Painting a book shelf with Rit dye

Hi there everyone!

Today I am sharing how to paint a book shelf with rit dye.

So excited to share this!

It was a lot of fun.

Painting an untreated wood bookshelf with rit dye

Teal and Tangerine were my choice of colors.

SUPPLIES needed:

Drop cloth

rubber gloves

dye in your color of choice

bristle brush

foam brush


steel wool pads

polyurethane {Satin finish}

Untreated wood works best. My book case is pine.

If working with finished wood, strip paint, varnish or wax from the item. Scrape and sand surface until smooth; wipe with tack cloth.

Step 1:

– Cover work surface with a plastic drop cloth.

book shelf for rit dye 002

Step 2 and instructions:

– Dye Preparation: Wearing rubber gloves, measure and mix ½ cup of Teal {or color or choice dye with 2 cups very hot water.

Stir well.
Note: Test dye color on a scrap piece of similar wood or underside of chair.  {I tested mine on the back of this shelf}

If color is too light, add more dye; if color is too dark, add more water. Dye will appear lighter when dry.

– Wearing rubber gloves, apply dye to chair using a foam brush, bristle brush or old cloth. Spread dye solution evenly over surface. The shape of the wood piece or the area may determine which to use. I used small foam brushes for the nooks and crannies inside the book case.

For example, a cloth works well on the legs. A bristle brush gets into the details around the joints and a foam brush covers large flat surfaces evenly, like the chair seat.

Let dry and, if necessary, reapply dye to achieve desired shade.
Note: When staining wood, keep dye hot for better absorption. Cover dye with plastic wrap and heat on high in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes.

– Allow wood to dry completely.

– To seal dye-stained chair, apply one or two coats of polyurethane.

***Rub lightly with steel wool between coats; remove dust with a tack cloth***.

For clean-up, simply wash paint brushes with mild soap and water.

No strong chemicals are needed.

book shelf for rit dye 004


I just love the way the natural wood looks with a bit of color over it.  I did however, do two coats of teal to achieve a darker, richer color.

book shelf for rit dye 009

 I wanted a pop and I thought the tangerine for the inner shelves would be very complimentary.

I did two coats of tangerine as well.

I love color and combining two for interest.

After my shelf dried over night, I went over it with my wool pads and it evened the tones and made it smooth.

book shelf for rit dye 008

I then vacuumed up any small particles of wool and dust left behind.

I went back with some polyurethane and gave it two coats.

book shelf for rit dye 012

book shelf style for rit dye

You may recall my rit dye mason jars.

I thought these would look cute styled in with my books and fresh flowers.

Such an easy touch.

Rit dye teal and tangerine

Such a happy vibrant book shelf.  Great for a fun, friendly family room,

kids room, office, wherever you would like a splash of happy.

Funky fun book shelf painted with rit dye teal and tangerine


Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you will give it try.

It truly looks like it was meant to be this way naturally.  No brush strokes, and not to mention…

how cost friendly using Rit dye is opposed to paint and your labor involved with regular paint.

You can follow me anywhere,


For more inspiring Rit dye projects you can check out their

Rit dye website

And don’t forget to check out my

RIT DYE gallery

of ideas as well.



  1. says

    I really like the color combo, its beautiful! I wonder could you use the powder Rit? I haven’t saw the liquid here yet, we live in Northern Siberia ( well not really) but we are really slow to get things this far North,

  2. says

    I absolutely love this look, Debbie! It is so unique. I’m also jazzed about that wipe on poly and am going to be looking into that pronto.

  3. says

    Your touch with mixing colors is spot on…the blue and orange are amazing! I love that wipe on poly too. So much easier than a brush. It’s very cool that you have a custom piece of furniture in your home designed by you. This will give your kids something to fight over!!!

  4. says

    I love the color combo! I would never have thought to use dye instead of paint. Awesome! PS – I mentioned you in my blog post today (thanking people who have helped me in my first 6 months!)

  5. Hunny Kidd says

    Ok! This has got to be one of the coolest projects I’ve seen in a long time. I love crafting and my girls (teen agers) like to get messy with me. This would be a great project for desks in their rooms. Thanks for the ‘pick-me-upper’!

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