Bella Renovare
Bella Renovare
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  • Cheyenne, WY

You Need This Simple Guide To Refinishing A Dresser Top

12 Materials
1 Hour

Having a beautiful dresser top doesn't have to be hard or time consuming. Follow this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top!

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Refinishing a dresser can be a little intimidating. I have tried so many methods over the years. I used to just sand, then I used to just strip, I finally found the perfect method FOR ME!! I want to show YOU!! I have found that this is the quickest way to refinishing a dresser, buffet, vanity, etc. I have a list of items I used for this particular project below.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Let's Get To Refinishing A Dresser Top!

This first step to this process is to pour your stripping agent into a plastic bowl. I also pour some straight on top of the furniture piece. Why do I do both? It is much faster to pour it on the top and spread it than to dip it in the bowl and spread and dip it in and spread, you get the drift? I use the stripper in the bowl for the sides of the top. So pour some on the top and spread it out with your chip brush. Then use the stripper in the bowl to apply to the sides of your furniture top. Let it sit.

I dont' usually let it sit for more than 5 minutes, it dries out and then I can't scrape it. Once your stripper starts bubbling you can scrap it. Also I work in sections. I will strip the entire right side, then move to the left.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Scrape This Baby Up!

I would say 9 out of 10 times i use a plastic scraper. It is easier on the wood and won't scratch it. I use metal scrapers for super thick finishes that are hard to scrape off. I scrape all of my "gunk" to the center of the piece, remember I work in sections. I then take my plastic bowl and push the "gunk" into the bowl.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Repeating The Steps

As you can see, I strip the entire top one time through, assess and strip it again depending on how much finish is left behind. For this piece I did my scraping portion twice over. Just repeat the steps from above. You may get lucky and only have to do this one to two times. Many times you wont be so lucky and refinishing a dresser with take more than a couple scrape throughs.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Once I have removed enough of the finish I pull out my steel wool! I use 00 grade because it won't scratch up the wood but it has enough bite to remove any remaining finish. I like to unfold the steel wool pad so I can almost use it like a rag. I put a think layer of my Jasco Stripper on the top and rub across the piece one more time. Do you see the difference below? It really helps clean out the wood grain and any residual finish that scraping doesn't take off. Using the steel wool will also help lighten the wood back down.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

To Sand Or Not To Sand?

Now this last step is not always needed. If you have deep scratches or even small scratches, the previous steps will not remove them, unless they were only in the lacquer or sealer previously used. If you want to keep the original patina, scratches and all and are using a dark color, sanding isn't always needed.

If you want to lighten the top or just want a wicked nice no-scratch finish, you will need to bust out the sander. I never go over 150 grit when refinishing. The higher grit you go the more likely it is to close up that wood grain, and your finish may not be as beautiful. In order to avoid swirl marks you want to use moderate pressure, have a pattern to your sanding (so dont look like a floor waxer gone wild) and you want to work your way up in sanding grit. I started with 100 and moved up to 150.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Staining The Top!

After you have sanded, you need to clean your top off. I usually wipe away with a dry clean rag a few times. You can also use a damp rag once you have most of the loose dust to grab any of the extra dust. For this I layered stains. I used Dixie Belle's walnut first and then I layered that with the espresso to darken the color a little bit. I just used a clean lint-free rag to wipe the stain on, then wipe it back.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Protecting Your Work After Refinishing A Dresser

You don't want to have done all this work and NOT protected your finish. For this one I used Dixie Belle's Clear Coat in Flat! I like to use a high density foam roller for my topcoats. Do not worry about the bubbles or the white/blue sheen. The bubbles self level and the sheen dries to clear. Put just enough product on your roller to cover your top. Do NOT glop it on, less is more people.

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

See I told you it would self level and the sheen would dry clear....look how pretty!!!!

you need this simple guide to refinishing a dresser top

Night And Day Difference!!

Refinishing a dresser doesn't have to be intimidating or hard. Check out this before and after!! HOLY COWWWW!

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Bella Renovare

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 9 questions
  • Ashley
    on May 11, 2019

    I'm just curious...I do alot of furniture rehabs, it's probably my favorite form of "crafting" actually, but as you know, it can be a LONG process...So my question is...If you know you'll most likely be sanding either way, can you skip the stripping portion since the sander will remove it all anyway or would that harm the wood somehow?

    • Ashley
      on May 15, 2019

      I hadn't thought about the greasy sandpaper, but that's a good point. I've had that problem before with going through alot of sandpaper, but as far as the dust is concerned, I pretty much solved that problem with a new mouse detail sander with micro filtration, so it vacuums up the majority. I also try to sand with the grain as much as possible, so I can usually avoid the swirl marks. I learned my lesson on that one while sanding some rust spots on an antique steel/glass vanity that I rehabbed last year...Hiding those swirls was a nightmare...So no circles for me...ever again lol.

  • Marina
    on May 13, 2019

    I'm extremely sensitive to odors, even the smell of a respirator mask (the rubber odor) makes me sick. Are there any strippers that you know of that don't have odors?

  • Cindy Pelley
    on May 25, 2019

    Can this process work on veneers ?

    thank you

    • Bella Renovare
      on May 26, 2019

      It will yes but if you sand make sure you are very careful so you don’t blow through the veneer ❤️

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