs says:

    Looks like you did a great job, thanks for sharing. I am a firm believer in DIY in terms of changing the appearance of a piece of furniture if it’s not quite right rather than just buying a new piece. You can make it fit so much better by doing this.

  67. Great post, I love the color!

  68. Mark E Tisdale says:

    There’s always a piece of me that laments covering wood with paint, but the after is beautiful and what your daughter wanted! So, I’ll remind myself no one painted over a centuries old antique. ;-)

    The after definitely has a less ‘heavy’ feel to it and looks like it came that way and very thorough instructions that I’ll be saving for my own sacrilege sometime. LOL

  69. Canton Furniture Stores says:

    This turned out wonderful! And the hardware looks great with the color. Even though some people thing bright furniture is a little on the “risky” side, I really like it. I think it can add so much character to a room. Your daughter picked a great color.

  70. sb+hoffman says:

    You furnish fantastic directions. Thanks!

  71. Hilani-Handmade by Hilani says:

    Great Project, love the color you picked! :)

  72. Elisabetta says:

    Hi. I am hoping you can help me make a decision. I am redoing my home office. I was looking for a glam look complete with a crystal chandelier. I painted all the furniture black except for a french armoire. I love the style but not the natural wood color. My dilema is: should I leave it as is or paint off white with a gray glaze. Would it ruin the glam feel that I am after. I am alittle nervous to ruin it if I paint it. So confused.

    1. Hi Elisabetta – What color are the walls and flooring?

  73. I love your work. I have an old bedside table that I would like to paint and I’m wondering what your thoughts are with spray paint? I’m allergic to latex so I thought might be easier to work with for me, plus it’s cost effective for my family and I. I have a sander and thought to do that first. In your opinion, do you think it might work?

  74. That dresser looks amazing. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and paint can do. Those drawer handles look amazing.

  75. GREAT tutorial! So informative and helpful! And beautiful job on that dresser! Thank you so much for sharing your tips!! :)

    xoxo laurie

  76. melinda ke says:

    Great tutorial, Diane! Thanks for sharing your painting tips, I look forward to taking on some projects in the near future! :)

  77. Julie Benson-Grant says:

    Wonderful post and gorgeous work! I love that color… my master bedroom remake is going to be just that color and chocolate brown with a dash of some lighter greens and tans. Can you ship me this dresser? LOL

    I read through your instructions and found that you and I have done exactly the same process for our painting. I completed two dresser redos, one in a four shades of pink and another in four shades of lavender. You can check them out on my blog. I love the ombre shading style that is popular right now. Both dressers sold the next day of posting them for sale at asking price! I base it on the care and love put into creating beautiful works of art… it shows!

    Keep up the great work!

  78. Scribbler says:

    I just read the post and all the comments. Good information.

    Here is my two cent’s worth: I was a professional decorator, and I have been painting furniture longer than a lot of the bloggers have even been alive.

    It is always best to prime. I like artist’s gesso best, and it is always essential first to wash a surface with some sort of degreasing product — it does not really matter which one. Let it dry thoroughly first, preferably out in the sun.

    I like ASCP, but I do not buy the bit (personal experience) of no prep. Also, if you are painting kitchen cabinets, you should definitely use a good primer and according to the stockiest where I buy — USE A GOOD SEALER NOT THE WAX to finish. I painted my own disgusting kitchen cabinets with first a good primer (Zinnser I think) and then Bejamin Moore’s Aura paint.

    Hope this helps anyone who needs some additional pointers.

  79. Hi Dianne,great tutorial! Lookin forward to more of your expertise,maybe on antiquing furniture? Would love to know your tips..kind regards,Julie

  80. Jaye @ Just Trying to Make Cents of it All says:

    Gorgeous color! I’ve had issues with my drawers sticking (sounds like a personal issue!). Am I just putting too much paint on the inside?

    1. HI Jaye – you are probably right about adding too much paint. That is the #1 mistake most make when painting. Thin coats are the way to go. If your drawers are sticking try using a sanding block to rub the sides down a bit and then rub a white candle over all the sides. The wax may help the drawers glide in a little better. Wood expands with the weather so if you live where the seasons change you will notice they will close better in the winter months.

