Painting Shelves to Avoid the Tackiness Factor

green shelf
If an oil-based paint is too messy and smelly for you, use Ben Moore’s ADVANCE, an alkyd formula.

I know you are all madly painting everything in sight in preparation for the winter holiday season! Here’s a bit of info on Shelf Painting.

So. I have painted a lot of shelves in my day and I have noticed that with some paints there is a tackiness that never goes away. The books, vases, or objects that I find visually irresistible that I place back on the dry newly painted shelf, mantle or tabletop kind of stick to it.

And because I sometimes (OK. Often, before I started working with the paint company!) didn’t prepare the surface correctly, paint would even peel up as a lifted a vase to dust during a cleaning spree.

So annoying, and aesthetically upsetting as well.

Now that I hang out with housepaint professionals and overhear all the advice they give to customers searching for answers, I know about how to do away with the tackiness that has plagued shelf painters ever since latex paint was invented.

When oil-based paint was the main or only choice, books and stuff were set upon a painted shelf without incident. Oil-based paint dries to a very hard finish. But cleaning up with solvents is a smelly mess and the fumes linger, so the friendlier latex, water-based paint was developed.

I love the easiness of latex paints, but latex stays flexible even when dry, and that means tackiness on horizontal surfaces.

Long story short: use an alkyd paint for shelves, cupboards and bookcases. The paint science people developed the alkyd formula, a combo oil and water-based paint that has a lot of the hardness of oil and all the easy clean-up of water. Benjamin Moore’s ADVANCE formula is the one I have here at the store and it’s a great one.

Here’s what Joe and Jeff, here at the Ardmore store, say about prepping and painting with the ADVANCE formula:

  1. Sand and clean whatever you are about to paint. A clean, clean, clean, roughed up surface is what you want! Give the paint something to grab on to.
  2. Brush the paint on. Cover it all really well while the paint is wet. Best to not have to touch it up afterwards.
  3. It will have brush strokes showing at first. Relax. ADVANCE will level itself out during the first 2 hours of drying time.
  4. If you missed a spot, cover it during the second coat painting.
  5. Let the shelves, or whatever it is you have painted, dry completely before using. It will be dry to the touch in a few hours, and seem dry enough to use in the next day or two. But resist! It takes a FULL MONTH for the paint to cure, so if you can manage to not use what you just painted so beautifully for a full 30 days – that is the best course of action. Plenty of time to simply admire your excellent painting skills.IMG_8418

Have a grand holiday time, Everyone!!


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