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Painted Old Book DIY

Have you held on to an old book or a stack of old books like I have? I held on to most of my text books and reference books from law school. I even have a few text books left over from college. I always intended to spruce them up and use them in my home decor. They are great to help give you various heights to work with when putting together a display or vignette. At one point I covered several old books with some pretty scrapbooking paper, but I had a whole pile of books that I hadn’t touched. So, I decided I would finally give them the makeover they deserved. Here are my steps if you want to give it a try.

Gather Supplies

Obviously you are going to need some old books and some paint. Like I said above, I had a whole stack of books from law school. I also have a garage full of paint. So, I grabbed some white chalk paint, some gray enamel, and some black chalkboard paint. I selected these paints for their color and convenience, but the best paint out of the three I chose turned out to be the enamel. The others worked, but if I do this again, I’ll go with an enamel.

Old Books Before

Paint Your Old Book

First, I laid out a drop cloth on my table. Then, I started painting my books. I started with the gray enamel paint and I painted several books. I painted the spine and both the front and back covers and set them up like tee-pees to dry. Then, I painted a couple of black books and then the white. After they were dry, I painted the inside edges and laid them flat to dry.

Painted Old Book DIY
Painted Old Book DIY

The enamel paint looked beautiful after one coat, but I did two coats anyway. The chalkboard paint definitely need two coats. And, the chalk paint got two coats, but probably needed three. I also played around and added some antiquing wax to one of the white books to see what I thought.

Painted Old Book DIY

PRO TIP: While you are painting, try not to get paint on the pages. I did in a few places because I had paint on my hands and then I picked up a book and touched the pages. I may at some point see if I can gold leaf the edges of the pages, but for now it’s fine.


Once all your paint is dry, set your books out in a vignette or display area. You can stack them up and use them to create different heights. You can put plants, candles, bowls, or anything really on top of a stack of books.

painted books
painted books

This is such an easy DIY. Give it a try! If you like painting books, you might like painting furniture as well. Check out some of the furniture makeover’s I have done. Furniture Makeover: From Office Credenza to Bedroom TV Cabinet Reinvented TV Cabinet: How to Paint Laminate Furniture with Metallic Paint Metallic Paint + Peel & Stick Wall Paper = Major Bookshelf Makeover DIY Repurposed Furniture: Making Your Grandmother’s Furniture Fit Your Decor

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