Saturday, June 24, 2017

DIY Chalk Paint 101

The number one thing people ask me about for furniture make-overs is how to paint furniture. Over the years, I have fine-tuned how I approach painting furniture. Just about every big piece of furniture in my house has met my paint brush, and for good reason: it's the cheapest/easiest way to achieve my makeshift modern farmhouse-esque stucco'd home in good ol' El Paso, TX.

My techniques have changed over the years, slightly. I have painted everything from decrepit and water damaged barnwood to laminate furniture. Now that I've worked out the kinks, the technique remains the same, and I'm amazed at how well it has worn over the years.

If there is one thing I hope to accomplish with this blog (that I pay the domain for annually with great intentions but little follow through...) it is: I hope to inspire everyone to just paint "that old whatever" that is on the list of to-do's.... Just do it.

Below I will outline the DIY Chalk paint recipe, process, painting, stripping, sanding/distressing, lime-washing, glazing, finishing/sealing and little tips I have learned via trial and error.

Okay, so making the chalk paint. I have done this several different ways, but the best way I have found is this:


1 Cup (ish) of paint (I always use flat/satin, I've never used a gloss so I'm not sure what the results would be)

1/4 tsp (ish) White Unsanded Grout (It's like $13 at Home Depot for a big box, I've used the same one for almost 5 years, and even let the contractors use some for my back-splash with TONS left over)


1. I put the small amount of paint in a solo cup or jar.
2. Then thoroughly mix the grout in with a jumbo popsicle stick.
3. Paint, immediately.

That's it.

Things to remember:

- Use it all up before mixing more. The grout can get clumpy and adding too much basically ruins the paint, so be careful not to do that. Use it in one painting session, or it will get gross.

- You can always add more grout, but you can't take it out once it's in. Very little is needed to adhere the paint to the surface.

- Invest in a nice brush, don't skimp on this. Nothing crazy, something in the $10-$20 range. It makes a big difference. Wash it well with mineral spirits after use and it will last a long time.

-NEVER Distress with sanding on laminate surfaces.

-There is no right way to distress, in my opionion, although I like to use a fine grit (220 or so) sand paper block, and go in the direction of the wood grain. Do as much or as little as you like, just aim for uniformity on the entire piece.


- Pre-sanding is completely optional. With chalk paint, the idea is to just slap it on without the fuss of having to sand it. BUT, some projects require it. For example, for a chest I had to strip (using my favorite stripping agent, pictured below) the veneer first so I could sand and stain the wood beneath to be a dark wood poking through the paint when I distressed it. (As shown below)


See how yellow that stain was before? I couldn't have the distressed wood be that color, it would look odd. So I just used this stripping gel and flat plastic spade to remove the stain. It took a few tries, but it all came off eventually. 


I only used the stripping gel on the top, the rest I didn't sand or prep at all: 

- Additional dimension can be achieved with the use of a glaze or limewash, I'll show the differences below.

LIMEWASH: We recently painted our pantry door and gave it a nice limewash after. The process was the same as for regular chalk painting. We just removed the knobs and painted it with chalk paint. We then used a foam brush and old t-shirt to add the Valspar lime wash. (Bought at Lowe's for around $13).


(My sweet helper/husband, worked 12 hours then came home and took this off for me) <3


Antiquing glaze is so great. It really adds dimension to ornate wood pieces, and gives a historic feel. It's easy to apply, and can be super dark or light, depending on the effect you're after. I just use a cheap brush and apply it in small sections and then use baby wipes to spread it around and remove excess. (Bought at Lowe's for about $12). 

It lasts a long time! I've had it for a year or two and still have plenty left for more projects.

Here are some examples of the effect it has on furniture that would otherwise be pretty lifeless.

(From before, this piece had a few design aspects/techniques) You can see the details brought out on the bottom of the chest with the glaze.


This may be my favorite combo right now. Two good things = one GREAT thing. I used this technique on my most recent furniture project, an antique roller desk. I chalk painted contrasting wood parts of the desk. I then added the lime wash and then finished it with a glaze for 3 dimensions of amazing color. Here's how it turned out:


- You don't HAVE to put a seal on this type of DIY chalk paint, especially if you anticipate low traffic. I have many pieces in my home without any type of seal on them. However, sometimes it's required. For example, my coffee table has a Minwax Polyurethane seal on it, because it's in contact with drinks/condensation regularly. (Shown below) 

I should mention, this is NOT my favorite. On some surfaces it can chip/turn yellow. So if you can avoid using it, I definitely do.

- All the drawer fronts and tops of my dressers have a Minwax finishing wax (shown below) rubbed on, since they are high traffic areas and prone to chipping. I don't necessarily mind chipped paint, I think it adds more character and I distress most painted items to allow for it to hide the imperfections, however, it's mostly preference thing. I love this wax because it can make the paint really pop, gives a protective coating and is so easy to put on. It needs to be applied once a year, at least, however.


You can read more about this project HERE, however I want to touch on it for a second. This chest of drawers was almost all laminate and particle board (cheap!) materials. And it still took the DIY Chalk Paint very well. I did this project a few years ago, and this is it this morning. Still holding up super well. It had a big ding on the front before, which I filled in with my favorite (HANDS DOWN THE BEST) wood filler (pictured below).

Finally, here are some examples of items I've painted, with the processes mentioned above. 


(before and after)

(Butcher block my dad made me to paint) *gushes* He loves me!

He also made me this church pew <3
(that wreath is now in the kitchen) 

Faux Ship-lap Fireplace Makeover (post coming soon about that!)



Laminate (before)

 Laminate (before)


This shelf got 2 makeovers after the first was a total failure. 
 (After #1)
(After #2)

(Coffee Bar #1... before I was given my inlaws old set, and painted that)

 My coffee table top was made of barn wood. Here's a glimpse at how I got the different colored wood slats.

I hope this helps answer a lot of painting furniture questions and removes some of the mystery. Let me know if I can elaborate more. :)