How Much Paint Do You Need For a Dresser?

When repainting furniture, choosing the paint type and paint color are key considerations. But beyond the stylistic considerations, it’s important to consider how much paint you will need for your project. 

After all, if you purchase too much paint, you may have a bit of excess paint, but not enough for a second piece of furniture. If you purchase too little, obviously you won’t be able to finish painting your dresser.

In this post, we’ll help you answer the question, “How much paint do I need for a dresser?” and give you key tips for buying paint for furniture in general. 


A standard-sized wood dresser requires around a quart of paint (assuming you will be applying two coats of paint on your furniture). However, you may need more or less depending on the dimensions of the furniture.

dresser chart

How much paint for a dresser?

Typically, a quart of paint can cover up to 100 square feet, enough to put two coats of paint on a standard-size dresser (approximately 40 x 24 x 30 in/ 101.6 x 60.9 x 76.2 cm).

However, note that different factors may affect how much paint you need to completely cover a dresser.

For starters, obviously, the size of your dresser will determine how much paint you need. And to determine how much paint you should purchase for your furniture, take the surface area of your dresser. Measure the length, width, and height of your furniture in inches. Next, plug the measurements into this formula to find the total square inches: (2x length + 2x width + 2x height). Once you make the calculation, convert the total square inches into square feet to find the square footage of your piece.

As a reminder, you will need two coats of paint for maximum durability. That said, multiply the total square footage of your piece by 2. This way you will know how much paint you will need for both coats. 

Other factors that will affect how much paint you need to cover your dresser include:

  • Dresser material: The material will also determine how much you will need. For example, porous surfaces like untreated wood and manufactured wood generally need more paint since they absorb more than non-porous surfaces like metals and plastic.
  • Paint color: The lighter the color of paint you will use, the more coats are needed to prevent bleed-through from the underlying surface. Painting dark wood a lighter color may warrant more than two coats of paint if you aren’t using primer. However, using primer is important for conversing paint, among other reasons.
  • Paint type: The paint type has a big impact on how much paint is needed. Some paints have better coverage than others, meaning that some paints can spread across a larger area than others, all else being equal. For instance, chalk paint has better coverage than regular latex paint. 

Related: Acrylic Paint vs Latex Paint for Furniture

How much chalk paint do I need for a dresser?

A quart of chalk paint will also be more than enough to cover a standard-sized dresser (approximately 40 x 24 x 30 in/ 101.6 x 60.9 x 76.2 cm). That said, for most small and medium-sized dressers, a quart should do the trick. 

Chalk paint generally has better coverage than regular latex paint. For reference, Valspar latex paint covered 400 square feet per gallon. Country Chic chalk paint covers 480 square feet per gallon. When comparing these two brands, chalk paint covers 20% more than regular latex paint. 

Keep in mind that you can regularly spray your dresser with water as you apply chalk paint to thin the paint out. Doing so can help you spread the paint out more than you otherwise could. It really helps you get the most out of your chalk paint. 

How much spray paint do I need for a dresser?

One quart of paint is equal to a 32 oz spray paint can. However, they don’t offer the same amount of coverage because spray paints have different viscosity (consistency) and dry film thickness (the number of coats required for maximum opacity of the finish).

Generally, 32 oz of spray paint can cover about 60 sq. ft. One can is only enough for one coat of paint for the standard dresser. Two coats is generally best for the fullest color and maximum durability, however, you might be satisfied with the outcome after just one coat with spray paint. 

Related: Does Rubbing Alcohol Remove Paint? Only by Doing This

How many coats of paint do you need for a dresser?

A typical wood dresser will need two coats of paint for the fullest color. Putting the opacity of the color aside, it’s also important to use two coats of paint so that the paint job is as durable as it can be. With just one coat, the paint can rub off much more easily.

Additionally applying a second coat helps to further smooth out any knicks, dents, or scratches that may still be showing after the first coat. 

The importance of using primer before painting

Generally speaking, you should use primer on your furniture before applying paint. Primer is a surefire way to prevent the natural wood color of a dresser from bleeding through your paint. When painting dark woods a light color it’s particularly important to use primer. Otherwise, it could potentially take three or four coats for the light-colored paint to sufficiently cover the dark wood.

Dark woods such as oak and mahogany are also rich in tannins, which are essentially acids found in tree sap embedded in the wood. Tannins can bleed through your paint coats unless you have treated the wood with stain-blocking primer first. Tannin stains are particularly noticeable on light paints. There is nothing more ugly than yellow stains bleeding through white paint.

A coat of primer also helps the paint adhere strongly to your dresser. Good paint adhesion makes your paint job much more durable than it otherwise would be. 

Tips for buying paint for furniture

Consider the following before buying paint for your dresser: 

  • Check the label: Paint labels include how much surface the can of paint can cover in total. Naturally, the label helps you decide how much paint you need to use if you already know the dimensions of your furniture. Moreover, the label may also tell you if you’re getting the right paint for your type of furniture.
  • Try a paint calculator: Some hardware stores have paint calculators. So, if you’re unsure about your calculations, you can also ask for help with your project. Similarly, some paint brands have their own paint calculators online, so you may want to visit their websites before buying paint.
  • Consider Oops paint: Oops paint is essentially paint that has been mixed in the incorrect colors at big box hardware stores. Home Depot created the term “Oops paint”. Lowes’s version of this concept is “discount paint”. This paint is sold at deep discounts and it’s perfectly good quality as well. 
  • Consider the sheen: Most furniture paint such as chalk paint and mineral paint, have matte sheens. Often, this is the look DIY enthusiasts want to achieve. However, you certainly can go with a glossy sheen paint as well. Regardless, this is an important detail to consider before purchasing your paint. 

It also pays to get the right materials for your project. For example, get a high-quality brush or foam roller for easier application.



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