I know some of us at Apartment Therapy have strong views on painting wooden furniture, particularly (gasp!) painting it white, but sometimes it's gotta be done. This bedside table belongs to my flatmate/landlord, left behind by some long-ago tenant. We both agreed that the knotty pine was an eyesore, and that for the benefit of future tenants, giving it a makeover with a lick of white paint was the best thing we could do.
Have extra paint from painting your dresser? Paint your front door, too!
So on a sunny Saturday a few weeks ago, I gathered some supplies and got to work, photographing the process and keeping track of my steps for the benefit of the ugly furniture in all of your lives. The steps below are easily scaled up for a larger chest of drawers, or most other pieces of wooden furniture, as well.
1. Gather Your Tools
In a well-ventilated area, gather together your supplies. For this project, I used:
- A drop cloth to protect the patio
- An old rag for cleanup
- Blue painter's tape
- Sandpaper in three different grades: coarse, medium and fine
- Oil-based wood primer
- Latex/emulsion paint
- Water-based polyurethane varnish
- A plastic paint tray
- Small, dense foam rollers
- A small brush for corners and tricky-to-reach areas
- A soft brush for applying varnish
Begin by dismantling the chest of drawers as much as you can, removing the drawers and unscrewing pulls and hardware. Then, take a coarse sandpaper to all surfaces to be painted. Working in a circular motion, press firmly, but don't worry too much about coverage — the goal with this step is just to rough up the old varnish so that the primer can adhere. After you've used the coarse sandpaper, go over everything again with the medium grade paper, this time working with the direction of the wood grain. Once everything is smooth, clean all surfaces with a damp cloth, and allow to dry before continuing.
Note: If your dresser is unvarnished to begin with, skip the coarse sandpaper and just do a light go-over with the medium one.
3. Tape Off
Spending some thoughtful time with a roll of painter's tape is important, not just for avoiding drips and the like, but for deciding where you're going to start and stop painting. Whether you paint the back, drawer sides, or just what you see from the front of the piece is up to you, but it's best to be consistent. Tape neatly and carefully and it will save you time in the painting steps.
Using brush or a foam roller, apply a thin layer of primer to all the areas within your taped boundaries (if using a roller, you will need a brush anyway to get into the corners and tricky bits). Don't worry about it looking particularly even (primer never tends to anyway), just ensure you don't apply it too thickly and get drips. Let dry for the amount of time specified by your particular product (usually 4-6 hours).
Note: I used a primer with "knot block" specifically for knotty pine, which is meant to stop the resin from the wood knots seeping through the paint later on. If your wood isn't dark or knotty, a regular primer is perfectly fine.