How to Restore an Old Bookcase


Restoring an old bookcase can make your bookcase stronger and last longer. It will add a fresh look to your room and you can rely on it for many years to come. You can restore an old bookcase in a few hours and it is relatively inexpensive compared to buying a new bookcase. You can make your bookcase strong and make repairs, while decorating it any way you desire.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Towels
  • Drop cloth
  • Painters tape
  • Primer or pre-conditioner
  • Paint or stain
  • Paint Brushes
  • Varnish (optional)
  • Determine the condition of the bookcase and make any needed repairs. Evaluate all parts of the bookcase including broken shelves or fixtures. Check for loose nails and sand down damaged spots to even out inconsistencies or chips of old paint.

  • Prepare a workspace. If you are working indoors, move your furniture and other belongings to create space for you to work, and have an area set aside for your supplies. Use drop cloth to protect the floors, and use painters tape to protect walls from paintbrush strokes.

  • Wash down the bookcase with a damp cloth to remove dirty and other impurities. If you are painting, use a damp cloth. If you are staining your bookcase, wipe it down with a dry cloth.

  • Sand the bookcase. If you are staining a bookcase, you will need to sand off all of the previous treatments like color or varnish. If you are painting a bookcase, primer will cover previous treatments, so you do not need to sand the entire bookcase.

  • Prime the bookcase with the appropriate pre-treatment. For wood stains, use a pre-conditioner before applying the stain. If you are painting the bookcase, use the appropriate primer to prep for painting. Oil-based paints need an oil-based primer and a latex paint needs a latex-based primer.

  • Paint or stain the bookcase using quality brushes. Quality brushes give a better look to your projects and you will not have to worry about loose hairs in your fresh paint. Use long, even strokes when applying a wood stain or paint. Be sure to apply treatment to edges and challenging areas, such as decorative imprints first.

  • Polish and decorate your bookcase. Varnish offers superior shine and offers a coat of protection. Decorate your bookcase any way you choose, such as using stencils and fine paint brushes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not mix and match oil and latex-based products, including pretreatments and varnishes. Determine the method you want to use and buy only supplies for that method.
  • Water based paint and stains leave fewer fumes than oil-based. If you are using oil-based products, consider restoring your bookcase outdoors or in a ventilated area. If you must paint or use stains indoors, ventilate the room and wear a respiratory mask.
  • Always use paints and stains with caution. Be sure to seclude the work area away from pets and children. Keep all open flames away from your products and read all manufacturer requirements before using.
  • Wear a respiratory mask when working indoors.

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  • Photo Credit Stockxpert/simonkr
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