How to Antique a Painted Dresser


Antiques give a room's decor an old world feel, however, they can be expensive and it's not always easy to find the right one. You can make your favorite dresser look like an antique by distressing it and duplicating a whitewash finish. Tint the dresser to match your decor, and you'll have a piece of furniture that completes the look of the room. Only real wood dressers work for an antique finish because particle board or laminate won't stand up to the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Drop cloth
  • Sandpaper - various grades
  • Chisel or hammer
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Sponge
  • Latex paint
  • Rags
  • Glaze
  • Pigment tube
  • Fine steel wool
  • Remove the hardware from the dresser, such as drawer handles and knobs and any hinges. Pull out the drawers, and set them on a drop cloth. Remove any door on the dresser.

  • Sand all the surfaces of the dresser that you will paint. This includes the front of the drawers, sides, top, front and back of the dresser. Start with medium-grit sandpaper and work up to fine. Sandpaper helps loosen any dirt, removes any peeling paint, and gives the new paint a rough surface to adhere to.

  • Add signs of age to the dresser by using a chisel to knick the wood and a hammer or chain to beat some dents into it. Focus on areas that would naturally receive more damage over the years, such as the corners and edges of the dresser. Take as step back from your work every few minutes to determine if you want to proceed. It's easier to add more stress to the wood later than to repair too much damage if you've gone too far.

  • Wash the dresser with trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove the sand and any remaining residue. Rinse with plain water, and let it dry completely before proceeding.

  • Apply a flat, white latex paint to the dresser by dipping a rag into the paint and spreading it on as you would stain. This technique creates an uneven look to the paint, like you would find on antique furniture. Let the paint cure according to the manufacturer's instructions before proceeding.

  • Sand the edges of the paint with 60-grit sandpaper to wear off some of the finish. This creates a worn look since paint will naturally wear away with use. Focus on areas that would naturally be touched a lot, such as the edges around the sides of the drawers and near the handles.

  • Tint a pint of glaze with a tube of pigment. Choose a color that goes with your decor and reflects the colors found in antiques. Most antiques are natural, earth colors that could be made from pigments found in nature. Antiques get obtain yellowish hues as they age, making yellow ochre a common color used for antiquing. Paint the glaze onto the surface using a bristle brush. Let the glaze dry according to package directions.

  • Rub 0000 fine steel wool over the dresser to take some of the shine out of the glaze and give it an uneven look. A smooth, shiny dressed won't look like an antique, so the wool works to flatten it a little without removing the glaze.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always paint in a well-ventilated room.

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