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Dresser makeover: How to paint plaid

I would like to start by making something very clear: Flannels are life!

I have always loved flannel, but after 15 years married to a Maine lover it has taken over my life. Flannel runs deep in our family and I picked one of my several flannel shirts to draw inspiration for this dresser makeover.

Before you get overwhelmed thinking that painting plaid is too much work, I will share my mindset before I start any furniture makeover: If I love an idea, I just run with it. I go 110% every single time, regardless of how hard it might seem, because I know the end result will be worth it.

I understand painting plaid on furniture can be a big commitment. After all, there are plenty of people out there who think plaid is only for the holidays (It is not in my opinion, I love plaid in every season). But if you want to add the flannel look to your home without going overboard you can alway add plaid details to home decor, charcuterie boards, door signs and so much more. I am telling you, there is no such thing as too much plaid!

So whether you are a plaid lover or timidly introducing it to your lifestyle, read on so you can learn how to paint plaid in furniture.

Supply List

* This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase from one of these links, I could make a commission at no charge to you.

  1. Hardware

  2. Glue Bottle Syringe

  3. 2″ Tape

  4. 1″ Tape

  5. Drywall T

Tool List

  1. Power Drill

  2. Cabinet Hardware Jig

  3. Wood Clamps

  4. Tape Measurer

  5. Speed Square

  6. Starter Sander

  7. Surf Prep Sanding Kit (Use coupon code BELLARENOVARE10)

Prepping for an amazing dresser makeover

I bought a cheap dresser off Facebook Marketplace. I looked for a simple dresser with a flat front that will make tracing the lines and putting the tape on easier.

The veneer on the drawers was loose and needed to be glued. I used a small bottle with a needle tip to put wood glue behind the loose veneer. Put as much wood glue as you want, you can never have too much.

Then I used my wood clamps to brace a thin piece of plywood over the veneer. The plywood helped apply pressure evenly on the entire veneer versus only on the spots where the clamps were.

When I was done with all my repairs I cleaned the entire dresser with White Lighting and then removed any residual cleaner with water and a clean rag. Do not forget to pull out the drawer to also clean the inside of the dresser.

Painting a tartan plaid pattern.

I have painted buffalo check before but never tartan plaid. I usually do not practice my painting techniques before starting a dresser makeover, but being my first time with this particular pattern, I practiced on a piece of board how to lay the different colors to perfectly match my shirt.

Happy with my test run I started with the base color for the dresser. I applied two coats of Palmetto which is a deep forest green. 

After my base color was dry I used the pattern of my shirt as a guide and started measuring and marking the spots where I needed to trace the lines that will define my stripes. I used a Drywall T square to make sure all of my lines were straight. Then I started placing my painters tape.

Friends, I do not want to lie to you. This transformation went very slow because it included a lot of measuring and tracing lines. In summary, you measure, trace the lines, put your tape, paint your stripes, remove the tape and repeat the process for each set of stripes.

Because the process is hard to put into words, I want to share with you the video tutorial. My recommendation would be to pause the video after each step, so you can repeat in your piece what you just learned in the video.

But before sharing the video tutorial I want to share a few tips that will help you to get better results

Pro tips for painting plaid

  1. I did not use primer for this dresser. I only use primer when I paint in light colors. Therefore if you would like a light color for the base, such as white, I suggest you prime the piece before painting it. The primer will prevent bleed through that would be noticeable in a light color.

  2. You will need between 1-2 rolls of painter tape of each width. You could reuse some of the tape but you want to have plenty on hand just in case it gets damaged when you are removing it.

  3. Lay the piece flat on the floor. This helped to have more control over the Drywall T- square and place the tape easier.

  4. This piece takes patience. You can remove the tape as soon as you are done painting the stripes you are working on, but do not start the next layer until the paint is fully dry or you will end up with a blended mess.

  5. For crisp lines seal the tape with Satin Clear Coat. I explained this part of the process in detail in one of my previous blogs. The Satin Clear Coat will keep the paint from bleeding under your tape.

  6. I wanted to create a faded look for this dresser. For that reason I used a dry brush technique when I painted the different stripes. If you prefer a pattern with more solid stripes, apply two coats of each color.

  7. After you put the tape it can get confusing which side of the tape you are supposed to paint. Draw lines in your tape that points where you need to add paint.


Step by step video tutorial

With these tips out of the way, here is the full video tutorial on how to paint a plaid pattern.



I mean, look at this bad boy! I will let the plaid speak for itself.

Dresser makeover. How to paint plaid.

See you next time and happy creating!

CrysDawna BellaRenovare Furniture Artist

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