Explained: What Is Chalk Paint And How To Use It?

Annie Sloan revolutionized the world of decorative painting when she developed her one-of-a-kind furniture paint. Chalk paint appeared in 1990 and wrote a new page in history. 

woman is painting an old cupboard

Made from water, chalk paint is natural and non-polluting. Generally used to repaint furniture, it can also be applied to different surfaces. It offers elegant, charming and smooth finishes to help you get your living room or any room you like, a makeover in a romantic style. Let’s find out everything about chalk paint and how to use it!

What is chalk paint and what differentiates it from other paints?

Annie Sloan chalk paint is perfect for painting furniture. The chalky paint is specially created, so there is no need to sand or apply a primer coat to the surface. The cover is good, and the paint dries quickly. So, what could be better than the “chalk paint” to renovate kitchen cupboards or some old furniture

When taking on a DIY project in your home, you want things to go smoothly and not worry too much about succeeding. And this is what chalk paint promises. A fuss-free paint that can help you refresh your home quickly and efficiently!

The beginning of chalk paint

In 1990, disappointed by the lack of decorative furniture paint choices available at the time, Annie Sloan invented the famous, innovative chalk paint. With its incredible flexibility and ease of use, there’s no wonder why everyone, from novice DIYers to experienced interior designers, enjoys it and think of it as the best paint.

Since 2014, chalk paint has been produced on-site in a factory in Oxford. Annie and her furniture-restoration colleagues would have needed an entire toolkit of different paints to apply to various surfaces and achieve mixed results before her invention. Chalk paint is a multi-purpose wonder product that can be used almost everywhere

What makes it different from other paints?

Apart from the matte finish, chalk paint varies from conventional paints in several respects. One of the advantages is that it doesn’t require any prep work. It can be used directly on most clean, dry surfaces (except metal or glossy laminate), even if they’ve already been finished.

woman is painting an old dresser

As a result, DIYers prefer to use chalk paint on antique parts with cracks since the paint applies smoothly, even over layers of paint. Chalk paint is often less likely to spill than standard paint, and it has increased durability. Plus, since chalk paint is water-based, you can wash your brushes with soap and water instead of mineral spirits

Using chalk paint and its properties

Generally coloured with natural pigments, chalk paint is highly concentrated and has a substantial covering power, between 12 and 14 sq.m. per litre. How much is that? More than the surface of a small piece of furniture (a chest of drawers, for example).

It’s washable and does not require the application of an underlay, only the first coat being sufficient most of the time. There is also no need to sand furniture before repainting it with chalk paint which can save you from a lot of time-consuming activities. Also, Rust-oleum chalkboard paint offers many shades, from soft and pastel tones to more vivid colours inspired by 18th-century decorations.

What can you paint with it?

Whether it’s walls, pieces of furniture, or decorative objects, there is no limit aside from your imagination when it comes to what you can do with chalk paint. We often think of chalk paint as the perfect option for wood, but it is also effective on fabric, glass, plastic, and even stone! So, if you want to give a new look to your old kitchen cabinets or tabletop, floors, walls, or even picture frames, chalk paint will be your best ally.

Vintage chair makeover - chalk paint and new fabric

How to use chalk paint

As we have already mentioned, chalk paint does not require sanding or a primary coat before usage. When it comes to the materials and tools you need, a brush or roller is enough. If you are the creative type, you can cross brushstrokes or overlay colours to have a rendering result.

Here’s what you’ll need for the chalk paint renovation tutorial:

  1. Cleaner and sponges
  2. Sandpaper
  3. Cloth pad
  4. Painter tape
  5. Paintbrush
  6. Chalk paint wax finish
  7. Clear shellac
  8. Chalk paint
  9. Paint pan

Home improvement painting tools

A step-by-step guide to chalk paint furniture

Let’s get into it! Grab your chalk paint and the rest of your tools, and have a look at our guide to get you through your project.

  • Preparing the surface for your paint project

In general, a simple “clean up the surface to be painted” is necessary before starting the project. You can do this with a cloth moistened with water or alcohol, depending on the severity of the situation. 

