Bedrooms | DIY

Black Dresser/Wardrobe Makeover

Do you have a black piece of furniture that you wish was white?  Painting black furniture is a daunting painting project because black is hard to paint over.

I wish I could say you are wrong.  Painting black furniture was not something I had ever tried before this dresser.  It IS NOT hard, but it is time consuming.  There’s a difference.  Painting over black doesn’t take any more skill, it just takes more repetition. 

Why you should paint black furniture

Here are two reasons to paint your black furniture. First, if you change the paint color of a room and the furniture seems too dark. Second, it allows you to keep quality pieces of furniture and give them new life, a completely new look.

If you have a dark color on the walls a lighter color on the furniture is a way to bring in some light. This is what prompted our black furniture makeover.

When my son turned 12 we decided it was time for a more grown up bedroom because he cared about what the room looked like. We painted the walls a denim blue.  The blue is from Home Depot and it’s called Brittany Blue.  Once we painted all the walls a dark color all of the black furniture felt too dark. 

The furniture good quality so I decided rather than buy new, I would try painting it.  All of the wood trim in our house is white, so white seemed to be the obvious choice.  I wanted to updated the hardware to take it from a country looking piece to something more modern and I decided to go without the door.

How to paint over black furniture

I read countless articles about painting wood furniture.  There are many different approaches out there from one extreme to another.  Some suggested completely sanding off the old finish, priming and painting.  The other extreme was to just paint over the old paint with chalk paint.  I went for something in the middle.  These are the steps I took:

Supplies needed for painting black furniture

Steps to paint black furniture

1.) I sanded the entire thing with 220 sand paper, enough to rough up the surface, but not remove the paint. I didn’t own a sander at the time, but looking back this hand sanding tool would have been worth buying.

2.) I primed the paint since I was going from black to white I thought this was a necessary step. I didn’t use chalk paint, but I think I would still prime a black piece before changing it to white.

3.) I painted one coat and then sanded it again.

4.) Repeat 3 more times.

5.) I put the piece back together and realized that I had failed to pain the insides of the drawers, if it hadn’t been black it might not have showed but the dark color created a shadow.  I didn’t sand the inside of the drawers, I just painted them a few times.

The project took significantly longer than I had anticipated.  I tried switching paint to see if I got better coverage but it didn’t seem to make a difference.  I wanted no VOC paint because my family hates the stinky smell and it was too hot to paint outside.   

I tried two paints, one from Home Depot, the Behr Premium Plus Ultra.  This one was easy to apply and didn’t leave streaks.  I used a brush for the small spaces and a small roller for the rest.  The second paint I tried was Renaissance Chalk Furniture & Cabinet Paint.  It was not any better or different, despite the claims in reviews.  

If I was doing this project today I would use Behr Marquee. It is more expensive, but fewer coats are worth it.

The final touch was new hardware.  I ordered this square hardware from Wayfair to give it a more modern look.  I definitely think the white looks better with the denim colored walls.

Before my next paint project I plan to invest in a paint sprayer. 

If you want to see more about painting furniture see the Beginner’s Guide to Chalk Paint.

You can also see how I went the opposite direction, painting a white hutch black.

painting black furniture white

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