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New Wood Hobbyist's Guide: How To Restore An Old Painted Bookcase

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Looking for old bookcases to fix up and reuse is an effective way to get quality furnishings for a good price. Sometimes the old bookcases have been stored away for years and need a lot of work to get looking good again, but with some effort and know-how, you can do it. Here is how you can restore an old bookcase that has been covered in paint and stored away for years.

You Will Need:

  • Wood Stripper
  • Wood Primer Paint
  • Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Putty Knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Sander

Remove Old Paint

Start the process of removing the old paint by brushing on a thick coat of paint stripper onto the shelves and frame of the bookcase. You'll want give the stripper 20 minutes or so to absorb into the paint before you gently scrap off the loosened paint with a putty knife.

Scrap as much paint off as you can and then apply another coat of paint stripper to the bookcase. Give the next coating another 20 or so minutes to work into the old paint before you scrape more loosened paint off of the bookcase. Repeat this process until you totally remove the thick coat of paint.

Paint stripper can produce dangerous fumes that can affect your ability to think and function if you breathe them in. You need to make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area that has a constant source of fresh air coming into the room. If you don't have this type of space to work in, make sure you wear a respirator that can block the fumes to protect yourself.

Sand Bookcase

There will typically be paint residue and dark moisture stains in the wood after you have scrapped the old paint off. You'll need to sand the wood to remove these markings. Sand the bookcase with a hand sander using medium to heavy grade sandpaper. Make sure you sand with the grain of the wood to avoid leaving scratches on the surface of the shelves and bookcase.

Once you sand off the top surface of the wood to expose the fresh wood that was underneath the old paint, change the heavy sandpaper in the sander to fine grand sandpaper to finish sanding. A fine grade sandpaper will give the surface of the wood a smooth surface. 

The corners and edges along the shelves are going to be tricky to sand. The best tool to use to reach these spots is a 90 degree corner sanding tool. If you don't have a corner sander, you should be able to rent one at your local hardware and tool store.

Stain the Wood

You can stain the wood with a natural finish once you have removed all the old paint and stains on the bookcase. Apply a thin layer of stain and let it dry for a few hours. You can tell it's dry when you touch the surface of the stain and it isn't sticky anymore – make sure you feel all around the bookcase to make sure all of the stain is dry. Apply a second coat and let that coat dry before you put the bookcase into a home and put books on it.

For professional repair and restoration of shelving, contact a company such as Slide Out Shelves LLC.


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