Chalk Paint

I made a shoe rack for my daughter’s endless supply of shoes. I know this shoe rack or stand however you want to call it won’t be high enough nor long enough. It’s a simple enough project to do by hand, but it was very repetitive and tedious. There were 44 slats that needed to be cut, resawn to thickness and then plane.

I want to make mention a little something on the topic at hand, and that is chalk paint. Annie Sloan invented this incredible decorative paint over 20 years ago. It’s latex paint with some unknown propriety additives that gives that matt, dull chalky appearance. It’s been very popular amongst DIYer’s who like to paint second hand furniture and create the distressed look. The pictures below show you furniture distressed and one that isn’t. Personally, I prefer the picture without the distressed appearance.

Not Distressed

Off the shelf this paint is cost prohibitive. However, I will teach you how to make a home brewed version even though I do not know what ingredients Annie Sloan uses in her version. You will find on the web many different ingredients used to make chalk paint and the one version ingredients I use is just one of many. I’ve never used the store bought version off the shelf so I cannot make a side-by-side comparison which paint is better. I am though thrilled with this version and I’m sure you will be too if you follow these simple instructions.

  1. One cup of latex paint
  2. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of cool water
  3. Mix 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Plaster of Paris
  4. Stir briskly with a fork or egg beater until all the lumps are out.

I have already used this paint I didn’t take a picture of a freshly made batch.

Use a good quality water based brush and always aim for brush free marks. You will never achieve a sprayed look, but you can have minimal marks like the picture below and that looks better than sprayed. The first coat will be thin, see through and very rough to the touch. Within half hour you can lightly give it a sand, but it’s best to let it sit overnight to be on the safe side. The second coat can be your final coat, although it will again be very rough to the touch. The roughness cannot be avoided irrespective of how many coats are applied. It’s the plaster of Paris that gives it the chalky rough feel. I’ve discovered that three coats are the perfect number of coats. I also allow each coat to dry overnight, as I like to be safe than sorry. The finished look will be chalky, dull or matt and rough to the touch. After a light sand, you will need to apply a coat of paste wax. The wax once buffed out will give it a lustrous appearance. You don’t have to apply it if you prefer the matt look. I found the Renaissance paste wax buffed with a horse hair shoe brush and cotton rag works really well.

The difference between milk paint and chalk paint is that milk paint is a 100% natural finish that doesn’t obscure the grain, while chalk paint isn’t a natural finish and will cover the grain of the wood. However, in both finishes a paste wax is applied. There you have it, one more finishing arsenal under your belt.