Chalk Paint: How to Make Your Own

Chalk paint seems to be the "buzz" in the world of painted furniture.  I honestly don't remember when or how I first heard about it, but over the past couple years I've taken the time to read about it and, of course, curiosity set in.  I decided to make my own.  I looked on Pinterest and discovered there were many ways to make your own chalk paint!   I just picked one.  How did I know which one to pick?  I picked the easiest one I could find!  And I have stuck with it ever since.   

What is chalk paint?

As I understand it, chalk paint is a thicker paint containing fine chalky-like particles that adhere to pretty much any surface they touch.  That is why priming is not necessary when using chalk paint.  This makes it appealing not only as an effective paint, but as a time-saver as well!   I will admit that I love it for that reason.  Additionally, chalk paint dries super fast.  I can do two layers of paint in a total of 2-3 hours, including dry time between coats.  

Before I go further I want to emphasize that this information is what I've learned about using chalk paint as well as opinions I have formed while getting to know this paint.  In my own experience, I've had the most success achieving a distressed appearance when using chalk paint.  Why is that?  Chalk paint is easily sanded, making it a great paint option for the distressed look.   It works well on any piece and helps achieve that "aged" appearance, simply because it is sanded so easily.   Chalk paint can also be used for a sleek and modern non-distressed finish.  It's all about how you sand, layers you apply, types of strokes you use while painting, style you're after, and the finishing product you use.   Chalk paint can supposedly be used on any hard surface.  To date I have only used it on real wood, and "fake" wood like veneer table tops.   

I used chalk paint on the base and drawer of this table.  Other techniques were also used to achieve this look.  More tutorials to come....

I used chalk paint on the base and drawer of this table.  Other techniques were also used to achieve this look.  More tutorials to come....

How do I make my own chalk paint? 

If you take a look on Pinterest or do an on-line search you will find a number of techniques for making your own chalk paint.   For me, it's all about keeping it simple!  I stumbled upon a "recipe" with only two ingredients and that was it.  I went with that one.  The two ingredients needed for this recipe include:    1.  Paint in a flat finish  2.  Unsanded grout.  When you mix, you add 1 tablespoon of grout to 1 cup of paint.  Stir completely until all the little grout granules are mixed in.  The paint will look and feel thick.  That is normal.   When I'm working on a larger piece and know I'll need more than one cup of paint, I still mix only 1 cup of paint at a time.  Then I make a "new" batch when I need more.  I have found that the longer the chalk paint sits, the thicker it gets.  It can be difficult to work with super thick paint.   If you find that your paint is too thick, you can add a little water to thin it out a bit.  

How do I paint with chalk paint? 

The key to using chalk paint is to use thin layers of paint.  The first coat won't look good. It will be streaky and the coverage won't be adequate.  It's best to let the first coat of paint dry completely.  When it dries the surface will feel rough.  Sanding is then necessary to smooth out the surface.   I usually use a 220 or 320 fine grit sand paper for that step.  Once sanded and wiped free of dusty chalk paint particles, (it can get messy!) a second thin layer of paint is usually needed.   The number of layers you apply is dependent on the look you want to achieve.  For a weathered appearance, a single layer will sometimes do.   I prefer two coats. The second coat fills in the gaps and the crazy brush strokes that aren't always the good kind of brush strokes!      

Is there a certain painting technique I need to use with chalk paint? 

I have had the best success by using quick brush strokes.  You want your brush to be light on the surface.  Try not to push too hard while you are painting.  This can leave brush edge marks. I just watched an Annie Sloan chalk paint tutorial and she used the term  "feathering" for that technique.  Good term Annie.  It really is just like feathering the surface with your brush.  You also want to make sure you don't overlap your brush strokes while still wet.  Again as mentioned earlier, it's best to use thin, multiple layers of paint for the best coverage.   

Are Special Brushes Needed? 

To my knowledge no.  I have not done any research on this at all, however.   I use nylon/polyester brushes for all of my projects.   There are many good brands out there.  It's really a matter of trying some out and getting a feel for which brands and sizes work best for you!   

What finish should be used over chalk paint? 

I use wax.  You can find wax finishing products at any home improvement or paint store.  I personally love Johnson's Wax.   It's reasonably priced and does a great job.   I tried polycrylic over chalk paint before and that works as well.  Just make sure to sand your painted surface BEFORE applying the poly!  I failed to do that once and the results were catastrophic.  Good to learn from mistakes!  

And now you have a very easy recipe for making your own chalk paint.  Hopefully you learned a few tricks as well!   Have you ever used chalk paint before?  If so, what did you think? 

Happy Friday!  Enjoy the weekend.