How Do You Waterproof A Dresser Top?

You can place anything you wish on a dresser top, such as makeup, jewelry, and books. Sometimes, you might inavertedly damage  your dresser top by leaving something wet on it. Fortunately, you can prevent such damage by waterproofing your dresser top. We researched to show you how to do so.

The method for waterproofing your dresser top depends on its material. We shall focus on how to waterproof dresser tops made from wood and metal.

  • After sanding and cleaning wood (hard or soft), you can apply either of the following:
    • Linseed or Tung oil
    • Polyurethane
    • Varnish
    • Lacquer
  • After scraping off rust and lose paint, sanding, and cleaning, you can then apply the following on your metal dresser top:
    • Rust-resistant base coat 
    • Rust-resistant spray paint 

Keep reading as we show you how to waterproof dresser tops made from wood and metal. In addition, if they are not too badly damaged by water, you can use a few tricks to make them look as good as new.


How To Waterproof Your Dresser Top

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Dressers can be made from hardwood, such as walnut, maple, mahogany, oak, and birch, or softwood, such as pine, fir, and cedar. They can also be constructed from metalveneerlaminate, and others. 

In this post, our center of attention will be dressers made from hardwood, softwood, and metal. Below is a discussion on how to waterproof the tops of dressers made from these materials:

Wood (Hard Or Soft)

Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water. Without protection, wood can swell, warp, and even rot, though hardwood is more resistant than softwood. With this in mind, you may want to waterproof your dresser top. 

There are three excellent methods to waterproof your wooden dresser top. 

Use Linseed Or Tung Oil

You can find this linseed oil on Amazon.

Linseed or Tung oil is an excellent choice for waterproofing wood that is darker in color, mainly hardwood. Linseed oil is from the flax plant, while Tung oil is from the Chinese Tung tree. 

These oils not only beautify but also protect the wood. For quicker drying time and to prevent the surface from being sticky, it's best to mix the oils with other ingredients.

A standard mixture would consist of one-part Tung or linseed oil, one-part polyurethane, and one-part mineral spirit. Alternatively, you can buy these oils when they are pre-mixed.

The guide below provides the steps on how to apply linseed or tung oil to wood:

  1. For the oil to penetrate well into the wood, use 120-grit sanding paper to sand the dresser top.
  2. Dust and clean the surface after sanding. You can do this by wiping with a white cloth. You can also use a vacuum with a brush attachment to ensure you have removed all traces of dust.
  3. Use a piece of cloth, roller, or brush to apply the first coat of oil.
  4. Wait 10 to 15 minutes to wipe the surface with a clean cloth. It prevents the surface from being sticky. 
  5. Allow between 12 and 24 hours to dry completely. 
  6. Apply a second coat, and wait between 10 and 15 minutes to wipe the surface with a clean cloth. Allow drying between 12 and 24 hours.
  7. You can apply a third coat and repeat the same wiping procedure, allowing it to dry completely.

You may apply as many coats as possible. However, follow the instructions for the oil you will apply to the wood. 

Check out the video below that gives you an idea of how to apply oil to the wood:

Use Polyurethane

wood treatment epoxy varnish surface restoration

Applying sealants is recommended on wood with a lighter color, mostly softwood. This is because softwood turns yellow with time after applying linseed or Tung oil. You may therefore waterproof your dresser top with any of the following sealants:

Check out this water-based polyurethane on Amazon.

The first option is using polyurethane. There are many types of polyurethane to choose from that are oil or water-based. Hence, it is imperative to consult with your dealer on the best type to use for your dresser top. 

You must first sand and clean the surface when you use oil or water-based polyurethane. Afterward, you can apply using a brush or by spraying.  

Oil-based polyurethane has a rich build; applying only one coat may be enough. However, the curing time takes longer. But, with the water-based types, it's possible not to see any build.

That is why you may have to apply many coats. The good thing is that it takes a shorter time to cure.  

Check out the video below that demonstrates how to apply polyurethane on wood:

Use Varnish

Varnish is another option for waterproofing your dresser top. Start by smoothing and cleaning the surface. Avoid using a varnish that has been in storage for years; use a new tin of varnish that will give you excellent results. Also, pay attention to your brush; the ends should be thick.

Check out these brushes on Amazon for applying varnish.

close varnish dripping paint brush lacquer, How Do You Waterproof A Dresser Top?

To apply, open the tin of varnish and stir with a clean stick, taking care not to form air bubbles. Pour the amount of varnish you need into another plastic container, and add the correct amount of thinner.

Use between 20 to 25 percent of the thinner for the first coat and 5 and 10 percent for subsequent coats. 

To apply, touch lightly using the tip of the brush. For splendid results, apply several thin layers of varnish, and avoid fewer thicker layers. For even better results, use 320-grit sandpaper after applying the first two coats. 

Use Lacquer

Despite lacquer bringing out a rich and warm tone on wood, it can turn yellowish over time. For excellent results, you'll need to add thinner to it. It's also good to note that lacquer releases strong fumes. Therefore, you need to work outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. 

Use Stain-Sealant Combo

You can use a stain-sealant combo if you don't have much time for your task. In addition to waterproofing, you can use it if you want to change the color of your dresser top. You can apply using a brush or roller.


Check out these sanding blocks on Amazon.

Even though metal is a preference for most outdoor furniture, it's also a favorite for indoor furniture, including a dresser.

The drawback with metal is that it rusts when exposed to moisture. To prevent this or to restore your dresser if it is rusty, spray a rust-resistant spray paint. 

Start by using a paint scraper to scrape off rust spots. Follow this with a sanding block to remove more rust and loose paint. Clean with a degreaser by wiping the top with a cloth. Wipe with water and allow to dry. 

Apply a base coat of rust-resistant spray, followed by rust-resistant spray paint. You may use a comfort grip like the one shown below for more control when spraying the paint. Afterward, allow 24 hours for drying. 

Have a look at this comfort grip on Amazon.

Watch the video below to give you an idea of how to waterproof your metal furniture using rust-resistant spray paint:

Can You Fix Damaged Dresser Top?

If your metal or wood dresser top is not too badly damaged by water, you can still fix it!

Wooden Dresser

For a wooden dresser, the following two methods can help:

Drying The Dresser

There are several ways of drying your dresser. You may open the windows and doors and allow the dresser to dry. Alternatively, you can use an electric fan or dehumidifier to remove as much moisture as possible. You can also take it out to dry in the sun. 

After it dries completely, sand it to flatten the top, clean it afterward, and waterproof it using the methods mentioned above. 

Flattening The Wood

You can flatten your dresser's top if the wood absorbs some water. Spray more water on the damaged part. Take your dresser to a place you can turn it upside down.

The dresser top should lie down flat. Add more weight to the dresser and check after 24 hours. Repeat this process if it is not completely flat. 

Metal Dresser

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As earlier mentioned in this post, you need to remove the rust to fix a metal dresser damaged by water. Afterward, smoothen the surface and spray with rust-resistant paint, not forgetting to apply the base coat.

In Closing

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To maintain the beauty of your dresser and ensure it last longers, you need to waterproof it. There are several methods you can use to waterproof a wooden or metal dresser. And, if they are not too damaged by water, you may still have a chance of salvaging them.

Below are more of our posts that you may want to read:

Painting Ikea Malm Dresser

How Much Does A Dressing Table Weigh

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