How To Upcycle A Dresser

Upcycling is a great way to turn old, drab and dreary looking furniture into something more modern and beautiful. Plus there is no greater satisfaction than knowing you did something all by yourself. For those of you who have never taken part in this trend I have put together a guide to basic upcycling with photos from my recent project.



Equipment, paint and tools needed.

Leyland Quick Dry Primer Undercoat in Brilliant White.

This is a brilliant product. It dries in about 30 minutes so you can add more coats quickly and get the job done faster. Because it is white in colour this means it provides a brilliant solid base colour. Less coats of paint are needed when using this base coat. It is suitable for interior wood. This large 2.5 litre tin cost £20 from B and Q but can be brought from other retailers and varies in price.

Dulux Quick Dry Eggshell Low Sheen Pure Briliant White For Wood And Metal.

This paint gives a stylish low sheen finish. It boasts that it is self undercoating and requires only 2 coats but I found I needed 2 to 3 coats even when I had used a white undercoat. So I advise to use it with a white undercoat. It takes 6 hours to dry between coats so you could easily do all the coats in one day. Other paints usually take about 16 hours to dry in between coats so it is definitely quicker. This 2.5 litre tin cost £23 from B and Q but is available from other retailers at varying prices.

RUST-OLEUM Furniture Finishing Wax in Clear

I love this wax. It is easy to use and a little bit goes a long way. I only had to use about a quarter of the tin. You can apply it with a brush or cloth. After fifteen minutes you buff it off and a second coat can be applied if required. This product is important as it makes your furniture waterproof and able to be wiped over when needed. It is designed to be used over the Rust-oleum chalky paint so it gives a matte finish. This wax cost £13.50 from B and Q but I have seen it for under £7 on Ebay.


You will need plenty of sandpaper. The more sandpaper you have the quicker and easier it will be to sand your furniture. The newer the sandpaper the easier it is to sand. Make sure the sandpaper is not too rough as it will leave scratches on your furniture. Use a fine sandpaper.


You will need two to three clothes or pieces of rag. One to dampen with water and wipe away the dust left from sanding. You will also need a second cloth to apply the wax with if you choose not to use a brush. You can use the other end of the same cloth you used to apply the wax to buff or use a separate cloth.

Paint Brush

You will need a good quality paint brush to apply the undercoat and paint. Cheap brushes lose there bristles which get stuck in the paint. So a good brush is essential for a smooth paint finish.

Masking Tape

If your furniture has glass on it then you will need masking tape to mask it up and protect it from paint. Masking tape can also be used if there are certain other areas of the furniture you do not wish to paint.

Screw Driver

You will need a screw driver for removing the door knobs/handles.

Dust Sheet Or Plastic Sheet

These should be used to catch the sanding dust and prevent paint from ending up on the floor and other places it shouldn’t be. I found fabric sheets were better than plastic ones as the plastic ones are so light that they often don’t sit flat and stick to your painted furniture which can leave marks. If you don’t want to buy a dust sheet you can use other things you may already have like old curtains or bed sheets.

How To Upcycle A Unit

Sand all the areas that you want to paint

You must remove any wax or glossy paint by sanding before painting. Make sure you sand everything that you wish to paint. This includes fronts and backs of doors and inside the unit as well as draws. When you have finished sanding wipe over everything with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust.

Remove doors, draws and door handles

For best results you should remove all the doors, draws and door handles before painting. This ensures that everything will be painted perfectly and nothing will be missed. When everything has been removed you can make sure every area and surface has been sanded. If you have glass doors or any surface that you do not want to be painted then now is the time to apply masking tape to protect them.

Apply primer

For a better effect make sure you paint both sides of doors, inside and underneath of draws and inside the unit. You will need 2 to 3 coats of primer. You should try to achieve an even colour. I recommend letting your last coat of primer dry over night before applying the normal paint. Remember to paint the door knobs if you want to reuse them.

Apply paint


Apply 2 to 3 coats of paint to both sides of everything. Be careful to ensure that metal hinges do not receive too many coats of paint as it will make then tricky to put back together and might make them feel stiff. Leave last coat of paint to dry over night.


When the last coat of paint is properly dry it is now time to wax everything you have painted. You can apply this wax with a brush or cloth. I chose to use a cloth. Simply rub the cloth on the wax and then rub over the paint. Make sure you cover all of the paint. Wait fifteen minutes and then buff off with a clean cloth. You can add a second coat if you wish to do so. Leave to dry properly before removing masking tape or putting parts back together. I would suggest waiting at least an hour before assembling and 24 hours before using the unit.

Put doors back on

When the paint is fully dry you can attach all the doors and put the draws back in the unit.

Fit door knobs

You can reuse the old door knobs or buy new ones. Door knobs can be quite expensive from big retailers. The cheapest place to buy them is online from sites such as Ebay or Amazon.

Put the unit together

When everything has been waxed and it is dry you can put everything back together. The unit is now complete and looks modern and fresh. It will be used for many more years to come.

Thank you for reading and I hope this simple guide will help you to get creative with your old furniture and create something wonderful.

Miss Ruby Hearts

You may also like