I remember the first time I heard about Chalk Paint®. I couldn’t understand why people would use chalkboard paint to paint their furniture. It was with a little research that I soon discovered Chalk Paint® and Chalkboard paint were NOT the same thing. This is a common point of confusion when it comes to Chalk Paint®. Or maybe it was just me, y’all were probably never confused. You look really smart.
Here is the very first piece I ever painted with Chalk Paint®. Now in my mind it wasn’t what I was going for, but from an outsiders perspective you don’t know that. It sure was fun to try something new and give life to an old piece.
We’ve been a stockist for Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan for over three years now and find that there are a few questions that are common to most first time users. So let’s take a look at them.
Just a quick note, when I say Chalk Paint®, I’m referencing Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Other paints have joined the market since Chalk Paint® was created by Annie Sloan over twenty five years ago and put the words chalk paint in their names, but Chalk Paint® is not a descriptor of a paint, it is THE paint. So in our world when you hear us talking about Chalk Paint® we are talking about Chalk Paint® the original paint. Not the chalky-based paints that have come on the market. Nothing against those paints but we don’t know how they work. There is a different one hitting the streets each week and we haven’t taken the time to test them all. We are experts in Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and all our answers are based on our knowledge of the original Chalk Paint®. So let’s dive into the lovely and colorful world of Chalk Paint®, with the most commonly asked question first.
Q. Why is it called Chalk Paint®?
A. Annie invented Chalk Paint® and called it so because of the chalky feel and character of the paint when it dries. It is often thought that the paint contains chalk in the formula, but this is not true.
Q. What sets Chalk Paint® apart from other furniture paint options?
A. This is a simple yet complex answer. Chalk Paint® will stick to virtually any surface without sanding, priming or stripping. That is the primary attraction for most users, but the glory does not stop there. It also has NO VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in other words, no icky gases and fumes emitting from the paint that will stink up your house and compromise your health. Another delightful and attractive feature of the paint is the ability to manipulate the paint into many difference textures and finishes. One of the favorites is the ability to make the paint crackle. Then again the same paint can be thinned with water and turned into an ultra smooth finish. This is what Annie was striving for when she created the paint. Keeping it simple in application, yet also a depth of functionality unseen in the paint world. See, simple and complex. I told you.
Q. How far does a quart of Chalk Paint® go?
A. In my experience, I’ve been able to paint two, good-sized dressers with one quart of paint. This is with doing two coats of paint. You will find that the paint goes further than you expect. But keep in mind if you are painting something extremely dark and dry and you want it to be Pure White, you will probably use the entire can if the piece has any size to it. But for 90% of the time you will get two dressers done with one quart. Note: A Sample Pot will cover one very small side table or small chair.
Q. Will there be brush strokes in my finished piece?
A. It depends. How do you like that answer? Clear as mud? Let me explain. Yes, when brush painting you will almost always see some brush strokes, but there are times they are less prevalent. For example, when you paint a piece of furniture that is real wood and has some grain and pores you will find the paint sinks down into these pores and appears less brush stroky because the paint has somewhere to go. If you paint a surface that is really hard (such as laminate) and the paint has no pores to soak down into, it will lay on top and then the brush strokes will seem more obvious. If you are looking to achieve a smooth finish there are a few things you can do to help the paint “lay down.” First, use a brush that has fine synthetic bristles. This will cause smaller grooves in the paint when applying. Also, don’t continuously drag through your paint. Once it starts to dry, you will just rake more lines into it. Smooth the paint out and move on. Stop going back and forth over it a dozen times. If you do find that the paint is drying really fast, before you can get it all applied the way you want it, then turn to your friend water.
Dip the tips of your paint brush in some water and smooth the paint back down, or apply some water directly to your can of paint to thin it out. Maybe you’ve been painting for a while and your can of paint has started to thicken from evaporation, because the lid has been off for a length of time.
Ultimately, when using a brush there are some brush strokes. If you are opposed to brush strokes completely, maybe you want to look at spraying your paint on. You can do so by adding water to the paint until it is a thin enough consistency for your brand of paint sprayer. It will vary by type of sprayer. I’m a lover of the brush so can’t offer much advice on spraying. I’ve heard from others that it works wonderfully.
Q. Can I paint indoors?
A. YES. YES. YES. Is that clear enough? Since the paint is fumeless we suggest that you always paint indoors. This way you can control the temperature, sun, and wind. The best place to paint is in a stable, calm room at about 70 degrees that has lots of natural light. If you choose to paint outdoors or in your garage be aware that any direct breeze (keep in mind your fans and heaters blowing) or sunlight on your piece will cause it to dry faster than you can paint it. This will be frustrating and you may also find the paint cracks or peels while painting because it is drying so rapidly and can’t adhere properly.
