Painting Book Edges for Beginnings + Tips

Hi everyone! So, I’ve been wanting to paint some of the edges for my books for a while now because I think it’s a great way to personalize books.

I finally took the plunge, and did tit a couple of weeks ago.

In no way am I an expert on painting edges, and I’m still working on my edges better. Most of mine that I done so far are more on the “rustic” side, but to me that just adds to the character of the book.

Watch the Tiktok of me painting the book!

Items Needed:

  • Book
  • Paint
    • I use acrylic paint because it’s what I had available, it dries rather quick if you don’t glob the paint on the pages, and it doesn’t seep into the pages past the area that you paint)
    • I also currently have a handful of color, so it’s limited the books I paint, and I had to get creative with mixing colors
  • Paint Brush
  • Something to put the paint on (and blend colors if needed; I used a cardboard box)
  • Something to add pressure to the book to hold the pages together
    • I used the screw clamps in the bottom left photo. I’ve started to add folded piece of cardboard between the places where the clamp would touch the book to reduce the chances of my book having circular indents in the cover.
    • Tip: the more pressure that you the better because if not if will be harder to separate the pages in the end and it prevents the bristles of the brush getting to the inside of the book.
  • Paper or painters tape
    • I used old printer paper but had to do some tearing and folding to cover all of the edges of the bookcover then I had to use some tape to keep the paper in place and ended up removing some of the inside covering of one book, so I’m going to try to find some painter’s tape, or reduce the surface area that the other tape touches.
  • Optional: something to put under the book to keep paint from getting on the surface.


So because some of these steps can really be done in a variety of orders, I’m going to group them by sections.

  • Prepping:
    • Gather all of the stuff you are going to use because this isn’t a long process from start to finish
    • Cover the work surface
    • Take off the dust jacket and protect the cover with the paper or painter’s tape.
    • Apply the clamps/weight
    • Get the paint ready by either pouring some on whatever is holding the paint or mixing up the colors like you want
      • Be sure to get the color as close as you can before starting so you’re not having to try reapply multiple coats of paint to one area
      • Ad I don’t recommend trying to mix colors directly on the book because it can go wrong quickly and you still have to update the color with the paint that you have for the rest of the book
  • Painting:
    • I start either at the bottom/top of the book and work my way around the book
      • When I paint, I also apply more pressure at the area I’m working on because the pressure it’s quiet applied evenly with the clamps
      • If you have a thin piece of wood or something sturdy, I would try placing it over the book if you’re using the clamps like I am to try and distribute the pressure better.
    • You can allow the first coat to dry (wait about 5 minutes) and apply a second coat if you want
    • Darker colors might not need it while the lighter ones probably will need multiple coats
  • Allow to to fully dry (I waited about 15 minutes)
  • After the paint has fully dried, remove the clamps/weight and the paper/tape, separate the pages
    • I like to kind of bind the pages like you would if you’re flipping through a book to get some of them separated into sections
    • This part is kind of tricky because the paint “glues” the pages together in a way and if you don’t have enough weight while painting, it’s going to be more difficult to do this process.
    • Sometimes there’s a group of pages about 2 pages that get stuck together.
    • When this happens, it can get really stressful, but you have to find of do the thing like you’re flipping through a book and look for a pocket where the pages have started to come apart and gently slide your finger along the pages to finish separating them
  • Then once you have all of the pages separated, I like to flip through the book again and really the dust jacket.

How I Pick the Color for the Edges:

Like I said earlier, I’m working with limited colors because I’m currently looking for my container with all of my other paint with other colors, but I have three shades of pink, white, black, a dark and light green, yellow, and brown.

So, for me, my selection of books is limited to what I can paint because I like to try to match to something on the cover.

In the photo up top with Better than the Best Plan I went with the hot pinkish undertones, with The Queen’s Assassin I went with the dark gray/black with the roses, then with Covet I was going to go with gold but couldn’t mix the exact color I wanted so I ended up going with like a dark red/wine color, and Nameless Queen I decided to do a gray color!

Also I wouldn’t recommend starting with a book with deckle edges like Covet because it is difficult painting the outside part with the deckle edges, and it’s really time consuming to separating the pages.

If you’d like to watch the process CLICK HERE to be taken to my tiktok video!

Happy reading until next time,

3 thoughts on “Painting Book Edges for Beginnings + Tips

    • It’s a little daunting in the beginning, but it’s not as scary as people think! Tbh I used a book from book outlet first so it wasn’t like it would have been a huge loss 😂


  1. Pingback: Wrap-Up and Book Haul March 2021 | Lala's Book Reviews

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