The reason I love DIY projects is that you can get awesome results on a BUDGET! Paint is always one of the easiest ways to update any room or your home decor. Now if you think chalky paint is just for those farmhouse gals, then you probably should just keep reading!
If you are like me and want to be able to redo almost anything for near pennies or almost free, then you are in the right place. Chalk paint should easily be in every DIY’er toolkit.
What is chalk paint?
Started In The 90s
Chalk paint gained popularity in the 1990s. Annie Sloan trademarked the term “chalk paint” then. Therefore, we even have noticed Home Depot will even refer to this type of paint as chalked paint (probably not to infringe on the trademark).
Known For Matte Appearance
Chalk paint is known for its matte or chalky appearance. However, you always don’t need to have the end product look chalky depending on the final top coat you are using, whether it is wax or clear polyacrylic.
In this post, we will refer to our DIY decorative paint recipes as chalked paint, chalky paint, paint with chalky finish, etc. This is simply due to the fact that Annie Sloan has trademarked the term chalk paint. The thing to note is that there are so many different ways to describe a paint that is no prep, will stick to so many different surfaces, and has a chalk-like finish when dry.
Why use chalk paint?
No Need To Prime
The main reason we think chalk paint became popular is due to the fact that you do not need to prime whatever you are working on.
Adheres To Different Surfaces
You also can use a variety of surfaces without a lot of prep work, which makes it a DIYer’s best friend.
Chalk paint also dries very quickly, so a whole dresser or even bathroom vanity can be painted in one day (even with 3 coats). If you are using latex enamel paint, you have to wait in-between steps for a longer drying time.
Why not use chalk paint?
Still Have To Seal It
While you do not have to use a primer, you will end up wanting to paint 3 coats of store-bought or DIY chalked paint and you will have to seal the paint if you want it to last. A lot of DIY friends like chalk paint because it can easily be distressed for that shabby chic look.
Could Be Expensive
While chalk paint and other chalked paint variations have their advantages, depending on the brand, they can be quite expensive. If you are painting large furniture or even cabinets this will add up.
Might Not Hold Up As Well As Other Paints
Even though we don’t recommend painting cabinets with chalk paint, we know others who love it. Instead, we use this cabinet painting method in our kitchen cabinets and bathroom makeover.
The reason we love DIY projects is that you can get awesome projects on a budget. While store-bought paint can be a little pricey, we have made our own DIY chalked paint to help redo several pieces of furniture in our current home.
How do you make homemade chalked paint for furniture?
You can use baking soda, Plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate mixed with latex paint in order to make DIY chalk paint.
- Baking soda chalk paint is probably the cheapest but seems to be the most difficult to work with.
- Plaster of Paris chalk paint is a great alternative to buying your own, but can still have a little more grit than desired.
- People have a lot of success with Calcium carbonate chalk paint, however, calcium carbonate can be more expensive and/or hard to find.
How To Make DIY Chalk-Like Paint
Simply mix your chalk element (baking soda, plaster of Paris, unsanded grout, or calcium carbonate with a little water). Make sure you have mixed these elements well together and add latex paint (without primer). Mix thoroughly, some DIYers even recommend using an old electronic mixer like a bullet to get a great consistency.
What type of paint should you mix with Plaster of Paris?
You need to only use a latex paint. Do not use a paint that has a primer mixed in. It will make it difficult to paint. When you are mixing the Plaster of Paris with the water it should be the consistency of pancake batter. You do not want lumps. (See above Bullet mixer if you don’t want to mix by hand).
One thing that we have found when making our chalk paint with Plaster of Paris is that you should expect the paint color to be a slightly lighter version. If you have a small project feel free to use old paint or even paint samples are a great way to test this out.
Cons To Plaster of Paris Chalk Paint
The biggest con to Plaster of Paris chalk paint is that it sometimes can have a gritty consistency compared to the store-bought versions.
I have used this recipe on several different pieces and have always been happy. However, depending on how it mixes you may have a little more grit than you like. After you add a clear coat, it tends to be better as well.
Another con about Plaster of Paris chalk paint is that you have to use it right then.
There is really not a great way to store it and reuse it.
DIY Projects Using Plaster of Paris Paint
One of the best parts about chalk paint is that you can easily add fun colors to your home decor. We love having more neutral home decor and adding pops of colors in accessories and furniture pieces.
We have even redone an old television cabinet into fun dress-up storage for our daughter pictured below. If I didn’t know how to make DIY chalk paint, there is no way I would have bought pink paint. However, repurposed furniture projects are a great time to experiment!
Ombre Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint
We have used the Plaster of Paris chalk paint recipe to create this DIY ombré dresser for our baby nursery.
Before Mixing DIY Chalk Paint
- Go to the paint store and find a sample that you like.
- Make sure there are 5 different colors on the paint swatch.
- Then buy a paint sample for each of those colors.
- You can then use the paint samples to mix individual paints with Plaster of Paris to create colors. You will end with a fun cohesive ombre look.
You could still do the same thing and use white paint and one color. However, you would have to eyeball if the color jumps are consistent between the different tones of the paints.
Dresser With Gel Stain & DIY Chalk Paint
Fun Blue Painted Dresser
This dresser was done with blue latex paint samples and plaster of Paris. Having a dresser that was in awesome shape before had really made the difference.
