Painting an Oak Bookcase

Have an old oak bookcase you want to spruce up? Painting an oak bookcase is a great way to give it a new look and add some color to your home. Oak furniture is known for its timeless appeal, but sometimes it can feel a bit too traditional. With a fresh coat of paint, you can transform your oak piece into a stylish one that fits in with any modern space.

Plus, painting furniture is a fun and budget friendly DIY project that anyone can tackle. Beginner or not, you can easily get a pro finish with the right prep and tools. Let’s give that old oak bookcase a makeover!

photo of Oak Bookcase before painting

If you were a 90’s kid, you probably had some oak furniture in your house. Maybe it was a solid bookshelf or a classic dining table. Back then, oak was pretty much a go-to for a lot of homes. But, you know how it is, times change and trends evolve, that once beloved oak furniture may start to feel outdated.

Click here to subscribe

But don’t think of tossing that old oak bookcase just yet! With painting, you have the freedom to turn it into something entirely new. You can match the paint color to your decor, or even go bold and create a statement piece.

Oak furniture is known for its durability, so it’s likely that your old bookcase is still in great condition. That makes it the perfect candidate for a paint job! You don’t have to worry about it falling apart or being too fragile to handle the process.

And nowadays, bookcases aren’t just for books. They’re a key piece of furniture in lots of homes, perfect for displaying decorations, pictures, and more. By painting your oak bookcase, you can give it one more purpose and make it a standout piece in any room. So get your oak piece ready!

Supplies Used for Painting an Oak Bookcase

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I also may earn from other qualifying purchases with other companies or get free product to review and use. All opinions are my own.

Removing Shelves from Oak Bookcase

First things first, you’ll need to remove the shelves. This will make the painting process much easier and guarantee that you get an even coat of paint on every inch of your bookcase. Start by taking out all the books and decorations from the shelves. Then, carefully unscrew or pry off any support brackets or hardware holding the shelves in place.

Once the shelves are free from any attachments, gently lift them out of the bookcase and set them aside. It’s smart to label each shelf based on where it goes in the bookcase, even if they look the same and could technically go anywhere.

This will save you time and frustration when it’s time to put everything back together. And with the shelves out of the way, you now have easy access to all sides of the bookcase and can start prepping for painting. If the bookcase shelves are fixed and can’t be removed, you can just proceed to the next steps.

Cleaning Oak Bookcase

It’s time to give your oak bookcase a good cleaning. Over time, dust and dirt can build up on furniture surfaces, making it difficult for paint to adhere properly. Wipe down all surfaces of the bookcase with Krud Kutter and a damp rag to remove any grime or residue. Cleaning furniture before painting is important for a smooth and long lasting finish.

photo of cleaning bookcase with krud kutter and rag

Now let’s talk about grain showing through painted oak. Some people love the natural wood grain look on their furniture, but if you want a sleek and modern finish, seeing the grain can pose a problem. But there sure is a workaround to this!

If you want to completely cover up the wood grain from your oak bookcase, you have to take care of it now before moving any further into the painting process. You’ll need to fill it in with wood filler before moving on to painting. Here’s how to hide wood grain when painting – follow the tips and you’ll get a flawless, grain free surface on your bookcase.

Sanding Oak Bookcase before Painting

Next is to sand your oak bookcase. Sanding before painting furniture is important for two reasons: it helps the paint adhere better to the surface, and it also smooths out any imperfections on the wood.

For flat surfaces, you can lightly sand them using Diablo 5″ 220 grit sanding screens. If your bookcase has more intricate details or curves, you can use a power sander like the Dewalt orbital sander with SurfPrep 5″ pro foam pads in medium grit to get into those hard to reach areas. You can also just use 220 grit sandpaper sheets and sand by hand if you are okay with using a little extra elbow grease!

Sanding oak bookcase before painting

Once you have sanded all surfaces of the bookcase, make sure to remove all the dust and debris using a vacuum. Then, wipe down the bookcase with a tack cloth to completely clean up any particles from sanding.

Priming Oak Bookcase

With your oak bookcase cleaned and sanded, priming wood for painting would be next on your list. Especially since oak has the tendency to have bleedthrough issues with its deep wood grain, you really need to prime, and not just with any regular primer. You want to use a stain blocking primer that can effectively seal the wood and prevent any bleeding through your paint.

photo of fast drying clear shellac in a spray can

I used clear shellac in a spray can – it’s one of the best primers for painting furniture and one of the best primers to stop tannin bleed. Apply at least 2 coats of the primer, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding another. The spray can version is really convenient to use, plus the shellac dries quickly, so you can get to painting your bookcase right away.

