Floater shelves are not like shelving units. The set on L brackets and literally float because the are held down by nothing other than the weight placed upon them. Because they are not secured they are very easy to refinish. Simply clean all items off of them and carry the shelves out to your work shop or garage.
Use an electric handheld sander and rough grit sand paper to remove all of the old finish off of each shelf. Don’t forget the edges. Once you have gone over each shelf switch to fine grit to give the wood a smooth surface so the new finish will adhere properly. The shelves should be sanded even if there was no old finish on them.
Once all of the shelves have been thoroughly sanded clean remaining dust off of them using a soft dry cloth. If any of the dust from sanding remains it will get trapped under your new finish and will cause blemishes and bumps.
Once the floater shelves are all clean it’s time to either paint or stain. Pine and Oak wood are both naturally beautiful. There really is no need to stain them. However, if you wish to deepen the color apply stain using a soft dry cloth. Rub the stain on in a circular motion then promptly wipe it back off using a clean dry cloth.
If you wish to give your floating shelves a burst of color you can apply latex paint using a roller. Pour the paint into a large paint tray and use a full size paint roller for the main surface of the boards and a small paint brush for the edges. Allow the first coat of paint 25 minutes to dry then apple a second. A third coat can be applied if desired for deeper color and a more even finish. Allow the final coat of paint 12 hours to fully dry.
Once the paint is fully dry apply a couple coats of polyurethane to protect the new finish. Poly should also be applied over stain. Use a large foam paint brush to apply the poly. Let the first coat dry for 25 minutes then apply a second. A third coat can be applied for maximum shine and protection. The poly makes it so that no damage can come to the paint when items are placed on the shelves. The shelves will also be moisture resistant which means they can be wiped down when dusting and cleaning.
Allow the final coat of poly 24 hours to dry before bringing the shelves back into your home. After twenty four hours you may set them on their brackets and place all items back on them without having to worry about the poly finish becoming dented or damaged.