Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tips and Tricks for using Chalk Paint

Here it is, in all it's glory: everything you need to know for creating a perfect finish with chalk paint!! This was inspired by my sister, who has heard me raving about chalk paint for months now, and has been dying to paint her baby girl's furniture with it! Before she starts her project, she asked for everything I know on how to be totally successful when using this stuff, so here it is! And lucky for all of us, she's happily agreed to guest blog for PaintedNew when she finishes her furniture and share all about her first experience with chalk paint (see what I did there? now you're committed, sis!) :)

Be sure to come back tomorrow for tips on waxing your painted furniture, and also later for the super awesome, affordable chalk paint recipe I use!

Tips & tricks for a successful chalk painted project

1) Use a quality chalk paint. For an awesome, super affordable DIY recipe, click here (coming soon), and see how it compares to boutique brands!

2) Use a quality brush. Don't go cheap on this one. I highly highly recommend Purdy brushes. They are seriously legit!! I have a couple of the 2.5 inch angled brushes and I swear by them for all my projects where I want a quality finish with zero to minimal brush strokes. That said, take care of your brushes. Keep paint away from the roots of the brush and make sure your bristles stay in the same direction. Clean them WELL with warm water. They should be so clean that the water runs clear through them. Lay them in an open area to dry.

3) Clean your project with TSP (tri- sodium-phosphate) before you paint. This is mainly necessary if you bought your piece from craigslist, Goodwill, or a garage sale. The TSP is a heavy duty degreaser that quickly removes any gunk that may be caked on your furniture. This stuff is STRONG and you don't need a lot of it. I usually mix one or two tablespoons of TSP in a quart sized bowl of hot water. I always use dish gloves to protect my hands from the chemical water, and a sponge to clean with (I have a special sponge and pair of gloves I bought from the dollar store that I use just for TSP.) Cleaning a large dresser should only take about 5 minutes.

4) Use a disposable bowl or wide mouthed tupperware to paint from. If you use a container with a narrow opening, you're likely to ruin your brush by trying to fit it in the hole with every dip you make. This also eliminates the chances for clumps to form on your brush and fall into the larger paint container, which will eventually get on your project and compromise the flawless finish you want.

5) Paint in the direction of the wood grain. If you are having trouble getting the paint in the deeper pockets of the grain, then paint in different directions but ALWAYS go back over the paint in the direction of the wood grain. This looks most natural and, again, will result in a flawless, smooth, finish. That is, of course, unless you want a more random textured finish, in which case: do whatever you want!

6) Wait until the first coat dries completely before you paint a second coat, distress, or wax. If you paint over a semi-dry layer, the paint will "pull" and create a clumpy texture. Chalk paint generally dries within 20-30 minutes depending on the humidity in the air. I live in Denver, so everything dries quickly here! While you are waiting, keep your brush from drying out: wrap it in a sandwich baggy and make sure you keep as much air out as possible.

7) Thin the paint with water for the second coat. You only need to add about 1-2 tablespoons of water to the paint, and mix thoroughly. This will help the second coat spread easier without wasting too much paint. If you forget to thin the paint, that's no big deal, you just might end up using more of it. Also: thinning with water will not change the color of the finish. If you are finishing a dark piece with a light color, you may find you need a third coat of paint, or that you'd prefer not to thin your second coat.

8) For a distressed look, use 150-220 grit sandpaper over the corners and edges to take off the paint and allow the wood to show through. General rule: sand where the piece would naturally distress over time.

9) For an extra smooth finish and to remove any brush strokes or clumps that formed on your finish, use 400 grit sandpaper over the entire piece. This shouldn't visibly remove any paint, but it will be silky smooth to the touch!

10) Always always protect your piece with a wax finish. I have experience with Annie Sloan's clear and dark wax, but there are many other quality brands of wax and pastes available that are durable and water proof.  Video tutorial of this process coming soon!

Now you are ready to wax! Click here for tips and tricks on waxing your painted furniture!

If you have questions or have learned any extra tips, leave a comment! We're all here to learn from each other!

Happy Painting! 

Click here for an inexpensive DIY Chalk Paint Recipe! (coming soon! eeeeee!!)


  1. I like to protect my table tops with something that can stand up to water so I like country chic tough coat a and min wax wipe on poly water based...these go on very quickly and look nice and cure to a very hard finish

  2. Did your sister blog about her experience? Would love to hear/see it :)

  3. Thank you for writing these posts! I learned a lot and will help me greatly with some projects I am going to be beginning soon! Nothing fancy but I want to do it correctly and I feel more sure of what steps to do some tasks in now. Keep writing these awesome posts! Can't wait to read more! Thanks again!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thankyou for this post! I've had a couple of small tins of chalk paint for a few weeks now but haven't dared using it yet. Your instructions are the best I've read yet - after much research - and I'll be giving it a go over the weekend when I get the brushes you've recommended :-) I have a large old mirror that I'd like to work on for my first project but I'm not sure about how to go about it... it's a gold colour and I think it's made of plaster, definitely not wood. I'd like to give it a different base colour - mustard - then overpaint it with ivory then distress it to allow the mustard to show through... could you give me some advice on how to go about doing this? Thanks! :)

  6. Do you completely take off the wax and can a buffer be used to remove it? Thanks Pat

  7. I agree with all. However, I do not like the results of most always looks streaky to me. I use other finishing products now, Faster to apply with great results.

    1. Just going to try chalk paint for the first time on my old dining room table. It is used a lot - including young adult grandchildren playing cards, drinking, eating. Was going to do the Annie Sloan wax finish, but wondering what you used that is easy and fast? Can you please tell me?

  8. I would like to do my dining room table as well, not quite ready yet though, would you keep me informed on your progress and the durability of this finish?