Prepare bookcases for painting?


I have two book cases that have many years of furniture polish along with whatever the manufacturer put on top of the stain. I want to paint the main part of the cases the same color as the wall and the bottom the white like the baseboards.

I have already put the wall paper on the back which should have been left for last! What is the best way to prepare the wood for painting?

q prepare bookcases for painting
  13 answers
  • Try to get the furniture polish off as that's your biggest hurdle. You can use removers or try giving the wood a sanding. After that, use a good primer and then you can paint.

  • Janice Janice on Jul 01, 2020

    I suggest scrubbing the bookcases well with a soft cloth dipped in hot soapy water, then lightly sand to give some "tooth" to the areas left to paint. Use primer first, then the wall and baseboard colors you want. Lesson learned about the wallpaper, but it's not an insurmountable problem, you'll just need to be a bit more careful with your prep work now. Good luck, looks like it will be a great redo! Take your tiime and enjoy the process.

  • Cindy Cindy on Jul 01, 2020

    Hi Carolyn. Make a bucket of warm water with a squirt of Dawn dish soap. Wash the book cases with this. The Dawn will help remove build up of furniture polish. Next comes a light sanding. Then rinse with clean water making sure to get sanding dust completely off. Then prime and paint. There are some paints that have primer in them. Good luck Carolyn. I hope all is well with you.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Jul 02, 2020

    I like to start with a product like Krudkutter to get all the buildup off. Rinse and let it dry. Stay safe!

  • Sand it lightly and clean it with degreaser to make sure it's very clean

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Jul 02, 2020

    clean with dish soap and water and some vinegar. Sand!! It's the best way to prep the wood for painting. If painting, prime with a really nice primer like B Moore. If it was my piece I would paint with an expensive paint that won't chip or wear.....Benjamin Moore ADVANCE is a cabinet paint but looks lovely on furniture when done right. You can get it in any of the B Moore colors. When you are putting a ton of work into something, spend the money on paint that won't be a headache. That Benjamin Moore paint has self leveling properties so if you don't have a sprayer, it will minimize brush strokes even when using a brush.

    Check out this post where I used Benjamin Moore ADVANCE in Linen white:

    Good luck! Looks like a fun project.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 02, 2020

    Hello Carolyn,

    You could use lining wallpaper on top and just paint that, or maybe use Easy Surface Preparation (ESP) painted straight on top and the when dry, paint as desired.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jul 02, 2020

    Clean with TSP, scuff with steel wool, then remove residue with denatured alcohol. You should be ready to go.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Jul 02, 2020

    Murphy's Oil Soap.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 02, 2020

    Hello again,

    Lining paper is found in the wallpaper section. Normally folk would lining paper to go over Lathe and Plaster walls or Timber framed walls or Ceilings. If you can't get it, then a plain or patterned smooth wallpaper would do (something in the odd bod pile) or any smooth wallpaper you have around your home. Best wishes.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Jul 04, 2020

    This bookshelf looks like it may be laminate over particle board.

    Are you sure it is solid wood?

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Dec 31, 2020

    I would use chalk paint so there is no prep work needed

  • Sharon Sharon on Jan 17, 2021

    If its wax, ammonia in warm/hot water will take it off.