If you’re in love with DIY projects or Pinterest, then you have most likely come across lots of tutorials using chalk paint to transform old furniture into beautiful pieces of art. Though this paint has been around for many years, there are lots of misconceptions surrounding it and DIYers don’t fully understand how to use it. In this piece, we will outline everything you might need to know down to a T.
1. What is chalk paint?
Chalk paint has become popular in the past couple of years, mainly because of Pinterest. But if you have recently bumped into it, you are probably wondering how it differs from the traditional paint. Well, chalk paint is characterized by a soft and super matte finish. A surface painted with chalk paint will look like it is covered in chalk.
Most DIYers love chalk paint mainly because it is thicker than the regular paint, which means that it is easier to use. Also, since it’s latex-based, the surface it is applied on can be cleaned with water.
Note that chalk paint is not chalkboard paint. Chalkboard paint is a different kind of paint used to convert surfaces into chalkboards that can be written on with chalk and is easy to erase. With that said, don’t be tempted to write on your chalk-painted surface as you might end up ruining it.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s have a look at its history.
“Chalk Paint” is a trademarked term. The first chalk paint was made in 1990 by Annie Sloan, the founder and owner of the self-named company. At the time, Annie was looking for a paint product that required less time to prep and that was easier to use. When she couldn’t find a paint product that met her needs at the time, she went into creative mode and made one that did. Over the years, the paint formula has been improved ipon and can now adhere to any surface with minimal or no preparation.
According to Annie, one of the best characteristics of the chalk paint is that it doesn’t have black pigment. This means that different colors can be mixed without becoming muddy or dull. This property allows you to come up with unique shades that have a beautiful chalky finish.
Due to the above properties (and Pinterest), chalk paint has grown in popularity and is now the go-to paint product for making distressed furniture. Currently, various companies have come up with similar products which they brand as “chalky finish,” and “chalk-like,” among other terms.
2. Chalk paint colors
The original Annie Sloan Chalk Paint color palette has an 18th century feel to it. The colors are rich and bright, but you can choose to darken them using wax.
Currently, Annie Sloan has 36 colors, all ranging from pale and soft to strong and bright. If you want to make the color paler, you simply add Old White to give the color a more vintage look or Pure White to give it a modern feel.
Since the paint does not have black pigment, you can combine various colors, mix and layer them without getting dull colors. The colors are as listed below:
- Paloma – This is a warm gray made by mixing yellow, purple and white.
- Paris Gray – This is a soft bluish-gray. It’s associated with elegant French Chateau painted furniture.
- Original – This is a warm, creamy, soft white.
- Old Ochre – This is a warm and soft neutral that pairs well with Scandinavian Pink and Chateau Gray.
- Henrietta – This is a rich and slightly complex pink that has hints of lilac.
- Emile – This is a soft and warm Aubergine with undertones of pink-red. When Old White is added, it gives beautiful lilac tones. The color pairs well with French Linen and Chateau Gray.
- Cream – This is a pale and soft creamy yellow. It pairs well with Scandinavian Pink and Paris Gray.
- Country Gray – This is a useful putty color that has greenish raw umber. It is best used with Aubusson Blue.
- Antoinette – This is a pale and soft pink with hints of brown, which tones down its sweetness.
- Old White – This is a soft white without yellow or pink. It goes well with French Linen.
- Pure White – This is a clean and pure white. It goes well with Country Gray.
- Versailles – This is a delicate and soft, dusky green mixed with yellow.
- Aries – This is a yellow ochre with some hints of orange juice. It pairs well with Country Gray and Chateau Gray.
- Barcelona Orange – This is a warm and robust orange.
- Emperors Silk – This is a pure and bright red.
- Scandinavian Pink – This color is mostly used on Swedish furniture.
- English Yellow – This shade of yellow was popular with the English in the 18th century. When Antibes Green is added to it, it turns out to be lime green.
- Burgundy – This is a deep, warm, and rich red. The color resembles dark cherries and pairs well with English Yellow and Coco.
- Primer Red – This is a deep red ochre that gives a lovely effect when paired with Paris Gray or Chateau Gray.
- Coco – This is a soft brown-gray which gives a beautiful result when paired with Duck Egg Blue or Provence.
- Provence – This is a blue-green that draws its inspiration from southern France.
- French Linen – This is a neutral khaki gray.
- Louis Blue – This is a pastel blue that works great with a dark brown wax.
- Greek Blue – This is a warm and soft blue without green.
- LemLem – This is a warm and soft green color.
- Old Violet – Like Blue Lavender, Old Violet is mostly used to paint the insides of furniture. The color works excellently with Emperors Silk and Paris Gray.
