Learn how to strip paint from an antique dresser. Restore the original wood with a little paint stripper and a lot of elbow grease.
Several years ago I stumbled upon a pretty little antique dresser at a garage sale. I liked the chippy paint and (surprisingly) the teal color. At $75, it wasn’t exactly a bargain, but I loved the shape.
For a long time it hung out in the kitchen. I kept unsorted mail and homeschool stuff in the drawers, and stored dried food on top. The only photo I could find of it in the kitchen was on IG, so pardon the screenshot.
After a while, I got tired of walking around it in the kitchen and felt like we would be better off without it. So, I moved it into the living room where it hung out, in all its teal glory, for another year or so.
For risk of making the painted dresser story way too long, I’m going to jump to the end. The teal color no longer worked. It drove me crazy every time I looked at it. It totally messed up the flow of my minimal style living room, full of wood, wicker, white, fresh greenery and natural tones.
Plus, I think natural wood is making a comeback. All that gorgeous wood grain and deep color that comes with age.
The bright color had to go, but I still loved the little dresser.
So, just like with the antique door that I decided should be stripped down to its original wood, I put my husband to the task.
I’ve got the ideas and he’s got the muscles. Know what I mean?
How to Strip Paint from an Antique Dresser- The Process
We hauled the dresser our to the garage. Citristrip is supposed to be less toxic, but you can never be too careful with stuff like that.
He removed the drawers and pulls, and then coated everything with a layer of the paint stripper. He let it sit for about an hour. Then he scraped on it with a paint scraper. In a perfect world, it would have just came right up and the whole process finished up in a day.
Not the case.
It needed several more paint stripper treatments.
After he removed as much as possible with the paint stripper he went at it with a sander. Around the knobs, corners and legs, he just used some sandpaper and sanded it by hand.
The beauty of the wood underneath was finally revealed.
Still, after a whole lot of time and elbow grease, the paint wasn’t 100% removed. If you look closely you can still see some tiny bits of teal paint.
But, it looks 200% better!
I love the uneven color of the wood and the way it complements the natural textures of jute and wicker in our living room.
Maybe someday I will finish it with some wax, but for now I’m loving the matte look of the raw wood.
What do you think of the after?
Read about how we stripped paint from our 1920’s farmhouse front door HERE. That process was even more tedious, but well worth the final product!
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