Well, hello there! Earlier this year I finally joined the “I love chalk paint” bandwagon. I’ve been doing a lot of DIY projects for this house and it has been amazing using chalk paint to put that finishing touch on them. Since I am a slow adapter to chalk paint, I thought there might be others out there too, so this post is for you! Here’s Chalk Paint 101.
why hadn’t I tried chalk paint before?
Let’s be honest, I am SO late on trying out this type of paint. Why? I’m a creature of habit and buy my paint at the hardware store. And usually I was painting something white, so I’d just use the latex paint I had on hand. Why fix what’s not broken?
Plus, I am SO cheap- why buy paint from a different store than I usually go to that might be more expensive? Lastly, I had no clue about the benefits of chalk paint.
I tried chalk paint simply because I was sent a free can of it! Lol! But now I am hooked and have used it on so many projects, that I’ll happily pay for it and would never go back to latex paint for furniture!
chalk paint 101
benefits of chalk paint
- The best part of chalk paint to me is NO sanding!!! Seriously, you clean it really well (most chalk paint companies sell special cleaners like this one) and then just paint!
- It dries SO fast- usually by the time you finish the first coat, its dry enough for the second coat. This saves a ton of time- no washing out your brushes while waiting for the second coat. Or being impatient and ruining your finish when you place something on your newly painted furniture too soon… (I’ve totally done that).
- You can paint over a ton of surfaces- I’ve personally used it on plastic, wood, and fabric. I still need to try laminate, metal, and glass. The flexibility of this paint is SO good!
- There’s a lot of customization options- you can add waxes, glazes, and stains to create an aged look to furniture. I’m more of a modern, clean finish girl so I haven’t used any special finishes besides metallic paint. But I love that there is an option for everyone!
- You don’t need to use a primer. Usually when you paint furniture, its best to use a primer and then the paint. Chalk paint eliminates that step which saves time and money. Yay!
- The paint self levels which makes for a really even and professional finish. Latex paint can show brushstrokes- with chalk paint, by the time the paint is dry, those are gone.
- Chalk paint is really nice and thick. This means the coverage is good (most pieces need 2 coats of paint). You can add water to make the paint thinner or leave the lid off and the paint will thicken right up.
- Low VOC’s- chalk paint has no smell and very little VOC’s so its healthier to paint in your home with it. Isn’t chemical, stinky paint the worst?!
- You don’t have to use polyurethane to finish a chalk painted piece of furniture. I’ve ruined a few DIY’s with polyurethane that has yellowed my projects. Instead, you can use a clear coat (this what I do- I use this one with a satin finish) or you can use clear wax and buff it on. This protects the furniture. Chalk painted furniture without a finish coat can easily show dirt and finger prints, so you’ll want to finish it.
Here’s my favorite benefits in an image (in case you love to pin things like I do 😉 )
are there disadvantages to chalk paint?
The biggest disadvantage I’ve found to chalk paint is the price. Chalk paint costs around $30 for a quart when latex paint is about $15 for a quart. But when you factor in that you don’t have to sand or prime, that does save you money. Chalk paint is thicker, so a quart of it will go farther than a quart of latex. So yes its more expensive, but I personally think the benefits are worth the price.
Plus, you can order chalk paint online and have it shipped to you so you don’t have to wait for someone to mix paint for you at the hardware store. Am I the only one who hates that step?!
project examples with chalk paint
The first thing I painted with chalk paint was the metallic gold elbows of this DIY entry ladder. I used a basecoat and topcoat paint in gold (which are no longer available).
Next, I painted a dog bowl dish that I built. I used a white (Drop Cloth) chalk paint, but I didn’t seal/finish this piece and it’s dirty now (and it won’t scrub clean). I need to give it a new coat of paint and finish it now that I know better ;).
Now that my feet were wet, I painted my colorful cabinet in rainbow colors. I used Soft Pink, Flamingo, Daisy, Mint Julep, Peacock, and Peony and did a Clear Coat in Satin. This piece is such a statement in my living room!
where do you buy chalk paint?
I personally order my chalk paint from dixiebellepaint.com. I have a ton of colors (partially because of that rainbow cabinet). My favorite products from them are the white “fluff” paint, soft pink paint, Clear Coat in Satin, and Paint Brush. I also got the paint color card (no longer available) so that I can see which color I want too.
besides paint, what supplies do I need?
Each piece of furniture will be different with what it needs. Evaluate yours to see what products are suggested to best paint it. Here’s a cheat sheet to help guide the process!
Most wood pieces don’t need to be primed first before chalk paint. But here are the exceptions-
- If the furniture stinks, prime with BOSS. Awhile ago, I bought a little end table that reeked of cigarette smoke. I use 2 coats of BOSS as a primer and it blocked all of the bad smells.
- If the wood on the furniture bleeds, prime with BOSS. I got the cutest mahagony wood table from a flea market and when I went to paint it, it bled through 3 layers of chalk paint! I finally gave in and used BOSS to prime it. It worked right away! If you don’t know how to check for furniture bleed, here’s a few tips-
Note, sometimes only one area of a piece of furniture bleeds. If you find you have a piece that needs to be primed after you’ve painted it, that’s fine! Just pause and prime and then go back to painting once the primer is dry.
