Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ikea Dresser Hack: How to stain IKEA furniture

I searched for a long time for a vintage dresser for Rad's nursery. 

 My list of needs for the dresser included that it would have a lot of storage and that it could act as a changing table.

And my list of wants included that it be stained and had clean lines. 

Oh and did I mention affordable?

So I scoured Craigslist and local auctions for weeks but kept coming up with nothing. 

Nada bing nada boom.

So then I started looking for a new dresser that I could customize and I found this one from IKEA

IKEA Tarva $149

It fit my criteria for dimensions, storage, and price but I was pretty worried about getting a good even finish on it. IKEA furniture is primarily made from pine, a soft wood and soft woods can be finicky about taking an even coat of stain.

So I did some research and decided to go with Minwax Gel Stain in Hickory.

Minwax Gel Stain is designed to give full control over the staining process. Its formula is non-drip 
which makes application super easy to get uniform color even on hard to stain woods, like IKEA pine.

And the results were GREAT so here's a tutorial and some tips. :)

Step 1: Clean and prep the surface

Since the wood on the dresser was already unfinished, I didn't bother to rough it up or sand it, I just made sure all surfaces were clean and dust free before I started applying the stain.

The directions on the can say to prep with wood conditioner (you can also just use a damp cloth as well) but we skipped that step and the results were even and we had no problems with splotching. 

Step 2: Mix your stain

Minwax gel stain is similar to pudding, so make sure you mix it really well before you start. It should look kind of melted chocolate when it's throughly mixed. 

Step 3: Wear gloves and apply with a lint free cloth. 

Gel stain is some sticky stuff and at first we didn't wear gloves and our hands ended up looking something like this. 


Step 4: Start applying the stain in the hard to reach areas and work your way outward.  

Trust me on this one – if the underside is hard to reach, it will be even harder to reach when the rest of the project is covered in wet stain!

Step 5: Apply liberally and wipe the stain with the grain. 

We found it best to wipe the stain thoroughly so that we left very little excess behind and then re-coat  We did 2 coats total.  

Step 6: Let it dry.

It took about 12 hours for the gel stain to completely cure. We sealed it with Minwax Wipe on Poly in Satin.

Step 7: Customize!!

I debated between 2 designs (you can read more about the choice HERE) and settled on simple lines framing the drawers.

I used Scotch Blue Tape with Edge Lock to tape off my lines.

Here's a little trick I use when taping off anything with a 90 degree angle.

I start by taping off each side of the box/rectangle/whatever with the desired thickness and spacing.

PS (these picture are a little blury, but you'll get the idea. Sorry!)

It looks something like this.

The problem with the above pictures and tape is that parts of the lines of the rectangle are blocked off by the tape. 

Which means once you peel the tape off you need to go back and retape the parts that didn't get painted. 

Annoying right?

So here's what I do.

Nice right?!

Knobs from Anthropolgie.

For more of Rad's Nursery click HERE.

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  1. it looks amazing! i love the color/finish combo!
    fyi your header pic is not showing up.

  2. Love, love, LOVE it!!! That one will grow with him!

  3. Amazing it is for a dresser,The renovation and the design is great! I will definitely keep this kind of furniture for home.

  4. Amazing work. Nice renovation of the dressing table. There is a huge collection of furniture in Contemporary Furniture Fort Lauderdale with affordable prices.

  5. IKEA Tarva dressing table looks real amazing and fabulous, with the staining it looks more fabulous. A perfect furniture piece.
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  6. How much stain did you need to complete the dresser?

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  8. Great tips. Reminds me that I need to give my teak outdoor furniture a fresh coating!

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  28. Hello! Your nursery is lovely, and I'm so impressed with your DIYs! I'm currently on the hunt for a dresser for my son's room, and I want one that fits a changing pad. My changing pad (and seemingly every other one I've seen) is 16.5," and on the ikea website it says the Tarva dresser depth is 15 3/8." So my question is, did you find a smaller changing pad, or does the normal one just somehow fit on the tarva? Thanks!

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