Painted Wood Barrister Bookcase

Unlock a worn wooden bookcase's star-is-born potential with a fresh coat of paint. A second color on the interior adds eye-catching contrast.

painted wood barrister bookcase

What You'll Need


  • Rosin paper or a drop cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • 150-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Gray paint
  • Paint trays
  • Mini paint roller handle and covers
  • Angled sash paintbrush
  • Primer (optional)


  1. Line the floor you're working on with rosin paper and tape it down, or spread out a drop cloth. Cover surrounding items and walls with rosin paper or drop cloths, if needed, to catch overspray. Set the bookcases on top of protected surface, unstacking them if necessary.

  2. Remove bookcase drawers and hardware. Cover edges of glass fronts with painter's tape. Sand wood with 150-grit sandpaper to lift flakes and dust. Wipe clean with tack cloth.

  3. If your gray paint contains primer, apply a thin first coat to bookcase's exterior and drawer fronts, using the roller for flat surfaces and the brush for narrower ones (such as the wooden frame of the glass fronts). If your gray paint does not contain primer, apply primer first and let dry completely, then apply a coat of gray paint. Let dry completely. Sand with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe clean with tack cloth.

  4. Apply one or two more coats of paint, allowing paint to dry completely and sanding and wiping again after each coat. Let dry paint completely.

  5. Reassemble bookcases and reattach hardware.

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