Painting a Child’s Dresser—Tips and Techniques for Kids’ Dressers

Learn About Painting Furniture and How To Make Children’s Used Dressers Look New

Kid sitting at her dresser

As most people know, new furniture is very pricey and an investment that may be viewed as a luxury, especially when living on a tight budget. This is especially true when considering children's rooms. Before opening up the purse or wallet, think creatively for a minute. Parents can easily turn used furniture into new and decorative furniture for their children's room in just a few easy steps by learning how to restore an old dresser using a little paint and elbow grease.  

To paint a child's dresser:

  1. Choose Your Colors. It's best to try to choose the colors you want before you go to buy the paint. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed by your selections when you get to the paint store.
  2. Picking the Paint. Make sure you get a knowledgeable sales person to help you select the type of paint you need. There are several kinds out there, and you want to be sure you get the right one.
    • Make sure it's an indoor paint, one that stands up to wear and tear -- especially important in a child's room. 
    • A one-coat only type is recommended, though you'll probably find you need more than one coat in the end.
    • The finish is also an important element. A matte finish generally works best for furniture. This is a nice touch, as glossy finishes tend to look a little cheap. Matte finish helps hide any imperfections in the wood or your paint job.
  3. The Supplies. In addition to paint, there are also a few other basics you will need. Make sure you get sandpaper (for taking the current finish on the dresser), a drop cloth (for protecting the surface you're painting on), and of course, the brushes. A basic mask that covers the nose and mouth is also important to have for the sanding to paint a dresser Varnish finish especially is bad to breathe when it's flying through the air.

    You may also want to pick up some basic stencils to make designs on your dresser. Stenciling is fairly easy, even for the novice, and a great way to add fun elements to your dressers. Make sure you pick up stenciling paints, and small brushes or sponges if you choose to do this as well. 

  4. Sanding. Ideally, you'll want to do your sanding and painting outside, as it's open and well ventilated. If you're blessed with a nice day, lay your drop cloth in the driveway, and go to town. If this is not an option, make sure your workspace is open, well ventilated, and pet- and child-free.

    In order to repaint a dresser, you do not have to take the old paint or finish off completely. All you have to do is make sure you "rough up" the surface of the previous finish with large-grain sandpaper, making sure there are no smooth patches left when you're finished. Take a damp sponge and wipe off all surfaces, making sure they're free of dust, and then allow surfaces to dry. Look over your work and make sure none of the surface is still smooth.

  5. Painting Tips. Once your surfaces are sanded, cleaned and dried, you're ready to start painting furniture! Knowing how to paint involves not only the painting techniques, but also choosing paint colors and other paint supplies.
    • Open only the can of paint you're going to be using immediately. Stir with the stick the paint store provided, making sure to go slowly and steadily, scraping the bottom and working out any lumps or color steaks. Once that is done, you can either pour off a small amount into a paint tray, or choose to paint right from the can.
    • Dip half of your brush into the paint, removing excess on the side of the paint container. Your brush shouldn't drip, but it shouldn't be bone-dry either. You'll learn the right amount for your brush as you begin to work.
    • Paint your surfaces in long, even strokes, all going in the same direction. Don't panic if they look choppy -- it will look better as it dries, and you can always go over it with a second coat. Cover all surfaces evenly, checking for drips, especially on those pesky corners.
    • Allow the first coat to dry according to the paint specifications, usually around two hours. Go over your work and decide if you need to apply a second coat. This is usually a good idea. Always cover your paint and clean your brushes when you're done working, even if it's only to take a short break.
  6. Finishing Touches. It's the little things that really make a simple project look great. For instance, you can replace all of the knobs on the dressers in addition to painting them. There's a HUGE selection of knobs and dresser fixtures at Lowe's and Home Depot for very affordable prices. You can buy simple, wooden knobs and paint them to match the dressers, or you could buy decorative pewter knobs or fun-shaped porcelain knobs. Go crazy! Installing them only requires a screwdriver and a simple flick of the wrist.

    As mentioned earlier, you can also choose to add simple stencils on the drawers of the child's dressers. Stenciling kits can be bought at a local craft store, hardware store, or even Wal-Mart. They usually include paint, brushes or sponges, and easy-to-follow directions. This is a great way to add fun elements to your projects.


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