How to Refurbish a Dressing Table

Updated February 21, 2017

Refinishing an old or used dressing table isn't hard!. Whether it is in need of a complete makeover or if it has just a few scratches and needs a little TLC and some touching up, the project is easy and can be done by anyone. With a little patience and the right creativity and skills, the job can be done in just a few days. So wait no longer--refurbish your dingy bedroom dressing table into a stunning masterpiece.

Find a space where you can sand and stain without worrying about spills and dust. An unfinished basement with large windows and a cement floor works, as does a garage if the weather permits (the ideal temperature is about 18.3 degrees C). The area needs to be well ventilated.

Place the dressing table onto an old sheet or painters plastic. Remove all hardware, such as knobs, from the drawers. Remove the drawers and place them in an area where they can be stood up.

Fill in cracks and chips with wood putty that matches the colour of your stain. Allow it to dry completely.

Tighten the legs if necessary. Add wood glue to any parts that need to be secured, such as drawer faces that are coming loose.

Using the palm sander and 150 grit sandpaper, sand the dressing table, always going in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Focus around the dried wood putty, making sure that it is even with the dressing table. However, do not press the sander into the wood or you will cause sander marks. Just sand lightly.

Sand until the wood feels rough and the shine is gone. This means the top coat has been removed by the sander and that your wood will now accept stain. If you are staining your dressing table the exact same colour as it was before, the old stain does not need to totally be gone, just the top coat. If you are using a different colour of stain, the old colour must be completely removed. This can be done by sanding it totally off or you can buy a stain stripper. You can purchase stain strippers at your local hardware store or at any paint store. Use them according to packaging directions, as each brand differs a little.

Wipe clean with a tack cloth after sanding is complete. Be thorough because you do not want to stain over dust particles left behind.

Wipe stain over the dressing table, using a three-inch foam brush, going in the direction of the grain. Wipe the stain off with an old white T-shirt. If you desire a darker look, let the stain sit for five minutes and then quickly wipe off. Allow the stain to dry for 24 hours.

Over the top of the dried stain, wipe a thin coat of polyurethane using a three-inch brush. Always go in the direction of the grain. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Using a buffing pad, buff the dressing table, always going in the direction of the grain. Wipe off dust caused from the buffing using a tack cloth. Apply one more coat of polyurethane. Dry for 24 hours.

Buff once again and wipe clean with tack cloth. Using a damp cloth, wipe the dressing table clean. Replace the knobs back onto the drawer faces and put the drawers back into the dresser.


If you want the exact same colour as before, take a drawer into a paint speciality store and they can custom match your stain colour exact. If the dressing table is an antique, you may want to consider having it professionally stripped.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood glue
  • Woody putty - colour to match
  • Palm sander
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • Oil or latex-based stain
  • Oil or latex-based polyurethane
  • 2- and 3-inch foam brushes
  • Old white T-shirt
  • Buff pad
  • Tack cloth
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About the Author

Kelly Nuttall is a student at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. She is set to graduate in the spring of 2011 with her bachelor's degree in technical communications. She has been writing for various websites since March of 2009.