Little Free Library FAQs
If your library is made of wood, then we recommend using a standard house paint (water-based or oil-based paints will both work fine). They’re durable, inexpensive, and available at any hardware or home goods store. Before you paint, start by applying a coat of primer. Primer is designed to bond well with wood. Then, apply a few coats of paint on top of the primer. No coats of varnish or sealant are needed if you’re using house paint. (The only time we recommend using varnish is if you painted your library with acrylic paints that aren’t designed for outdoor use.) You could choose to stain your library instead, but it won’t last as long as paint will.
If your library is made of wood, then think of it like an exterior deck. Raw wood needs to be painted or stained to protect it from water and sun damage. Standard exterior house paints are a great option. They’re durable, inexpensive, and universally available. We recommend applying a coat of primer before painting or staining your library; the primer is designed to bond well with wood, and will help your paint or stain adhere better. Apply more than one coat of paint or stain for extra weather protection, and reapply every 1 – 2 years, or as needed.
Some people choose to add a few coats of polyurethane varnish on top of the paint or stain, but it may not be necessary. If you’ve painted your library with house paint, that’s more durable than varnish. Applying a new coat of paint every few years will likely protect your library better than varnish will.