Monday, November 6, 2017

Nautical Dresser with Stained Faux Wood

Let me say, this is my favorite piece of all the furniture I've redone. It looks nothing like it used to. I tossed around a few ideas on how to paint this dresser for my son's newly designed bedroom. Once I formulated a color plan, I wondered to myself, "just how am I going to pull this off?" 

So you can see what my dilemma was, here is the before picture: 

Pretty dated, girly and 100% fake wood. But, what caught my eye was the shape of the two top drawers. Reminds me of ocean waves and we are going nautical aren't we? But, how in the world am I going to make this "wood" stain nice and dark? Maybe just paint it dark brown? Well, painting it dark brown was my Plan B....only if I had to! It is supposed to be nautical and nautical has to look like wood! This dresser was made mostly of MDF, plywood and laminate, which seems to be standard for today's furniture quality.

The top of the dresser and the two "wooden" strips, all had a faux wood pattern and mimicked something similar to pine or oak. The color is way too light and 80s looking for my taste. I couldn't sand it down and stain it. If I sanded the laminate down, not only would I lose the wood pattern, I'd be left with the MDF underneath and we certainly can't stain that! I couldn't apply a paint primer first as I did with my daughter's dresser, or once again I'd lose the faux wood pattern. I searched for tutorials online and found a bunch of nothing. 

So, I did what any of us crafty women would do, wing it!

Just because I wanted to see if it'd work, I took some of my Minwax Polyshades I had on hand and use a foam brush to apply the stain directly to the laminate part of the dresser. (I did do a light sanding by hand with 120 grit just to give the polyshade something to stick to). I was hoping you would still be able to see the "wood pattern", yet be darker. Since this has polyurethane already in it, you wouldn't wipe away excess stain, as you would when using a stain on real wood. As you can see below, with each application the stain gets darker and you can still see a wood pattern. The color I used was Honey Satin. 

When you're applying polyurethane, be sure to lightly sand in between dried applications with a fine steel wool pad so your surface is smooth. 

I applied about 3 coats of Minwax Polyshades, then removed my painters tape and started work on the base of the dresser. I used the same gray I painted the bedroom walls with and made a chalk paint out of it. Here is my tutorial on how to make your own chalk paint and it's application. The gray chalk paint and dark wood colors really compliment each other. However, will the polyshade stain hold up to a 10 year old boy when it wasn't primered, but applied directly to a smooth laminate surface? Read on to see what I discovered...

Now for the drawers! This is where I wanted to add the navy blue that is used already on the desk and also on the headboard we had custom built to match this room. Once again I made my own chalk paint with the navy blue and applied to all six drawers. 

I applied 2 coats of Minwax Finishing Paste to the drawers and base of dresser. As I was maneuvering in my tiny work space I just barely tapped a drawer to the top of the dresser on accident and watched in horror as the polyshade easily scrapped off. You can imagine my vocabulary. 

I made repairs to the scrape, allowed it to dry, lightly sanded with the steel wool pad again and then applied a clear coat of polyurethane to the entire top surface. Polyurethane is one of the best top coat protections for high traffic surfaces however, I was obviously concerned that this would not be enough. It occurred to me that a wax coat could possibly aid in protecting since it dries as a smooth surface and is supposed to help protect against abrasions. 

I used Minwax Finishing Paste again, following the directions on the can. I applied 2 layers of wax to the top of the dresser and also on the two trim pieces. Minwax dries fairly quickly, but I waited an entire day before applying the 2nd coat. I feel more secure knowing I have both polyurethane and wax on the top of the dresser. So, far I have had no issues with the top coat not holding up.

As an added measure, it may be worth your while to reapply the wax every year. When I first began using chalk paint and wax, I had no idea that wax required maintenance. While, it provides a beautiful sheen to your matte finish, which is the whole point of chalk paint, it is not the most durable. You decide what is best for you depending on how you want the finish to look and if your piece will have light or heavy use. 

My two finishing touches were to apply sailboat silhouettes (which are vinyl decals) and step up the look with DIY Nautical Knobs. I could not be happier with this updated dresser!


  1. Nice job. I pinnned it to my board on pinterest with over 11,000 following.
    Hope you get some traffic from it. Very nice .

  2. Thanks Greg!!! Much appreciated! I love your boards!