DIY Chalky Style Paint Recipe

Make your own chalky style paint for less than half the cost of brand names

Chalk Paint® has been all the rage over the past few years. It makes furniture look fresh and new while making it easy to age or look distressed in minimal time. Originally invented by Annie Sloan in 1990, Chalk Paint® is not like the black coating on chalk boards. Chalk Paint® is a rich, flat paint that is extremely durable and easy to use and comes in many colors.

I recently bought a Hoosier style baking cabinet and matching porcelain topped table and chairs and wanted to repaint them using Chalk Paint®. When I realized that the paints didn't come in the exact colors I wanted and the price was nearly $40/quart, I set out to look for an alternative. The big box stores had a couple of other brands of chalk style paint, but again, they could only be mixed in 40 different shades and still cost $35/quart.

During my online search I found four different recipes for chalky style paint. They all used flat latex paint, but some recipes called for adding sodium carbonate, plaster of paris, unsanded grout, or plain old baking soda. Based on the reviews I found and the ease of finding the ingredients, I settled on the recipe that uses plaster of paris. Following is the recipe and technique I used.

What you will need to make chalky style paint:

  • - Flat latex paint (I used Valspar Signature Interior)
  • - Plaster of paris
  • - Water
  • - Container with air tight lid
  • - Disposable container for mixing plaster of paris
  • - Small silicon/rubber spatula
  • - Paper towels
  • - Paint brushes
  • - Soft Wax
  • - Waxing brush (optional)
  • - 100 grit and 220 grit sandpaper
  • - Lint-free clothes

   

I mixed up paint 1 cup at a time as I wasn't sure just how much I was going to need. You can adjust the recipe based on how much paint you will need.

Measure a cup of flat latex paint into the container that has the tight fitting lid. I used a plastic food container that has a screw on lid. Before measuring the paint, I poured one cup of water into the container and then drew a line on the outside of the container with permanent marker so I new how much a cup was. This kept me from having to measure the paint first and then poor it into the container each time. After you have your measurement, pour the water out and dry the container before pouring in your paint.

In a separate disposable container mix 2 tablespoons of plaster of paris with 1 tablespoon of water and stir until smooth. I feel a small spatula works really well for this. Then pour the plaster of paris mixture into the paint and mix really well with the spatula, scraping the sides and bottom to make sure the plaster of paris is totally incorporated into the paint. Now you are ready to use the paint

One of the benefits of Chalk Paint® is that you are not supposed to have to prep your work surface and it is supposed to adhere to almost any surface. Since I was using a homemade chalky style paint, I decided a little prep work couldn't hurt. Regardless if you need to prep or not, I feel a light sanding with 100 grit sand paper is important to help rough up the surface and prepare it for the paint. I am also a firm believer in washing the piece with a degreaser to make sure any oils have been removed. Paint will not stick to an oily surface. Once you have washed the surface, dry it with a lint free cloth and start painting.

The great thing about flat paint is that it goes on easily and hides many imperfections. It also dries quickly. Traditional Chalk Paint® should be applied with a chalk paint brush, but I was not about to pay those prices, so I used a plain old disposable bristle brush that I get by the dozen from Lee Valley. The price for those brushes averages about $.50/brush depending on size. I can use the brush for a project and then throw it away when I'm done.

One cup of homemade chalky style paint was enough for one coat on a set of four kitchen chairs. By the time I was done painting the fourth chair, the first chair was dry, so I went back and lightly sanded the surface with 220 sand paper (just 2-3 strokes going with the grain of the wood). Wipe off any dust from sanding with a lint-free cloth and then continue with the second coat. I was amazed at how nice the chairs looked after the second coat (see photo below).

Once the second coat had dried a couple of hours, I lightly sanded again with the 220 grit sand paper. You can also use the sandpaper to distress the edges further, if you like (you can actually sand away part of the paint). I did not do this for this project as I would be using an antiquing wax later. Again, wipe off any dust and now you are ready to wax.

   

Waxing is the desired finish for most chalky style painted projects as it gives the piece a nice sheen that you can control by the amount of buffing you do to it. Less buffing means less shine, more buffing means more of a shine. Waxing is also needed to seal the paint and to help protect the paint from stains and water spots. For this project I used Americana® Decor™ Clear Cream Wax because that is what I had access to at the time of purchase. I'll be looking for more economical waxing options in the future. This wax was easy to work with and did not yellow when it dried. It has the consistency of paint and goes on just like paint. If you sanded before applying the wax, your project will feel silky smooth once the wax has dried. I applied one coat to all the chairs and table legs and two coats to the backs and seats of the chairs for extra protection (see photo below). This brand of wax recommends reapplying every 6-12 months as needed. I hope I don't have to do that.

After the wax dried, I decided to use the antiquing wax so that the project didn't look so new (I am re-painting a vintage piece after all). You can apply the antiquing wax with a paint/waxing brush or rub it on with a lint-free cloth. Next time, I think I will just concentrate on the edges of the project and not so much the whole thing. It looks great in the dimmer lighting of our home, but I wonder if the antiquing just might be a little too much in bright sunlight.

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