It pains me to say, ‘several years ago’ we bought some bookcases, a modest purchase that we found on closeout, the style was classic and the color seemed much the same. Fast forward 10 years (or so) and the deep dark brown stain just doesn’t cut it anymore. But it pains this carpenter to think of tossing it out and it scares my inner ‘thrift conscious’ to think about buying more furniture on the heels of our move. So I was asked, “Can you paint them?” by my bride who know my inner struggles.
We did some research on things and i’d like to share some of that with you.
#1 figure out if you have wood or a wood byproduct
luckily for us our cabinets and shelves were a product similar to plywood with a veneer of actual wood over a byproduct core, and our face frames were solid oak.
#2 decide what type of finish you want to have
we selected a painted finish because that meant we did not have to do a full on removal of the current finish we only needed to ‘rough up’ the current finish so that the paint would have a good surface to adhere to, this leads to what was the biggest educational point for me, you have likely heard of latex or water based paints and oil or solvent based paints and may have wondered why we needed an option here. Frankly, for the past 15 years I’ve used nothing but latex personally, but recently I used a high quality exterior grade latex trim paint to finish a piece of furniture.
It did not go well . . .
I was frustrated for the time that we owned that piece of furniture because the paint seemed to never dry. the kids used this furniture all the time and it was constantly pulling the oils out of there hands and feet and turning our nice white furniture into a messy, dirty piece.
We reached out to a local paint store (aka not a big box paint department) and discovered that latex does not dry as hard as oil, or alkyd http://www.essortment.com/alkyd-paint-60702.html Beacuse the alkyd paints dry hard like an oil paint and can be cleaned with warm water it was the right choice for us. As additional bonus was that the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) or off gassing was less than a lot of latex paints making this a win-win in a house with little ones. (Be sure to use any finishing system in a well ventilated area)
#3 steps to finishing
We prepped all of the wood by sanding with a powered sander equipped with 120 grit paper.
Next we wiped own all the areas we sanded with a lint free tack cloth or damp rag.
Then we used a foam roller to apply the paint. this gives a nice flat finish and avoids the hand cramping and brush marks that can happen when using a brush.
Lastly we let the pieces dry as recommended on the paint can and then sanded by had with 120 grit paper and applied a top coat to finish it off.
One other note, if you have painted a bookcase or shelf before and placed your books too soon you have had the joy of your books sticking to the newly painted shelf. Using the right type of paint and letting it fully cure (dry) is critical to the finish lasting as long as you hope for it to.