I found an amazing plant shelf on Craigslist and it’s the perfect addition to our small back patio. However, take a lesson from me. If it’s going outdoors in the blazing sun and the elements, do not paint it with interior paint – no matter how many coats of polyurethane you add – It will not last. And then you will have a messy, peeling, unprotected shelf on your hands. Check out the before and after on this plant shelf makeover.
When I saw this wood shelf, I knew it would be fabulous in a fun springy color on the back patio filled with plants. So I painted it with some leftover paint and couldn’t wait to start adding plants. Big mistake. I thought polyurethane would protect it enough. Not so much. Wait till you see what a mess it turned into!
Plant Shelf Makeover
Here’s a pic of my fab find last year after a few coats of paint and pretty much a quart of polyurethane.
And here ladies and gents is what you end up with after it gets painted with interior paint:
I mean, who wouldn’t want that train wreck sitting on their patio, right??? Gross. Clearly, this guy needed a complete overhaul. Painting over it wasn’t going to do the trick without getting all the peeling paint off first.
What I used for this plant shelf makeover to fix my mess:
Citristrip to the rescue. If you’ve never used this stuff before, I highly recommend it. I’ve used it several times and it works like a champ. It’s safe for indoor use although I wouldn’t advise that because of the mess that happens when you start chipping away all the peeling paint. Another plus is it doesn’t have an awful chemical smell like other harsh strippers (smells like oranges).
Get to Stripping!
Put plastic underneath your project because it’s about to get messy. Get a paint pail of some kind and liners – This one is my favorite. Make sure to get the liners too so you can just discard that part and your paint pail will be good for years of use. I use a cheapo brush because I don’t want paint stripper residue on my good ones.
Also worth noting – if you’re doing a stripping project, you can’t use foam brushes. The stripper will eat away your foam. Not that I tried that once or anything. Or maybe I did. Oops. Anyway – Citristrip is a thin gel consistency and goes on like paint. Paint a good coat all over your furniture piece and wait. And wait. And wait some more. I gave this plant shelf at least three hours before I started chipping away, but it could’ve used longer.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
You’re going to need some plastic putty knives like these. I wouldn’t use metal because you don’t want to gouge your wood. You can test a small area to see if the paint is ready to come off.
One word of advice – if you want every single drop of paint to come off, leave the stripper on longer. Or you can apply a second coat of stripper. For this plant shelf, I wasn’t concerned with every bit of it being stripped. This is an outdoor piece that is bound to get some dings and dirt on it. I just needed a semi-smooth surface to repaint. I scraped away at it for a while.
When I had most of the peeling paint off, I let it sit for a day to make sure everything was dry. Then I used the electric sander and went over all the areas I could. If you don’t have an electric sander, do yourself a favor and get one ASAP. It’s a total game changer when it comes to refinishing furniture. Here’s a similar one to the one I use.
I chipped away a little more after sanding and that was it. I found it helpful to work on this in stages – if not, your shoulders and forearms will hate you for all the scraping and sanding! It definitely wasn’t perfect after the stripping and sanding, but for an outdoor piece, it was just fine.
For this project, I used off the shelf Olympic Exterior paint in satin finish from Lowes. One of my favorite blues is Lyndhurst Duchess Blue – sounds fancy, huh? It’s the same color I used in the plant shelf interior paint mishap of 2016. Teal/turquoise-ish. Not a word, I know, but it works. I don’t know why, but I’ve painted a ton of things over the years, and blue is by far my favorite. Doesn’t matter what it’s going on or what brand, but blue paint goes on like butter. If anyone knows the why of this, please share it with me!
I did two coats on this plant shelf including underneath each shelf. I waited four hours between coats for adequate drying time. And I even had a little helper for this one! Don’t mind the colorful hair – it was wacky hair day at school this day.
Wait for it to dry completely – we actually brought it inside at night because the sprinklers were running that night and the recommendation on the paint can is to not paint in the evenings when it may be dewy. Dried overnight and then back outside.
Add the fun stuff!
Now, you can add some pretties and done! I added some DIY planters – you can see my farmhouse style planter I made here. Most everything on the shelf is thrifted or repurposed. There’s a brick from my husband’s grandpa’s chimney that sits front and center and an old railroad spike. A rusty watering can even become a planter and I plan to add a few things here and there to add to the rustic charm. The hanging planters on the side are clearance finds from last year at Michaels and my ferns are coming back?? I didn’t know they would do this!
Let’s just hope I can keep the plants alive!
I’d say that’s a huge improvement from the peeling gross mess I started with!
Total Cost Breakdown
- Plant shelf – Already had, but I paid $50 on Craigslist last year. If you’re handy, you can build a basic shelf like this for around $75 bucks.
- Citristrip – $12
- Putty Knives – $5
- Paint pail and liners – I already had these but about $15 will get you started
- Paint – $11
- Plastic Drop Cloths – Already had on hand, but you can use trash bags if you need to!
