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Suggestions For Painting Your Bookcase

These bookcases, libraries, studies, wardrobes, bedroom furniture etc. are all made from MDF (medium density fibreboard). Usually with a decorative cornice, moldings, side paneling, fluted pilasters and adjustable shelves on brassed pins and sockets. The doors normally have recessed panels with moldings and are hung on solid brass butts (hinges) with magnetic catches (handles are usually left to the customer to choose and supply as these depend on personal preference).  These are the standard principles adopted for all the bookcases, libraries, studies and wardrobes illustrated on this site.

As everything was supplied unpainted, it is for the customer’s painters (or the customer!) to paint and prepare for the decorative finish exactly as they like.

As can be seen from the web-site images there are wonderful finishes if you are skilled enough.  There are a couple of contacts on our Linked Sites Page on obtaining the paints and books to help you if you are keen to do it yourself after you have agreed on the manufacturer.

Whatever you decide it is best to get professional advice but as a starters the old fashioned way with oil paints:

1.   Bare wood (where used in cornices etc.) if there are knots these should be painted over with a “Knotting” to prevent them from dis-colouring the paint later, MDF prepared with at least one coat Rustin’s Quick Drying MDF  Clear sealant (two coats on machined edges). Paints used are best if oil based.
2.   One coat wood primer.
3.   Fill all cracks, holes etc. with poly filler the longer gaps in the sides, cornice, or where parts join etc. with flexible painters/decorators caulk (“Painters Mate” or similar), this is a slightly pliable compound which does not crack even when it has dried out, and then rub down all surfaces so they are smooth to touch.
4.   One coat of undercoat (second coat optional and recommended)
5.   Fill any further cracks (as in 3) rub down surfaces smooth to touch.
6.   One coat Eggshell (or gloss as preferred) to colour chosen.
7.   Lightly sand down surfaces smooth to touch with fine sand paper.
8.   Second coat Eggshell to color chosen (repeat 6 above).
9.   Make sure the last coat covers all cracks and is smooth to the touch particularly on the machined edges such as shelf edges, the skirting top etc. before going to the next stage and also that there are no grinning edges left where the paint has been sanded away, nor curtain runs, nor drip runs.
Check over and apply to any remaining cracks a flexible filler (“Painters Mate”), Sponge off and sand lightly as required to finish smooth to touch.
10. Finish off with artistic decorative paint finish! Varnish with matt varnish as/if required sparingly, but particularly on the waist top, work surfaces.

Recommended Dulux, Leyland or other proprietary paint, oil based but other paints may be equally as good if the procedure is understood (acrylic/some water based paints).

As a guide we have been told that the quantity required for the Large Standard with 4 Shelves:

    2.5 litres of Primer
    2.5 litres of Undercoat
    5 litres of Eggshell
    2.5 litres of Final Coat

Alternatively if you prefer a quicker, modern, Eggshell finish then you can try applying (with similar preliminaries, filling and sanding between coats etc. explained above) the following:

1.  Acrylic water based primer (Sand and fill etc.)
2.  2 coats of oil based Eggshell finishing coats.
3.  Decorative finishes, Varnishes etc. as required.

The same number of Balanced coats of paint must go onto both sides of the doors, shelves, (drawers where fitted), loose pencil drawer covers etc, at the same time, to prevent the MDF from moving/warping.  If this is not done equally on both sides at the same time , so that all sides have the same number of coats of paint, they may “throw” out of true and bow or appear to warp.
Lastly:-  40% of the quality of the finish of the painting lies in the preparation, sanding and filling.  This is where the costs are and often where the difference between a good and poor finish lies.

For further direction on painting go to my linked sites page Paints and you will find links to book shops who sell books on how to paint decoratively and to Annie Sloan who has a web site with painting tips on how to paint decoratively.

A useful site for further tips or you can contact Andrew direct by phone for commissions.

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