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How to Paint a Dresser Without Sanding in 4 Easy Steps!

Have you ever wanted to try refinishing an old piece of wood furniture but were put off by the idea of stripping off the varnish and needing to sand down the entire piece? We were for the longest time until we figured out how to paint a dresser without sanding!

Coastal style bedroom dresser painted a beautiful light blue colour as an example of how to paint furniture without sanding

We’ve been fortunate to get to explore and create with the DecoArt Americana Decor DIY line of products.

Here are a few of the projects we’ve made using this versatile line of paints which includes Chalky Finish, Satin Enamels, Metallics, Outdoor Living and more:

“Disclosure: We have not received any compensation for this post. However, we have (and continue to) receive products from DecoArt. This post also contains affiliate links (indicated with *) for your shopping convenience. You find our full disclosure here.”

When we first read that we could paint wood furniture without sanding or using stripping chemicals, we were a little skeptical. But we’ve had such great results that we’re quite addicted now!

When sanding IS necessary: if the piece has a lot of large imperfections, such as deep scratches or uneven surfaces you may want to sand them down and/or fill the holes with a wood filler and then sand it prior to painting. Also, if there is preexisting paint that is peeling off, you’ll want to scrape it down prior to painting it again.

So, here we go: four easy DIY steps to painting a tall wood dresser with chalk-style paint.

Note, although we’ve outlined below the general steps you can use for most wood furniture pieces, you can find the detailed step-by-step tutorial for our coastal dresser project over on the DecoArt blog.



How to Paint a Dresser Without Sanding

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Wipe the dresser and drawers down thoroughly with warm, soapy water to remove the grime and oils. Make sure that the piece is completely dry before moving on to the next steps. Also, the temperature should ideally be between 10°C (50°F) and 30°C (86°F) or the paint may dry too quickly (if it’s really hot) or too slowly (if it’s cold).

Step 2: Apply a Stain Blocker

Although not always necessary, this step is important if you are going from a really dark colour of wood to a lighter color, a wood with lots of knots, or a piece that is stained.

The natural tannins in the wood will bleed through your piece over time and a good stain blocker will stop this chemical reaction. We used the Decoart Americana Decor Stain Blocker/Sealer* which dries clear, provides a durable finish and cleans up really easily.

Step 3: Paint

A chalk-based paint such as the Chalky Finish Paint* (we used Serene for our dresser) is great for most pieces. The thickness and self-leveling properties is great for cover small imperfections.

Apply a thick coat of paint with a really soft brush or roller to avoid streaking. Ensure that the first coat is completely dry before applying a second coat if needed. For a smoother second coat, dilute the paint with a bit of water.

Step 4: Seal and Protect

A highly recommended step is the application of a wax to seal and protect the painted dresser. We used the Clear Crème Wax* which is non-yellowing and provides a durable finish. You can buff this wax to a high-gloss sheen or leave it matte as we did.

That’s it!

When we first started using the Americana Decor Chalky Finish products for our furniture makeovers we admittedly found it hard to believe that sanding wasn’t required.

However, we’ve now refinished a number of pieces using the paint and they’ve turned out beautifully. Since the paints come in plastic jars with twist off lids, they’re really convenient to use. And since they’re water-based, cleaning up is really simple.

We hope you’ve found this tutorial on how to paint a dresser without sanding helpful. Don’t hesitate to leave us any questions you have in the comments below.

Do you have any furniture in your home that you’ve thought about painting?

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Thursday 13th of August 2020

The bedroom furniture I want to paint is very shiny, likely from furniture wax or polish (my mother). Will the washing be enough or must I sand? Love your site!

Jane and Sonja

Friday 14th of August 2020

Hi Sandy. If there's a wax or greese type material on the furniture you'll want to degrease with something like TSP. That should do the trick without needing to sand it. Thank you for your kindness. Warm regards, Jane


Sunday 24th of May 2020

Hi, I do not know what kind of finish is on my wood. I assume it is either lacquer or varnish. Is it possible to use this process to paint over my wood without removing the finish? Thank you!

Jane and Sonja

Sunday 24th of May 2020

Hi Maya, Yes, absolutely! Our dresser also had a varnish or lacquer on it and we just painted over it. You actually don't want to sand it because it's more likely for the underlying tannins to bleed through the paint if you do. Hope this helps! Jane


Tuesday 19th of May 2020

Do you think I could use this technique on a bathroom vanity? I love the look of the slightly distressed greenish cabinet in the original photo and have been scouring the internet for something similar. I have located a couple white ones which I thought might work if I painted it and removed small areas of paint. But it will be in the bathroom so my concern is the paint won't stand up to higher moisture.


Saturday 14th of March 2020

Hi! did the paint scratch after a little while?

Jane and Sonja

Saturday 14th of March 2020

Hello! No we haven't had any problems with scratching or peeling. The dresser still looks great! Thank you for stopping by. Jane


Wednesday 4th of April 2018

Fabulous paint job. Fabulous paint color. Thanks for all the tips.

Jane and Sonja

Sunday 8th of April 2018

Thank you, Ivory! We hope you can put them to great use.

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