August 05, 2015

Months ago, I found an IKEA Hemnes dresser on craigslist, for FREE. It was not in the best condition , but I had been wanting to test my real painting skills for some time now and jumped at this opportunity! And since my last paint job looked like my 5 year old nephew painted it, this time I wanted to do it right.


Supplies I used:

Patience (Get tons of this!)
Kilz2 Latex primer 
Behr Premium Plus Ultra Sample paint. (I used one full can and a quarter of another)
Sandpaper (Fine and Coarse)
Wooster Synthetic bristle Angled brush
Paint roller


Remove knobs and give all surfaces a quick sanding and then clean up.
Honestly, I wish I had used a really coarse sandpaper for this, but I only had a medium grit one and I just sanded it for a total of 15 minutes tops.


Apply Latex primer using the brush. The first coat of primer looked really ugly on the drawer. I got the hang of it by the next drawer, and things looked much better after that. I applied a second coat within 2 hours. I also sanded very lightly between coats. (I tested the blue paint at the back , in case you were wondering)


This is where patience comes in handy!
Even though the label said I could paint over the primer in 1 hour, I left it to dry for almost 2 days. A day would have been more than enough, but the next day was very humid so I did not want to paint on a humid day anyway.


Apply paint. I used the shade  'Very Navy' by Behr and applied 2 coats of it. For painting I used my Wooster angled brush for applying the paint. On large surfaces I used a foam roller to smooth out the brush strokes. This tip comes from Virginia of  LiveLoveDIY.
For the second coat, even though the can said I could apply in an hour, I waited 2 days. I found that people complained about having been left with a tacky surface if they painted too soon. Theoretically, I was supposed to wait a couple more days before the topcoat, but after 2 days I applied a second coat.


I told you, you need tons of patience!
Apparently latex paints take 30 days to cure. But this is if you are using the topcoat without any protective poly coat. At first I decided to wait 2 weeks before applying polycrylic.
Several websites mentioned that if I was applying a poly coat, then I could go ahead and safely poly once the paint dried completely. But I also read somewhere that poly-ing (that's a word right?) without curing  made the poly to bubble and crack because the paint was still releasing moisture as part of the curing process. I didn't want to risk it, so I waited. Hardest thing I had to do. Well I couldn't wait 2 weeks. I ended up waiting 5 days before applying poly.


I did not sand the final topcoat before applying poly. I was advised to, but I couldn't make myself to do it. I applied 3 coats of Varathane Poly, because the can said so. I have read that water based poly requires a dozen or so coats compared to oil based poly, but I think more than the recommend number of coats might not let the poly cure from inside out. I decided to listen to the manufacturer's advice in this case. I took 2 days to apply a total of 3 coats, taking care not to apply more than 2 coats in 24 hours. Recoating within 24 hours, does not require sanding in between.


I let it dry for 48 hours, gold spray painted the knobs and then assembled it. And I LOVE it!
I am thrilled with the color I chose - navy. I didn't use the top for at least 1-2 weeks. I wanted to let it cure first.



All in all it took me about 2 weeks to complete this. Right now I don't know if all the waiting in between was worth it. But anything is better than the paint peeling off in a few months. So better safe than sorry!

All the research I did pointed to a few main things - Don't skimp on Sanding, Priming, and most importantly give enough time for each coat to completely dry. Remember drying and curing are 2 different things. And since it is not humanly possible to wait for curing before each coat, the least we can do is wait for a little longer, find that middle ground and let the primer, paint or poly do its job!


Although the painting part was easy, I found the waiting part was tough. Would I do it again? For the right piece, absolutely!

Hope this helps!

Update: It's been over two years since this project and there has been zero peeling, chipping or stickiness! I have left many items on top of the dresser for days expecting them to leave a mark when I pick it up, but that has not happened. The spray paint on one of the knobs has worn off , but that's about it.


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  1. This came out amazing!!!! Thanks for posting.

  2. This is a beautiful makeover!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks so much Jessica ! Glad you liked it :)

  3. That's a nice navy paint-not too dark. What brand/shade is it?

    1. Hi Sharon! Thanks for stopping by! It's 'Very Navy' by 'Behr Premium Plus Ultra' ! I should probably include it in the post! :) Hope it helps!

  4. Hi! Now that it's been over a year, how well has the paint held up? Any chipping, peeling or scratching off easily? Any stickiness?

    1. Hey Lana, thanks for your interest! It's actually been 2 years since the project and I am happy to report there's been zero peeling, chipping or stickiness! I have left many items on of the dresser for days expecting them to leave a mark when I pick it up, but that has not happened! Yay! The spray paint on one of the knobs has worn off , but that's about it!

    2. Fantastic! Glad to hear it. I'm planning a similar transformation. Keeping fingers crossed it turns out as good as yours. :)

    3. Can you please write which exact finishing coat you used? Was it Varathane? Or the Minwax Polycrylic? Thanks!

    4. Good luck on your project! I used the Varathane Poly as the final top coat.

  5. This is an excellent demonstration of quality DIY work. I have Hemnes furniture and I'm so tired of the brown. I might do white. Or I might do colors. But it won't be brown any more. Yay!

  6. Hi there!

    Can you tell me the process for the knobs? Did you sand and spray paint? Just spray paint? Did you seal the knobs with poly too? Thank you!

    1. Hi Eliana, I actually just spray painted the knobs without sanding and they chipped after a year. I should probably sand and spray paint again because it's such a heavily used part! Cant't open them without touching the knobs.
      The dresser itself though has held up really well with ZERO chips. Looks as good as the day I painted it!

  7. HI, I wanted to paint them the same black-brown, from wear/usage... would I still need to prime after sanding? Read that there is a similar color from Behr matching the black-brown. thanks..cindy

    1. Hi Cindy.. yes you would still have to sand before priming. The existing black brown is just a stain and you would need to follow the same steps regardless of what color you intend to paint. The sanding and priming is to ensure that the paint sticks to the surface well. Good luck on your project!

  8. Hi Cindy, can you please tell me what sheen was used for the paint and the polyurethane?

    1. Oops I can't recall.. I think it was something similar to eggshell/satin... Not glossy,not matte - somewhere it the middle

  9. Beautiful result! Nice job and Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi! I love the look of the dresser ;) did you apply the poly with a brush or roller?