I want to paint these two black storage wall units. I’m not sure if it’s oil-based paint.

Is this Zinnser 1-2-3 Bullseye primer suitable to cover the wall units?

What kind of paint type recommendations exist for book-shelf type units. We want a simple plain white. Latex? Enamel?

bookcases the primer


2 Answers 2


Use enamel. Latex is too soft for book shelves. Using the right primer is also important and this depends on the material you are trying to paint. You don't want the paint to be removed by placing things on the shelves, so the bond to the base material needs to be strong. I don't think the primer you pictured is an appropriate primer for the job. The primer needs to be as hard as the topcoat or you get cracking in the topcoat. It's a little funny that the Rustoleum website has a video of someone painting a book shelf using that primer. I can't tell you the number of times that I've seen things stuck to shelves because the wrong paint was used. That primer even states that it's flexible... AKA too soft for book shelves.


Agreed with what Ron says. On bookshelves, you want a paint that is very hard and very dry.

Also, keep in mind that black paint will be devilishly difficult to cover adequately, and will take many coats. You must start with a light but very thorough sanding, or nothing will stick. The last thing you need after putting down 5 coats of paint is the stuff peeling off at the first disturbance, and leaving black speckles all over your furniture.

The sanding need only be light - we're just looking to remove the gloss from the paint so the next primer can have some "tooth" to engage at the molecular level. My favorite go-to for that is 3M green Scotchbrite like on pots-and-pan sponges.

Then follow with 2-3 coats of primer until the color seems fairly uniform (not too much blotchy black printing through - you'll see what I mean) and then 2 coats of topcoat. Be sure to mind your re-coating intervals, or you'll have to sand again.

This will be the stinky oil-based alkyd enamels, unless you want to roll the dice on the newest water-borne alkyds.

thinks about the sheer labor involved You know, Ikea makes really nice white bookshelves :)

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