Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My First Homemade Chalk Paint Project

Good morning!

As it is a beautiful sunny day outside, and the gas co. is digging up my driveway, I thought I'd blog about my first experience with homemade chalk paint.

Don't get me wrong, I do love Annie Sloan chalk paint, but it kills me to pay about $30 per quart- yes, you read that right. I have been checking out other painters that have made their own with much success. Some have used plaster of Paris, others have tried calcium carbonate, a paint extender, which can be found in health food stores, I know, sounds weird, but it's just multitasking. Another recipe calls for unsanded grout: this is the one I used.

Off to the store I went to buy flat (matte) paint, which is what everyone seems to recommend. I bought an antique white. I knew right away which piece I was going to transform:

This piece was given to me by a neighbor-score! I am a sucker for those curvy legs, what can I say?

So I go home, grab the paint, grout (remember unsanded), a plastic bowl, you know the kind you use at picnics? Don't get paper, it just gets messy after a bit. Oh, and a plastic spoon for stirring.

First, I measured three of these plastic spoonfuls, leveled with my finger, and then added three spoonfuls of warmish water so like a 1 to 1 ratio, mixed the two up very well, and then I poured about a cup of paint into the bowl, I just eyeballed it. OK, I'm not that good, I have another way to get about a cup of paint into a bowl: I poured a cup of water into one of these bowls and marked how high the water went with a Sharpie. Very accurate, eh? Not really, but it's all good.

Stir everything together very well. It's like thick pancake batter. While mixing, it will look really gritty, but I think it's a combo of grout and air bubbles. When you stop mixing, it will appear much less gritty. now you're ready to paint. After each section, I mix well. If you feel the paint is too thick, put a little water in. Do this little by little 'til you are happy with the consistency. You can always add more H2O: a little more difficult to take out.

When you have one coat on your piece, wait about an hour. When you run your hand over the dried surface, it will feel rough. That's ok, don't worry, it's some of the grout. Sand each coat with a fine grit sand block, and your surface will be smoooooth. I do get some brush marks, but it doesn't bother me, it shows that this piece was painted by someone's hand rather than someone's sprayer. 

****Tip: Because you can see the strokes, it is important to go with the grain of the wood, otherwise it'll look weird.****

Oh, and for my second coat I used this new paint from Ace Hardware called Clark & Kensington, in the color Casual Day, it's kind of a spring green color. It has primer in the paint, so you can add a little more water to thin it out. If you are wondering why I used this brand, well, because it was FREE, yes that's right, and from what I hear they are giving quarts of this paint away every Saturday in March, and as I type this, that means two more Saturdays, two more free cans. Get there early, folks, it goes fast!

OK, onto the controversial bit. To finish the piece, I used, gasp, polyurethane. Varathane Floor Finish in satin. I did not use wax. How dare I? Well, because I could never get the hang of the wax, and to be honest I don't trust it's durability. This stuff does not yellow, I have done side by side comparisons, and didn't notice a difference. I got this recommendation from Perfectly Imperfect, but I am not sure if she uses the Varathane with chalk paint, but I do.....

So without further ado, here she is, Miss Spring Green:

Go ahead, make your own chalk paint. It is freeing, and in some cases (almost) free!
Come check out my Facebook page. Leave a comment, and I'll stop by yours.
***An update to this post can be found here:


  1. Your table turned out nice! Thanks for the instructions how to make your own chalk paint.

  2. Thanks for posting your diy chalk tutorial. I too will not give into paying ridiculous amounts for a small quart of paint.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your variation on(and detailed directions on how to make)homemade "chalk" paint. I used plaster of Paris for mine and could not be happier. I wish I had thought to use all disposable stuff for mixing since this stuff is hard to even get off my hands! I was glad to read about using poly to finish as I am sure the wax finish would not work on my latest project. I picked up a shelf at Goodwill for less than $3. It is fairly plain (no hearts carved into it!) but it did have a painted floral design on it. I used the paint and it covered great but it has pegs on the bottom and I want to use the shelf to hang towels when the grands are all here. Wax and water - not a good combo! I am going to use wipe on poly and if it gets a little yellow in the future, I can always paint it again with my cheapo paint!

  4. Thanks for your comments, all!
    Suzan, is the wipe on poly water based? If it is, I wouldn't worry about yellowing.
    Xo, Sue

  5. Oh, I am so happy that I found your blog. I am just about to paint a piece of furniture with homemade chalk paint. I will use the info here.

    1. Awesome SS, just be sure to stir well and often! Good luck!