Painting Back of Bookcase for a Perfect Finish: 7 Paint Color Ideas

A bookcase can serve as a focal point in any room thanks to its sheer size. Such an accent piece has become a necessity in every home, not just for storing books but also for holding your souvenirs, crafts, and other knick knacks.

By painting the back of a bookcase an attractive color, you can completely transform this essential book storage item. But what colors work best for the back of the bookcase? To give the shelves a new look, you can paint the back part bold or neutral, but it must be complementary to the rest of your room’s decor.

Painting the back of a bookcase is surprisingly easy. Whether you have a built-in or freestanding bookshelf, you can easily paint the back part to coordinate it with your room’s overall colors and specific theme.

Later in our article, we will discuss the best type of paint you can use and how to carry out this task. But first, let’s find out exactly which colors work for the back part of the bookshelf.

Back of Bookcase Paint Color Ideas

Modern White

Modern White Back of Bookcase

White has always been the most popular decorating color. When you paint the back of your bookcase a bright white shade, you can give it a modern, expensive look. This is an especially great color if your walls are already white and you are after a cohesive color scheme.

The rest of your bookcase can be any color, or you can add bold trims to this mix. But as long as you paint the back part a crisp white hue, it can stand out beautifully in any room.

Bright Yellow for a Cheerful Look

Bright Yellow for a Cheerful Look

If you find white too boring, how about yellow as a cheerful, fun color? A yellow-backed bookcase can be an exciting addition to a home office, child’s bedroom, or living room.

Yellow adds a pop of color to any furniture or accessory without overpowering the space. Use a bright shade for a playful look or a muted one for a more sophisticated vibe. A yellow bookcase can be just the thing your room needs for a warm, welcoming atmosphere!

Blue for a Touch of Uniqueness

Blue for a Touch of Uniqueness

A bright shade of blue can make your bookcase wall pop. The cool-toned blue will create a lively vibe when combined with white trim.

The shade you choose to paint the back wall of your bookcase is entirely up to you, but let’s not forget that some blue shades are more rustic than others. Therefore, your home’s theme or interior style is important when deciding on a specific blue shade.

Gray for Simplicity

Gray for Simplicity

For those who want a simple, smart look, we suggest a modern gray shade as the color choice for your bookcase wall.

A light to medium-toned gray will still shine through the other bold colors in the room, plus you can pair it with a darker wall color for a mix of contemporary meets earthy.

Sophisticated Rich Red

Sophisticated Rich Red

If you’re after a bold and striking look, try painting your bookcase wall a hot shade of red.

This warm-toned color adds vibrancy to any room. Notably, a rich, deep shade of red like burgundy is the ideal addition to a minimalist home office that requires a zest of life. Pair the red with black trim for ultra elegance.

Black to Showcase Decorations

Black to Showcase Decorations

If you want your books and knick-knacks to stand out, it is a good idea to paint your bookcase wall black. A dark background can really highlight your books, so this is a good opportunity to add bright and contrasting item colors to the shelves. This helps showcase the decoration around your sophisticated bookcase and make a statement.

Black can often be perceived as a harsh or intense color. To soften the look, consider pairing it with a contrasting trim color like white or cream.

A Seamless Design with Two-Toned Colors

A Seamless Design with Two Toned Colors

Creating a seamless look can be achieved with only one paint color but with two or more! A rich two-toned bookcase backing is sure to draw the eye to your room’s focal point. But to succeed in this task, it is better to use two contrasting colors that combine the room’s overall colors.

Try combining a bold accent color with a more subtle one. If you wish to use the same color with two different shades so it’s easier on the eye, select a light hue with a deeper, darker secondary one. You can even repeat these colors for your furniture or decor for a cohesive color scheme.

Can I Paint the Back of the Bookcase the Same Color as the Walls?

Yes, the back of your bookcase can be the same color as the wall or a contrasting one. You can create a visually appealing variation between the wall and the bookshelf if you want the latter.

Whether you choose to paint the back of your bookcase the same color as the walls for a matching look or a contrasting one, you can make a unique impression.

By using matching colors, your bookcase will appear like a natural part of the wall, thus making the room look larger. On the other hand, a different color will highlight the bookshelf as a focal point of the room.

What Kind of Paint Should I Use for the Back of a Bookcase?

Since the back of most bookcases is made of wood, you can use water-or oil-based paint suitable for wooden surfaces. However it is important to use a primer prior to painting the wood. So what type of paint is suitable for the back of a bookshelf?

Acrylic. This kind of paint adheres well to both waxy and oily surfaces, thus making it incredibly versatile. What’s more, acrylic paint doesn’t fade, crack or peel, which means it’s super durable.

When applying acrylic paint to the back of your bookshelves, be sure to use lacquer to protect the wood. You can apply many oil-based finishes, such as teak or linseed.

Another popular paint option for wooden bookcases is enamel. Just like acrylic, enamel won’t fade in color and offers maximum durability. But unlike the matte texture of acrylic, the enamel will give your bookshelves a glossy finish. That said, enamel-based paints are oil-based with a strong odor, so if you prefer the water-based option, go with acrylic as it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.

Semi or high-gloss paint finishes are also ideal for wooden surfaces as they are easier to clean and super smooth to the touch. Since the back of your bookcase isn’t always visible, you can always opt for a satin or matte sheen.

How Do I Paint the Back of My Bookcase?

Using a paintbrush for the back of a bookcase can be slightly difficult as there are hard-to-reach corners you need to cover. The best option is spray painting.

This method makes it easier to reach those awkward edges that a paintbrush cannot reach. That said, you can always use both spray paint and a paintbrush if you wish to paint the wooden surface of your bookcase more intricately. Follow these steps to carry out the spray painting:

  1. If you are already using your bookcase, remove all the books and other items from the shelves and store them away.
  2. Make sure your room has proper ventilation as the paint you use may contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to the lungs.
  3. Now get a clean, damp cloth and wipe the surfaces clean. Wait until the wooden surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.
  4. If the wood has never been painted before, it should be lightly sanded prior to priming.
  5. After sanding, clean the surface again and let it air dry.
  6. Apply the primer and wait until it is thoroughly dry before spray painting.
  7. If you are using acrylic paint, it is better to apply two coats for optimal results. Note: acrylic paint can take hours to dry so once the first coat has dried, you can apply the second layer. Make sure there is no dust on the surface before spray painting.
  8. After you’ve completed the second coat of spray paint, leave the bookcase to dry for 24 hours before adding your books to the shelves.

Follow our guide on ‘How to Paint an IKEA Billy Bookcase” for detailed tips on how to paint a bookcase from the inside out.