- Duck Egg Blue – This is a soft green-blue that is common in Swedish and Rococo French interiors. It’s perfect with Aubusson Blue and Primer Red.
- Aubusson Blue – This is a deep blue-gray that was common in classic Aubusson rugs in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Olive – This is a deep green that has hints of yellow.
- Napoleonic Blue – This is a deep and rich blue.
- Giverny – This is a clean, cool, cheery, bright blue.
- Antibes Green – This is a neoclassic green that pairs well with Aubusson Blue.
- Florence – This color is inspired by the colors of copper green minerals.
- Honfleur – This is a rich brown.
- Chateau Gray – This is a lovely grayed green and is common in French woodwork.
- Graphite – This is a pale black with brown and purple hues.
- Amsterdam Green – This is a deep and strong green.
3. How to make chalk paint
Chalk paint can be expensive, and as such, many DIYers prefer to make their own. But before you dive in head first, here are some key things to note:
- You can start with matte latex paint for a chalkier finish.
- Making chalk paint means that you’ll have to choose your custom paint color first before mixing the ingredients.
- Homemade chalk paint dries up faster than regular paint.
- As you’ll see below, using baking soda to make chalk paint can be messy. Also, if you don’t mix the ingredients carefully and thoroughly, the resulting chalk paint will have a gritty texture.
Note that with the different methods below, you can vary the amounts and still end up with a similar final result. However, remember that if you add more powder, the paint will be thicker.
Feel free to experiment with the process you feel is easier.
Baking Soda Recipe
This is the most straightforward recipe of all. From the box of baking soda in your kitchen, you can make chalk paint that you can use to transform your old chair into a beautiful piece of distressed furniture.
- Half a cup of baking soda
- A cup of latex paint
Mix these ingredients well until the baking soda dissolves. Add a few tablespoons of cold water so that the ingredients can mix completely. Remember, the trick to avoiding the gritty texture that most DIYers complain about is to mix thoroughly.
Plaster of Paris Recipe
You can buy Plaster of Paris from your local craft or hardware store.
- 1 part Plaster of Paris
- Three parts latex paint (no primer)
For this recipe, we should stress that you can’t use paint with primer since it will negatively affect the texture and make it difficult to use. The first step is mixing the plaster with some water until the lumps are gone. The mixture should be as consistent as pancake batter. Once this is done, add latex paint and mix it thoroughly.
Ensure that you use the paint on your piece soon after before it dries.
Calcium Carbonate Recipe
Some DIYers have noted that calcium carbonate tends to dissolve in water better than baking soda. As such, the chances of getting a gritty texture are reduced. The only problem with this recipe is that you might have to place an order for calcium carbonate since most local hardware stores don’t stock it. Also, while making a purchase, always ensure that it is 100% calcium carbonate.
- A cup of latex paint
- Four tablespoons of calcium carbonate
- Two tablespoons of water
Stir and mix the ingredients well. When the paint is ready, use it fast before it dries up, and let the coat dry overnight before adding another one.
4. How to paint furniture with chalk paint
Painting furniture with chalk paint is like using regular paint, but with minor differences. For instance, chalk paint doesn’t leave an odor and it doesn’t require any special finishes. Also, as you’ll see, minimal furniture preparation (if any) is required. With that said, let’s get into the heart of chalk painting.
Prepare the surface
Wipe off dirt and debris
Depending on the furniture you are painting, this step will involve different activities. First, you’ll have to clean the furniture by wiping off any dirt and debris. If you leave these on the surface, the paint will not stick. Therefore, if there is dirt and debris stuck on the surface, use a clean rag and a cleaning solution.
Remove any hardware
If the furniture has hardware like handles that you don’t want to paint, this is the time to remove them. Removing the hardware will allow you to paint faster and get clean and professional results. Put the hardware pieces in a secure place until you are done painting.
Fill up deep scratches or gouges
If you are painting an old piece of furniture, it might have scratches, indents, and discolorations. You can choose to leave these on for a more worn out and dated look, or fill them using a wood filler. If you choose to fill the scratches and indents, you will have to sand down the surface for an even feel.
Applying the chalk paint
Choose your preferred chalk paint color
As detailed above, chalk paint comes in a variety of colors, ranging from white to light green, as well as shades of red, pink, and gray. You can choose whichever color you like, provided it pairs well with the color of the furniture you are painting.
If you are working on a dark-colored piece, you’ll have to do multiple coats. Luckily, chalk paint dries fast, and the process doesn’t take long.
Use painter’s tape to demarcate areas you don’t want to paint
Doing this will ensure that the result is clean and professional. But if you’re going to paint the entire surface, then this step is unnecessary.
