Update a Bookcase With Foam Board

5 Materials
2 Hours

You can update a built in bookcase with foam board and paint. I get your hesitancy to throw paint on custom built bookcases. But, here’s a way to tame the trepidation and add color and style without a huge time or dollar commitment.

Before Photo - Plain Paint Background

The truth is, we all get tired of the same look day after day, week after week and month after month. Not that there's anything wrong with this bookcase styling, I was just ready to try something different. Something that I wasn't committing a ton of time of money to complete, and something that was reversible when the switch-a-roo bug strikes again.

Measure and Cut the Foam Board

First, measure the back of your bookcase. My bookcase shelves are all the same size, but that’s not necessarily the case so be sure to measure. Once you’ve determined how much foam board you will need, head to your favorite craft store, and choose the boards that will provide you with the least waste. You should check websites, or call the store to verify the sizes of board sold. Not all craft stores carry the extra large pieces. Now it’s time to cut.

Spray Paint in the Color of Choice

Whenever you use spray paint, be sure to protect all surrounding area from over spray. You will want to follow the directions of the can for ventilation.

Position the Foam Board into the Shelves

This is the trickiest part, because you want the fit to be as tight as possible. With patience, you will be able to bend the board into position.

Check out the blog for more tips on placing the foam boards, plus search the blog for several bookcase ideas.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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4 of 18 comments
  • Cindy Williams
    on Sep 13, 2020

    I really Like this because it can be so easily changed out when you are ready for a different look. Good job.

  • Nicki Petruzzella Kerns
    on Sep 20, 2020

    I did the same thing inside my china cabinet but used a tone-on-tone damask tablecloth wrapped around the board instead of paint. All my dining room furniture is walnut, which makes for a very dark room. I used an ivory tablecloth, wrapped it around cardboard and slipped it behind the shelves in the china cabinet. Completely changed the look and made it SO much lighter!

    • I used a pale beige patterned contact paper on my China cabinet. I cut to size but instead of "peel" and stick, I used painter's tape to hold the pieces in place. They can be changed out easily and right now are so much lighter inside the dark walnut cabinet.

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