How to Paint Furniture White

A beginners tutorial on how to paint furniture white. Learn tips and tricks on painting furniture white the right way.

White furniture is all the rage right now, and I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon.

It brightens up a room and matches pretty much any decor.

Looking for a farmhouse color for that dresser? Paint it white! Decorating Mid Century Modern? White paint works for that too.

But painting furniture white is a little more time challenging and time consuming than other colors. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how I painted this wooden dresser a bright, modern white.

Supplies For Painting Furniture White:

(Affiliate links are provided below.)

Visual Learners? Heres a video tutorial!

Step 1: Prep, Prep, Prep!

I know, you’re eager to get to painting. But prep is so important! Any dirt or grime left on the dresser will cause your white paint to not adhere properly.

For a more in depth post about properly prepping your furniture for paint, see this post HERE.

First, inspect the piece for any damage. Fill any holes with wood filler, repair any drawers.

Remove all hardware and put them in a labeled bag. Clean the dresser with a furniture cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water. I use Krud Kutter in a spray bottle. This is my favorite cleaner because it doesn’t need to be rinsed off. Less prep, yay! 

Now it’s time to hand sand the furniture. You don’t need to sand down to bare wood, just sand enough to remove the shine and give the primer something to grip.

Use a tack cloth or a damp rag to wipe off all the sanding dust.

sanding your diy white painted dresser

Step 2: Prime

One of my friends decided to paint her dresser white to brighten up her bedroom. She called me fed up after the third coat of paint and the wood was still bleeding through.

Priming, my friends! It’s seriously so important. Don’t waste your expensive paint and still risk bleed through.

A shellac based primer is best if you are painting a red wood that is notorious for bleed through.

painting primer on diy white painted dresser

Don’t worry too much about brush strokes, just get a thin coat of primer on. 

Here is what it looked like after the primer.

primed dresser

Step 3: Time to Paint 

For this dresser I chose Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Simply White. I love this paint because it doesn’t need a top coat. In addition it dries extremely slow to eliminate brush strokes. You can use another latex paint, or a chalk paint as well.

Here’s a tutorial using chalk paint.

Start painting a thin even coat, ending the strokes in the same direction.

painting dresser

The first, and even the second coat of white will look terrible so don’t fret.

Just keep painting! It’s a labor of love to get that smooth white.

After the coat is dry, sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper. This smooths out any stray brush strokes and helps each coat stick.

Then, wipe the piece again with a tack cloth. Become close friends with that sandpaper and tack cloth, never paint a coat without them!

Keep an eye out for paint drips – but don’t keep going over the same area after its started to dry.  Benjamin Moore paint evens out very nicely, and if you overwork your paint you will actually end up with more brush strokes.

This was the dresser after 3 coats of paint.

3 coats is a lot, but it was worth it.

diy white painted dresser, before adding hardware.

No top coat is needed with Benjamin Moore Advance. If you are using a paint without a built in top coat, make sure to use something water based to seal your dresser.

Oil based polyurethane will yellow over time, so use something like General Finishes Water Poly.


You can choose to replace your hardware, or reuse it. I chose to spray paint it.

Heres an in depth tutorial on different ways to refinish furniture hardware.

Screw your hardware back on the dresser and you are done!

completed DIY white painted dresser

Here’s the before and after. Isn’t it amazing what some white paint can do?

Whats your favorite color to paint furniture?

Let me know in the comments below!