The bookcase room dividers were a big selling point when we (well, when I) first laid eyes on the house. But, somehow, I neglected them for two years. I got distracted with all of the other projects, so they sat empty for months. Then I started piling books on them. Then I loaded them with junk with no intention of styling them. Then they just sat there for months. I'm not perfect, okay??
Luckily, all of my knick knacks covered up the horrid paint job underneath. Not only was it an unfortunate brown color, but it was peeling pretty badly. This, my friends, is why you don't want to paint water-based paint over oil-based paint without some serious prepping. Otherwise, you leave a mess of refinishing for people like me (or even yourself) years later.
The latex paint was peeling off in sheets, so I used a combination of tools to scrape and peel it all off. Some of it came off nice and easy, whereas other spots took some serious scraping. The goal was to scrape anything that wanted to come off. Really stuck-on paint could stay.
After what felt like 99 hours of scraping, the next step was to sand everything really smooth. Any edges where the layers of paint didn't come off entirely need to be sanded down until they are slick to the touch. You'll still see the different colors, but as long as you can't feel it to the touch, then you're golden. I used the 50 grit sanding pads on my orbital sander to smooth edges and rough up the existing finish to receive new paint.
Since power sanders blow a bunch of dust around, I wanted to protect the rest of the house from the mess. Thus, a made a cocoon for myself with an old sheet to encapsulate all of the dust. Of course, I wore face protection to keep dust out of my eyes and lungs.
I'll admit that the funny looking technique wasn't the most comfortable way to work. It got pretty hot and rather dusty. But I didn't need to clean up much dust at the end of the project, so I consider it a win!
Once everything was sanded smooth and paint scraps were cleaned up, I coated the surface with my go-to primer, Zinsser 1-2-3.
That's just primer, but look at the transformative power of paint!
Next, I did a couple of coats of paint left over from the One Room Challenge. Benjamin Moore's Simply White in the satin finish is such a pretty, soft white. So much better, right?
The bookcase has small holes on the sides to mount adjustable shelves on pins. Each of them was filled with so much paint (prior to my scraping), that the pins didn't fit. After painting my own three layers of paint, which subsequently mucked it up even further, I redrilled the holes. Using a bit the size of the holes (1/4" in my case) I re-drilled each of them being sure not to make them any bigger than their original size.
The drill removed the gunk from inside of the holes, but it did pull up some of the new paint along the edges. No biggie, though.
I followed up with a mallet and the end of a screwdriver to soften the edges by hammering any rough edges produced by the drilling into the hole. This is the same technique I recommend for patching a hole in the wall after removing a nail.
For a swift cleanup, I used compressed air to blow the dust out of each of the holes while vacuuming gunk that flew out with a shopvac. I followed up with a light dabbing of paint to touch up the spots that lost some of the finish.
Finally, I pushed the shelf mount pins in, then plopped the painted shelves on them. These pins work wondrously for creating adjustable shelving options. If you're building your own shelves, or want to add more storage to an existing unit, you could easily install a strip of wood in each of the corners with equally spaced holes. Then pop the pins in, mount a shelf, and you'd have adjustable storage!
Next week, I'll share my steps for styling shelves. Maybe within the next two years I'll refinish the other matching bookcase, too!