Beginner's Guide To Chalk Painting Furniture

Old Blue Chalk Paint

Painting furniture with chalk paint is a great way to affordably transform or update the look of your home.

I started flipping furniture when we bought our first house. Like most young homeowners, we couldn't afford to furnish our entire home with newly bought pieces and began to refinish older furniture kindly gifted to us by family.

I've experimented with different paint types and application techniques and I'd like to step you through the basics and 'need to knows.' 

First, let me cover the most frequently asked questions before we dive in:

Question: But don't you have to sand back the wood to raw timber?

Answer: No. Using Chalk and Clay Paint IS the shortcut/hack to flipping furniture without all the work. It is a specialty paint that's been formulated to adhere to just about anything.

Question: What are the benefits of using chalk paint?

Answer: No prep work, you can achieve a textured rustic look or a super smooth finish with light sanding between coats and it's very easy to custom blend your own colours.

Preparation

bedside table chalk paint

Step 1.

Choose a piece of furniture that doesn't have spindle legs, is the size of hutch and doesn't require repairs for your first project. Walk before you run!

Step 2.

Remove hardware (handles, hinges etc) from furniture with a suitable screwdriver or pry it off if fixed with glue and store in a container.

Step 3.

Apply gloves and clean your piece with Liquid Sugar Soap in a bucket of hot water (available at supermarkets and Bunnings) and a lint free cloth until the piece is completely free of dirt and dust. Follow with a water only wipe down to remove any soap residue. 

Step 4.

Check for surface scratches or dings and apply wood fill/putty with a scraper and let dry. This is important to provide a flat painting surface. Once dry, lightly sand the wood putty with a 120 grit sandpaper until the putty is flush with the surface and wipe away dust residue.

Paint

chalk paint oyster swatch

Step 5.

Select your 'Made By Paint Chalk and Clay Paint' colour, open the tin and stir the paint with a wooden stirrer till the paint is mixed through for approximately 2 minutes. The paint is non-toxic so there is no need to wear a mask. Decant the paint into a container to prevent cross-contamination. 

Step 6.

Take a paint brush or foam paint roller (pour out paint into a paint roller tray) and apply the first coat of paint in long strokes ensuring not to overload the brush/roller with too much paint or overwork where you've painted. Don't try to reach opacity on your first coat, trust me - it will look worse before it looks better, this is normal!

Cover your brush/roller with cling wrap or a Zip Loc bag if you will be returning to your piece that day for another coat, this will stop your applicator from drying out.

Step 7.

After 2 hours has passed, if you have any drip marks (from excess paint) or brush marks that you don't want on the surface, or love an ultra smooth finish - lightly spot sand or fully sand the surface with a 120, 150 or 240 grit sandpaper (the higher you go the finer or softer the paper - the lower you go the coarser).

Step 8.

Check for bleed-through of the wood in your paint job,  this typically occurs with Indonesian wood and other dark woods - it will look like a stain and no matter how many coats of paint you apply it will come back. If this occurs, simply spot treat the area with Polyseal (which is a 2 for 1 product) a clear non-toxic, non-yellowing sealant and this will block the stain.

Step 9.

Apply a second coat, this will look better than the first! Check the opacity and determine whether you need another coat of paint. Typically two coats is sufficient, but some of the lighter colours (namely white) may need a third coat.

Finish

Polyseal chalk paint

Step 10.

Let your piece dry for 24 hours, clean your brushes/roller in hot water and air dry. If you would like to distress your piece and give it a 'lived in' or 'chippy' look simply use a 120 grit sandpaper and lightly scuff the areas where the piece would normally get knocked or see wear. If you go too far, don't freak out - just re-apply paint over the area.

Step 11.

Choose and apply your finishing product. Given the porosity of chalk paint it needs to be sealed with a product like:

  •  Polyseal - a clear polyurethane alternative which is suitable for high-traffic pieces and furniture kept outside. Apply with a brush or roller.
  • Finishing wax - comes in multiple colours, can be buffed to a high shine and smells amazing. Apply with a lint-free cloth or a wax brush.
  • Finishing oil - available in a variety of tones, is non-toxic and dries down beautifully. Apply with a lint-free cloth or chip brush and be sure to wear disposable gloves.
Step 12.

Clean your hardware (if you choose to re-use) with a toothbrush and hot water - I like to use Barkeeper's Friend. If you want to change the colour of the hardware, you can spray paint it. Ensure you prime first, apply a colour coat and allow for the full cure time as indicated on the can.

Step 13.

Apply hardware and allow cure time of 7 days, this means that it'll take a week for it the paint and finish to harden completely, take great care in moving or touching your furniture during this period to avoid damaging your hard work.

Step 14.

Stand back and admire your masterpiece! Snap a photo and tag me on social media so I can join you in your admiration.

I hope this has given you the knowledge and confidence you need to start chalk painting your first piece of furniture!

You can buy the chalk paint, brushes and finishing products at our online shop, we ship Australia wide. 

Happy painting!

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