DIY Furniture

How to Paint a Dresser The Correct (and Easy) Way!

June 5, 2022

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Learn how to paint a dresser the correct way! It also happens to be the EASY way! And learn mistakes to avoid when painting furniture.

I originally wrote this tutorial in 2015, but updated it in June 2022 because this is STILL a method I often use to paint furniture. And we still have this painted dresser that is holding up perfectly 7 years later. So I absolutely stand by this tutorial that I wrote back in 2015.

Before we talk about the correct way to paint furniture, let's talk about the wrong way to do it. The wrong way is easy to sum up–DO NOT PAINT YOUR FURNITURE WITH LATEX PAINT. You know that leftover wall paint in your garage? That's most likely latex paint and you don't want to paint your furniture with it. Why? It will peel and will not hold up well.  AND you will have tons of brush strokes, which is just not cool. The dresser that I purchased to rescue and restore had been painted with latex paint, and look at what happened to it.  You know how the Nike slogan is “Just do it.” Well, when it comes to latex paint and furniture, your slogan should be “Just don't do it.”

chipped painted furniture

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Now, let's take a step back and look at the charming dresser I snagged for a deal a couple of weeks ago. I loved the simplicity of it and was crazy about the unique drawer hardware. I was less crazy about the color of it and the condition it was in. But I knew I could restore this beauty using the Amy Howard at Home paint line :)

painted dresser DIY

The most important step in DIY painted furniture projects is choosing the correct paint. The Amy Howard at Home paint line was developed by long-time furniture designer and manufacturer Amy Howard. These artisan quality paint products allow you to rescue, restore and redecorate old or forgotten pieces of furniture for very little money!

The signature product of Amy Howard at Home is the One Step Paint, a new and revolutionary chalk-based paint that allows you to transform existing furniture or cabinetry in a single step – no stripping, sanding or priming (much like this method I use for painting cabinets)– and achieve the coveted antique look that usually comes at a high price.

How to Paint a Dresser

Materials Needed

Amy Howard products

Steps

1) Remove your hardware. Then sand any really rough spots on your piece, as needed. You do NOT need to sand your entire piece. Just knock down any really rough areas quickly. I spent about 2 minutes spot sanding.

spot sanding furniture for painting

2) Next, clean your piece with Simple Green. After you have cleaned it with Simple Green, spray your piece down with water and dry it with paper towels to ensure there is no Simple Green residue remaining on the piece, as it could interfere with paint adhesion.

DIY cleaning solutions
dirty paper towel

3) Believe it or not, you are now ready to paint your piece. That's right–you don't have to prime if you are using Amy Howard One Step Paint. Isn't that AWESOME?! Better yet, this paint is chalk-based paint, so it goes on smoothly and dries very, very quickly. I use a foam roller to cover the large surface areas and my Amy Howard boars hair brushes for the detail work. I applied two coats of the One Step Paint in the Vintage Affliction Color. It only took me one 8-ounce container of paint to complete my project!

painting dresser with chalk based paint
painting dresser drawers with chalk paint

4) Once your piece has good coverage and is dry, you are ready to apply your antiquing wax.

 Light Antique Wax will give a slight dark tint to your painted piece to help you achieve some depth and interest and a realistic antique look. Use it first.

After loading your brush with the wax, offload extra wax on a piece of scrap cardboard. Then use very light “x” motion strokes to cover your entire piece.

After your light antique wax has dried to the point of becoming slightly tacky (which takes only a couple of minutes–I did not film the drying time in the video so don't be confused!), apply your Dark Antique Wax. This will darken your piece and is best used when a heavily distressed, antiqued, “grunge” look is desired. I only wanted to darken the edges and corners of my piece, so I applied very, very little. I started on the edges/corners and feathered in toward the center of the piece just a bit.

Below is a video of just how simple it is to apply your waxes!

5) Next is my favorite part! Apply your Dust of Ages. Dust of Ages is a special detail that makes Amy Howard's finishes authentic and unique. The powder aids in polishing wax topcoats to a subtle sheen, and settles into crevices as if collected over hundreds of years. The added interest it provides is exquisite and it's so fun to work with. Simply load some on your brush and spread it over your piece. After your surface has been completely covered, wipe off the excess with a clean lint-free rag–this will polish the edges into a beautiful sheen.

dust of ages by Amy Howard
Dust of Ages of Amy Howard

6) If necessary, clean your hardware. I find that Bar Keeper's Friend is very effective AND inexpensive.

cleaning hardware with Barkeepers Friend
cleaning old dresser hardware


That's it! Super easy. I completed my entire dresser in a couple of hours, including the time it took the paint to dry. See what I mean?! The Amy Howard at Home paint line is amazing.  No stripping or priming is required, so you can complete a complete furniture makeover quickly. And the One Step Paint is incredibly durable. You won't have peeling and chipping like you would with latex paint!

The Before & After

painted dresser before
BEFORE
DIY painted furniture tutorial
AFTER

I originally placed this beautiful piece in our dining room, which you can see more of in this post! And in our new house, we are using it as a “coffee bar” of sorts in this little nook off of our kitchen. The paint on the dresser still looks PERFECT more than 7 years later!

It's so good! I can't tell you how well this paint holds up year after year! It also cleans easily.

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  1. Clair says:

    You can use latex on furniture as long as you prime beforehand. Beautiful color, lovely end result on your dresser.

  2. Eve Anderson says:

    Hi, I came across this post on Pinterest. I’m wanting to repaint several pieces of furniture. It is a couple pieces of pressed wood bookshelves from Target. Will this paint work on pressed wood?

    Another piece is a dresser I painted the wrong way and applied a poly coating. It didn’t turn out good ?. Can I paint over the poly, or does that need to be stripped/sanded off?

    And finally a dresser that I have from the 50’s. It has the original staining/shiny-ness. Can I paint over that, or does it need to be stripped/sanded?

    Thanks!

    • Tasha says:

      The pressed wood should be fine. I think the poly will work but I would do a little research on the Amy Howard website. You can paint right over the 50’s shinyness! good luck!!!

  3. Lisa says:

    Thank you for the information, I had never heard not to use latex paint on furniture and that is probably why I was never happy with my end results. I have only used chalk paint for the last couple of years and love the ease of use but not the prices.

  4. John says:

    I worked in Auto body repair for 10 years. The first thing I learned was to sand or scuff The shine off anything to be painted. If you wanted The painted to stick and last longer than six months. The second thing I learned was a painted rep will tell you anything to sell painted. Your pieces look great though. I will always sand and use a sealer.

  5. Dawn Wetzel says:

    Great tutorial! I will have to try that brand. May I ask where you got those shelves? They are awesome!

  6. Renee S. says:

    Have you had anything bleed through on a light color? I’ve had dark colored furniture bleed through other chalk paint previously. Just curious as to whether this does as well.

  7. Sandra says:

    Where can I buy the Amy Howard paint? I went to ACE and they don’t carry it and I went online and it is unavailable online from ACE! I’m really bummed! Hubby and I planned to paint a dresser this weekend?

    • Tasha A. says:

      Hi Sandra! Unfortunately not all of the Ace stores stock it, but you can order it on Ace’s website and pick it up at your local store for free. Hope that helps!

      • Sandra says:

        I tried to order it online and ALLthe paint is unavailable! Can you suggest another brand of paint to use? I don’t know when this paint will be available and I really need to paint a dresser! Help!

  8. Roxy says:

    What type of paint brushes and rollers did you use…wax and paint [sizes and brand]? Also you didn’t have to buff the wax? Once wax is applied it looks cloudy unless you buff, correct?

    • Tasha says:

      This wax is a little different and I do not buff it exactly. After I use the Dust of Ages I do some wiping. As far as brushes go, I just buy whatever is cheapest with boar’s bristles. There is a link in the post to buy them! I also used a foam roller, I get whatever is cheapest! Hope that helps!

  9. Cherilyn says:

    I really love this paint too but I have a question. Have you tried the 32oz cans? I have tried both and every time I purchase a large can or it, it doesn’t cover like the small 8oz plastic containers. I am really disappointed in this and can’t get an answer from the company. I guess I will just buy it in the small containers from now on. Anybody else have this issue?

    • Tasha says:

      I totally agree with you and never realized it until you asked! I have only used the larger custom mixed size once in a dark navy blue and it wasn’t as great. I just assumed it was the color, but it is possible it is the size difference!

  10. […] I used and recommend Amy Howard At Home One Step Paint in Lady Singing the Blues, a gorgeous navy blue color.  That said, any high-quality chalk based paint or General Finishes milk paint should work well (you can read all about how we painted our kitchen cabinets with it with perfect results here).  I NEVER recommend painting furniture with latex paint (you can read more about why I don’t use latex paint on furniture here). […]

  11. DeShannon Haynes says:

    Looks great! Wondering 2 things:
    1.) could/should I use a coat of poly or something on top of the paint if I choose not to use the wax?
    2.) how long does it need to cure before I can put stuff on it? I need to redo my daughter’s vanity because we put stuff on it too soon…

    • Tasha A. says:

      Hi DeShannon! Sure, you could use a poly over it, but it’s not necessary. The paint is very durable all on it’s own! This paint dries VERY QUICKLY, but to be safe, I would let it cure overnight.

  12. Michelle says:

    Love the way the piece turned out! Great job!
    I have 2 dressers that I want to paint. I have a few questions. 1: Do I need to do the wax part? 2: How much does the 8 oz. jar cover? (want to figure out how much to buy) 3: Is it necessary to do the Dust of Ages?
    Thanks!

    • Tasha A. says:

      Thanks so much, Michelle! No, you do not have to wax or use the Dust of Ages. The 8 ounce jar covered my entire dresser, but just barely. I hope that helps!

  13. […] know I love a good before and after picture, especially for DIY projects. I’m crushing on this dresser makeover from Designer Trapped. That color tho! Head over to see how to paint a dresser the proper way! […]

  14. I always love your projects, and this dresser turned out beautifully! I’d love to try out these products on my next furniture redo. Thanks for linking up at The Handmade Hangout! I’ll be featuring you on my blog when the new linky goes live today at 6pm EST. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out!

  15. Great looking project. Thanks for sharing with us at #Throwback Thursday. Hope to see you again this week.

  16. […] HOW TO PAINT A DRESSER { The Correct Way} […]

  17. woow,………..that´s a really great job :)
    You are welcome to join
    SATURDAY SHOW OFF ~ BlogParty
    Hugs from Håkan in Sweden

  18. Brenda Young says:

    I didn’t know Ace was carrying a chalk paint line, love the color I am so partial to blues! and that aging dust…. I will have to give this brand a go around, your piece came out beautifully Tasha.

  19. This is good to know- we will be painting another in the next few months (the last one was just ok but I didn’t have directions like this!)

    I stopped by from Lovely Little Link Party.

  20. Crystal says:

    I love the transformation. The piece is much brighter and adds so much character to the space. Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. I LOVE the end finish and your bar area. So nice! Fabulous tutorial for anyone (kinda like me) who has no idea. Haha. I’m joining in as a host for The Creative Corner Linky Party and I have chose this fabulous project as my feature for the week! I do hope you come back and link up with us. I also purchased your book a few weeks back and it’s great! Just thought I would add that in. Well done :) So much great information.

  22. Terry says:

    Oh you did a great job of both painting and the tutorial! Great tips! Thank you for sharing! I am inspired for sure! I absolutely love the shelving in these pics too! I would love it if you would share this as well as any other makeovers you have done at my Making Broken Beautiful party this week. It runs every Thursday thru Sunday. I do hope you will come and inspire others! http://thecuratorscollection.wordpress.com
    Have a great week!
    Smiles!
    Terry

  23. Fabulous job, thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

  24. Angela A Simmons says:

    thanks for the chance to play. My dog just had puppies and the puppies chewed up the wood fence in my back yard. this would come in handy

  25. Benet says:

    If you live in a hot humid climate can you still wax?

  26. […] Enter this Giveaway at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body […]

  27. Julie Wood says:

    I love the color you picked to repaint the stunning dresser turned dining room buffet/sideboard! I have an old dresser that I need to do this too! You picked a perfect shade of blue! Gorgeous job!!

  28. looks gorgeous! and i loved your video:-)Xo

  29. Amy W says:

    What a great product! Love the dust of ages stuff, so cool.

  30. I love the colour you painted it and it looks perfect in the room, goes so well with the artwork on the wall!

  31. Absolutely wonderful transformation! I love the fresh color in your dining room! And the video tutorial! You have such a great way of presenting information – so clear and easy to understand! Love it, Tasha!

  32. such a great color! it looks beautiful!!!! and look at you with a video- woohoo!

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