How to Chalk Paint an Oak Dresser

chalk painted oak dresser diy home improvement project

This post shows you each step for chalk painting a dresser, which includes, sanding, chalk painting, sanding off the chalk paint in strategic spots, and sealing with polyurethane. Below is a picture of the oak dresser before I chalk-painted it. This was my husband’s childhood dresser.

Step 1: Sanding

I used fine sandpaper to remove any bumps or “burrs” and to give it a smooth painting surface.

Step 2: Chalk Painting

I used two colors. The first color is Norwegian blue.

If I were brave, I would have left it that color. However, that was a little too bold blue for me.

So, I chalk painted it with my favorite color but sanded off some of the top layer of chalk paint so the blue is revealed.

primitive chalk paint

This is my favorite color of chalk paint. I have used it to transform several pieces of furniture. It is sort of an oatmeal color and goes with everything. It also looks good over black or brown.

A few painting tips . . .

When you chalk paint, be sure to paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. Try to paint with long, even strokes. When you paint the edges, make sure your last paint stroke ends at the edge of the table – – sort of letting your paintbrush finish this stroke going off (or away) from the table.

Also, check for drips. If you have a drip, go over this again with your paintbrush.

I painted two coats of chalk paint, being sure to get all the crevices.

Below are pictures after the second coat of chalk paint. Up close, you can see the grainy texture, which is characteristic of chalk paint.

Step 3: Sanding

The purpose of sanding is to sand off some (but not all) of the chalk paint in strategic spots to reveal the blue paint color and some of the oak wood to give it an aged/worn look. Hence, sand more in areas (edges, handles, etc.) where more wear from use or touching would occur over time.

I use finer sandpaper (320) initially and sometimes use more coarse sandpaper (120) if the chalk paint is not sanding off easily enough or not revealing enough. I suggest starting with fine sandpaper (320) and then transitioning to more coarse sandpaper if needed. Deciding how much to sand off is a matter of taste.

I sand all the like areas first – – end pieces, inside and then outside, feet, and then the top for last. This helps me to double-check myself for consistency (so all the sections blend/match), but at the same time, I want it to look random as if naturally worn spots. The edges are easiest, but I don’t overdo it. Even though I try to be consistent, I am also somewhat inconsistent to give it a naturally worn appearance.

Rounded areas are fun to do because you can give them a really worn look.

I constantly look over the piece until I am happy with its appearance. You can sand more or less depending on your preference.

Step 4: Dusting (from sanding)

Use a dust cloth or rag to wipe off the dust created by sanding. Sometimes I  use a blower which gets all the dust out of the cracks and crevices. If needed, I wipe it down again with a mildly damp cloth and then allow it to dry.

Step 5: Applying Polyurethane

Instead of using wax, I use Minwax wipe-on poly (clear satin). My advice is to wear rubber gloves so you don’t have to clean your hands with paint thinner. To apply the polyurethane, use a cotton rag; a piece of an old T-shirt works great.

Polyurethane does not create a shiny look, so I like this better. However, it provides great protection. My typical practice is to apply two coats on the entire piece of furniture. (If I am doing a table, I do three coats on the tabletop.)

Be sure to apply the poly in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Use long even strokes in a very uniform way to give it a smooth and consistent finish. If you are not consistent, you might see smudges after it dries. If that happens, don’t sweat it, just learn from it. Over time, you will not even notice this.

Make sure that you read the directions and give plenty of time to dry between coats — overnight is best.

The polyurethane tints the color a little – – sort of an antique/aged look, which I like.

We hope this post about how to chalk paint an oak dresser is helpful. Here is the final result!

Pin this for future reference on how to chalk paint a dresser.

Check out some of my other chalk painting blog posts:

Get some chalk paint and a brush and transform something from trash to treasure!

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about how to chalk paint an oak dresser by commenting below.

Happy Chalk Painting!


  1. Anna on 09/17/2021 at 5:04 AM

    I hope u realize that Oil Based Poly yellows light colors over time.

    • Suzanne on 09/19/2021 at 3:09 PM

      Hey Anna,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We had researched this and were aware some sites said this. We have not had any issue with it yellowing our furniture. When we chalk paint something white, we use Minwax Polycrylic water-based protective finish or wax instead.
      Thanks again for commenting.

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