  81. Great color! One question about the handles, did you paint a pattern on those too or purchase them printed? They are the most perfect finishing touch. Love your work :)

  82. Thankyou….that was extremely informative, especially the part about the primer base choices. xo wendy

  83. Diane, what a great, comprehensive tutorial. I just started painting furniture. My husband always did the refinishing and painting. Since he always did a great job, I let him. However, I grew impatient. Then I started exploring blogs, and I haven’t stopped painting. I love it. Since I’m a newbie and I stumble, I still ask the Mr. for help, but I love to explore on my own. This was just great. I’m so glad to be following you and am looking forward to the remainder of the series. I just did a bureau in chalk paint. Everything is an experiment. My first drawer I applied too much wax, what a nightmare trying to rub that off. However, I took it out on the front porch one sunny afternoon and rubbed and buffed. The heat of the sun made the wax much easier to buff off the excess. I learned not to apply so much on the rest of the piece. You sort of get a feel for things. You have a great blog and you seem to have a lovely family. Thanks, again!

    1. HI Kim – Thanks for the nice note. Painting is easy once you know how to do it and feel confident. It is the easiest and most inexpensive way to transform just about anything. I get a lot of questions from readers telling me that they added too much wax after using Chalk Paint and don’t know what to do. I am going to add your tip in the post I do – Place it in the sun to warm it up a bit so the wax softens so you can easily remove excess wax – very smart!!! Thanks for sharing it. Happy Painting!

  84. says:

    Oops, sorry, I’m on my phone and it didn’t show me the previous comments. Yes, I still have to use at least 2 layers of chalk paint, too. But I still prefer it’s coverage. But like what you said to the previous reader, I don’t think I would use it in the kitchen. Annie Sloan does have a book out, however, aimed at kitchen cabinet painting with the chalk paint.

    Thrift Diving

    1. Hi Serena – I am going to have to find that book. I would like to see her tips and method for painting kitchen cabinets – Thanks for telling me about it. In answer to your previous question – yes I have used Chalk Paint on 3 different pieces and I love it. I don’t think I would use it on everything, but I am sold on using it on certain pieces of furniture. I will be posting a cute little corner cabinet next week that I used glaze over – it was for my daughter and I had a hard time giving it to her after I painted it – it came out better than I imagined.

  85. Diane | An Extraordinary Day says:

    I was recently blessed with an old mahogany sideboard and table and chairs. It’s in good condition, considering its age, but is worn in places. I’m planning on painting, but as I’ve done mostly windows and trim I appreciate your tips. They really are quite similar. I’m anxious to see what you write about the chalk paint as I am considering it also. My biggest question is how do you decide between regular paint and chalk paint? Especially for an important piece of furniture?

    Also…recently we repainted our ADK chairs and the paint has remained tacky. We used Valspar from Lowe’s. I talked with the store employees and they said that the newer paints can be a problem. I know for sure I won’t use the Valspar again.
    Thanks Diane!

    1. Hi Diane –

      I have never heard newer paints having a problem with tackiness. I think it has more to do with the weather. If you painted your ADK chairs this summer, it may be that you painted them when it was hot and humid and still is. The perfect temp to paint in is around 75 degrees with low humidity. You may notice less tackiness once the weather cools off.

    2. Diane, I have just completed painting a dining room set like you describe. First thing to know is to shellac the whole thing. After many problems with the ASCP, my dealer finally admitted on dark pieces she shellacs 2 coats. I ended up putting shellac over the paint I had already painted. I used Paris Grey and White. After several coats, I did not want a deeply distressed look, it looks okay. To do over, I would shellac, prime, then paint with a good latex. The ASCP worked well for a dresser I had but am very disappointed with the dining room set.

  86. Kimberly @ The Brown Eyes Have It says:

    I have a cabinet that I’m just waiting to tackle, so this is great. A couple questions for you, you said the Kilz you like best is oil based. So you can use latex paint over oil based primer? I thought it was just one or the other. Also on your dresser drawers, just wondering if you paint the inside of the drawers at all?

    1. Hi Kimberly – You can paint latex paint over oil primer, but not latex paint over oil based paint. The primer has a very flat finish. Kilz has a formula called Clean Start. It is latex and it does work. I have a big mirror that I used it on. I just had to use more coats until the stain stopped bleeding through it. Just don’t use two coats and assume you are good to go. Let it dry and see if you see a brown or orange tinge in the dry primer. If you do add another coat. I never paint the inside of the drawers, just the inside edge of the body of the piece. I have lined the drawers with pretty gift wrap though.

      1. Hi Diane,love your page i will be on it alot because i do alot of refinishing furniture.Your answer to my question never reached me but i do see with your reply to Kimberly that you don’t paint your inside of your drawers.I am doing an old dresser my Grandfather built (he was a carpenter),it had alot of damage through many years of use and abuse.The inside was done pretty with wall paper of the time and needed cleaning so i removed the paper,sanded and built up the drawers. By my using wood filler which showed,i stained and then put wax on them.They are looking so much nicer now plus they slide in and out without a problem.The rest of the dresser will be stained and a protective coat will be added.My question is will i encounter any problems with the drawers in the future by staining them?Hope to see an answer soon before doing the rest of the dresser.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Loa – Sorry I did not get to respond to your question sooner. I have been away and am trying to get all the questions over the next few days. I do not think you will encounter any problems by staining the inside of the drawers. Think of it as an added bonus to the complete look of your dresser. Most refinishers skip doing the inside of the drawers since you don’t see them. You gave the dresser some extra loving care. You grandfather would be proud.

