Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Laminate Bookshelf Makeover

Posted by Devin:
The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and as usual for me this time of year: I am getting cabin fever! Does this happen to anyone else as spring approaches?  Jake says I get “itchy” but it never fails that I either want to go on vacation to some faraway tropical place or I start getting a hankering to move to a new house and completely re-decorate and organize it (we’ve lived in our home for 7 years and I love it but every spring I’m suddenly hooked to Zillow!).  Most years we take a spring vacation (usually not, however, to anywhere faraway or tropical) and the itchiness subsides, but this year we are not going on vacation OR buying a new house.  What to do with all of this energy and need for change of scenery??? Do-It-Yourself Projects!!! Yep, it’s time to get out the tools and re-vamp this house of mine.  And where is every savvy lady’s favorite place to look for DIY inspiration?  Pinterest, of course! 

I have quite a few projects I am hoping to complete in the next few months but my first order of business was a bookshelf re-do.  We have TONS of children’s books and unfortunately up until now they have been tucked away on a large, hard-to-reach bookshelf in a cramped closet.  NOT ideal for my avid little readers.  It just so happens that I had an old laminate bookshelf from our college days taking up space in my craft/laundry/exercise room that needed to be moved to make room for Jake’s new cycling trainer.  (This point becomes important to the finishing of my bookshelf project later on.)

Many of you have probably seen the various pallet projects littering cyberspace right now and I have been addicted to pallets lately, as you will see by a few other posts I plan on writing soon.  The inspiration for my project came from the girls over at Over The Big Moon .  I fell in love with their pallet backed bookshelf and decided I must have one for myself.  So without further ado, here is how I made mine!
Laminate Bookshelf Makeover How-To
Materials Needed: Bookshelf, Wooden Pallets, Hammer/Mallets, Saw, Miter Box, Electric Sander and/or Sandpaper, Zinsser Cover Stain Primer, Paint Brush, Any Color of Interior Paint (as desired), Nails.
Step 1.  Take off all removable shelves from the bookshelf and then remove the laminate backing.  This proved to be quite easy.  I simply took a small hammer and pounded on the front side of the backing, near the edges.  The nails came right off and just popped out the back.  Thankfully I had a little helper who was super excited to find all of the nails on the floor when I was done.
Step 2.  Paint the entire bookshelf using Zinsser Cover Stain Primer.  I researched how to paint laminate furniture quite extensively before I began this project and this step is crucial.  If you want your paint to last without scratching off, you need to use this product first.  Simply using a regular interior paint or a spray paint on laminate furniture will not hold up for long.  And since my bookshelf is going to be used by 4 rough little boys, I want my paint job to stand the abuse.  I only used 1 coat of the primer as it seemed to cover quite well. 

IMPORTANT:  Make sure you have some paint thinner or mineral oil on hand before you begin this step.  I did not realize that you cannot clean your brush or hands with water, the primer will not come off.  Here is a pic of my hand with a bunch of primer stuck to it after I had scrubbed and scrubbed trying to get it off with water.  Thankfully I found some paint thinner in my garage and once I used it the primer came right out of my brush (and off my hand).

Step 3.  Paint your bookshelf the color of your choice.  I used a low sheen interior paint from Dunn Edwards in Navajo White (the same color as the trim in my home).  I painted 2 coats on everything to make sure there was good coverage. 

Step 4.  Disassemble your pallets. 
See Jake’s bicycle trainer box on the right side of the previous picture?  Here is where that becomes crucial to my project.  Jake was chomping at the bit to start using his new trainer and that couldn’t happen until I had completed the offensive bookshelf and removed it from the room.  Now that is what I call hubby motivation!  Jake was quite willing to help me with the remainder of my project and thankfully I did not have to disassemble the pallets on my own.  It was a bit of a tough job at first.  Jake had a hard time removing the planks of wood from the pallets without splitting them.  But he seemed to get the hang of it after about 10 minutes of experimentation and before I knew it he had 2 full pallets disassembled and plenty of wood ready for the back of my bookshelf.  Jake used a large hammer and a mallet to pry the pallets apart.

Step 5.  Cut the boards to size.  Simply measure the back of your bookshelf from outer edge to outer edge and cut each of your boards to that measurement.  This step did not take long and we used a hand saw and a miter box.  If you have power tools on hand this step would go even quicker.

Step 6.  Sand your boards.  We used an electric sander which made this quick and easy.  I did not want my boards to look perfect as I was going for a bit of a rough look, but I also did not want my boys to get any splinters from the wood.  If you do not have an electric sander, you can sand by hand with a heavier grade sand paper.

Step 7.  Lay your boards out in the order you want them to go on your bookshelf.  You may not care how the boards line up but I laid mine out so that they varied in color nicely and the nail holes did not all line up in a straight line.

Step 8.  Nail your boards on to your bookshelf.  I laid a blanket out on the floor to protect my bookshelf from scratching and then placed my bookshelf face down on the blanket.  I then arranged the boards in the order I wanted them on the back of the bookshelf and Jake helped me hammer them in to the edges of the bookshelf.  Make sure your nails are long enough to go through your boards and into the particle board.  My nails were 2” long.

Stand your bookshelf back up and you are done!  You will notice that the bookshelf is actually much sturdier with the pallet back than with the flimsy backing it originally came with.

Here is the bookshelf in its’ new home (my younger 2 boys’ cowboy bedroom) covered with their books.  They love having their books so accessible now, I love the new look of the bookshelf, and Jake loves having his trainer set up! The whole family won on this project!


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At January 25, 2014 at 8:42 AM , Blogger Abbie Stratton said...

Gorgeous bookcase! I have a bookcase that needs this treatment when I get the time, energy, and good weather--a magic combination, you know. :) I'm very much enjoying your tutorials!


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