There are, however, a few cases when sanding can be helpful. If the surface you want to work on has a glossy varnish or several pre-existing coats of paint then you might need to take care of it first. Sometimes it is also necessary to renovate some imperfections of old furniture by sanding a little beforehand. As for the base layers, one may decide to put one on old furniture that has undergone aggressive treatment with varnish or on some pine or mahogany woods furniture.

  • Painting the surface

Once your surface is prepared, open your paint jar and start by mixing the paint by stirring with a stick until it is homogeneous. In general, a coat of paint applied with a synthetic brush or a microfiber roller is sufficient. However, if you want a denser redo, know that two thin layers are always better than a single thick layer. 

Chalk paint also exists as spray paint, which can be used if the surface to be painted has many corners and recesses. If this is your first time trying to paint something though, better go with the paintbrush option. If you’re a more experienced user, try a chalk paint sprayer for velvety, powdery matte finishes that will give your furniture an authentic look!

  • Chalky finish

Once your surface is painted, you can add a few touches depending on the paint finish you want to get. If you are looking for an aged look for your furniture, it is recommended to finish the job with soft light-coloured waxing. You can do this using a natural hairbrush. Now, if you are tempted to try a patinated finish, apply dark wax on small sections. Finally, remove any excess wax finish with a cotton cloth.

Use a polyacrylic sealant that also applies to the brush for a satin finish. It has the advantage of durability, unlike the wax that will need to be maintained. Allow plenty of time for the polyacrylic to dry between coats. If you find any brush strokes in between the finish coats, gently sand with 220-grit sandpaper. Know that both wax or polyurethane can be applied over chalk paint as well.

Even when sealed with a high-quality sealer like Annie Sloan Soft Wax or Annie Sloan Lacquer, decorative chalk paint is not fully non-porous, so this can lead to cross-contamination issues. The finish may appear to be clean on the top, but it may not be deep down. 

man painting white furniture

The benefits of chalk painting

The use of chalk paint is probably one of the best choices for redecoration or renovation of any room with a distressed look. It’s time for chalk-painted furniture when you can’t afford to change it.

An ideal matte finish for vintage interiors, shabby chic, or cottage

First of all, a great reason to choose this painting is its matte finish. It creates a lovely patinated effect and gives the furniture a great antique look. Of course, if you prefer a glossier look, you can apply a satin finish for a more contemporary style. However, it is better to change the type of paint altogether. Kitchen cupboards painted with chalk paint look more vintage and more suited to the shabby chic style. To keep the chalk paint looking good for a long time, make sure to apply furniture wax on top.

A solution to the long preparation phase before the application of paint

Another great advantage of this type of paint is that you will not have to go through a long preparation phase. Sanding is only required if your furniture is really in a bad state; otherwise, goodbye sanding! The chalk paint also does not require priming. With a top coat on the second coat of chalked paint, you’ll have perfectly painted pieces with no brush marks.

A free choice between the paintbrush and the roller

You will get satisfactory results in both cases; however, choose your tool based on the effect you would like to create.

woman holds roller and brush on yellow background

A wide variety of colours

Although it is a rather particular type, chalk paint comes in different colours, from earthy and pastel to neutral ones. Choose the colour according to your taste and the decoration of the rooms you’re working on.

You can make your own chalk paint if you don’t want to buy it. But you should know that it is pretty accessible. As you can imagine, you will need chalks like those used to write on blackboards. Choose the colours that fit you. Then reduce the chalk to powder with a hammer or a cheese grater. If you opt for the hammer method, place the chalk in a plastic bag beforehand. Finally, in a suitable container, add water as you go until you get the right consistency.

Chalk paint is a remarkable, innovative product that has made upcycling, renovations, and interior design more accessible to the general public. Painting furniture and creating home decor has evolved from a specialized profession to a valuable and enjoyable artistic pastime that everyone may enjoy. 

chalk paint tools over a table

Get a tin, pop the lid open, and join the thousands of people all over the world who have discovered hidden talents, nourished artistic desires, and saved money by upcycling with chalk-painted furniture!

Good luck and have fun!

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