- If you’re painting a super smooth piece of furniture, you’ll want to prime with Slick Stick. For example, I prime when painting smooth laminate, glass, metal, and super slick painted furniture. This will make it so that it won’t chip down the road!
Here’s some tips on choosing the perfect paint color-
- What room will it be going in? Knowing where it will eventually sit will give you big hints on what color to go. Pick a color from the art or rug or pillows and find a coordinating paint color
- What’s your favorite color? If you have a color you’re drawn to a lot, you probably like living with it. You can also take a peek in your closet to see what you like to wear. Paint your furniture colors you love!
- Get inspired. You can always hop on Pinterest and search “chalk painted furniture.” Pin every image you like for 5 minutes. When the timer rings, open the board you’ve been pinning to and see if there’s one color that stands out.
- Ask for help. Maybe you have a friend who is great at colors. Show her the piece and see what he or she thinks. Sometimes getting a little input can help you decide.
- Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut and have fun with it! Chalk paint is great because you can always paint over it if you change your mind. But the chances are, you’ll choose the right color.
- A neutral is always a safe bet. Getting started? Try going neutral as you build up your confidence! Grey, white, or beige is a great place to start
When starting out, you need one paint brush. I suggest buying one formatted to work with chalk paint. Keep it clean and it’ll last you a long time!
- 2” Chip Brush– This is the lowest prices brush and is great for starting out! If you’re on a budget, go with this one.
- Premium Chip Brush– This has the same shape as the 2”, but the quality is better (and the bristles fall out less). Buy this is you are looking for a higher quality and affordable option.
- The Belle Brush or Oval Synthetic Brushes– Oval brushes are good for getting into hard to reach spaces- which is good for furniture with lots of details. I personally prefer working with a flat brush. But, if you have arthritis or have a hard time holding onto a brush, this will be the best option for you. Buy the Bell Brush for the cheapest oval shape brush. Buy the Oval Synthetic Brush for the highest quality oval shape brush (and most expensive option).
- Flat Synthetic Brushes– These are the most expensive brushes, but worth the splurge! The quality is SO good. When you paint with these, they help the paint glide onto the furniture super smoothly. The mini size is my favorite for painting furniture. Buy this if you’re looking for an investment brush.
- Mini Angle Synthetic Brush– I like using angled brushes when I’m cutting in (doing one color that is touching another color). Since I don’t usually cut in with furniture, I prefer the flat brush. But this is also a good option for getting into hard to reach places (especially if you don’t like the oval option). Super high quality! Buy if you want to get in tight places, prefer flat options over oval, want to make an investment and have a quality option.
Technically, chalk paint doesn’t need to be sealed. But I always to a top coat so the piece is easier to clean and protects it. Plus, a top coat makes the finish not chalky and absorbant. Here are your top coat options-
- Clear top coat– I usually do a clear satin top coat on all of my pieces. It really finishes the piece off! The clear top coat comes in flat, satin, or glossy. I apply it with a paint brush.
- Gator Hide– For pieces that’ll have lots of exposure to water (cabinets, table tops, counter tops), I use Gator Hide as a top coat. It gives a similar look as the satin top coat, but also repels water. Make sure to get the special blue sponge to apply the Gator Hide.
- Wax– Wax is known as a way to distress paint, but it is also a great way to seal a piece of furniture. For this, I love Easy Peasy Spray Wax. You just spray it on and then rub it in with a rag (or this applicator pad). This wax doesn’t give a distressed look, but is a fast way to finish furniture. It’s my current favorite option.
how do I avoid brush strokes?
If you want to not have brush marks on your chalk painted furniture, do these key things. They might sound small, but they’ll result in a smooth finish!
- Thin any super thick paint by adding water and mixing well. Chalk paint can thicken up when the lid is left off, so make sure to leave the lid on when not in use.
- Keep the brush damp when painting by misting it with water before dipping it in the paint. If you ever feel like you’re dry brushing the furniture, it’s time to mist that brush again.
- When painting furniture, go with thin coats of chalk paint. You will NOT get full coverage on one coat, so go for two thin coats.
- Spritz the furniture with water before painting. You only want a little water or you might get runs, but keeping the furniture wet makes for a glass like finish.
- If after the first coat you have a run or brush strokes, just lightly sand the problem areas. Clean off the dust from sanding and continue to the second coat.
Ok, I know that was a TON of information all in one spot! But don’t get overwhelmed. For an absolute beginner, I’d suggest starting simply with these items-
That’s it! 4 items! That’ll cost around $35 in supplies. You’ve got this!
where do I start?
If you are going to start with chalk paint too, I’d suggest to start with a small project and work bigger so you can hone your skills. Or buy a super inexpensive thrift store piece so you have zero pressure as you try it out. I promise you, you’ll be hooked!
Let me know if you’ve tried chalk paint before and your thoughts! For doing DIY projects, I really love chalk paint! Its makes your life easier and creates a beautiful product. I’d definitely suggest if if you haven’t tried it out yet! What do you think I should paint next?
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