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Furniture Restoration And How To Paint Furniture - Mending an Old Dresser

Updated on October 25, 2011

Restoring an old piece of furniture can be a fun and easy project and a great way to save money. This hub outlines the process I went through in revitalizing a dresser that is over 100 years old. The supplies were relatively inexpensive and minimal tools were required.


  • Jasco Paint Remover
  • Putty Knife
  • Wood Filler

Paint Removal & Hole Filling

Step 1: The first part of the process was to strip the old paint and fill all the holes with wood filler. I removed the old wooden pulls that were cracked. I used Jasco Paint Remover to remove as much old paint as I could. I used an old paintbrush to apply the paint remover, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, and then scraped it off with a putty knife. I allowed the dresser to dry for an hour then used wood filler to fill in the holes from the old wooden pulls. I also filled in other imperfections and allowed the filler to dry for a few hours. There was some paint around the keyholes where I used paint remover and a screwdriver and managed to remove almost all the paint. I added a few extra nails as well to ensure the dresser was stable. Some parts felt a bit loose, so the nails helped structurally enhance the dresser.

Dresser Stripped, Filled, Sanded, and Cleaned

Supplies For Cleaning & Painting

  • S-L-X Denatured Alcohol
  • Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer
  • Behr Premium Plus Latex Paint - Semi-Gloss
  • Purdy XL Nylon Polyester Brush

Sanding & Cleaning

Step 2: The next step of the process was to prepare the dresser for paint. I used a handheld rotary sander that was borrowed and sanded every flat surface. I used sandpaper by hand for the rounded surfaces of the dresser as not to create any abnormal shape. The areas where i used the wood filler sanded down nicely and I had a smooth surface to paint. I removed all the dust with a dry cloth and then wiped down every surface with S-L-X Denatured Alcohol. The alcohol evaporated quickly and after about 15 minutes, the dresser was ready for paint.

Primer & Paint

Step 3: The next step was to prime the dresser. I used a basic white primer and applied a single coat so no imperfections would show through when applying paint. I allowed the primer to dry for 24 hours.

Step 4: After the primer had dried, I was ready to apply the paint. I chose to paint the inside of the drawers as they had been previously painted, but leaving bare wood is more traditional. I applied a thin coat of paint to each surface, taking care around the edges and avoiding running paint. I allowed the first coat to dry for 24 hours, then applied a second coat for optimal coverage. When the second coat had dried, we were ready to install the new pulls.

Dresser Primed and Painted

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Installing Pulls and Replacing Drawers

Step 5: The final step was to install new pulls. As the old pulls were cracked and worn, I found some great pulls at Antrhopologie. I measured evenly on each side of the drawer and drilled a small hole taking care not to drill through the wood filler. I tightened all 6 pulls and replaced the drawers. The dresser sits right near out bed and adds great color to the room. It's nice to have reused such an old piece of furniture and customize its look to match out room décor.

Completed Dresser Restoration


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    • kjerstimae profile image

      kjerstimae 4 years ago from Staten Island, New York

      I have two pieces of furniture I would like to paint and your directives are really easy to follow. Thanks!

    • sen.sush23 profile image

      Sushmita 5 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Great information. I have an old dresser too that I was long planning to get restored, but now I will try to do it myself. Voted up.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Well planned and executed article! Good photos. Thanks for sharing. Flag up!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 6 years ago from UK

      Great hub - very informative and easy to follow.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good info and well illustrated. When my wife and I were first starting out, old used furniture was all we could afford, so we had spent a lot of time refinishing old furniture and even our kitchen cupboards to make them look new. Voted Up and Useful!