This awesome Midcentury find was redone with DIY purple chalk paint and a little gold glaze on top. It is perfect under our gallery wall now!
This furniture makeover was complete when we spray painted the hardware and found new colorful knobs. World Market is by far one of my favorite places to buy hardware that is different and not expensive. Even some of the hardware in these pictures is from there.
How To Make Plaster Of Paris Chalk Paint
Step 1: Mix Plaster and Water Together
Mix the Plaster of Paris throughly with water to get a pancake consistency. You do not want any lumps.
Step 2: Slowly Add Paint
Slowly mix in the latex paint of your choice. We actually love using paint samples to make our chalk paint as an inexpensive alternative
Step 3: Begin Painting
Step 4: Paint Two To Three Coats
Step 5: Let Dry
Step 5: Seal Your Project
Ways To Seal Chalk Paint
We might be in the minority, but we love a simple wipe-on poly to seal chalk-painted furniture. Make sure that you use polyacrylic and not polyurethane as it will yellow over time.
If in a high-traffic area, you will want to put 2-3 coats of polyacrylic on our project using a great brush (like this Purdy brush) or a foam brush. You can try rolling with a small roller, but we have never had great success doing that. Allow each coat to dry and then you can use extra-fine sandpaper in between levels.
Other Topcoats To Use
In some furniture painting forums, people have sworn by Dead Flat Varnish by Modern Masters for a great matte finish.
People swear by this expensive topcoat, especially if you are painting furniture white. The last thing that you would want to do is spend all this time updating a piece of furniture to be white and a year later it is an ugly yellow!
How To Make DIY Chalk Paint Without Plaster of Paris
You can mix latex paint with baking soda, calcium carbonate, or unsanded grout to make your own DIY chalk paint recipe. Here are the other recipes to consider if you do not want to use plaster of Paris in your DIY chalk paint.
Baking Soda Chalked Paint Recipe
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 cup latex paint
- 3 TBS. cold water
- Mix baking soda with latex paint.
- Add 3 TBSP water to get the consistency you desire.
Cons of Baking Soda Chalked Paint
We read a lot of DIY blogs and have DIY friends and rarely have we seen anyone recommend this DIY chalk paint recipe. I would be very cautious using this recipe on a big & important piece of furniture.
Unsanded Grout Chalky Paint
- 1 cup latex paint
- 1 TBSP cool water
- 2 TBSP unsanded grout
Unsanded Grout Chalk Paint recipe can easily be distressed with just rubbing and mixes easily.
Can still have a gritty feel.
Calcium Carbonate Chalky Paint
- 1 cup latex paint
- 1/2 cup calcium carbonate
- 1 TBSP talc powder
If you need DIY project inspiration using chalk paint then check out our chalk paint project list from some of our favorite friends.
Chalk Paint FAQs
You can use milk paints, latex paint, mineral paints or latex enamel paint. For the latex paints, we always recommend priming first though, and highly recommend using a high-quality enamel paint for trim, doors and cabinets.
The reason people like chalk paint so much is because of the limited prep. If you were just using latex paint, then you would for sure have to prime and even use a smelly stain-blocking primer.
However, you can sand a piece of furniture if need be. Obviously, if there is a large dent or uneven surface you will want to fix that before applying chalk paint.
And even with chalk paint, we always wipe down the piece with a deglosser before starting. This not only helps prep the surface but also ensures the piece is clean before painting.
Before putting the topcoat on, we will use just extra-fine sandpaper on the edges to create that shabby chic distressed look. Some people will go to town removing a lot more sanding paper.
With the baking soda chalk paint, you may even be able to just rub it over with a rag. Just be careful you don’t take too much off.
Absolutely not. Chalk paint can look great without any distressing. You could even consider adding a glazed element to your chalk paint project.
This dresser was done with gel stain and DIY plaster of Paris chalk paint outside.
If you see brush strokes with your chalk paint, then you will still see them with the topcoat. Instead of trying to get a completely smooth surface, we sometimes just embrace the texture. You could consider going crisscross with brush strokes or long smooth feather-like strokes to even hide blemishes in your piece of furniture and add extra dimension.
We know that some DIY furniture painters prefer a special chalk painting brush, while others will use a small roller with their chalk paint. You may have to add water to thin the chalk paint (store-bought or DIY recipe) if using a roller. Regardless of what tool you are applying the chalk paint the key to getting a smoother finish is to paint thin layers.
NO!!!! Let me say it again, no. Don’t get confused when you go to the store and see chalkboard paint. This paint is made to make the surface like a chalkboard and not the chalk paint we are talking about.
Honestly, if after you decide that you just need a change from chalk paint then you may want to check out this article from the Lived In Look.
She shows you how to paint over chalk paint for a more modern look. We for sure love a mix of easy chalk paint and the use of other latex enamel paints (like our bathroom cabinets) in our home.
What are some of the best store-bought paints with chalk finish?
Annie Solan was the first to come up with commercial chalk paint. She has gained a lot of popularity and almost a cult(like) following. However, in recent years you can find chalk paint in big box stores and many small boutique-type places. In the chalk paint projects in this list, you will see the variety of options that DIYers are using to redo furniture and more.
Chalk paint has its reasons and purposes. When used sparingly it can be a DIY gal or guy’s best friend.