How to refinish a dresser with chalk paint?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Prepare the Dresser

To prepare your dresser for refinishing using chalk paint, remove the existing color or stain, sand the surface, and clean the dresser thoroughly. Each step is crucial for achieving a smooth and professional finish. Removing Existing Paint or Stain, Sanding the Surface, and Cleaning the Dresser are the sub-sections to help you achieve a perfectly prepared surface for chalk paint.

Remove Existing Paint or Stain

Are you refurbishing your dresser? You’ll need to get rid of the existing paint or stain. Here’s how:

  1. Sanding: Use 120-grit sandpaper to remove the topcoat and make raw wood visible.
  2. Stripping agent: If sanding isn’t enough, apply a stripping agent.
  3. Scrubbing: Keep scrubbing until all paint or stain is gone.
  4. Clean up: Wipe off the stripper and residue with a cloth and a mineral spirits alternative.

Be careful when sanding materials like MDF – use only synthetic brushes, not steel wool or natural-bristle paintbrushes. Plus, use high-quality primers; they act as sealers for these kinds of woods.

Pro Tip: Ensure to ventilate the area, and don’t forget safety equipment when handling potent cleaning agents like strippers and solvents. This’ll help you avoid respiratory harm.

It’s time to give your dresser a bit of TLC – don’t go too crazy with the sandpaper!

Sanding the Surface

Smooth Out the Dresser!
It must be smoothed to make the dresser surface perfect for painting or staining. Sanding down rough patches and scratches is the way to do this. Here’s how:

  1. Choose the correct sandpaper grit based on the surface’s roughness or smoothness.
  2. Start with coarse grit like 60 and work to finer grits like 120, 180, and 220.
  3. Sand in the direction of the wood grain with back-and-forth strokes. Avoid circular motions, as they create swirl marks.
  4. After every round, use a tack cloth to wipe away dust and debris.
  5. Check the surface’s smoothness by running your hand over it. If you feel any bumps, repeat steps 2-4.

Be careful when working with veneered surfaces. Don’t use overly abrasive sandpaper, as it can damage the top layer of wood. Stick to 120-220 grit – that will provide good results without harming the veneer finish.

I sanded too hard at one spot when I did my DIY project. This caused an uneven look on the newly painted section. I had to be careful not to mess up the other revamped areas, but eventually, I got an excellent result after correcting the grain with fresh paint layers.

Cleaning the dresser is like a treasure hunt – except you only find old receipts and missing socks!

Clean the Dresser

It’s essential to make sure the dresser is clean before organizing clothes. A neat dresser preserves clothes and stops dust or bugs. Here’s how to clean it:

  1. Put all your clothes away.
  2. Clear off the outside with a wet cloth.
  3. Clean the drawers. Empty and wipe with a dry cloth.
  4. Vacuum the corners and frames of drawers.
  5. Spray disinfectant on the inside walls and drawers. Put clothes back.

Remember, cleaning depends on use, location, and environment. Use non-abrasive cleaning agents. Avoid direct sunlight or too much moisture for wooden dressers. Let’s get creative and give this dresser some flair!

Apply Chalk Paint

To apply chalk paint on your dresser effectively, consider the different factors involved in the painting process. With the section, ‘Applying Chalk Paint,’ in this article, you will successfully transform your furniture. The sub-sections, ‘Choosing the Right Paint, Applying the First Coat, Allowing the Coat to Dry, Applying Additional Coats,’ will provide you with step-by-step guidance.

Refinish A Dresser With Chalk Paint
Refinish a dresser with chalk paint.

Choose the Right Paint

Selecting the Suitable Paint

When painting with chalk paint, picking the right one is vital. It’ll impact the result of the job.

  1. Figure out the surface you’re painting on before selecting the paint.
  2. Search for chalk paint formulated for indoor or outdoor use, depending on what’s needed.
  3. Light colors give off ashy hues when used on dark surfaces. Dark colors can make more delicate surfaces look washed out. Choose carefully!
  4. Other paints may need priming and sanding, but chalk paint needs less prep.
  5. Water-based paints are much healthier than oil-based in terms of toxicity.

Remember that some well-known brands offer similar products, but they can be quite different. Think of all factors before picking a brand.

Did you know Annie Sloan invented Chalk Paint in 1990?

Ready to feel like an artist from the Renaissance? Start with your first coat of chalk paint!

Apply the First Coat

The first coat of chalk paint is essential for any furniture or home decor project. Follow these instructions to get it right:

  1. Prep the surface – Clean it and make sure it’s dry.
  2. Mix the paint – Thoroughly mix the paint for an even application.
  3. Use a brush – Apply the stain with a quality brush in thin coats.

Wait for the paint to dry and inspect for any uneven spots. For a smooth finish, sand the surface between each layer of paint.

I was waiting for the paint to dry. It’s like watching a pot boil, except the pot might be more exciting!

Apply Paint With Chalk Paint
Apply paint with chalk paint

Allow the Coat to Dry

Be sure to let each coat of chalk paint dry completely to get optimal results. Follow the drying time your brand recommends- hastening it may give an uneven finish. Check the first layer for additional coats- usually, two or three are necessary. Don’t rush it for a professional look!

When applying paint, use a top-quality brush/roller and work methodically. Put broad strokes in one direction and let them slightly overlap. Don’t overwork it, or else you’ll get varying textures.

Patience helps with larger surfaces like dressers or cabinets. Otherwise, smudging or sticking can happen, and you’ll have to sand and repaint. Don’t try shortcuts- practice makes perfect! For Instagram-worthy products, use more than one coat. Enjoy your furniture longer!