Q. I’m experiencing a yellow of pinkish color coming through my paint. What is going on?
A. You are experiencing what we in the paint world call a “bleed.” Old stain or other substance is activated by your wet paint (most common when painting whites) and is bleeding up through your new, white paint. You will see this more often in antique pieces that were hand stained or oak kitchen cabinets. What you must do is apply a barrier to block that old stain from seeping up. We use a product called Zinsser’s Shellac. Let the paint you have already painted, dry, and apply two coats (worst case three coats) of shellac to the surface, and let it dry, before continuing on with your painting.
Q. How many coats of paint will my piece need?
A. Two coats of paint is recommended for most colors, with the exception of the whites, yellows, and reds. When painting with Pure White or Old White expect to apply four coats of paint. The yellows and reds sometimes need three. Now, it may depend on the look you are going for, so this answer assumes you don’t want any of the original color to show through. I know four coats can sound like a lot, but given that the paint dries really quickly you will be surprised how fast the project moves along.
Q. How do I apply the wax?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax goes on like butter. It looks and feels like Crisco, but don’t try to bake with it, it tastes terrible (I’m just guessing). I’m making light of the situation because this is the step that sometimes trips people up (pun intended). Here is the best way to explain waxing. Think about applying lotion to your skin. You rub it down into your skin, you don’t just slather it on top and expect it to sink in. Wax is the same way.
I suggest start waxing with a clean, white, lint-free cloth. Then you can move on to using a waxing brush down the road. Using a glob (technical term) of wax, approximately the size of quarter, start on one corner of the piece moving across the surface a section at a time. Going in a circular motion, using the palm of your hand with a rag, rub the wax on the piece being very careful to not miss any spots. Once that section has wax everywhere drag away or wipe away any excess lying on top and move to the next section. The key is to do the entire surface moving along timely so all sections are blended together while the wax is still wet and no excess wax is left behind. Yes, you will see a little paint color on your rag. Yes, you will wear holes in your rag. Those are very normal happenings. Don’t be afraid of waxing. It will create such a beautiful matte finish that is protected from spills and allows you to clean your surface. Now, just because you have learned how to wax, don’t stop here. You are going to want to read the next question on dark waxing.
Ok, we are finishing this list with a bang! This topic can make or break a project. It can also make you cry. So let’s jump right in. You will love Dark Wax. ONCE you learn how to handle it. Dark Wax can be unruly, if you let it be so.
Q. How to apply Dark Wax?
A. I love Dark Wax (when it is used appropriately). If you don’t understand Dark Wax it can make you cry big crocodile tears, in sobbing breathless bursts. You know, like those girls on The Bachelor who get sent home in the limo. BIG TEARS! LOTS OF BIG TEARS.
Got It. Good. Let’s explain why.
Dark wax is meant to be used as a decorative embellishment on pieces to “muddy” them up a tish and give them some depth, dimension, character, and texture. When used full strength on light colored paints it can look like you smeared melted chocolate all over your beautifully painted piece…and now it won’t come off. I suggest that you ALWAYS use Dark Wax one of two ways.
The first way. You apply Clear Wax first and then take Dark Wax on top of the fresh Clear Wax to the corners, edges and decorative accents. The clear wax allows you to glide and control the dark wax on your piece. Without the clear wax first your dark wax STICKS and you may not be able to move it along or pull off any excess wax.
The second way. This is when you want some Dark Wax over your entire piece. You create a mixture of Dark and Clear Wax, using different ratios depending on how much Dark Wax you want to see. I suggest a 4 Parts Clear Wax to 1 Part Dark Wax mixture to begin with. Just toss it in a bowl and whip it together with your spoon. You then wax your entire piece with this mixture. You can always go back and add more dark wax but you cannot take it away.
If you do find yourself in a Dark Wax emergency you can always remove wax with mineral spirits. Allow the piece to dry and then try again. As long as you don’t rub too hard when wiping with the mineral spirits you shouldn’t break through the paint.
TIP OF THE DAY:
Here is when you SHOULD use Dark Wax full strength directly on your piece. When you want to stain and seal raw wood at the same time. You simply rub some dark wax into the raw wood and you are done. In minutes you can handle the wood and put it into place. We’ve done this on shelves and countertops in both Eco Chic locations. Stop in and check it out.
I hope you found this Q & A session helpful. If you are a novice and are just getting started using Chalk Paint®, don’t let this list frighten you. Chalk Paint® is really user friendly and I can guarantee that once you see the impact that you can make just by painting your furniture you will be hooked. You will be just like me. You paint anything the sits still…the dog starts to worry.
See you next week. Until then you can always reach me at maria@ILoveEcoChic.com or follow me on Instagram at @EcoChicBoutique. Share your project and reach out and ask questions. That is why we are here.