I’ve been threatening to share this for weeks now, figured it was finally time I got around to posting my restained and painted dresser, complete with sexy new hardware! Ok, it didn’t really take me 7 years to finish it (thank God), but it took about that long for me to get sick enough of the yellowed finish to give it a makeover. The time came a few weeks ago when my husband was working a Saturday shift and I was bored, so I headed on over to see Katrina at Malenka Originals, my local Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist and furniture refinishing guru. I changed my mind about how to refinish it- originally I was just going to paint the whole thing, but a few people suggested the white paint/walnut stain combo that I finally settled on. I was also interested to see how the veneer surface of the drawer fronts would take to being restained, and if it didn’t work I could just stick with the original plan of painting it.
Katrina was as helpful as ever and recommended Finico environmentally friendly gel paint stripper for the drawer fronts that I was going to restain. This stuff worked really well, but it was on the pricey side. I needed more than the one jar to do all the drawers so I made my first rookie mistake: I tried to stretch it and applied the stripper too thin. Guys… don’t do that. It dried out, so not only did it not remove the old finish but it made even more crap for me to scrape off the drawers.
For my second paint stripping attempt, I used another eco-friendly brand called Smart Strip from Home Depot, which also worked well. It goes on kind of like frosting and you want a good thick layer so it doesn’t dry out. The guy at Home Depot (and my husband) thought I was nuts for wasting my time on an eco-friendly stripper when I could have saved myself time and money by using normal paint stripper (read: pretty nasty chemicals, lots of protective equipment required, messier and more hazardous waste) but I still stand by my decision. Plus I was working in our yard that is shared by our neighbor, his kids, and their dog, so I think they appreciated that. I will say though that using a water soluble paint stripper might not be the best move for veneer surface (like mine)- the veneer started to lift in places, but I fixed that with a bit of wood glue.
To make extra-sure that the stripper doesn’t dry out on you, cover the surface with plastic to prevent evaporation. Second rookie mistake: if you use grocery bags cut into strips for this, don’t put them on logo side in… or else the dye will bleed into the wood and stain it. Unless you want a nice “Loblaws” stamp on your wood, then go for it!
Here is a blow-by-blow account of all the steps involved. Once again I am rocking the iPhone camera so not the best image quality… another great thing about our new house is I will have a dedicated sewing room/workshop and will be able to take better photos! I might redo this post later with better photos of the finished product, I think my husband would have asked for the D word if I made him help me bring it back outside where the light is better.
Materials required and close-up of the damaged finish
Drawers removed, time to pain the frame.
One coat of ASCP in Pure White. I applied 2 more coats and then applied AS Soft Wax.
Paint stripper time! First coat was Finico Environmentally Friendly Gel Paint Stripper. Worked well but I didn’t buy enough. 2 jars and 2 THICK coats probably would have done it.
After the Finico paint stripper. Look how sad the drawers that didn’t get a thick coat look
Applying paint stripper #2- Smart Strip by Dumond. Should have bought the big bucket, I needed 2 coats. If I’d only applied a thicker coat of the Finico stripper!
Lining the stripper with plastic bags- see warning above, make sure the logo faces out!
Using a putty scraper to scrape off the stripper + old finish. I let it sit for ~4 hours before scraping.
After scraping off the stripper, I wiped down the drawers with a damp cloth to get the residue off. Then I cleaned with mineral spirits.
Next I sanded the drawers with fine grit sandpaper.
Almost ready for stain… cleaning again with mineral spirits.
First coat of stain: Minwax Special Walnut.
After applying the second coat of stain, we let it sit for a few minutes to darken before wiping it off.
Getting excited, it’s going to look so good! Don’t mind my glue stain.
Waxing the drawers with AS Soft Wax. I was going to use polyurethane, but my husband suggested the wax. It has a more “matte” and weathered look than poly and I’m glad I went with it!
Using a slide rule to figure out where the new drill holes needed to go to cover the old ones.
Let me know what you think! It definitely took ages and was a lot of work, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Worth the 7 year wait!