  87. Linda@Coastal Charm says:

    What a great post…love the color that you used.


    Drop by and enter my current GIVEAWAY…you will have a chance to WIN a canvas print from your family pics.

  88. Wonderful instrux!! Can’t wait for the Chalk Paint tutorial, really motivating Diane … adore those handles!

  89. Hello Diane,
    I so loooove your blog! You always have such do-able project ideas! I know you are also going to do a chalk paint post but wanted to ask a question while it was on my mind.

    I painted all my kitchen cupboards with Annie Sloan chalk paint last fall (old white color). This was the first paint job I had ever done and was so excited to complete my first DIY project in my first house. The cupboards were a med dark oak and I wanted to brighten up the space. Everything I read said no primer was needed so I was super excited at how “easy” this project would be. I took a class with a certified A.S. paint distributor and she too confirmed no primer or sanding was needed.

    I ended up having to paint 4+ layers I think and still it doesn’t look as fabulous as I had thought. I’ve also waxed between 2 and 3 times on each cupboard. Ten months later I have chip spots (where the cupboard or drawer was nicked) and lighter portions where paint seemed to seep into the wood. We are not at all hard on our cupboards. A few months ago a friend who works with wood a lot said I should ALWAYS prime a piece of wood. I wished I had talked to her before I started my big project.

    I’m so sad that I spent so much time, and much more money than I anticipated, on this project and it doesn’t look as wonderful as I had hoped. My A.S. paint rep said it looks like my cupboards were very very thirsty and just soaked up the paint and wax. The cupboards are 26 year old builders standard.

    Can you advise me on what I should do? I know I need to wax again and also maybe do some touch ups. However, I’m also considering starting over…though this is last option and probably wouldn’t be done for a few years. Also, I have two more similar cupboards, one in the bathroom and another in the hallway that I also want to paint.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Emery –
      So sorry to hear about your chalk paint experience. Every DIYer has things go wrong. I have had many. I have used chalk paint on 3 pieces of furniture so far and am sold for its use on furniture. I recently had another reader ask if she could use chalk paint on her kitchen cabinets. I told her if she wanted a distressed look to her cabinets then yes, but if she didn’t I would not use it. Kitchens are too moisture and grease prone and I just don’t see it working as the wax would break down fast in the hot environment. Ten years ago I painted my kitchen cabinets the way I outlined in this post, except I used Sherwin Williams semi-gloss paint. My brother-in-law is a pro painter and at the same time I painted mine, he painted his using oil. He has had to re-paint twice. I have only touched up the cabinet under my sink that gets the most abuse. They have not chipped, peeled, or faded – they are still perfect – so I would highly recommend this method for painting cabinets.

      Are your cabinets wood or a composite? Without actually seeing what they are made of it is hard to guess what may have caused them to chip- probably they were very smooth and shiny. If they were porous and sucked up the paint, then that only would help adhere the paint. This might sound like a silly question, but did they shake the cans at the place you bought them? If they were not mixed well then that could have created a problem. If it makes you feel any better – I use 4 coats on every piece – all very light coats, but 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.

      If you want your cabinets to look new with no aging, distressing, chips, etc, then I would repaint them. If you like the aged look – then I would age the cabinets more where the chips are. Take fine grit sandpaper and start rubbing it over the areas that have chipped. This will help lessen the chipped looked and make them just appear aged. Then go over with a light coat of wax and buff.

      If the cabinets in your bathroom and hallway are the same type of cabinet that is in your kitchen then I would do the sanding, primer, paint method.

      1. Emery,

        I was just reading through the comments, and I think I can help you with your question…if it’s not too late. I painted my kitchen cabinets one year ago with AS pure white. Instead of wax I used the Annie Sloan clear lacquer to seal the paint in. It’s stood up remarkably well. I can scrub them and you’d never know the difference.

        That said, I wish I had used a primer. It took me four coats as well!!

  90. Glinda Fox says:

    Thanks so much. I have several pieces I want to do and this layed it all out very well! One question-if you do want to wax, how long should you wait after applying the last coat of paint. Overnight?

    1. Good question Glinda – Overnight is fine as long as the paint is totally dry. Humid and hot weather may delay paint drying time. I wax the day after I applied the last coat of paint. I will make sure to add this info into the post.