How To Paint Thrifted Furniture

How To Paint Thrifted Furniture

When I moved into my apartment, I was looking for a white and airy dresser with brass and lucite pulls. Let’s just say I knew exactly what I wanted. I actually fell in love with this Anthropologie version, but it was out of my budget. I looked high and low for an alternative option, but I couldn’t find the right fit.  So, I decided to create my own version. My first step was to find a workable wood dresser.

Insert thrifted dresser below:

Thrifted Wooden Dresser

This certainly wasn’t the best looking dresser know to mankind, but it had potential and that was what I needed. I bought this dresser from The Salvation Army for a whooping $50. I purchased it on a sale day and the store manager was feeling extra nice, so he gave me an additional 30% off. I was golden. Once I got this dresser back to my apartment, it honestly stayed in that same position for months. I never painted furniture before, so I felt overwhelmed every time I wanted to tackle the project. Finally, Labor Day weekend came and I knew this was the time to take the plunge. After some research and a couple of trips to Home Depot, I finally completed the project. Here is how I did it.

Step 1: Sand

Sand the heck out of that potentially beautiful piece of furniture. It’s important to sand the furniture first to strip away the previous shiny finish, so that the primer and paint can adhere properly. This is where I used my elbow grease the most. You can use regular sand paper that is like 120 grit or go easy on yourself and use an electric sander. I bought this sander, because I wanted the sanding to be quick and easy.  It did a good job, the only issue I had was that it came with 60 grit sand paper and I needed a higher grit, so I had to sand the dresser a couple of times to remove the previous finish.

Step 2: Prime

Primed Furniture

You may want to skip this step because the paint you’re using has primer in the paint, but don’t. Especially, if you are painting a light color over furniture that previously had darker stain. You don’t want the old stain peeking through your freshly painted furniture. I used a paint brush for this step instead of a roller, because I wasn’t too concern about how neat it was going to look since I was going to paint over it. Once you have primed the furniture once, lightly sand it down again to smooth out any bumps or dripping.  Than you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Paint

After the primer has dried, you can paint the color of your choice.  I chose this Behr color, because of how crisp the white appeared.  I used a paint roller to apply the paint for a smooth and consistent application. I wanted to avoid brush strokes. It’s important to paint multiple light layers instead of one heavy layer. It will dry smoother. Remember to let the paint dry completely before painting another layer, so be patient. This step may take a whole day or two.

Step 4: Protect

After the paint has dried completely, apply the protectant of your choice. I used a spray on protectant, because it was easier for me to apply.  However, another alternative is a rub-on protectant that works just as well and probably even better. Follow directions for whatever protectant you decide to use.

Step 5: Add Hardware

Glass and brass pulls

This was my favorite part. I love focusing on the details. The glass and brass pulls were the statement piece for my dresser inspiration, so I was on the search for a similar alternative. I found these gorge pulls, which were more delicate, so it reflected my style better.  I love how the updated dresser turned out. It looks more modern.

I hope this step-by-step tutorial helped you tap into your creative genes.  Below is a cheat sheet for added reference. Don’t procrastinate like I did, go out and paint some furniture that is waiting to be beautify.

Tools for Painting Thrifted Furniture


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