Painting a dresser indoors
March 10, 2016 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Pinterest and lifestyle blogs have led me to make an ambitious and very misguided decision to buy an unfinished and unpainted dresser for my bedroom. Well, I forgot I am useless at DIY projects and also have no clue on how to paint ANYTHING.

I'm now stuck with this behemoth of a dresser. In a NYC apartment. With a window that opens about 5 inches max. We also do not have access to our building's basement/rooftop so really, no open and/or well-ventilated place for a paint job. Is this something I could accomplish without killing myself with toxic fumes? If yes, how do I go on about it?
posted by theappleonatree to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can use zero VOC paint. Colorhouse is the brand I like. It hardly has an odor at all.
posted by ilovewinter at 7:46 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

You could buy powdered milk paint. Very easy to apply and dries quickly with no fumes or smell. Coat it with a paste wax after a few days.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:55 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's totally normal to paint indoor walls, so as long as you use a paint marked for interior use, you'll be fine. You don't need anything special. If it's bare wood, ask the person in the paint store how to prepare and prime it before painting.
posted by fritley at 8:14 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Low-VOC or no-VOC is what you want to look for on any paint you buy.

I paint things inside all the time. You'll be OK. If you really need to, just get a fan and blow it out the window (even if it only opens 5 inches that will help)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:48 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Behr interior satin latex we bought at Home Depot was their low odor zero VOC one (on the right here.) It barely smelled like anything. We mostly painted our furniture outside but brought some of it inside.

I'm super sensitive to smells and prone to nausea, headaches, and migraines and this paint gave me no issues. Barely smelled at all like anything. No headaches or nausea. Not even a window open.

For furniture, we got some good tips in my last ask. However if this furniture is painted or stained, you'll need to sand it well and you may want to do a primer coat but we used the paint+primer on unfinished wood and it was fine. You'll want to do 2 to 3 coats with a couple hours drying between.

Put down some cardboard then a drop cloth on top (or layers of newspaper and garbage bags.) Put brushes in ziplock bags in between coats. Don't forget paint stir sticks when you get the paint. This looks like a pretty comprehensive tutorial for a dresser including filling dings.

Here's the fruits of our labor.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chalk paint. You don't need to sand, prime, anything. Just slap it on and wax it after if that's an effect you like. Sooo easy and you get a beautiful result. There's lots of examples on Pinterest. Post pics!
posted by Jubey at 9:36 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just paint it with regular latex, water based paint. You're fine.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:52 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's fine, I've done it. Paint is a nice clean smell, just get a low VOC one.

Chalk and milk paints are a good option. But if you want a high-gloss finish, do one coat of primer, and then two coats of latex paint.

Use a roller, a 4" foam rubber one, it won't leave brush strokes. Use a small brush for detail work. Get a huge tarp. Paint goes everywhere.

You can knock this out in an afternoon. Latex paints dry really quickly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:57 AM on March 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A couple of weeks ago, I painted a desk and a side table (wanted them the same color), so I can give you an additional heads-up about painting furniture -something that I learned: I used a latex interior from Sherwin Williams and both pieces ended up somewhat tacky even though they were dry to the touch. I had let them dry for about a week before setting anything down on them. the stickiness is called "blocking".

I am not sure if I did not let it dry enough in between the two coats - could have been, could have been a lower-quality paint from SW (I bought a sample jars that provided a TON of paint and was 1/3 of the cost of a quart of paint). But just wanted to advise you to really, really, really, really make sure you give it plenty of time between coats.

(I actually used someone's suggestion online to evenly spray dry shampoo on the pieces, let dry and then wipe off. It worked, they are not sticking - yay! I was not interested in trying a top coat.)
posted by foxhat10 at 9:18 AM on March 11, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you for all the suggestions! I'll share photos once I'm done.
posted by theappleonatree at 7:09 AM on March 12, 2016

Oh, and as a quick update, the dry shampoo idea was not a great idea if your pieces are really nice and you want them to appear flawless. Mine (painted navy) ended up feeling tacky again and there are some smudges, but I don't care since they are older, garage sale finds that I've had for years. I tried using regular old furniture polish (I actually did this years ago for a table and it coated it perfectly - took away the stickiness) and so far so good with the polish. But like I said, I'm not too concerned about how flawless they look. fingers crossed that the polish works!

Good luck!
posted by foxhat10 at 12:01 PM on April 6, 2016

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