- Plants/containers – this will vary depending on what you have on hand. I spent about $10 on plants/soil.
Definitely not a cost-free update, but hopefully it will last longer than 6 months like the last time!
Here are my top recommended and favorite planting and gardening supplies to help you create a gorgeous landscape, flower or vegetable garden.
Gorilla Carts GOR800-COM Steel Utility Cart with Removable Sides, 800-lbs. Capacity, Red
Garden carts can be a lifesaver when carrying plants, mulch, potting soil and more around your yard. This one has removable sides and can hold up to 800 pounds!
Women's Garden Gloves, nitrile coated work gloves, assorted colors. Women's Large, 6 Pair Pack
Protect your hands from dirt, thorns, and moisture with these gloves. These comes with 6 pairs!
Scuddles Garden Tools Set - 8 Piece Heavy Duty Gardening Kit With Storage Organizer
Every gardener needs a set of tools that are built to last. This set is affordable and contains all the basic tools you'll need for planting.
Kneeling Pad Extra Thick Waterproof Bath Kneeler & Garden Kneeler| XL Firm Foam Pad
Protect your knees with a durable and waterproof kneeling pad. Easy to carry and super handy.
Sloggers 5119FCGN07 Wo's, Fresh Cut Green Waterproof Comfort Shoe
Gardening shoes that are waterproof, comfortable, and can be hosed off after you're done are a must for any gardener.
3" Round Peat Pots for Seedlings - 60 Pack | Seed Starter Kit with Seed Starter Pots for Plants
Perfect pots for starting all of your seedlings.
Lifetime 60069 Raised Garden Bed Kit, 4 by 4 Feet, Pack of 3
If you want to try your hand at growing a garden, these raised bed planters are a perfect and affordable way to start. Excellent reviews for ease of assembly and durability.
Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden
The perfect book if you're considering venturing into raised bed gardening.
QEESTARS 2 pcs Round Plastic Resin Chain Basket Hanging Planter Hanging Flowers and Plants
Dress up your porches or patios with this set of hanging planters - includes a rust-resistant chain and hanger.
KINGLAKE 100 Pcs 6 x10cm Plastic Plant T-Type Tags Nursery Garden Labels
Keep your plantings organized with this 100 pack of garden labels.
Plant Flower Stand Plant Display Shelf Rack Shelf Bamboo Foldable
This durable plant stand is suitable for indoor or outdoor use and can display all your beautifully grown plants!
Best Funny Garden & Gardening Plants Lovers Gift T-Shirt
Because who doesn't need another fun t-shirt, right?
Muryobao Women Ponytail Summer Sun Hat Wide Brim UV Hats Floppy Bucket Cap
Protect your face and keep your ponytail at the same time! Genius!
TRG Inc Rake The Groundskeeper II
A garden rake that will rake mulch, rocks, grass, and more without damaging your plants.
Nifty Grower 100ft Garden Hose - New Expandable Water Hose
Your new plants and flowers will need water and this hose will get the job done!
FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter, 37 gallon, Black
Compost is a must for giving your plants and vegetables the perfect nutrients. This bin is easy to use, easy to turn, and will last for years to come.
And for planting ideas, check out these flower suggestions:
Plants that Love Shade
Gorgeous Perennial Plants
Long Blooming Flowers
Container Plants that Love Full Sun
Happy painting and don’t forget to Pin It!
Wednesday 1st of May 2019
It looks super good now Melissa! (and what a cute helper you have!) I really need to do something like that! I have 2 shelves similar to that... ;)
create and find
Wednesday 1st of May 2019
Thanks Natalie! You should certainly do it - I'm assuming you guys aren't buried in snow year round??
Sunday 23rd of July 2017
Great find, it turned out really nice too! Pinning. Thanks for sharing at To Grandmas House We Go Link Party.
Sunday 23rd of July 2017
Thank you Stephanie - it's amazing what paint can do! And thanks so much for sharing my project!
Tuesday 20th of June 2017
I had no idea that using interior paint on something outdoors would get so ruined! Yikes. Thanks for sharing that lesson with us at the #HomeMattersParty along with your plant shelf makeover. It turned out great and I love that paint color.
Wednesday 21st of June 2017
Thank you Nicole! I honestly didn't think it would get that gross in less than a year but lesson learned!
Friday 16th of June 2017
Love the color! I just stripped doors. I had planned on trying citristrip but hubs was too quick for me and bought something else before I got to the store. Good to know it works so well. #HomeMattersParty
Sunday 18th of June 2017
Thanks Emily! I've used it many times and I've been pleased with the results.
Home Matters Linky Party #140 - Mom Always Finds Out
Friday 16th of June 2017
[…] Plant Shelf Makeover from Melissa […]