This weekend I got started on tackling the $25 dresser I got for Jack’s room. Very exciting! I knew this baby would need a lot of work, so I set a manageable goal of just getting it ready for paint.
Step 1: Remove the drawers to see what I’m working with. I vacuumed and wiped out the inside of each drawer, then took a gander at the inside of the dresser itself.
DANG this thing was dirty. Paper and trash was shoved into the corners and a thin layer of dust covered every surface. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a little extra surprise mixed in with the trash…
OMG, feathers!!! There were BIRDS living in this dresser! I was officially disgusted. I vacuumed it all out and wiped down the whole thing, but the citrus wood cleaner I was using didn’t seem to pack the disinfecting power I was looking for. I didn’t really want to use anything stronger, so I decided right then that I would paint the inside to cover up all evidence of its former life as a bird habitat. But that’s another project for another day. Back to prep work! I gave the whole exterior a quick pass with a sanding block to rough it up and smooth any messed up areas.
I actually was able to peel the paint off of the entire top. It started with just a little bubble, then I realized that I could use a flathead screwdriver to scrape up a little bit of the edge and peel off a big ‘ol piece. It was oddly therapeutic, pulling the paint off one 6-18 inch chunk at a time.
Once the whole top was paint-free, I applied wood filler to all the spots that were dinged, scraped, or dented. I haven’t really worked with wood filler before, since I usually just slap some flat paint on a piece of furniture and chalk any imperfections up to character, but I decided to use semi-gloss paint on this piece (wipeability seemed like an important quality for something that will double as a changing table). The higher the gloss, the more imperfections stand out, so I decided to take a few extra steps for a smoother look this time.
After the wood filler dried I sanded it down. See how it filled in the dents?
The bottoms on each side were the worst. The veneer was cracked and peeling. I peeled off what seemed unsalvageable and glued down the rest, then slapped some wood filler over the whole area.
Since I’d laid it on pretty thick, I let it dry overnight, then came back the next day to sand it smooth. I propped the edge of the dresser up on a small paint can to make it easier, but it was still a weird angle for my wrists. I ended up having to add a little more and sand again, but since the touch-ups were in thinner layers I only had to wait 15-30 minutes before sanding.
Eventually I had a pretty smooth canvas to later paint. It’s not perfect, but it’s a vast improvement over the warped and cracked veneer I started with.
After all that sanding I wiped down the entire exterior with a damp cloth. I even removed the knobs and pulls so that I could thoroughly clean the drawer fronts. And with that, this baby was ready for Phase 2: Paint! I already started painting the inside and, let me tell you, I’m realizing why I was always too lazy to paint the insides before. It’s a giant pain. Once I get the second coat on I promise to show you pictures. I gotta tell ya, I’m kind of nervous about the top after seeing all that paint peel off so easily. I’m thinking of doing something I almost never do–using primer. Ugh. I hate primer. I don’t even have any on hand. I’d have to make a special trip to the store just to get it. So inconvenient! Maybe I could just slap on a coat of some old flat paint I have lying around and that would do the trick just as well?