how to spray paint a dresser

27 February 2014

I’ve had the itch to paint this dresser that I got back in Virginia . And because it has some lovely detailing and nooks and grooves that would be harder to get with a brush, I opted for spray paint. I chose the rustoleum painter’s touch in dark gray. (I bought at Home Depot, but I’ve seen this brand popping up at other stores too)
This is how I spray paint a dresser:

spray painted dresser

This one did not have a high gloss finish on it, so it was a great candidate for spray paint without a lot of sanding. If your piece has a really high gloss finish, you’ll want to sand or use a liquid sandpaper/de-glosser.
dresser before

Rustoleum painter’s touch spray paint is my favorite brand (no affiliation with them) – it just seems to grip and cover really well (and has held up beautifully on this dresser) so I just sanded down some rough spots on the top and went to town with it. I don’t prime with this spray paint either.
february 2014 032
If you plan on spray painting more than one thing in your life, I highly, highly recommend investing in a spray paint respirator -- I have this one and is honestly one of the best diy investments I have ever made. Because the worst part of spray painting is the fumes! Even if you are doing something small like knobs or hinges, you don’t want to be breathing them in. Save your brain cells and your lungs, trust me.
Another big secret to spray painting is to do light coats with long strokes, stop.
move down a little further:
Light coat, long stroke, stop. Shake the can, repeat.
See how they are not heavy, gloppy, dripping coats? Do as many light, thin coats as you need to get the coverage you want. For this project I did about 3 coats and used about 3.5 cans.
use very light coats of spray paint
Now, here is where I am super smart (enter sarcasm) It had been beautiful weather, and I went out early on a Saturday morning to touch up and see where I had missed in the morning sun. It was below freezing and I didn’t even think. I sprayed and this is what happened:
february 2014 008
The dreaded spray paint crinkling!! Way too cold outside and it may have also had some dust on it from our super clean garage. Oh, Melissa. You just gave yourself another hour of work on this darn dresser! Basically the crinkling happens if the temperature is too hot or too cold, or your surface is not ready (previous coat of paint has not dried completely, it is not clean, etc.) If this happens, this is what I learned from my friend Kate at Centsational Girl. Wait 24 hrs for it to completely dry. Then sand down the crinkled part.
sand down crinkly spots
Then, you need to cover that sanded part with an oil primer, like this one
zinsser primer
so it will grip the spray paint again.
apply primer
Wait for it to dry and spray over it again (light coats)
spray painted dresser makeover
spray painted dresser
And it will be ready for business in no time. And I need to confess that I just found some little crinkled parts I missed from my early morning escapade, but they are just going to be part of this dresser’s character! I’m done.

It’s still in the garage because we are moving into our house at the end of April, and I just really don’t want to move it. I do love the gray with the aged brass handles, although I really thought the color would be a bit darker. It comes off blue in these pictures doesn’t it? Where it will go in the new house is a good question as well.

I’m painting some other dressers too, I’ll be sure to give you my thoughts on if I prefer brushing or spray-painting furniture like this. What about you? Are you a brush/roller furniture painter or do you prefer spray paint?


  1. I much prefer a brush and roller. I feel like I can control the paint better. I always feel like there is so much waste with spray paint! Also, I confess, I am not patient enough to do those light coats, so my projects always look like a mess whenever I use it. Plus, I can choose almost any color I want with canned paint, but with spray paint you are limited to their color choices. Your dresser is beautiful, though and I never would have thought to use spray paint on it! I love it! Maybe I will give spray paint another chance in the future. :)

  2. What a stunning makeover, I adore the gray + gold combo and wow, a shout out, I had to go back and read that ol' post from years ago, hey, it still makes sense! So glad you found the tip helpful and again, GORGEOUS result! Oh and to answer your question, I do both, I like spray paint for smaller pieces and lately I redid some small chests in gloss black (swoon) but for larger pieces, I'm a roll on/brush on gal. xoxo

  3. WAIT-you're moving into your new house at the end of April? Have I missed updates on how the new house is coming? Or are you keeping it under wraps? :) Would LOVE to see/hear details.
    P.S. The dresser looks great!

  4. It is beautiful-crinkles and all-I think they DO indeed at character. I've never had great success with spray paint, but that is because I'm always impatient or have a heavy hand with the spray can. I'm envious of your 'end of April' deadline---we are still waiting for the darn snow/freezing temps for our project to begin.

  5. Thanks for sharing the paint color. I love that dresser. It will be beautiful in your new home.

  6. End of April! I hope your timeline stays on schedule! So excited to see sneak peeks of the finished product!

  7. The dresser looks great, Melissa! I really love the color too. I love spray paint! My all time favorite color is still Heirloom White after all these years. I use it on everything. :) I probably heard about it on your blog! We had an old brown dresser that we donated when we moved here. I'm still kicking myself for that one. It would go perfectly in my foyer now. (after a good spray painting, of course!) Oh and learn. :)

  8. I LOVE spray paint and stick to it 90% of the time. Great colour choice for the dresser! I've learned that the 'crinkling' is mostly due to oils left on the furniture, even oils from a hand touching the piece. Because of that, I always prime wood with a spary paint primer, so I don't get that problem. My only complaint about spray paint is the lack of colour choice!

  9. Do you know the manufacturer of your dresser? I just painted a piece that looks so much like it. It was beautifully made - lovely finish inside and dovetailed - but I could not find a manufacturer name anywhere and I really looked.


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