Refinishing Dressers

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I can’t believe August is almost over! We spent half of July on vacation and came back with an entire month left before school starts… um, where exactly did that month go?! We started a quick little project at the beginning of the month- refinishing three dressers. Yes, three. What was I thinking, you ask? I wasn’t. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I was beyond the point of no return when I realized what a mess I’d started.

We started with the drawers, which we painted. So, that wasn’t too bad. A little light sanding to “rough it up” and a quick spray down with spray paint. Done! I think this is why I was so deceived. I figured this is how the whole project would go… boy was I wrong. See, the actual dressers weren’t painted, they were stained. But by the time I realized how much different the sanding is for staining than painting, I’d already painted all of the drawers. So, there was no turning back.

I started small… drawer pulls. I bought unfinished wood pulls and stained them with the same color as the dresser. My 5-year-old picked out “weathered gray” as the color for the dresser/pulls with black drawers. It sounds weird, I know, but it turned out great! Then it came time to sand the dressers in preparation for stain. That quick little sanding to rough up the drawers for paint wasn’t enough here. When you’re going to stain it turns out you have to get every last itty bitty teeny tiny bit of varnish off of the dresser. You have to sand that baby all the way back down to unfinished, raw wood. And it takes forever! Not to mention it’s noisy (even with earplugs), dusty (even with a mask and eyewear), and leaves your hands feeling like they’re vibrating for the rest of the day. On a side note, I wouldn’t even try this without an electric sander, I’m sick just imagining sanding that by hand… *shudder*

So, two weeks later I had the drawers finished and the three dressers sanded to their original, naked selves. Next we stain. That part really wasn’t bad. Since my son picked weathered gray, it wasn’t supposed to cover completely. You paint it on and wipe it off within a minute or so. That’s it. It didn’t need multiple coats and didn’t have to be perfect thanks to the nature of the color.  That dries for a day or so, and then you paint on the poly, which seals everything. It takes three coats with a couple of hours of dry time in between, so it’s about a day’s worth of painting. Then that has to dry for roughly a week before you can move the dresser back inside, load it up with drawers and put that thing to good use!

My boys adore their dressers- they’re both super excited! I’m just glad, looking back that I opted for a more “grown up” look for the dressers rather than something for little boys, because I will not be refinishing dressers again anytime soon. Fortunately, these will last them a long time. The third dresser is for the nursery and I felt like black was a little intense for a nursery, so we did the drawers in cream.

I absolutely love the way the dressers turned out! I wouldn’t exactly say they were worth the effort yet, though. Give me a few weeks and I might change my mind. But I will say it’s a darn good thing that I ignorantly chose to do all three at the same time. Otherwise, we’d have one refinished dresser… just one.

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