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Painting a Dresser with KILZ® Primer and Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® Paint

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Today’s DIY project is brought to you by Monica learning a lesson the hard way. I bought this beautiful dresser for $10 late last summer, and I jumped right into painting it. Today, we are going to paint this dresser a gorgeous black color.

Want to learn about the BEST black paint color for furniture?

Tricorn Black Painted Chest

Given my plans at the time were to use it in the dining room to store a few things, I skipped right over the priming step because I was overly eager to get to the finished point so I could marvel at its beauty.

And the color was beautiful…but I literally RUINED the piece the second I put something on the top of the dresser. I staged the dresser to perfection for her big Instagram debut, and then I moved a picture frame and the paint peeled right off.

That kept happening over and over every time I moved something from the top of the dresser. Eventually I got so fed up, I tried to patch up the peeling areas with more paint (spoiler alert: didn’t work), threw a tray over it to cover the issues and banished it to the guest room.

Why Priming is Important

Priming furniture is important because it accomplishes several things that will impact the finish and longevity of the furniture you’re painting.

First of all, it helps create a new, fresh canvas for paint to stick to resulting in you needing fewer coats of paint to achieve an opaque finish.

It also helps seal the old finish and color so you don’t have any issues with the old finishes seeping through.

The best part is that it is water-based so clean up is a breeze and it is also fast-drying. Basically, there’s no reason not to use primer.

I used KILZ 2® All-Purpose Primer which is a great option for most interior and exterior projects involving walls or furniture. There are also specific KILZ® Primers that help with odors or are useful for priming over dark colors when you want to transition to a lighter paint color.

Now I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to transform this blue dresser to a luxurious black finish. I chose to use paint from the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® line. The color is Chalkboard, and I chose a satin finish because I wanted the richness of the color to look matte and not have a glossy sheen. 

Best Primer for HVLP Sprayer: KILZ 2 Primer

How to Paint a Dresser

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $50

Before starting any furniture painting project, make sure your piece of furniture is clean and free of any dust, cobwebs, etc. Remove and hardware and put in a sandwich bag for safe keeping while you paint.

Try to work in a well ventilated area so you have ample space to paint.

NOTE: You can also use a paint sprayer to do these steps. They’d be exactly the same minus the steps that call for using a foam roller/paint brush. Follow the manufacturer's directions for thinning the paint for your respective paint sprayer.


  • KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer
  • Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Paint
  • Medium Grit Sanding Block (80 grit)
  • Fine Grit Sanding Block (220 grit)
  • Tack Cloth
  • 4-6 Inch High Density Foam Roller + Frame
  • 2-Inch High Quality Trim/Flat Paint Brush
  • Newspaper
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Tarp or dropcloth for your floor
  • Paint Tray + Liners
  • Paint Respirator/Mask


    1. Remove the drawers so you can work on them individually. Use newspaper, old wrapping paper or furniture wrap to protect the interior of the drawers and sides so you do not get any paint on them. Secure the newspaper with painter’s tape. This step is crucial to having a professional look by not getting paint all over the drawers and allowing you to focus on the drawer fronts. I also chose to protect the gold gilded areas with painter’s tape so I wouldn’t ruin those. Basically, if you don’t want to get paint on a certain area, mask or protect it somehow.
    2. Put on your paint mask/respirator. Using your medium grit sanding block, sand your dresser and drawer fronts. Pay special attention to any areas that are uneven. You want to have a smooth surface for your primer and paint. 
    3. Use a tack cloth to remove any sanding dust created from your furniture. A shop vacuum also helps get rid of any dust on your work surface or floor that can get onto your dresser and into the paint finish.
    4. Pour some KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer into a paint tray. Use your foam roller to add a thin coat of primer to all surfaces you plan to paint. Using a paint brush may be easier for tight corners or the inner edges of the drawer fronts. Remember, you do not need an opaque (solid white) coat of primer, but you do want to make sure you’ve primed all areas well. Wait an hour before moving forward. KILZ 2 Primer in HVLP Spray Gun on Dresser
    5. Before moving on to using paint, make sure you don’t have any drips from the primer. If so, use a fine grit sanding block followed by the tack cloth to keep the surface smooth.
    6. Once the primer is fully dry, pour some Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines paint into another paint tray. Use your foam roller to add a thin coat of paint to your dresser and drawer fronts. Again, use a paint brush when needed. I recommend rolling in one direction to avoid roller marks and keep a wet edge as you move across your piece. Keep an eye out for any drips on edges caused by excess paint coming off the roller. Black painted dresser
    7. You’ll want to do 2-3 light coats to get a solid/opaque finish. Wait two hours between coats to allow the paint to level and dry. If you notice any drips after the coat has dried, lightly sand and use the tack cloth before moving on to the next coat.
    8. Double-check there aren’t any areas missing paint. Definitely check those forgotten areas such as the bottom and side edges of drawer fronts as well as under the top lip and bottom edges of the dresser. 
    9. At this point you can remove any painter's tape and newspaper from your project.Remember to clean up your brushes, rollers and/or paint sprayer.
    10. Allow your furniture piece to dry and cure for 48-72 hours (or longer- I waited five days) before adding hardware, inserting the drawers and putting anything on the top.

I am so thrilled with the flawless finish I got on this piece of furniture. The deep chalkboard color speaks to my French loving heart, especially when paired with those gilded accents. I could totally see this piece in a Parisian apartment.

Both the KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer and the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines paint were very easy to work with.

Even though this is a DIY project anyone can do, trust me YOU CAN DO THIS, more importantly it won’t look like an amateur DIY project because of how smooth, durable and beautiful the finish will be if you follow these steps. I’m all about my furniture and home projects looking high-end.

Next time you have a project that involves painting furniture, come back to this tutorial and follow the steps. KILZ has all the primer and painting supplies you need to transform furniture or create stunning accent walls in any color you can imagine.

What project do you have in mind using KILZ® Brand products? 

Rebecca Thomas

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Love it! Amazing transformation! :)


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

I really liked the blue, but this black!!! It's totally elegant and looks fabulous!! I have an antique piece and now i want to paint it black! You're such an inspiration


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

If I'm being honest I was so sad at first to see the previous color go! But the more I look at the dresser the more I LOVE it! ❤❤❤


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

It’s always so tempting to skip the priming step, but it is so worth the extra time and work! I needed this for my next project!


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Beautiful job . I love the black with the gold . So glad to have directions as well . I have a tablet I want to DIY right now. I cannot wait !

As always , the end project is perfection!

Thanks for all your great guidance !

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