Friday, June 14, 2013

Baking Soda Chalk Paint 101

OK, so I still haven't gotten much better about my blogging, but guess what, I'm not stressing about it anymore. When I have something to say, or share, I will. 

Well today I have something I can share with you. It's the basics of using baking soda chalk paint. Oh sure I've blogged about it before, but I'll give you the pros and cons, do's and don'ts, ups and downs, yada, yada, yada with you all, so basically I'll tell you what I've learned using it.

First, why do I use baking soda paint anyways? (Notice I took out the word 'chalk'? It's not chalk at all, but I know if you're looking, you're using that word.) Well, first and foremost, it's way less expensive than the pre-made chalk paints that are out there. You can get a quart of flat latex for about $15, some more, some less, and some free! Baking soda is way cheap. I got one of those big bags at Costco, which means I'm spending pennies on each batch. That is way better that $35+, IMHO.

I also have more control when I make my own: both with color and consistency. The color possibilities really are endless, and that means I can pretty much get any color I can think of, which makes me a happy camper.

I had found that the pre-made chalk paint was way too thick for my taste, and yes I added water and lots of it. I noticed I had to load my brush much more often than I did with homemade. 

How do I make a baking soda batch? Well, it's not very scientific at all. I put a rounded teaspoon into a container, then add water- enough to make a thick paste, then I pour in my paint.

Now here's an important bit: just make a small batch at a time.

Maybe between 1/4 and 1/2 cup paint to the paste. A little goes a long way, and if you store it for too long,more than two days, it coagulates, and then that paint is useless. So make small batches at a time. You'll thank me later for that advice.

You can add water to the mixture if you find it too thick. I wouldn't recommend adding more baking soda straight to the mixture you have because you will get clumps. Instead, make some more paste as described above and add that.

Once the paint dries, I give it about an hour, you will feel the grittiness caused by the baking soda. Don't fret, totally normal. Take a fine sanding block or paper to the piece. When you sand, it will become smooth. I usually do at least two coats of paint, but I have found that if you paint with a light color over a dark wood, stain, or paint you will need at least three coats. Don't worry about it, though, because you don't need to do the tedious prep work for your piece (i.e. sanding and priming).

What about finishing the piece, you say? Well, I use several different products, and I'm still exploring my options. I have used water based Varathane that is for porch and floor, Minwax Polycrylic water based polyurethane, Minwax paste wax, and yes, Annie Sloan's clear and dark wax (mainly because I bought them, so I should use them).

Each has its strengths and weaknesses: the Varathane is tough, but I have noticed it yellowed on certain colors, especially light or pastel colors. Also, it's expensive. I think about $50 per gallon.

I have found that the Minwax can yellow, too, but I suspect I may have put too much on at a time. Try several, very thin coats.

I really like the look and feel of Minwax paste wax. You apply with cheesecloth.

NOTE: Sand before you apply the wax, otherwise the cheescloth sort of disintegrates and leaves white residue, especially noticeable on dark pieces.

Once applied, leave the wax on about 15 minutes, then buff to a shine using a lint free cloth. I use microfiber cloths and they work great.

The downside is that the wax has a peach hue to it, and it shows up on white pieces.

It took me a while to get the hang of Annie Sloan's wax. I always put too much on and it seemed very streaky. I now use a very little bit and buff going the direction you painted- generally straight across a piece. I tried buffing in a circular motion and it just. looked. BAD!

It's nice to use the dark wax for antiquing a piece too.

Downside? You guessed it. Too expensive for this frugal little lady.

Oh, and I apply the Annie Sloan wax with a brush, it looks very similar to her wax brushes, but it is made by Purdy, Symphony is the line of brushes. It is called a pouncing brush. This baby is less than $7 and it works great!

A few weeks back I had someone tell me I had to use chalk paint (the pre-made stuff) if I wanted to paint furniture, but I'm here to tell you, that, nah, you don't!

Here are some samples of pieces painted with baking soda paint:

I hope you found this post helpful. I will update my findings periodically, too.


Come by and say hi on my Facebook page, and I'll come see you!


  1. I like the idea...and the cost...and the final 'result'! I will try it on my next furniture re-do! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Excellent! You know where to find me if you have questions:)

  2. How do you know that baking soda has any bonding ability? Has anyone ever researched that? I know things seem to stick at first, but how about long term? I can paint with latex paint and not sand or prime and it seems to work fine at first too; it's the long term results that we need to worry about. Anyways, just curious about longevity.

  3. Hi Bella,
    Great question!
    I haven't had any problems with bonding, and I have often wondered why it sticks, but I know it does. That being said, I still check previously painted pieces and make sure that if I am painting over existing paint that the original paint is bonded to the piece. I have painted an item before and noticed it was 'bubbling' after I had painted, but that was because the original coat was just straight latex and no primer.
    I also seal my pieces when I am finished.
    Hope this answers your question.
    Xo, Sue

  4. Using Color Place flat paint from Wal-Mart I made up a batch of baking soda paint. The formula I used was 1/2 cup baking soda & 3 Tbsp. water to make my paste then mixed into 1 cup of paint. I loved the look & feel of the paint. I've seen some photos where you could see a fine grit on the dried piece but that wasn't the case with my paint, however, it wasn't smooth either so I did sand it with 220 paper after it had dried 24 hours. Now the problem. When I wiped the piece down with a damp cloth the paint came off !!! Not completely, but it looks as thought it's been severely distressed! I sanded this piece with 60 grit before beginning but did not apply a primer, didn't think I needed to with this type of paint. Was I wrong? Any ideas as to why this paint peeled off?

  5. Hmmm. I've not had that problem. What type of cloth were you using?
    Usually after I sand I use a dry microfiber cloth to get the loose bits off.
    Is there any way this was a 'happy accident' for you?
    Best of luck!

  6. Do you sand Between coats or just once after the 2-3? I'm going to tackle several pieces today!

  7. Hi Sara, I do a quick sand between coats and then a thorough one before waxing. HTH
    Have fun creating!

  8. Thank you! So excited to try something outside my normal "craft". is my sugar craft :)
    Love your stuff!