Apply the Additional Coats

Once the initial coat of chalk paint is applied, adding more layers is critical to getting the desired look. More coats give depth and richness. Here are three steps to apply more coats:

  1. Start by lightly sanding the first coat with a fine-grit sandpaper. This helps smooth any raised areas and increases adhesion for the next layer.
  2. Apply the second coat evenly with a high-quality brush or airless sprayer. Follow the grain direction & avoid overbrushing/over spraying.
  3. Allow each coat to dry completely before adding another. Two to three coats may be enough depending on the look and color coverage.

To avoid streaks, use light pressure and long, even strokes. Stir the paint frequently, too, as it tends to separate.

With chalk paint, you can distress the finish after applying additional coats to get various effects like a shabby chic or vintage look.

Before applying wax/lacquer, ensure the base coat is thoroughly dried (at least 24 hours) so there are no cracks or shrinkage later.

A good rule is not to apply more than two or three coats to avoid a heavy finish that won’t dry well.

I once ran out of paint in the middle of a project. Thankfully, I had saved some dregs of previously used cans which created a unique hue & texture, giving me something better than planned! Distressing the finish is a great way to add character.

Distress the Finish

It would be best to focus on distressing the finish to create a distressed finish for your refinished dresser with chalk paint. Sanding areas for a distressed look and applying wax for added distressing are two effective techniques to help you achieve the desired look. Keep reading to learn more about how these techniques can work.

Sanding Areas for a Distressed Look

Achieving a distressed finish requires strategic sanding. Identify the natural wear marks of aged or pre-existing finishes, like:

  • Corner edges
  • Protruding decorative designs
  • Raised grain on wood projects
  • Areas around handles/knobs where hands have rubbed against surfaces
  • Joints and connections between two surfaces

Remember, start small when sanding these areas. Don’t over-sand and make it look artificially damaged.

Sanding Areas for a Distressed Look has been used for centuries. Artisans passed down this timeless technique from generation to generation. It’s still a great way to finish woodworking and painting projects today. So, distress away!

Apply Wax for Added Distress

To create a distressed look, wax is a standard solution. Apply it to the surface of the wood that has been painted or stained. Buff off the wax in certain areas to reveal the layers underneath. Follow these five steps for using wax:

  1. Start with a clean, dry surface.
  2. Apply the wax to detailed measurements and edges, avoiding flat surfaces.
  3. Use a paintbrush or rag to get better control.
  4. Let it sit for several hours or overnight.
  5. Buff off excess paste with medium-grit sandpaper after 24 hours.

Make sure to get wax labeled as ‘anti-scratch,’ formulated with chalk. When buffed off, this will give more texture—test other distressing techniques like crackling and color-washing on a sample wood piece first. Get creative and apply wax for added distressing today! It’s like putting on lipstick – it’s unnecessary but makes all the difference.

Finishing Touches

You need to take a few more steps to put the finishing touches on your refinished dresser using chalk paint. Adding new hardware, reassembling the dresser, and placing it in its new location are the final components that will wholly transform your dresser. These sub-sections will provide solutions to complete your newly refinished dresser project.

Add New Hardware

When upgrading your hardware, it’s essential to understand the process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Check if the new component is compatible with your device.
  2. Power off and unplug your device.
  3. Place components in the correct slot as per manufacturer guidelines.
  4. Securely fix screws or clips, compact casing, and power on the device.

Remember, every device has unique specs for various components. Research before you install unfamiliar parts. Don’t risk compromising your hardware. Seek help if unsure.

Upgrade and enhance your user experience but take care to avoid costly mistakes.

Refinished Dresser
Refinished dresser

Reassemble the Dresser

Take apart the dresser for cleaning and maintenance. No problem. Reassemble it? Piece of cake. Gather all the parts and hardware in one place. Position the base with its back to you. Place each shelf or drawer into position before attaching it with the proper hardware to the frame. Go slow and double-check everything for accuracy. Inspect the dresser when done and address any problems. Revel in your newly refurbished furniture. Don’t put off reassembling your dresser; treat yourself to a better-organized home! And why not surprise your guests by placing the dresser in an unexpected spot?

Place the Refinished Dresser in its New Location

Time to place the dresser in its spot! Choose a location that looks good and is easy to access. Keep the size and weight in mind. Put felt pads under each leg to protect the floor. Invest in furniture slides or get help for a smooth placement. Take extra precautions if the floor is uneven or carpeted. Finally, please give it some character with something decorative like a vase, candles, or photo frames.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint is a type of paint that has a matte, chalky finish and is perfect for furniture refinishing.

Do I need to sand my dresser before painting it with chalk paint?

No, you can skip sanding if your dresser is in good condition. However, if it has dents, scratches, or an uneven finish, it is recommended to sand it before painting lightly.

How many coats of chalk paint do I need to apply?

It usually takes 2-3 coats of chalk paint to cover a piece of furniture fully. Be sure to let each coat dry completely before applying the next one.

Do I need to seal my dresser after painting it with chalk paint?

Sealing the chalk paint with a wax or topcoat is recommended to protect the finish and make it more durable.

Can I distress my dresser after painting it with chalk paint?

Yes, distressing is a widespread technique with chalk paint. You can use sandpaper or a damp cloth to gently rub away some of the colors in areas where natural wear would occur.

How do I clean and maintain my chalk-painted dresser?

Clean your dresser with a soft cloth and mild soap and water. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning products. To maintain its finish, apply a thin layer of wax or topcoat every few months.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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