How to Chalk Paint Old Books (using hardbacks)

This post may contain affiliate links which won't change your price but will share some commission. Read more here.

Love the look of vintage farmhouse-inspired home decor but don’t want to spend a lot of money? Learn how to chalk paint old books for just pennies!

Book and Paint

Anyone else absolutely adore using old books in their home decor?

Me, me! A few months ago I shared a project using chalk paint and stamping.

These “thankful grateful blessed” books are just lovely by my front door.

Book and Paint

I created these “be our guest” books for our new farmhouse bathroom.

Paint and Vase

I knew there HAD to be more ways to use old books in your home decor and I was right!

Today’s craft is so incredibly easy and even better if you have old books laying around the house or you love to yard sale and thrift shop like I do.

A wooden table

How to Chalk Paint Old Books


(I’ve included some affiliate links for your convenience.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)

Old hardback books
Chalk paint
Dark Wax
Paint Brushes

Step 1. Choose your books, the less pristine the better.

Book and Paint

This is where thrifty shopping comes in hand. There are many places to get inexpensive used books, including the free bin at the public library, used bookstores, thrift stores and yard sales.

For this project the books don’t have to match but I like to keep them relatively similar in size for stacking.

Step 2. Lay each book open so the cover lies flat.

hard back book open and ready for painting

Go ahead and protect your surface with newspaper or a painter’s cloth.

Decorating Tips and Hacks
Get my FREE guide: How to decorate your home for practically nothing!
Featured Image

Step 3. Brush chalk paint over the entire cover, edges included.

Book and Paint

This brand is my favorite because it’s easily found at craft stores and on Amazon. (You can see it here.)

Since the pages of the books won’t be shown you only need to paint the cover and book edges.

Step 4. Repeat with additional coats until you achieve the desired coverage.

Text, letter

Two coats was adequate for these books.

Step 5. Use coarse sandpaper to distress the surface.

Diagram, text

Distress as little or as much as you’d like. Totally up to your preference!

Step 6. Wipe off dust with a paper towel or cloth.

Thrifty tip: use old t-shirts for your craft projects.

Step 7. Using a clean cloth, apply a small amount of dark wax, covering the surface area completely.

Book and Paint

I prefer using a cloth rather than a paint brush for this step. If you want to make it easy, you can also use a paper towel!

Step 8. Immediately take a second clean cloth or paper towel and wipe away some of the dark wax until the desired effect is achieved.

Book and Paint

This is totally depends on the finished look you’re going for. You can also use a lighter wax if you like that better.

Step 9. Let dry then tie a ribbon around books and use in any vignette.

Book and Paint

I love to collect vintage ribbon from yard sales mostly and I simply added a lace ribbon to corral the books.

Here they are on my favorite side table by my front door.


More Chalk Paint Projects

Tips and projects for beginners and pros alike that prove that anyone can learn to paint furniture and home decor accessories with chalk paint!

Decorating Tips and Hacks
Get my FREE guide: How to decorate your home for practically nothing!
Featured Image

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Your instructions are clear & concise, the end result is a beautiful addition to any farmhouse/chic decor !
    Thank you for giving tips on where to find books.