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.

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17 comments

  1. Marie Claire says:

    I’m coming over from Miss Mustard Seed, and I must say that seeing a piece stripped of the paint and restored is a pleasure! I cringe when people paint over beautiful, antique wood instead of taking the time to restore the stained finish. Kudos!

  2. Krista says:

    This turned out great! You continue to knock the socks off of me!! Love the stain color, the fact that you could keep your mom’s dresser and especially the mercury glass knobs.

  3. Britney says:

    Do you need to sand down the dresser before you stain it? If the dresser I have doesn’t have a lot of scrathes after I take the paint off do I have to sand it as much?

    • designlivelyblog@gmail.com says:

      Hi Britney, Yes you’ll definitely want to sand down the dresser whether you have scratches or not. The stain needs to soak into the wood to be absorbed, and any lingering film leftover from stripping the paint could prevent it from doing so. The good news is that if your piece doesn’t have a lot of scratches your sanding job will be much easier!

  4. Lia says:

    I have a dresser that looks very similar to the one you started with. I’d like to strip the paint, do you recommend starting with the citristirip instead of the other paint stripper you use?

    Thanks!

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