Paint raw wood of book shelves

sammy zone 7 TulsaJuly 16, 2007

My husband is making book shelves for a room. He is purchasing wood from Lowe's, and says it is white wood. It is not a special or fine wood, and we will paint the book shelves a light tan using a glossy paint. The whole side of the room will be book shelves.

I hate to use a primer, and we tested a color, and it looks fine to just use the color without a primer.

Why should we use a primer?

Thanks for any information you can give us.


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Is it melamine?

If it is, that kind of surface is slick. The primer will help the topcoat adhere better than if you just painted it with glossy paint. Better adhesion = a longer lasting paint job. This would be particularly important on a surface that gets use like a bookcase where you are sliding books on and off periodically.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 12:57AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

My husband said that the wood is called White wood, and it is 2X2 and 1X12. That is what Lowe's calls it, and he does not know what wood it is exactly, but in my opinion it is expensive. It is not at all slick.

I only paint my house, but want to take any short cuts possible. The guy who sold the paint at Lowe's said I should use a base coat, but he is paid to say that. Each one of those shelves has to have every single side painted, and I thought it might be easier to skip the base coat part.

That you, paintguy for your response.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 6:53AM
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Take the time to prime! I know, not what you want to hear, but you will have a much nicer finished product in the end. The primer helps to seal the boards and allows for better adhesion of your top coat. Don't forget to lightly sand after the primer and each top coat and go over each piece with a tack cloth after sanding.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 7:47AM
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I'm in a hurry right now so I can't take too much time at the moment, but I suggest you search on the Home Dec board for more info about painting bookshelves. There was a recent query I replied to.

Most importantly, do NOT plan on putting your books back for at least a month. The paint takes a very long time to cure (it dries in just a few days). But it must be fully cured before reshelving or you risk damage to your books, and worse, the paint on the shelves.

And, yes, I think you should prime. But you might get away with rolling, then just lightly brushing out to get rid of the roller marks. Oh, and you should lightly sand between coats (sorry) but it will make a huge difference.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 5:48PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

Raw wood will require 3 coats of enamel or one coat of primer and two coats of enamel.

It's your choice. *s*


    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 10:04PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Thank you for your help. It was a huge disappointment to hear that I really needed to put on a base coat, but I trust that you know what you are doing, and have just finished that first coat. The small sections of wood have been endless. The shelves haven't been too bad, but those 2x2 just have gone on and on and on.

Sue, thank you for mentioning the sanding and the tack cloth.
Molly, you were reading my mind. I had no intention of waiting a month, but I will. Thank you for saying that.

Michael, two coats of enamel? Are you sure? This is taking forever.

I will go to the Home Dec board and look around. I need as many short cuts or good advice as possible.

Thank you all of you.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:58AM
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Sammy, I just had built-in bookshelves installed and I had a professional painter come out and paint them. Our bookshelves were made out of "paint ready" veneer. The painter sanded, used tack cloth and vacuumed, then used 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint. He felt strongly that the coverage with 1 coat of paint was not sufficient. I wasn't going to argue with him, and the shelves look great.

Now, 3.5 weeks later, I'm finally getting ready to fill them! It wasn't until a few days ago that the shelves seemed fully cured.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:01PM
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Sorry! There's just no shortcuts to a good job!!
* Paint takes a long time to TRULY harden-off enough to take the abuse of books sliding.
* Ya just can't fight the physics of film hardening!
* Buster's painter did it the RIGHT WAY! Ignoring the "paint-ready" part is the most important!!! You HAVE to re-prime stuff like that.
* Sanding well-dried primer helps the first paintcoat look smoother.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:03AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I put the primer and one coat on. I see that the primer shows through if I put on a thin coat, and if I put on a thick coat, it drips to the side, and I have to sand the drip marks.

The posts are what are driving me crazy. They are 2x2x80. there are about 25 of them, and they are not easy to handle. It is solid wood, but a cheap wood. That means that nothing is ready, and I need to be careful or I could regret it. When I painted the shelves, I stood them in containers, but these long posts are difficult to handle. I line them up on the floor, and paint one side then turn them. I do try to paint the top, then half of the sides, but that isn't working well. I truly admire the work that good painters do. Although I know that most of them have workshops and spray paint. (They are not using a carpeted floor.)

Thanks for your advice.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 3:19PM
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Have you tried applying the paint with a roller then just brushing it out? That can speed things up, though you do have to move right along to re-texture the paint with the brush before it starts to set-up. For the 2X2, use a short roller. If the edges are chamfered, the roller will really speed things up.

Also try setting up some temporary saw horses so you're not bending down so much. Some possible supports: a pair of upside-down garbage cans with plastic trash bags over them so drips don't mar the cans; if you set up two by four scrap lumber across the tops of the cans at right angles to the length of the uprights you could get a lot of the uprights painted and drying all at once. Load the uprights on alternating sides of the centerline as you paint them to keep the whole thing balanced. Working at waist height takes about half the effort out of that kind of job.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 5:12PM
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If you use a high quality paint like Ben Moore's Aura, California's C2, and there are probably others, you can do it all in a single coat. No primer is necessary. You'll flinch at the cost of the paint, but considering you only need a single coat it's a bargain. You're using 1/3 less paint and wasting 2/3 less time.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 5:16PM
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