Refurbishing a Dresser with Chalk Paint

I’ve been scouring my local resale shops, Facebook marketplace, and several online “garage sale” type websites for months looking for the perfect dresser for this project. I had a few items on my list that this piece needed to fit. They included budget, style and size. We finally found the one! Within a week, the dresser was purchased, refurbished, and enjoying its new home in my bedroom. The refurbishing could easily be done in one day, but I’m a major fan of taking naps on the weekend….

We also built some new picture ledges for our living room. The picture ledges change the entire look of the room, but I’ll share more about those later! For now, here are the details about the dresser.


Here’s a before shot. After finding this beauty for a steal online, we could hardly wait to get to work. I won’t tell you how much we discovered this dresser was actually worth after purchasing it. Of course, that didn’t stop us from painting it. I’m sure some people would lose their mind if they knew a few of the items that I’ve painted! This piece immediately caught my eye with it’s rounded edges and ornate details.

Items Needed:

  • Chalk Paint (we used this brand)
  • Creme Wax (we used this brand)
  • High Quality Paint Brush (a smaller, angled brush can be helpful for the details)
  • Lint free cloth or brush designed for wax application
  • Sand Paper (we used 220 grit for the prep work & the distressing)
  • Clean cloth for buffing
  • Screwdriver to remove & replace hardware

Other Items that are helpful:

  • Stain Blocker (We skipped this step, but definitely wish we hadn’t!)
  • Compressed Air
  • Tack Cloth

First, we removed all the drawers and hardware. No matter the brand of chalk paint that you choose to use, the directions will probably tell you that very little preparation is required. This is true! Aside from some basic cleaning, you’re not required to do much to your piece before painting. However, I’d rather be safe than sorry! With an item like a dresser that will be regularly used, I wanted to take any guessing out of the equation.

We lightly sanded every surface that would be painted. In the photos above, you can see a before and after shot of this step. After sanding, we used compressed air to blow away the dust. Then, we wiped down the dresser and drawers with tack cloth to remove any leftover dust. You want to be sure everything is completely clean before painting.

In these photos, you can see what our dresser looks like after one coat of paint. This goes to show how using stain blocker could have saved us some time by not having to repaint several layers. Had we been using a darker color of chalk paint, two coats probably would have been plenty. Instead, we ended up applying three coats of paint to the entire piece. For coat number two and three, we thinned the painted with a small amount of water before painting. By thinning the paint, it made the application process smoother & faster. Using water is perfectly fine, thanks to the chalk paint being water-based.

Each coat of paint was completely dry within an hour. Make sure to apply thin coats of paint for a better outcome and faster dry time. After we were done painting all 3 coats and were happy with the coverage, we allowed the dresser to cure over night before sanding. Partially because we’re overachievers, partially because we needed a nap.


The next morning, I went to town sanding. I used an individual sheet of 220 grit sand paper folded into small pieces. I had a particular look I was going for, and wanted to be very careful not to over-distress. I lightly sanded all protruding edges. Chalk paint distresses so easily, and if you’re not as detail oriented as I am, you can fly through this step!

Once I was happy with the amount of distressing, we hit the whole dresser with compressed air again to make sure no dust particles or paint chippings would get caught in the wax. We then applied a thin coat of creme wax to all surfaces that had been painted. We used a brushed designed specifically for this. The wax protects your piece from the elements (aka sticky fingers, grimy pups, dust bunnies) and keeps your paint in place. Your chalk paint should never chip or peel off on its own, but the wax acts as an additional barrier to prevent that. You should reapply a new coat of wax every 1-3 years!

Once we were done, we left the dresser sitting in our garage to dry before moving it to the bedroom. I didn’t keep track of how long we waited – maybe 4 hours or so? Just be sure the wax is completed dry to the touch. Once dry, use a clean cloth to “buff” the wax to your desired shininess.


And here is the completed project! We switched out the handles for something more our style from The Home Depot. We actually ran into a bit of a hiccup with the top 3 drawers. The middle drawer was a “lock” drawer and never had a handle to start with. We also could not find handles that matched up with the holes from the original drawer pulls. Jack ended up patching the original holes with wood filler, sanding them down, and drilling new holes to match the handles that we purchased. We completed this step before beginning the refurbish process!

While replacing the drawers, there were a few spots that would stick a little. We just sanded those individual spots down on both the drawer and the frame in the dresser to make for a smoother glide.

In total, we used just shy of two 16 oz jars of this chalk paint from The Home Depot, approx 1/4 of a 16 oz jar of the matching creme wax, and a few pieces of 220 grit sand paper.

I hope that you like the outcome of our dresser rehab, and that you’re inspired to complete one of your own! Let me know if you have any questions about the process or would like any additional tips or tricks. Have a great week, everyone!!

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