Test the paint color
Before you paint the furniture, you should test the color on a small, inconspicuous spot. Apply the first coat and allow the paint to dry before adding multiple layers. Check to see if the furniture’s original color bleeds through the paint. If it doesn’t, you can continue. This step is especially important with woods like mahogany and cherry. To prevent the bleeding, DIYers coat the woods with shellac before painting.
Paint from bottom to the top
The top portion of furniture requires a lot of attention and multiple coats. Therefore, it’s imperative to start painting from the bottom. And while you are at it, you should paint along the grain to reduce resistance. But when you get to the top portion, paint side to side.
Apply multiple coats
Once the first coat is done, the furniture will look unfinished and rough. Actually, the paint might be unappealing. But don’t give up on it yet. Let the first coat dry and then add another layer of paint. Chalk paint dries fast, meaning that you can paint multiple coats in little time.
Add a layer of wax
Once the last layer of paint dries, apply a layer of wax. The wax will bond to the paint and create a durable finish. To apply your wax, use a soft cloth or a wax brush.
During the application, cover small sections and apply the wax in circular motions.
Add a final layer of wax
Once the entire piece is done, give the wax about 15 minutes to dry before applying another coat. Be sure to use a new cloth to apply the new layer of wax. Also, use a different rag when removing any excess wax.
Note that wax takes approximately 21 days to cure completely. So before then, do not place hot objects on the furniture.
Reinstall the hardware
When the wax dries, reinstall the hardware that you had removed (if any). Before replacing the old hardware,, clean it up. Alternatively, you can install new hardware.
Tips for painting furniture with chalk paint
- Use even and long brush strokes
- Be generous with the chalk paint
- Chalk paint dries faster than other types of paint. You should, therefore, be quick to brush it on the surface.
- Chalk paint is thick and might show the brush strokes. To reduce the visibility of the strokes, add some water (the water will not affect the quality of chalk paint).
5. How to use chalk paint
Most DIYers use chalk paint because it can create an aged appearance easily. Aside from this, it can be used for intricate designs given that sanding and priming are optional. Also, it’s quite forgiving, making it ideal for DIY beginners who are yet to hone their skills.
With that said, you should note that chalk paint is not limited to revamping furniture. It can be used on any surface, including floors, walls, and metals. Many DIYers have also used chalk paint on kitchen cabinets to achieve country-style décor.
Another way DIYers use chalk paint is to color distress. This means painting a base color on the furniture, covering it with coats of a different color, and when it dries, the top color is sanded down in specific areas to reveal the base color. It is a fun and easy way to achieve a distressed look.
6. How to remove chalk paint
If you are about to embark on your first chalk paint project, it’s essential to know how to effectively remove chalk paint from furniture. This knowledge also comes in handy when you purchase a piece of antique furniture that has been chalk painted. Chalk paint does an excellent job of elevating old and worn out pieces of furniture. But quite frankly, some pieces of furniture are best left as they are.
In this section, you’ll learn how to remove chalk paint in a few simple steps.
What you need:
- A sponge
- Steel wool
- White spirit
- Danish oil
- A hose or bucket
- Lint-free cloth
Step 1: Remove the wax and chalk paint
Rub the surface with a sponge soaked with white spirit to remove the wax. During this process, you’ll notice the paint underneath will come off as well. As you scrub the surface, you should hose it down with lots of water. And because of the amount of water that you will need, we advise doing this process outside and when the sun is shining. The heat from the sun will dry the furniture faster and prevent black spots.
Remember that you should keep scrubbing the surface until the natural stain underneath is visible. As you scrub, the paint will stick to the sponge. As such, you should clean it frequently so that the paint does not stick to the wood.
For any paint residue on the wood, you should scrub the surface with fine steel wool and allow the surface to dry.
We have come across some blogs that suggest using warm water. Well, while warm water quickens the paint removal process, the heat might damage the wood’s surface. And if you make the mistake of using boiled water, the wood’s surface might get scorched and turn black.
Step 2: Sand the surface
After removing the paint, it’s time to sand it down. For the flat areas, a sander will work just fine. But for the curved portions, you should use a sheet of 150-grit sandpaper. The trick to sanding is to sand along the grain.
Step 3: Apply oil
Once the paint is removed from the grain, apply the white spirit to the surface and give it some time to dry. Then, use the lint-free cloth to dab the Danish oil on the surface. A single coat will do, but three coats of Danish oil yields even better results.
Before applying another coat, let the oil dry for about 4 hours. Once it’s dry, apply wax on the furniture for a shiny finish.
The Danish oil helps to protect the wood’s surface from chipping and staining. It also works to bring out the natural beauty of the wood grain.
Removing chalk paint from your paintbrush
Once you are done with the painting project, it’s wise to clean the paint brushes, since regular cleaning will increase their durability. Here is how you go about it:
- Soak your paintbrush in water until it is completely immersed. Let it remain in the water overnight.
