Tag Archives: refinish

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

As I’ve slowly been dabbling in the world of furniture rehab the last year, I’ve learned quite a bit. Namely, that restoring wood furniture takes time and patience. I understand why people choose to go the painted furniture route because, frankly, it’s a lot easier!

A few weeks ago I revealed that I had finally finished DIYing my mom’s childhood bedroom dresser.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It’s been a beast to get it done. Nonetheless, I definitely don’t regret this DIY dresser project!

I shared a few months ago the dresser and how I stripped it of its (many layers) of paint.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Read about my sanding process here.

After that, I spent a boatload of time sanding. Usually I just use a palm sander (starting with rough grit paper up to very fine).

But the gouges in the surface of this dresser were so deep I needed to use our belt sander. (And as you can see by the photo below I needed a bit of assistance using it. I was a little Lucille-Ball-esque letting it carry me away with it!)

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It was well worth all the effort of sanding though – it now has a nice new surface!

It goes well with the other DIY dresser I have refinished!

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

This time around I did use one new method: pre-staining.

Why Pre-Stain?

Pre-Stain is typically used on raw or soft wood materials. The pre-stain helps to prepare the wood so the stain will soak in more evenly – preventing blotches and streaks.

How to Use Pre-Stain:

Using pre-stain is simple. Going forward, I would definitely use it on any furniture staining projects I have, just to make the final color that much richer.

I used Minwax Pre-Stain conditioner. A large can will run you about $10, but will last you forever! After you have finished all your sanding, brush on the pre-stain with a foam brush just like stain, and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. Then just wipe off any excess.

You will want to stain your piece within 2 hours from pre-staining it for the best absorption.

Read how I stain and polyurethane here.

This dresser was stained with Minwax Special Walnut stain and topped with Cabot Semi-Gloss Fast Drying Polyurethane. I always use foam brushes when applying stain or poly, and just a friendly reminder – DON’T SHAKE THE POLY! Stir it gently! Otherwise the air bubbles will dry and your dresser will feel like you spilled PopRox on it.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Dresser Hardware

For the hardware,  I chose with mercury glass knobs. I found a 4-pack in HomeGoods for $8.00! You can find the same ones on Amazon ($12 for 2) or let yourself be seduced by the glitz of Anthropologie and get ripped off for $8.00 a pop for the exact same knobs!

For the top drawers I found smaller mercury glass knobs at Target for a whopping $20 for set of 4. I couldn’t find smaller knobs like them anywhere so I bought them. And they are perfect!

For the keyholes, I gently pried out the old metal inserts with a screwdriver. I’ve seen replacements online for $2/each, and may add those at a later point.

That brings my grand total for this DIY dresser makeover to about $45. (Pre-Stain – $10, Hardware: $28, Sandpaper: ~$5)

While this project took me ages to finish, I’m so happy I kept at it! It was totally worth it!

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Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

I’m linking this project up to one of my favorite furniture rehab gurus – Miss Mustard Seed’s Friday Furniture link party.

Before & After: An Old Painted Dresser

First – Happy Saturday!

We’ve had several men working on our house for the last two weeks residing our house. (!!) The  old siding was rotted and peeling beyond repair. We also were able to knock out that awkward window in our shower and side right over it!

All this to say, they are working right outside of the window I’m sitting in front of and I feel a little rude. So this post will be short today.

Earlier this spring I posted another dresser that I was tackling – my mom’s dresser that she had when she was a kid.

Refinishing an old painted dresser

You can see more of the “before” photos and how I stripped the paint here in this old post.

It took me a long time to refinish this piece because there were many layers of paint, and also needed quite a bit of sanding to take out a lot of dings and scratches.

I am happy to say that it has spent the last month happily living in my bedroom!!

Today I’ll share an “after” and I’ll be back to explain the sanding and pre-staining process I tried this time around.

Refinishing an old painted dresser

Happy Saturday!!

What are your plans today? I’m getting together with one of my best girlfriends!

DIY Tutorial: How to Refinish an Old Dresser

Thank you for all the love from my before and after dresser reveal!

This dresser I got from my grandparents was in pretty good shape – except the original finish was dark, cloudy and crackly.

And after 50+ years of use it was showing its age.

I took everything outside and used a palm sander. This was by far the hardest and most time consuming. I probably spent a solid 6 hours sanding over the course of two days.

I started with 150 grit, and worked my way up to 300 grit. (150 to 200 to 250 to 300 – don’t skip any!)

The finish was so old it took a very long time to get through. It kept building up in clumps on the sandpaper. I just picked it off with a razor blade every 10 minutes and kept going!

In a few small stubborn spots I did use chemical strippers – I used a spray can of KleanStrip and scraped it off with a paint scraper after 15 minutes and continued sanding.

It was worth all the hard work! Check out the difference – see how black the original finish was!?

Now the new top is nice and smooth.

To stain I used 2 coats of Mixwax Dark Walnut. I brushed it on with a foam brush and let it sit about five minutes. Then I wiped it down with an old cloth. After 20 minutes I put another coat of stain on.

Then I brushed on a coat of Cabot Semi-Gloss Fast Drying (HAH!) Poly with a foam brush.

Because it is SO hot and humid out, I needed to wait three days before I could do the next layer of poly.

I am not a patience project person. It was not easy for me to wait!

Another 3 days later and we were good to go!

Before, between and after each coat of poly I took a fine sanding “sponge” and lightly sanded. This will ensure a finish that is smooth to the touch. And don’t shake the can of poly! It will fill it with bubbles and your dresser finish will feel like it has a rash. I learned this the hard way.

After a week of poly-drying, it was finally ready to go upstairs!

Check out that beauteous wood grain!! Bye-bye cloudy black finish!

I bought 12 of these Clear Melon Glass Cabinet Knobs Drawer Pulls from Bonanza.com for $50. It was a little steep for this thrifty gal (my DIY attempts failed me), but this was the only cost I encountered with the dresser. You can only be so stingy, you know.


I chose these knobs because this dressy is sexy and sophisticated! With the sleek dark stain and lots of curves, it was begging for some swanky hardware.

Glass is timeless, and the floral cut added a bit of girliness. The antique brass centers bought out the warmness of the wood. At least that’s what I was thinking when I purchased them… and I think I was right!

I must say, I am very happy with the result.

There is still a mirror and mirror attachment that go on top – I have yet to start those! Someday I’ll get there.

Until then, I’m enjoying this dresser being in our bedroom. I love how it looks with the cool gray walls.

I will absolutely give refinishing furniture another try – it was totally worth the end result. And while the sanding was painful and the poly-drying took forever, I know this is a piece we will keep for a very long time.

Do you have any furniture lying around waiting to be refinished?

Before and After: Refinishing an Old Wood Dresser

Last month I posted on some cabinet knobs that I was debating over for a dresser I was refinishing.

In fact, it it the first piece of furniture I have ever truly refinished!

I’ve finished raw wood and painted over old finishes, but I’ve never sanded a piece of furniture down to it’s raw state.

As usual, I was so caught up and excited about my project I forgot to take a true “before” photo, that’s why there are no drawers in this picture. They were lying all over my yard.

This is an old red mahogany beauty.

It belonged to my Great Aunt Annie. Then it was passed on to my lovely grandparents and sat in their bedroom for many years. Now it belongs to me!

See how it looks now:

I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

I’m quoting my husband when I say it looks like our first “grown up piece of furniture”, which is quite true.

I’ll post a full tutorial next week. : )

Happy Weekend!

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