Painting an ikea dresser whether its laminate, wood, or other is easily done. The key is prep work!
We all have those pieces of furniture from Ikea from our college days/early 20s. I have some such furniture from when my husband and I were first married, but it is not my style anymore so I decided to paint my ikea dresser.
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How to Paint Your Ikea Dresser
The dresser we have is the Ikea Hemnes Dresser. The white glossy finish on wasn’t doing it for me anymore, so I decided to paint my Ikea dresser. The steps below are how I achieved the after look.
Step 1-Cleaning to Prep for Painting the Ikea Dresser
I’m abysmal at dusting, and furniture over time gets very dirty. When I am prepping a furniture piece to be painted, I clean with a degreaser like krud kutter or TSP. I used the krud kutter when I was cleaning another dresser before giving it a makeover.
Go ahead and take the drawers out to make it easier when it is time to start painting the hemnes dresser. Be sure to remove any hardware from the dresser as well.
Step 2-Sand or Mix Paint
Depending on the type of paint you wish to use on the dresser, the next steps may look different. If using a chalk paint, then you can skip sanding the dresser although a light scuff sanding with the paint really stick to the furniture piece well.
If using a different paint, then a light scuff sanding is a must. I like to use a medium grit sandpaper such as 220 or 240 to make some grit on the dresser so the paint has something to grab onto. An orbital or mouse sander is probably too heavy for the job, a sanding block should do just fine.
I painted my hemnes dresser with chalk paint that I mixed myself from some leftover paint I had from another project. My recipe is very simple, mix together:
- 1 cup of latex paint
- 2 tbsp of Plaster of Paris
- 2 tbsp of water
This made enough for 2 coats of paint on my ikea dresser plus some leftover for touch ups.
Step 3-Priming (This can be optional)
The most common question I saw when researching ikea dresser makeovers was asking if paint can stick to an ikea dresser or how to get the paint to stick a hemnes dresser.
The two easiest ways are using chalk paint or using a primer before chalk or special cabinet and furniture paint.
For the best and most long lasting results, I would strongly recommend that you prime your ikea furniture. I like using the zinsser bullseye primer. Those braver daredevils that want skip step to complete the project faster, this step can be optional at your own risk.
Step 4-Time to Paint Your Ikea Dresser!
First, gather your foam rollers and brushes. I used a 6 in foam roller on the flat surfaces, drawer fronts, etc. For the nooks and crannies, corners, and feet, I used my favorite wooster brush.
Second, Sand the hemnes dresser. To get that really smooth finish, sand with a finer grit sandpaper in between each coat. I recommend 300 or higher.
Next, do your second coat. Do at least two coats of paint. If you are painting a darker color dresser with a lighter color paint, it may take more than two coats (another reason to prime first).
Sand it again with that higher grit sand paper to keep ensuring for that smooth finish.
Work in small sections as you paint. For example: roll all the edges along of one side, then roll the paint on the entire side of the ikea dresser. Repeat with the rest of the piece. Don’t use too much paint. Use your brush to clean any drips.
Step 4-Top Coat
It is finally time to put a top coat on the painted ikea dresser. In my case, adding a top coat was essential because my tv sits atop of my dresser.
I also have 2 small kids and animals that spill, bump, and test the durability of every single piece of furniture I own. Needless to say, it needs to be well protected to survive in my house!
I chose to use a polycrylic with a satin finish on my dresser because I wanted a little shine. I applied it the same way as the paint with a combination of a foam roller and brush. Top coats are thinner than paint, so be wary of using too much at a time.
Still fighting for the smoothest finish possible, don’t forget to sand in between coats. I did two or three coats, I don’t remember.
Remember I did not prime, that is why I did more coats to try and make up some of that protection. Two coats is fine, and sanding between coats is optional if you don’t mind a less smooth finish
Next Steps to Give Your Painted Ikea Dresser Personality!
Now that you have sealed your painted ikea furniture, you can enjoy it as is!
But if you are a little more extra and bougie like me, you can take some extra steps to add a little more personality. I kept the same hardware in an attempt to save money, but I gave them an antique look by adding some gold rub n buff.
You can also change the hardware, there are some great budget friendly options on amazon.
I took it ANOTHER step further….when I was making over this painted dresser, I pictured a two toned look with raw wood drawer fronts and a dark gray body.
Since my specific ikea hemnes dresser is made of a melamine material and covered in high gloss, there was no way I could sand it to expose raw wood. THERE WAS NO WOOD!
I had the genius idea to use oak edge banding. BRILLIANT RIGHT?? The edge banding is actual wood and can even be stained if you wish. I just left if the natural color because I love how it looks like bleached wood.
On the top four drawers, I cut strips of edge banding strips to the width of the drawers and added them on with heat. To finish them off, I added two more vertical pieces along the left and right sides looking like trim.
The way the strips sit side by side, if gives a really cool custom look. What do you think?? I am obsessed!
This is a pretty beginner friendly diy project. It is a great way to update a piece of furniture you may already have or got cheap second hand. I am all about creating less waste and upcycling furniture pieces to give them new life.
Your biggest chance for success with this project is to prep your ikea dresser well. Sand your dresser first, prime second, two coats of paint, then seal with a top coat.
For the smoothest finish, lightly sand in between all coats.
It’s not essential, but it may help the longevity of the paint job. Lastly, have fun with the embellishments and make it fit the vibe of your home.