Monday, June 10, 2013

A dresser for me

Through a somewhat unusual turn of events I found, passed over and then had my attention re-diverted to this dresser. Before I knew it, this solid wood dresser was being delivered to me in a hatch back Volkswagen for a steal of $30! My husband came home from work and I had to explain that oh yeah, some people were coming in about half an hour to bring us a dresser you didn't know we were buying. I seem to acquire things this way; dressers, cats, etc. Good thing he loves me :)

Its got nice looking bones but clearly the paint has got to go!

It also has some slight damage to the top and sides but it looked like an easy fix to me
All my previous projects have just required some sanding but this bad boy was going to need to be stripped.
Not that kind of stripping!
I bought a citrus based stripping product I had seen used in a blog once and tested it out on one of the drawers. It worked great! That weekend I had my husband help me drag the dresser outside and set about getting that horrible paint off.

A rainbow of horrible colors!
 I don't have many pictures of this part but trust me when I say this was no fun. I ended up needing 2 cans of the stripper and still needed more in areas where I hadn't put it on thick enough. Once the stripper has set for a few hours you can just scrape off the gooey gunk with a plastic scraper. I scraped and scraped for HOURS. Then, I rubbed and rubbed with mineral spirits to clean it up. They're not kidding when they say you need to apply the stripper GENEROUSLY. You really have to goop it on there. I had lots of areas where my application was a little thin and the stripper didn't make it through all the layers of paint. I did the best that I could until both the dresser and I were starting to look a little distressed. I actually had to take a break for a couple of days afterwards because my right arm hurt so bad.

This is what it looked like after an exhausting afternoon of fighting the many, ugly layers of paint that had been put on this poor thing.

One night about a week later after the kids went to bed I reapplied some more stripper (this time I bought a bottle of it instead of a spray can and applied with a cheap foam brush) and got off the rest of the paint. It really does work good when you follow the instructions *sheepish grin*.

Next I hand sanded it lightly with a heavier grit paper (because that's what I had and I was NOT going back to that damned store), used some wood filler to fill in the dents and dings and started priming it. No sooner had I gotten one coat of primer on it than the clouds started to roll in. Luckily I was able to get the second coat on it and back inside before the rain started to fall.
 Not a very exciting picture but its amazing how different it looks without that sickly yellow paint on it.

Woah. Where did you come from?
Eventually, days later, I made it back outside with the dresser to paint it. I was so excited about the color I picked out and also just to finish this project so I could get it out of my dining room that I wrestled it outside by myself. I even put it in the shade to avoid bubbling of the paint as it dried. I started painting while the kids played and noticed more clouds coming my way. Really?! The forecast said the rain wasnt supposed to come until later in the evening so I kept at it hoping my husband would get home in time to help me bring it back in. After all, furniture wrestling and hour-dry paint don't really go together. To my horror, it started to sprinkle on my newly painted dresser *gasp*! Luckily my neighbor helped me bring it in but I could see that the water was messing up my finish.

Apparently I didn't take any pictures of this part but during nap this last week I lightly sanded the somewhat splotchy surface and put a third coat of paint on it. INSIDE. I used small foam rollers designed for painting cabinets and they were well suited to painting the larger, flat surfaces of the dresser. Once dried it looked really good but I opted to top coat just the very top of the dresser with clear coat for extra durability.

I love how it came out!
I added some new hardware as well.

Please excuse my bare walls. Our bedroom has been last in line for decorative attention. Its going to get painted soon, I promise!!

Lessons Learned:

1). When the directions on a product says "apply generously", they mean it!! The stripper worked wonderfully in the spots where the product was really thick and I could have saved myself a lot of work and sore muscles if I had made sure the whole thing was covered that thick.

2). Stripping paint off is hard work but totally worth it. I was able to get down to the bare wood which made priming and painting a breeze. Also, I got a nice smooth finished product for all my hard work!

3). NEVER trust the weather in New England :)

Although this project took forever, I'm really very happy with the end product. Now that the dresser is in my bedroom where it will be used I can shuffle my newest finds around downstairs. Like I said, its a good thing my husband loves me so much :)


  1. Wow...exhausting....thats a whole lot of stripping :))) but look at that finished product!! great job....and I like the hardware...gave it that little extra pop of cuteness :))

  2. Looks great! I really like the Lessons learned section. Used furniture can be picked up cheap enough, its great to be able to do this. Plus it really makes you appreciate the piece even more.

  3. Gorgeous, love the new color! Nice job, Erica! What was the stripper you used? I don't know anything about refinishing furniture, but would you have been able to stain it instead of painting it?

    1. I used Citristrip which they have in lots of different sizes at Home Depot and Lowes. Its supposed to be less harsh and better for the environment. I haven't tried staining yet because all the pieces I've done have been pretty beat up and/or were all or partly laminate. Someday I'd like to try the tinted stains but for now I'm totally in love with the idea of painting furniture bold colors!

    2. Cool, I saw Citristrip at the BX today.

    3. I used 2 full cans on the dresser and still needed to buy more so depending on the size of your project I'd just get the bottle and paint it on. You have more control over the thickness of application when you paint it on. Also, I bought a cheap $1 brush for it and just threw it away after instead of trying to clean one :)