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Furniture Makeover: One Solution For Stain Bleed Through On Painted Dresser

Stain bleed through on my painted dresser called for changing the paint color. That was the easiest solution and the dresser couldn’t be prettier.

When the original stain bleeds through a coat of primer on furniture you brush on another coat of primer. What if that doesn’t work? I’ll show you what I did ………and today is Furniture Fixer Upper Tour day so be sure and take the tour.

white washed coral paint coastal theme furntiure

When it comes to furniture I’m a leg(or feet) gal. This chest of drawers was in pretty rough shape but look at the legs! When it comes to furniture legs those are one of a kind. There’s a shop in Clarksville that carries mostly used furniture. I don’t stop in very often because I get most of my pieces at the Nashville Flea Market or at My Favorite Junk Shop.

The furniture shop is in the same shopping area as one of my booths so I stopped in the other day. That’s where I found this piece. It was facing me at the end of a long aisle of furniture. I spotted the legs and that was it. I looked the chest over and after seeing the disastrous shape it was in I left the store. It was $40….but still…all the work required to redo it. Well, as you probably figured out I went back.

furniture manufacturer information

I’m really confused about where the chest was made and its age of it. The paper on the back has all kinds of info but I couldn’t find any of it on the internet no matter what I typed into Google search. I did find out that Munchen is Munich.

The chest doesn’t look like any of the images of German furniture that came up in my search. There is a tiny stamped date that says Nov. 1951. I thought the piece was older than that but maybe not.

damaged furniture

There are all sorts of issues, like missing veneer….and wood…….crackled stain.

Antique Chest of Drawers Possibly Germany Made

A previous owner glued laminate to the top. Who would do that?/

spray painted areas

Spray-painted areas. Why use spray paint?

veneer issues

More spray-painted areas and sad-looking veneer. The piece was pretty dirty too.

ready to paint

I tried sanding the veneer and it didn’t really help. That’s when I decided to just go with paint.

rough stuff

I primed first with Glidden Gripper primer. Can you see all that pinkish bleed through? I always feltbleed-through was caused by the original stained finish but when this happened I started doing research.


Bleed-through is actually caused by substances in the wood called tannins. Tannins are various acidic chemicals in wood sap. You see in the photo above that the bleed-through is coming from the raw wood areas…..not the stained areas. Learn something new every day.

wood color bleeding through paint and primer

I applied a second coat of primer and still got this. That was so unusual. Most of the time primer will cover the bleed through even if it takes a second coat.

Rose Heartstring paint color

Now, what to do? I couldn’t just keep applying primer and hoping the next coat would do the trick. I thought about sanding the primer and furniture surface down to raw wood but that’s a chore.

The problem was easy to solve. Go with pinkish paint….tadah! I used the paint on the left…Rose Heartstring (Glidden color mixed in Behr paint) on a custom nursery piece and the color is beautiful. I didn’t have much of it left though so I pulled the sample on the right from my stash as a backup.

Rose Heartstring paint color for furniture

I brushed on a couple of coats of paint. If there was bleed-thru it wasn’t noticeable.

white washed coral paint for coastal style decor Petticoat Junktion 1

This is the part at the end where you might go “really Kathy” because I didn’t get any photos of the white-washing. But I can tell you about it. Just mix a little white paint, doesn’t matter what kind, with water. Make it really, really thin.

Brush it on, yes it’s going to be really runny. Then wipe it off with a rag. If it’s too white wipe it off with a damp rag. If it’s too light then go over it again or mix a little more white paint in the water. It doesn’t take much at all. Then just let it dry. The trick to whitewashing is to not overdo the wash. Keep a damp rag handy to wipe off excess color.

The Rose Heartstring is a little pinkish/coral and the white wash made it more of a coral paint color. I had just enough of the paint to finish the chest but I was scraping the bottom of the can before I finished.

Go Coastal With White Washed Coral Paint Petticoat Junktion 1

The wood knobs on the chest were all mixed and matched. I painted it white and started putting it back on but the effect was not good. I dug through my hardware stash and found my own mix-and-match vintage hardware. Awesome.

The Glidden primer is the best I’ve found and I was surprised when I got the bleed through especially on the second coat of primer. The bleed-through would have probably happened no matter what brand primer I used but I can’t tell you that for sure. See my video tutorial below on priming furniture….

Priming Furniture


How to cover stain bleed through with paint

I’m kind of glad I had the stain bleed through issue because this piece looks great with the whitewashed painted coral finish.


Time to take the Furniture Fixer Upper Tour. Just click the pink text links below the “before makeovers” photo collage……

Furniture Fixer Uppers Projects before makeover

Girl in the Garage
Confessions of a Serial DIYer
Just The Woods
Salvaged Inspirations

What do you think? Leave me a note. See you next week! Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. The color is great. I love the shot with your foot in it, your sandal and toenail polish looks so pretty!😃
    I have a question, do you have a post where you discuss how to deal with getting rid of smells inside drawers?