How To Paint A Chest Of Drawers

If you are tired of an old, dark, seventies-looking chest of drawers, you can breathe new life into it by repainting it in a light, airy, contemporary color. My wife recently painted an old chest of drawers that had been in her family for many years.

Here is an easy seven-step process for repainting an old chest of drawers.

#1. Purchase supplies

You’ll need spray paint, a respirator face mask, work goggles, sandpaper, tack cloth, and a drop cloth. For her project, my wife used six cans of Rustoleum Universal Satin Paint & Primer in One White spray paint. While she used an old bedsheet as a drop cloth, you can get large plastic drop cloths at Dollar Tree. The “respirators” basically look like surgical masks and are very inexpensive.

#2. Clean Your Chest of Drawers

I helped her take the old chest of drawers out to a large open area. In our case, we used our rather large balcony. Then she dusted and cleaned the chest thoroughly inside and out.

#3. Remove the old hardware

All the old hardware ( knobs and drawer pull) needs to come off your old furniture. Take any drawers out as they get painted separately. Otherwise, you’ll paint them shut and make a mess.

#4. Rough it up

Next, you have to prep for painting. If the chest of drawers has a smooth finish, you have to lightly sand it so the paint can adhere to the surface. If you have any dents to fill or old stickers to pull off, do that as well. We didn’t do much to my wife’s old chest of drawers because the spray paint covers a multitude of cosmetic issues. Once you’ve sanded, wipe the old piece of furniture down with tack cloth to ensure that all little particles of wood, paint, and sand are removed.

#5. Paint it

The fun part comes next. It’s time to suit up with your face mask and goggles, shake up your paint, and start spraying.

You will need the following:

  • Drop cloth
  • Medium grain sandpaper
  • Dust mask
  • Tack Cloth
  • Screwdriver for knobs and handles
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Wet Cloth
  • New Hardware, if you are replacing the old (recommended unless you really like the original pieces)

A step-by-Step guide to painting a chest of drawers:

  1. The first thing you want to do is spread out a drop cloth. Work in a room that has windows because the primer and paint will need ventilation.
  2. Take the drawers out and remove the hardware (the handles and knobs only).
  3. Now put on your dust mask and grab a piece of medium grain sandpaper.
  4. You want to sand all of the old paint off of the piece so you can start anew. This can take a little time, but do a thorough and good job because it is the base of the project and will determine your end results. Sanding removes paint, dirt, gloss, residue, etc., and it gives you a nice grab for the primer to hold on to. Rub your tack cloth across where you have sanded.
  5. Now it is time to apply the primer. Open up your windows to allow for proper ventilation. Read the manufacturer’s instructions, as they can differ from primer to primer. Apply primer as instructed and allow it to dry thoroughly before you apply your paint.
  6. Once your primer is one hundred percent dry, it is time to apply your paint. Take a good look around your room and see what colors would really work best in the spot where your dresser will be. You do not have to opt for a neutral tone or a white. You can go all out and really make your dresser a showpiece in the room. If you are feeling really crafty, you can even paint a design on the front of it when you are finished.
  7. Carefully apply the paint to the dresser, being sure you are coating with even strokes. You want to make sure the paint is evenly distributed and not too thick. Also, be sure to check for paint runs and drips as you go, and immediately wipe them down with a wet cloth as necessary. Make sure, too, that you have the appropriate type of paintbrush for the job you are doing. It can make a world of difference.
  8. If the chest is going to require more than one coat, allow the dresser to dry for twenty-four hours, and then repeat the painting process until you have the desired effect.
  9. Once the piece is dry, attach your new knobs and handles, and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

It’s best to start spraying off the furniture and make smooth passes across the furniture. If you haven’t spray painted before, it’s worthwhile to check out videos on youtube. They will have you painting like a pro.

#6. Let it dry

Once you’ve painted, let it dry. If you’ve missed some spots or have areas of light coverage, shake up another can add an additional coat. Then leave it alone. Let your masterpiece dry for a long time. You should be able to bring it inside after a few hours. Then let it stand for a day if possible before reinstalling the drawers.

#7. Reinstall new or existing hardware

If you really want to make your old “chester draws” look classy, you can get new drawer pulls at the hardware store. Otherwise, reinstall your existing hardware.

Our investment in my wife’s project was around $50. It certainly saved a lot of money versus buying a new chest of drawers. It’s also worth preserving a well-built old piece of furniture instead of buying a cheap department store piece. Good luck! 

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