- Gently separate the brush bristles with your fingers. This process will help to loosen and crack the paint stuck on the bristles. When chalk paint dries on the bristles, they become fragile and can break easily. The best method of handling them is squeezing them in your palm. This helps in removing paint particles from the brush and breaking them into tiny chunks.
- Apply detergent soap. When you remove the paint residue, apply some mild liquid soap to the bristles. Lather the bristles in your palm along with the soap to get rid of any paint residue and then rinse the soap off under running water. Shake off excess water and hang the brush out to dry.
If the paintbrush has a latex or oil-based paint, you should use a paint solvent to remove the paint.
7. How to seal chalk paint
Chalk paint can be sealed in a couple of different ways. The different sealants produce different looks.
This sealant was featured in the section on how to paint furniture with chalk paint. Therefore, it only makes sense for us to start here.
- Has a smooth feel
- Gives a beautiful luster and sheen
- Resists water
- Relatively durable
- Does not yellow with time
- The application is time-consuming
- Needs some touch-ups and reapplication over time
- You cannot paint over it, except with chalk paint
There are two types of polyacrylic: water-based and oil-based. The oil-based type tends to yellow over time and is as such not recommended. The water-based polyacrylic can be used as a liquid or spray.
Pros (water-based polyacrylic)
- Numerous finish options, including even flat, matte and shiny
- Quicker to apply
- You can paint over it
- You can brush, roll or spray the product
- May yellow over time
- Needs multiple coats for a perfect finish
- Stains can show from the chalk paint
If you want to change the color of your project subtly, then this is the sealant for you.
- Several color options
- Adds interest and a new dimension
- You can use a rag or brush to apply
- Finish isn’t durable
- Since the glazes are colored, the color of the final product is affected
Though oils are popularly used with milk paint, they can also seal chalk paint as well.
- Less toxic
- Easy to apply
- Has a sheen similar to wax
- For added durability and a shinier sheen, you can apply more coats
- Challenging to paint over it
- Lacks a smooth finish like poly and wax
- Ooil ages and yellows over time
Rustoleum Matte Finish
- Easy to apply
- Dries fast
- Has a waxy sheen
- Requires extra coats
8. Where to buy chalk paint
If you want chalk paint (not necessarily an Annie Sloan product), you can purchase it from your local hardware store or e-commerce stores, including Home Depot, Magnolia Home, Lowe’s, and Amazon.
9. Where to buy Annie Sloan chalk paint
We mentioned that “Chalk Paint” is a copyrighted term owned by Annie Sloan. Because of this, other vendors with similar products vary their names to related terms like “chalking paint” or “chalked paint.”
Annie Sloan has a database of dealers on its website. You can search for the closest Annie Sloan dealer in your area. Note that Annie Sloan chalk paints are only available in independent shops approved by Annie Sloan.
Does chalk paint come in black?
Yes, it does. Annie Sloan has Athenian Black, which is a deep black used to reflect opaque objects and give a strong and beautiful color contrast. It should be used with clear wax to protect the surface.
What is the difference between milk paint and chalk paint?
These two are used to paint furniture and require little to no prepping before application. However, there are some differences in their ingredients and presentation. For starters, milk paint comes in powder form. You add water and stir the amount you need together with the color. On the other hand, chalk paint comes in liquid form, ready for application.
The two are environmentally friendly, but milk paint is better than chalk paint in this regard. Milk paint is made from milk protein, pigments, and lime. On the other hand, chalk paint has low –VOCs and it contains an 87 acrylic binder, pigments, and calcium carbonate.
Overall, milk paint is cheaper than chalk paint and is easier to use in creating unique distressed finishes. For chalk paint to last long like a milk paint coating, you have to apply several coats of a sealant. Also, milk paint does not create a thick film over the details of the furniture.
How long should paint dry before waxing?
Many DIYers recommend waiting for 24 hours before waxing. This gives all the paint layers enough time to dry.
When applying multiple wax coats, you should also allow 24 hours of dry time. However, if you don’t have the time, you can start waxing as soon as the paint is dry to the touch.
Does chalk paint go bad?
All types of paint have specified shelf lives – chalk paints are no different. But though both regular paint and chalk paint last for many years when stored in a cool and dry place, once the paint leaves the shop, there is no guarantee of how long the paint will last.
Can you paint walls with chalk paint?
Yes, you can. The result will be a beautiful finish that is ideal for individuals with hypersensitivities. It’s perfect for plastered walls.
Annie Sloan chalk paint products have been around for some time. But they have recently become popular owing to their ease of use, durability, ease of cleaning, and thickness. And if you are up for the task, you can make the a similar paint yourself by following the processes outlined above.