In Which We Repaint Furniture For The First Time

My parents gave us this beautiful Howard Miller mantel clock for our wedding, and when we got it home, we had no place to put it. I felt like the cheap black of all of our bookshelves wouldn’t do it any justice.

So we decided to paint one of them.

Cheap Walmart IKEA bookshelf before painting

This is a cheap Walmart/IKEA bookshelf — plywood with a cardboard backing. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Sand off as much black laminate as possible from the bookshelf.

Step 2: Prime the bookshelf. We used a Shellac-based primer (B.I.N. by Zinsser) based on an Apartment Therapy “reader intelligence report” I found. The guy at Home Depot confirmed this primer would be a good fit for this kind of project, but BE WARNED. We tried to use those stupid inexpensive foam brushes with the Shellac, which was a disaster. (Rollers and paint brushes work fine, but the Shellac basically ate foam.)

Step 3: Sand down the first coat of primer and repaint.

Sanding Zisser primer for second coat bookshelf furniture do it yourself painting

Step 4: Sand down the second coat of primer, and apply the first coat of pigment paint. Rinse and repeat.

Processed with VSCOcam with g1 preset

Creighton thought that primer was simply white paint, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Primer gives the paint something to adhere onto, and it’s made up of a different chemical composition than paint. Paint has pigment and is oil- or water-based. Primer, like this one, can be based on a few different materials and can play nicely with different types of paint.

Also, repainting/refurnishing furniture, especially cheap furniture, is not easy. I had read that priming is an essential step to getting an optimal look, so we took the time and effort to do it well.

Step 5: Profit.

Behr Surfer paint color medium base white primer bookshelf repainting refurnishing before after

teal bookshelf IKEA repainted pop of color