Sunday, October 21, 2012

DIY Chalk Paint: A First Attempt

Update: Psst....another chalk painting attempt, with a more exciting project here

A post about chalk paint is sort of a rite of passage if you want to blog about your house, right? At least that is the impression I got from reading 80 gazillion blog posts about chalk paint in preparation for this project.

But, truthfully, I had not even heard of chalk paint (or at least I hadn't paid any attention to it; I'm sure I must have come across some of those posts at some point in the past) until a month or two ago, when my friend Kristi started talking about it. And then painted her bathroom cabinet with some she made herself. And it looked really great. And I have a lot of furniture around here what needs painting. So I could ignore it no more.

One can buy Annie Sloan's chalk paint, and, word is, it's awesome. It's also around $37 a quart and comes in a limited range of colors. So there are lots and lots of tutorials all over the internet for making your own knock off chalk paint. You can make it either with non-sanded grout or with plaster of paris. I opted for the latter and used this tutorial from I Heart Naptime as my guide.

The test object: our Norden table from Ikea that we use as a chess table in the library:

Why chalk paint? I actually wasn't planning to go with chalk paint for this at first. It seemed like such a tiny, simple little project that I wasn't sure it was worth it. But then I figured that a tiny, hard to mess up project was actually the perfect place to experiment. And the big advantage of chalk paint is supposed to be that you don't need to sand or prime first. Since it was bare wood, I doubted I'd be able to get away without primer otherwise, so it wouldn't really be any more work.

Last night Dave was brewing beer with a friend all evening, and two of three kids were off at a sleepover, so I had nothing to do but deal with that table. Sorry for the lack of pictures of the first part of the process. It was dark; I hate the flash....what can I say?

I recreated the scene the next morning, though. Well, a little bit:

I bought the plaster of paris and finishing wax at Home Depot yesterday. And for the paint, I used one of the reject samples from the dining room/library paint selection. Not the one pictured; I accidentally threw it away before I could either take a picture of it or note the color. I hope no one is super in love with the color, because I have no idea what it's called. It's flat paint, by the way. I found remarkably little information on what kind of paint to use. What I did find said anything will work okay and end up with a flat finish regardless.

The I Heart Naptime recipe calls for 4 tablespoons plaster of paris, 2 tablespoons of water, and 2 cups of paint. The paint samples are just under one cup (7.75 oz), so I halved the amounts of water and plaster of paris. Which made for a very tiny amount to work with. I mixed the water (cold water. Some things I read said to use warm or hot water, but Kristi told me she found the hot water harder to work with. I didn't have any trouble with cold) and the plaster of paris in an old yogurt container until all the lumps were gone. Then I poured the mixture together with the paint and mixed some more.

Then I started painting. And all went smoothly. The paint was really easy to work with. I am trying to thinking of something remarkable or at least slightly....unusual to say about it, but it was just kind of like...painting. I let it dry for less time than I was supposed to--maybe an hour and a half--then put the second coat on. Here's what it looked like the next morning:

It has a little bit....uhh, chalkier finish than regular paint. You can, in fact, at least according to all the blog posts I read, actually write on it with chalk. To take the edge off the chalkiness, most people finish it with wax. I was no exception. The Minwax I bought was kind of a pain to work with--very hard, didn't want to come out of the container, and extremely stinky. Word is there are better, softer waxes one can buy online.

I also began to understand why most chalk painted furniture gets distressed, as I managed to chip the paint in two places before I got the wax on. Apparently, it's a little hard NOT to distress chalk paint. I'm curious how it will hold up to kid chess use.

Here it is after the wax; I don't think the change is that dramatic, either in pictures or in person. I might have been too skimpy with the wax. But, you understand, I hated the wax.

Note that the dogs have shredded all the paper and cardboard I put under the legs to catch drips.

And here it is back in its place, with all its stuff on it again:

So I'm happy with how it turned out. The painting was trouble-free. I like the color and how it is unobtrusive against the wall but not exactly the same color, and how I put that paint sample to good use. I hate to waste $2.99 if I don't have to.

Next up in Adventures in Chalk Painting: the dresser for the nursery. And our headboard. I bought a light gray to use for both of those.
Linking with: HookingupwithHoH

The Shabby Nest


  1. I think the table looks great! I am a beginner with chalk paint. I did my first project with the Annie Sloan paint and I love the finish it gave me. I don't love the price, thank you for your blog I am going to try the recipe.
    Karen Owner of Sweet Repeats Resale. Spanaway Wa.

    1. Thanks, Karen! I'm actually thinking of buying my first Annie Sloan paint for a project I have coming will be interesting to compare it with my homemade paint :)


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