Painting Oak Furniture Black

We’re painting this oak piece black – black is a classic color that never goes out of style, and it’s perfect for giving your old oak furniture a modern update. Plus, black painted furniture is easy to style and can work well with any decor theme.

We used homemade chalk paint for this project – it’s a budget friendly option and also perfect for creating a smooth, matte finish. Homemade chalk paint is super easy to make! Simply mix Behr latex paint in black with calcium carbonate powder. Here’s our homemade chalk paint recipe for more detailed steps you can follow.

photo of Behr latex paint and calcium carbonate powder for creating homemade chalk paint

For a flawless finish, we used a Wagner FLEXiO 595 sprayer to apply 2-3 coats of black paint on our oak bookcase and shelves. I would say this sprayer is the best for this and many other DIY projects. Not to mention, it’s a budget friendly option if you’re planning on doing more painting projects in the future. Check out my Wagner FLEXiO 595 review to see how it works and why I highly recommend it.

Topcoating Painted Oak Bookcase

So, now that you have beautifully painted your oak bookcase black, it’s time to protect that paint job with a topcoat. Topcoating is important for any painted furniture, as it adds a layer of protection against daily wear and tear. It also helps to seal in the paint and give it a smooth, polished finish.

Our choice of topcoat for painting furniture for this makeover is waterbased polyurethane in a satin finish. I sprayed it on using the same Wagner FLEXiO 595, but you can also brush it on or use a spray can topcoat like Minwax polycrylic. No matter how you do it, be sure to apply at least two coats for the best protection.

After sealing, let everything dry and cure for at least a week. And when that’s out of the way, you can put the shelves back on and start using your beautifully transformed black oak bookcase! Wasn’t that easy?

But wait, there’s one more thing to keep in mind – the paint will take about a month to fully cure, so it’s best to still be extra careful for that period of time. This means avoiding placing heavy objects on the shelves and being gentle when handling the furniture. After a month, you can enjoy your newly painted oak bookcase without worry!

Oak furniture does have its own composition and characteristics, but it doesn’t mean it’s hard to tackle when you want to update and upgrade its look. Follow these tips and you’ll have a gorgeous, modern oak bookcase to be proud of.

close-up view photo of oak bookcase after painting
full view photo of oak bookcase after painting

More Before And After Makeovers

Click any of these “before” photos below to view the “after” of that makeover.

close-up view photo of oak bookcase after painting 2

Painting an Oak Bookcase

Painting oak bookcase black

Painting an oak bookcase is a great way to give it a new modern look and add some color to your home.

Instructions

  1. First, remove the shelves from your oak bookcase. This will make the painting process much easier and guarantee that you get an even coat of paint on every inch of your bookcase.
  2. If you want to cover up the wood grain from showing through painted oak, fill it in with wood filler. Do this before you proceed to painting.
  3. Sand your oak bookcase to help the paint adhere better and smooth out any imperfections on the wood. For flat surfaces, you can lightly sand them using Diablo 5" 220 grit sanding screens. If your bookcase has more intricate details or curves, you can use a power sander like the Dewalt orbital sander with SurfPrep 5" foam pads in medium grit to get into those hard to reach areas.
  4. Clean the bookcase of any dust and debris from sanding by using a vacuum hose. Then, use a tack cloth to completely clean up any remaining particles before priming.
  5. Prime your oak bookcase with clear shellac spray, applying at least 2 coats for best results. This will prevent any wood grain or tannin bleed through your paint.
  6. Use homemade chalk paint in black to cover your oak bookcase. Make your own by mixing Behr latex paint with calcium carbonate powder to create the perfect consistency for painting.
  7. Apply 2-3 coats of black paint on your bookcase and shelves with a Wagner FLEXiO 595 sprayer for a smooth, professional finish.
  8. Protect your black painted oak bookcase with a waterbased polyurethane topcoat in a satin finish. Apply at least 2 coats using the same sprayer or brush it on.
  9. Let everything dry and cure for about a week before placing the shelves back on and using your new black oak bookcase. Be cautious for a month as the paint fully cures, avoiding placing heavy objects on the shelves and being gentle when handling the furniture. After that, enjoy your beautifully transformed oak bookcase without worry!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More Furniture Makeover Ideas

Click here to subscribe

Follow us on YouTube to get more tips for painting furniture.

Or share your project with us on our Facebook Group and be part of our community. See you there!

photo of Oak Bookcase before painting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *