Furniture Flipping…the how to!

When I started out painting and “ReJennaRating” old furniture, it seemed like I could find cheap stuff all day everyday and never run out. Now, that’s not so much the case. People have caught on and even many of my friends are doing the same thing. While it might seem like an increase in competition, it really makes me glad.

I love it when people are resourceful…when they use what they already have…or buy something inexpensively and transform it to function in their home or someone elses. Plus, the old stuff is no longer heading the the landfill…one man’s trash really does becomes another man’s treasure.

That being said, I don’t think furniture flipping is for everyone. Take my sister for example. She has come over on multiple occasions to borrow paint and attempt to refurbish a few things. There was a large picture frame, some old window panes, and even two arm chairs. At the time I had quite a few other projects to work on so I let her go ahead and paint her own stuff. She ended up painting each item about 4 or 5 times because she couldn’t decide on a color and she complained the entire time. FAIL. Chere’….just do us all a favor and take yourself to Pottery Barn to buy something new. 🙂

That being said…if you do enjoy painting, if you are a little handy, and if you love making old things new – you should definitely give furniture flipping a try.

Here is a quick tutorial on a typical dresser that I like to redo.

My husband picked this up for me at Salvation Army. It’s solid wood with dovetail drawers (which is usually a criteria for me.)


1, Remove the hardware (Sometimes the old hardware is unique and can be salvaged…but not in this case)

2. Wood fill the existing hardware holes (Skip this step if you are using the original hardware. Also, if there are just single holes and you are putting new single knobs back on, you also do not have to do this. If you are replacing (two-hole) pulls with new ones, it is usually hard to find drawer pulls that you like in the exact same length.)



3. Put on a mask & rough sand the entire piece – I use a rotary sander and it saves me tons of time! It doesn’t have to be perfect, but some sanding will help give it some “tooth” and hang on to your paint. If you did wood fill, do it again and sand them again.


4. Thoroughly clean off all of the sawdust and dirt. You can use TSP or denatured alcohol. Wear gloves and make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area!


5. Put your piece on a drop cloth (unless you’re going for a new look on your floors) and place blocks under each corner or leg of the piece. This prevents it from sticking to the cloth and allows you to paint the bottom of the piece thoroughly.


6. Prime! As a general rule of thumb, I almost always use bonding primer. It’s designed to create a surface that the paint will definitely stick to. You can even use it on laminate furniture or glossy surfaces. It’s the reason why you don’t need to sand the piece down to the grain and ensures that your paint will stick.


7. Pick a color & start painting! Take your time and be thorough…you don’t want drip marks to ruin all of that hard work. I usually start with the top of the piece (sides first) and do long strokes. Unless you are spray painting the furniture, it’s the best way to avoid choppy brush marks. It depends on the type of paint you are using and the type of finish you are going for but it should take about 2 coats on average. (For example, if you are going to be distressing the piece, you don’t need full coverage.) You can see some of my favorite paint colors here.


8. When your final coat has had ample time to dry, you can reattach the hardware. This is easy if you are just replacing the original…or this can be where it gets complicated. In my case, this is when I call in the hubs. He has lots of lasers and drills so I let him attach my new hardware. (Hobby Lobby is a great inexpensive option for fun and unique hardware.)


9. Last step – Protect your finish! If you did all of the other steps, including the bonding primer, the paint should definitely stick. However…you don’t want the objects placed on top to scratch it. So, I like to use Minwax Finishing Paste. I personally think it’s just as good as polyurethane but it doesn’t look like you have coated it at all. Also, if you’re doing a white piece it won’t yellow over time. And again, don’t forget to wear your gloves! Apply it with a rag then come back about 10 minutes later and buff it out in long strokes.


That’s it, you’re done! It can be a lot of work but it’s so worth it when you put it somewhere special in your home. You have something new and you have the satisfaction of flipping an old piece into a masterpiece!


Posted in Projects.


  1. Jenna, I love it. I prefer wood tone. It’s probably old fashion but I am. I refinished a desk that was my Uncle Johnny’s desk in his workshop,. It was a mess, but like you said, it was real wood. I stripped it, sanded, bleached some stains, used steel wool, and then stained it and varnished it. It is beautiful. Then, my husband, james found an old desk chair that matches the desk. It was in pieces. With a little glue, James got it ready for me to strip it, sand it, stain it and varnish. It has new brass wheels. It matches my desk just fine. I would not have been able to buy a set like that.
    Miss you two,
    Aunt Joyce ( the other Aunt Joyce)

  2. I’m working up the courage to re do my old dresser when I move. I can’t decide on color, so I think I might go black, similar to the piece in the background of one of your pics above. Thanks for the instructions!

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