Asked on Oct 12, 2013

Do I have to sand it?

Megan Morgan
by Megan Morgan
Hi Everyone,
I just bought a nice cheap bookshelf from Goodwill that I want to spruce up. I want to paint it white, but right now it's just finessed wood. So my question is, do i have to sand it down before painting it, or can I just go ahead and paint it?
  17 answers
  • Handy Helen Handy Helen on Oct 12, 2013
    I have done both ... Against the odds and a lot of what you read and I firmly firmly believe in the primer! I exclusively use Zinsser Bullseye 123 water based primer, it sticks to even laminate fake wood without sanding. Sanding takes a lot of time and can get tricky if you aren't careful. Two coats if te Zinsser primer and you will be golden and extremely happy without sanding!!!
  • Elaine Phillips Elaine Phillips on Oct 12, 2013
    No sanding needed if you use chalk paints (Annie Sloan or Miss Mustard Seed are two brands of the chalk paint that I've heard work extremely well). However I believe you would want to at least remove the sheen/satin finish if you use other paint (ie latex or oil) so it will adhere well and not peel. Looks like a great piece to paint! Hope you share pictures when it's finished. :)
  • Shari Shari on Oct 12, 2013
    I've painted several similar furniture pieces. Here's what I do: I hate sanding so I wipe the piece down with a "liquid sandpaper" or "deglosser" product first. It strips away dirt and grime, and leaves some "tooth" for your primer and paint to stick to. I apply several very light coats of a good quality latex primer, making sure it dries well between coats. Then I apply several light coats of good quality latex paint. A protective top coat is optional. If you use latex paint, make sure to let it cure well. (Curing time depends on weather/humidity and could be as long as a couple weeks.) If you place books or other objects on it before it is completely cured, they will stick (and maybe pull off your paint). Yes, the chalk paint brands boast that no sanding and priming is necessary but a protective coat of wax (or some other sealant) is recommended to give the flat chalk paint some depth and luster, plus protect the paint from chipping and wearing away. Personally, I hate waxing even more than I hate sanding. Plus I don't like to put top coat products over white paint because, in my experience, even the "non-yellowing" products seem to turn yellow over time. So, the idea of using chalk paint doesn't appeal to me for those reasons.
    • See 2 previous
    • @Bernice H Here are a few pictures of the Lowe's paint - My Pantone. Not all Lowe's carry it as I have found out, you may want to call first. I painted several things today with it. I've used several of the green colors and love them. I have used the black, blue, red, white and yellowish color. Guess I've used lots of them come to think of it.
  • Dee Dee on Oct 12, 2013
    I would lightly sand and then apply primer. It is small enough to use spray primer. Rustoleum makes a good spray primer.
  • Colleen Colleen on Oct 12, 2013
    No matter what you do, a light sanding wouldn't hurt. The main thing is you want the paint to "grip" to the surface.
  • You definitely want to lightly sand it to remove the sealer to help the bonding, and use a quality oil primer. Since this is a book case and will have items put on and off of it, and has an oil stain and sealer on it, You should use an oil primer, they make an odorless primer and use an oil finish also for better durability. You can also have the primer tinted to the finish color for better coverage. Richard @ One Man and A Brush House Painters
  • Hi Megan - Giving you my two cents: What do you want the outcome to look like? Rustic, Shabby Chic, Traditional? Depending on what you want also depends on the prep. I usually do a like sanding with sanding block if there is a finish on it. There are many inexpensive products that don't need a paint primer. I have been using Lowe's My Color from Pantone. I'm not a paid spokes person or anything. I use many different kinds of paint, chalk, milk, etc....Lowe's exclusively carries this and there is no priming!!! The best part is for a quart under $9.00 (much less than the other paints I use). Options would be to white wash - just water down paint or rub off some of the paint after you apply. If you paint solid white and don't have wood show through I would suggest either using another color on the applique and in grooves to make it pop. This way nobody will guess you paid little for the item. Pssst - This is the secret we all use who paint furniture - Buy inexpensive furniture and the paint makes it look expensive! Here are some examples of before and after - I didn't prime any of them - hope this helps you. Good Luck and post a picture after your finish!
  • Frankie Laney Frankie Laney on Oct 13, 2013
    Lots of good advice. If it were mine, I would lightly sand and clean then paint it with Annie Sloan Old White and then, after using the clear wax, I would mix some of the clear wax and dark wax to highlight the carvings and the bead board backing blending over the entire piece. Just my particular thoughts for this piece.
  • 118330 118330 on Oct 14, 2013
    i always use Zinesser Bullseye 123 primer. Sticks to anything. A light sanding or deglosser is always a good idea.
  • Karon Nelson Roberts Karon Nelson Roberts on Oct 14, 2013
    I use a tinted primer...Valspar PVA Primer. Sure it's for wall, but I use for any and all wood projects(even used on metal plant stand). It's cheaper too(around $10 a gallon)....I like those other paints, but I'm on fixed income, so adapt, and adjust for each project. But I would sand the shelves(just to get the glossy off so paint will stick to wood), and use a tintable primer. You could also, use wallpaper on the back or shelves for a different look too.
  • Starla Swanson Starla Swanson on Oct 14, 2013
    After decades of repurposing and refinishing furniture, the end product is only as good as the prep you put into it. Sand it with a fine grit sand paper. Definitely. Manufactured furniture has a special finish coat that keeps it durable. Different than polyurethane. Depending on the paint finish you're after, primer is optional. If you're after color, prime. My rule of thumb is if the dry paint finish feels textured as I run my hand over it, give it a light sanding between coats of primer or paint. That sanding provides a better surface for the next coat. And look into sanding sponges. Home Depot carries them as well as others. They come in various grits and are wonderful to get into curves and are easy to handle. Washable, too. I have a drawer full of them in the garage.
  • Tobey McCool Tobey McCool on Oct 14, 2013
    Sanding is always a good choice even with Anne Sloan chalkpaint, it removes the years of endust, pledge or whatever else was used on the piece. A light sanding is all that is required, it gives something for the paint to adhere too. good luck with your piece
  • April E April E on Oct 14, 2013
    i use liquid sander . it cleans degreases and roughs up all in 1. you just wipe on let it sit a bit and wipe off, it has even worked on laminated surfaces for a great paint job.
  • Janet Smith Janet Smith on Oct 14, 2013
    I have refinished dozens of pieces of furniture and I believe the key to a good paint job is in the preparation. Clean and sand and dust well with a tackcloth. Apply a primer. Sand lightly, apply paint. If a second coat is desired, sand lightly before applying second coat. (I have never tried the Chalk Paint. Will definitely check into that. It sounds interesting!)
  • Loribeth Loribeth on Oct 14, 2013
    Use a deglosser. You brush it on and then wipe it off. Prime and then paint. That's what I did on my my dining room chairs almost two years ago, and the paint is still holding up well, and they're used every day.
  • Also - throwing this out there. I have been using Johnson's Liquid Wax (for floors) to seal after I paint. Stay with me - It isn't like mop and glow it's the liquid floor wax our mom's used. It's not hard wax or paste. I just pour some out, use rag and wipe it in. I wait for it to dry and do again. No problems so far and it is sooooo inexpensive.
  • Heather Heather on Mar 29, 2014
    I hardly EVER sand and I never have any issues. If you use a really good primer and then seal it, it should be fine as long as it's not like a kitchen table or something that gets lots of hard use. I just painted bookshelves and didnt sand them at all. ( )