How to Put a Stain Over a Black Painted Dresser

If you have a dresser you love the style of but are not wild about the color, consider staining the piece. If the dresser is painted black, the process is a bit more involved than simply staining over the wood. Instead, you need to work toward removing the black color to expose the wood color below, then apply a new layer of finish. While this is not particularly complicated, it is somewhat time-consuming.

Removing the black paint from furniture to add stain can be hard work.

Step 1

Prepare your work area. Work in a well-ventilated space or outdoors if possible. Cover the flooring with newspaper or plastic sheeting.

Step 2

Remove the drawers from the dresser.

Step 3

Spray the surface of the dresser with chemical paint stripper in a thick even coat. Follow this by spraying the dresser drawers. Allow the stripper to sit for at least 20 to 30 minutes. During this period, the black paint should start to pull away from the surface of the piece.

Step 4

Gently scrape the dresser with a plastic spatula. If the paint does not come up easily, spray the dresser with more stripper and let the stripper sit before continuing. Repeat the stripper application and paint scraping until all of the black paint is removed.

Step 5

Wipe the dresser surface with a clean, wet rag. Allow the dresser to dry before continuing.

Step 6

Sand the surface of the dresser with a palm sander. Follow the grain of the wood, gently working over the surface for a smooth, even finish. Sanding scrapes away remaining paint and prepares the piece for a new coat of stain.

Step 7

Wipe the dresser down with tack cloth.

Step 8

Apply the stain directly on the dresser with a paintbrush. Use thin coats of stain to cover the dresser evenly, catching any drips as you go. Always follow the direction of the wood grain for a professional-quality finish free of brush strokes.

Step 9

Repeat as needed with more stain until you have reached your desired color saturation. If the stain you use does not have a polyurethane finish, follow the stain with a layer of clear sealant to protect the finish of the wood.


  • Do not scrape the paint away so hard that you cause dips or gouges in the wood.
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