How Do I Choose the Best Unfinished Dresser?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Buying an unfinished dresser is a great way to get a sturdy, well-built piece of furniture at a lower price than other pieces. Choosing a good unfinished dresser starts by determining what size dresser you need, what style you prefer, and what you intend to do with the dresser once you purchase it. Some people, for example, may choose to stain or paint the dresser, while others may choose to leave the wood bare. Your intentions for the piece will partially dictate what woods you should consider. Start the process of finding a good dresser by measuring the room in which the piece will be placed.

Once you have taken accurate measurements, determine how many items you will be storing in the unfinished dresser. Determine what size dresser you should buy based on the available space in the room and your storage needs. Some dressers feature a single column of drawers, while others feature two columns or more. An unfinished dresser with one column will be narrower than a double dresser with two columns, which means it will have a smaller footprint. This is ideal for smaller rooms without a lot of floor space. Shorter, wider dressers are good for larger rooms.


The wood used to construct the unfinished dresser will have a significant impact on both the visual appeal of the piece and the strength and durability of it. If you plan on painting or staining the piece on your own and you are on a budget, consider a pine dresser, since this wood tends to be less expensive than other woods. It will need some protection from moisture damage, so a stain, varnish, or paint will be necessary. If you would prefer to keep the wood bare, consider woods like teak, cedar, and mahogany that are resistant to water damage and other common types of damage without any special treatments, paints, or other coatings.

Above all, make sure the unfinished dresser is sturdy and well-constructed. Try to move the dresser and take note of any creaking or wobbling, as these may be indications of a poorly built unit. If you are searching for an antique unfinished dresser, be sure to inspect all parts of the unit carefully to ensure the wood has not rotted, developed mold, cracked, split, or incurred any other damage that may render the unit unusable. Unfinished antiques are more susceptible to damage than antiques that have been treated to resist such damage, so it is important to inspect the unit very carefully before purchasing.


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