You have your dresser. You have your supplies. Now it’s time to actually do this thang.
I often find lists to be far more useful than paragraphs, so let’s just jump straight in to the 1-2-3.
1. Disassemble your dresser. Use that phillips screwdriver to remove any old knobs (if they’ve been on for a long time, once you remove the screw you may have to knock it off with a hammer) and take all the drawers out.
2. Fire up the hand sander! If your hand sander is new, you may have to cut and punch air holes into a few sheets of 1/3 sand paper. Save the template and make new sand sheets as necessary. I ended up using about eight sheets total for the entire project.
3. Sand like crazy. If your dresser had varnish on its front (as mine did) you need to get all of that off. Ours also had some stubborn scotch tape (eeew, but, free dresser, so) and a few jagged edges. Sand all that junk off until smooth. It will look patchy, and that’s totally normal.
[3a. If your dresser has any noticeable chips or divots taken out, fill them with wood putty and wait until they dry. Sand as normal.]
4. Wipe the whole shebang down with a damp towel. You want: a smooth, clean surface. You do not want: microscopic clumps of sawdust under the paint.
5. Slip a sheet of paper towel under each leg, to catch drips.
6. Prime time! For our dresser, I did all the trimming in (front lattice, legs, under the lip of the top, etc) with a brush, and then used the roller on all the flat surfaces.
7. Wait for the primer to dry entirely. I bought quick dry primer that allegedly dried in an hour, but I let it sit overnight. This is the frustrating part, because you could do this in a day if it weren’t for dry time.
8. Repeat step #3 and sand the entire thing down again. What you say? We already did this, you say? Yes, you did. But a quality refinished piece requires a few steps of things that seemingly should be a one and done. Trust.
9. Repeat step #4 and #6. Wipe down, dry, prime, let dry.
10. Finally! Yes, it’s time to paint. It’s likely been a day or so, so just make sure you have all your tools at your disposal; a clean dry paintbrush and roller, and that your paint pan is also dry. Nothing is worse than wettish/watery paint.
11. Because you are painting (vs. priming) it’s best to take your time and go carefully, especially if you’re using a color. Priming can get a bit sloppy and it’s ok, but painting requires a little more patience. Be mindful of drips and the pattern of the brush strokes if you are using a brush only.
12. Let dry. Ideally overnight. I know, so annoying.
13. Paint another coat. If you were slopping on your first coat, really now, it’s time to get serious. Paint with care, young people!
14. Let dry again.
15. While the dresser is still disassembled, rub the entire piece down with steel wool. Weird, right? But the wool fibers eliminate those teeny pin pricks of paint that dry up instead of flat. It also gives your piece a subtle shine and a buttery soft feel. Like. Buttah.
16. Wipe down with a damp towel again, to whisk away any silver curls from the wool.
17. Move the dresser to wherever in your house it’s going to go. We had to haul this bad boy up multiple flights of stairs, so it was easier to do it while it was still in pieces.
18. Re-install knobs or put the new ones on.
19. Fill with your beautiful clothes, you saucy minx you!
20. You’re done! That’s it! Instagram that biz and show it to your friends! You officially did something pretty bad ass. Nice.
How to Refinish a Dresser Parts One and Two, if you need them.