The best type of paint to use on a wood dresser is a water-based latex or emulsion paint in a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Eggshell or flat finishes are acceptable as well, but they tend to show dirt and smudges more readily. Acrylic latex resins are durable, resistant to mildew, flexible and easy to clean.
Surface preparation is crucial when painting wood furniture, particularly with a dresser that gets continued use. The wood must be roughened up with 100-grit sandpaper in order to make the paint adhere to the surface, then painted with two coats of a primer, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly. The final latex paint is applied in thin coats to prevent drips and runs, then topped off with a coat of clear polyurethane after the paint has dried.