How To Prevent Sticky Shelves

Have you noticed that items on your shelves seem to stick whenever they have been sitting on the shelf for more than a few days or months? If so you might think that the humidity in your garage or something in the package is the cause. It might not be. If your shelves are sticky long after being painted, they were probably painted with a latex based paint. This paint is what causes the sticky feeling that never seems to go away. Prevent more items from sticking to your shelves by following these steps.

  1. Remove the shelves. Shelves are easier to work with if you remove them from the brackets or ledges the rest on. If the shelves are built into a free standing unit, move the unit away from the wall if possible and tip it over so you can better access all the shelves.
  2. Scuff the surface. Use a fine sandpaper or scrubber to rub the latex paint surface of the shelves. You aren't sanding the paint off the surface, just roughening the surface so that it looses some of its stickiness.
  3. Clean the shelves. Use a soft cloth and warm water to wipe the shelves clean. The warm water should help you remove any paint dust that was scuffed as well as any dirt and debris that may have collected on the surface. Remember that the sticky surface doesn't just stick to the books and boxes you store on the shelves. All the dist and dirt in the air will stick to the shelves as well.
  4. Apply a coat of polyurethane topcoat. Now you can prevent a sticky surface by painting the shelves with a clean coat of polyurethane. Check the paint that was originally on the shelving because it may react negatively with some of your polyurethane options.
  5. Repaint with an oil-based paint (optional). If you don't like the clear coat of polyurethane or it doesn't work then consider stripping and repainting the shelves. This time use an oil-based acrylic paint that will dry without being sticky or tacky. There are also a few water-based paints on the market that can be used to paint your shelves without leaving a sticky surface. Consult your local paint store for recommendations and test paint a small area before committing to a total repaint if you are using a water-based paint.

Sticky shelves can be more than a irritation. They can also damage the books or boxes you try to store on them. Follow these steps to prevent sticky shelves and repair any sticky shelves you already have.


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