February 3, 2013

Home Made Chalk Paint - My Review

I am so late to this party, that is for sure ;)

I finally, finally (!) got around to trying chalk paint, well home made, at least.  Annie Sloan's version is very very close to being here in Australia and New Zealand, and I am looking forward to trying it after all the hype I have seen (read) over the past two or so years.

I picked up this desk last week and decided this was my guinea pig for chalk paint...
(phone photos...sorry!)

There are lots of recipes on the internet for home made chalk paint, they mostly consist of mixing plaster of paris and water into acrylic paint (some use calcium carbonate and some use grout).  I went with plaster of paris and mixed it into a paste with water then mixed that into some low sheen water based acrylic (good old classic Dulux Antique White USA).

It mixed to a nice consistency fairly easily and I started painting the desk straight away (after cleaning it thoroughly but not sanding it...this paint is meant to stick to 'glossy' surfaces).  After about 10 minutes it started thickening, at first not too thick for me still to paint with, but a few minutes later you could stand the brush up in it, and it needed watering down again.

I had read that this paint dries very quickly once painted on the furniture but to be honest it didn't dry as quickly as I thought it would, but we have had some pretty wet humid weather here lately (I painted on a fine sunny day though).  I ended up doing 3 coats in total over two days.  In between coats I put the lid on the container with the chalk paint mix in it and it kept it fresh, just needing a bit of a stir and some more water and paint on the second day.

After it was fully dry I distressed the desk by hand (using 240 grit sandpaper) and true to what I had read, it did distress very easily...almost too easily for my liking!
I personally don't like an unpredictable chippy distress job which I think is what this chalk paint is meant to do...see in the corner there...that is what it did and I don't particularly like it. I was worried it was going to come off in big chunks if I kept sanding.  Some people like that look so I wouldn't necessarily say this is a flaw...it just doesn't suit me and my preferred style.
I don't love the handles either but as this was a real trial piece, I decided to leave them as is.

I finished it off by sealing with wax.  It has come up quite nicely and certainly an improvement!

My verdict on home made chalk paint:

I am not convinced at all.  I don't like the way it chipped off in some areas like it wasn't going to stop. Maybe I watered it down too much after the first application but I put it on pretty quickly...if you need to remix with water and more plaster of paris/paint every 10 minutes or so it isn't very user-friendly.  If I am going to go to the effort of finding and paying for a nicely shaped piece of furniture to give new life to, I want to make sure that it has plenty of years of new life ahead of it.
I don't have faith that home made chalk paint will definitely give me that, so I am going to stick to the tried and trusted quality procedures and products I usually use (and wait for Annie Sloan's to land here!)


  1. hi Karen -i usually find that it doesn't chip at all and I have to work a lot to get it to distress. The cabinet in my lounge room (under my chalkboard drawing) is chalk paint and it's not at all distressed and i have sanded it to a very smooth finish. even sanded the top with the orbital and no distressing but i do wax before i sand and then wax again afterwards to that might make a difference.
    it is very hard to use home made chalk paint when it's hot though as it does dry in the pot a lot.
    perhaps try again when it's cooler -or stick with what you are happy with! i also don't like that crazy random chippy look.
    hope you had a good weekend.
    Fiona xx

  2. I remember that desk! It does look a lot better in white than au natural and sticking out the back of your boot window!

  3. Interesting, thanks for the review Karen. ;-)

  4. sorry to hear you're not a fan... I agree the chalk paint dries very quickly especially in warm humid weather. I have done several pieces with it and am getting better each time with the consistancy. I always lighly scuff every piece and I always prime it first as I love the look of the white coming through when I distress {when using light colours}. It does look much better though!!
    Bec x

    1. Hi Bec and thanks for your comments on this. I found it dried quickly in the tin but not on the furniture. A light sanding is wise but I didn't do that to test whether this paint would stick to glossy surfaces as it is meant to. I think it does, just not all over (hence the random chipping). I've since read that it is the wax that helps the curing/adhesion of the paint. Chalk paint certainly seems popular, anyway...but I'm not sure I will bother again :) I love the white primer popping through other colours too!

      xx Karen

    2. What was your ratio of plaster to paint??... I wonder if you increased the amount of paint the plaster would be slower to do its thing?. I tried this with 1 part plaster of paris powder to 3 parts of paint. It was beautiful to work with and didnt thicken up at all in fact I went back the next day shook the jar and that it for the second coat.... Dried fractionally slower than Annie Sloan paint but and distressed nicely without chipping....? That was my first attempt so I was pretty impressed. Gabby xx

  5. i like the look but do want to ask u: does it need waxing after it is all dried? does it stop chipping once it is dry? and lastly-does the paint hold under reg use or does it scratch easily?

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