How to Make Chalk Paint
Painting outdated furniture and cabinets continues to be an increasingly popular DIY project. Many are searching how to make chalk paint at home to help keep their project budget friendly.
Since 2015 I’ve been giving facelifts to discarded furniture and have tried every DIY chalk paint recipe in the book. Some of the most common recipes include:
I’ll walk you through each recipe, share my personal experiences with each and provide the best DIY chalk paint powder product out there.
Why Make Your Own Chalk Paint?
You may be wondering why you should think about making your own chalk paint. The number one benefit to making this product versus buying it ready to go off the shelf is cost.
The average quart of chalky finish paint cost anywhere from $32 – $48. While brands will vary, a quart is typically enough to paint a large hutch and buffet. In other words, a little goes a long way.
On top of the paint cost, you may need to purchase a quality paint brush to ensure a smooth finish. And, you will want to protect your newly painted piece. This is usually done with a clear top coat or wax (more on this later).
Depending what you already have on hand, this quick and simple project can add up quickly…but it is still much cheaper than buying brand new furniture.
If you can find a way to cut costs on the paint, it’s a win in my book! And, by making your own chalk paint, the paint color options are endless.
What Makes Chalk Paint Different?
There’s a lot of hype around what makes chalky finish paint different from regular latex paint. And for good reason.
Coming from a gal that has been in the paint manufacturing industry for over five years, trust me when I say chalky finish paint is very different from regular ‘ol latex paint.
Simply put, chalky finish paint products have additional ingredients that help the paint adhere to nearly any surface. This means you can paint right over that table that has an existing varnish/top coat. No need to strip or sand off the top coat first. This is simply not the case when you are working with a regular latex paint.
The ease of use is what makes chalky finish paints so popular. Just like any product, there are excellent chalky finish paint brands and then there are no so great brands.
The main features of a good chalky finish paint are: adhesion power, coverage and durability.
Chalk Paint Recipes
Let’s dive into the common DIY chalk paint recipes.
Plaster of Paris Recipe
- 1 Cup Paint
- ⅓ Cup Water
- ⅓ Cup Plaster of Paris
Instructions: Combine ingredients and stir until smooth. It may help to combine the water and Plaster of Paris first, then pour the well mixed ingredients in the paint and mix well until all the ingredients are combined.
My Experience: The paint mixed really well. The application felt a bit thicker than many store brand chalky finish paints and it dried in about the same time as store bought chalky finish paints (about 30 minutes, but this does depend on the climate where you are painting).
The Good: Mixed easily, went on pretty smooth and the Plaster of Paris appeared to add additional durability. Easy to find and inexpensive ingredients.
The Bad: Did not store well. When I went to paint my next piece with the extra paint (about a week later), the paint firmed up and was no longer usable. This was a big con in my book as I like to mix paints in bigger batches and store the leftovers.
Baking Soda Recipe
- 2/3 Cup Paint
- ⅓ Cup Baking Soda
Instructions: Combine ingredients until mixed well.
My Experience: The paint was pretty grainy, even after thoroughly mixing it. The grains were still visible once the paint was dry.
The Good: Easy to find ingredients (I already had baking soda on hand!) and inexpensive ingredients.
The Bad: Super grainy. Unless you are looking for a grainy finish, I don’t recommend this recipe. It may be cool to use for a faux terracotta look on a vase though, so I won’t say to completely disregard it.
Non-Sanded Grout Recipe
- 1 Cup Paint
- 2 tbsp Non-Sanded Grout
- Water to Mix Grout
Instructions: Mix the water and Non-Sanded Grout then pour in the paint. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
My Experience: I was impressed with how well everything mixed together. This recipe created a nice thick chalk paint that was still fairly easy to spread.
The Good: Like the others, the ingredients mixed well and the application was pretty smooth. Grout does have a bit of an odor, so if you are sensitive to odd smells, this may not be the recipe for you.
The Bad: I should have realized this, but since I was working with grout, the paint started to glop up after about 30 minutes. I added more water and that helped get the project done. Because of my experience, I would say this is another recipe best done on a piece that you can finish quickly and not have any leftover to store.
The Best Chalk Paint Powder Recipe
If you’re not one that wants to toy around with various DIY recipes, skip the hassle of trial and error and grab Chalky Finish Paint Powder.
This proprietary blend of all natural minerals can be added to any flat latex paint to transform it into DIY chalk paint. It’s a much more cost effective option than buying a ready to go jar of chalk paint (a savings up to 60%) and it takes out all the guesswork.
Simply mix Chalky Finish Paint powder with warm water and add to your selected paint color. Just like magic, you have an easy to apply, durable and quick drying chalk paint for a fraction of the cost.
Each ingredient in Chalky Finish Paint Powder is made to work with ingredients in latex paint. This is unlike many of the DIY recipes above that contain ingredients you wouldn’t normally find in paint.
What does this mean for you? It means you get a flawless, silky smooth finish every time. And, when the product is properly mixed and stored, you can save the extra paint for a year (or more) without having to worry about it clumping up or drying out.
How to Make Chalk Paint for Spraying
For an incredibly smooth painted finish, applying chalk paint with a sprayer will help achieve this look.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not very good at using a sprayer (it’s partly a lack of prep patience, lol), so I don’t spray furniture often.
The first thing to do when spraying chalky paint is to water it down a bit. You want to be careful to not add too much as the more water added, the less the adhesion may be. My usual recipe using the HomeRight sprayer is adding ½ cup water to 1 cup of pre-mixed chalk paint.
You may need to adjust this if you are using a different sprayer. Climate should be taken into consideration when painting by hand or spraying. It’s wise to start with the instructions that come with the sprayer, then adjust the amount of water/paint ratio as needed until you find the perfect spray that still has the necessary adhesion power.
If you have the time/resources, I recommend starting with a few smaller pieces as practice.
Chalk Paint Making Tips
Whether you choose one of the recipes above or you choose the pre-made Chalky Finish Paint powder, there are few general tips I recommend:
- Choose a quality paint: While I have not tried every brand of paint with these DIY chalk paint recipes, be sure to mix the recipe in to a high quality brand of paint. Brands like Behr and Glidden tend to work well.
- Go with a flat or matte finish: DIY chalky finish paint recipes tend to give the most “chalky” effect with a flat or matte finish. That said, I’ve used Chalky Finish Paint Powder in satin and eggshell finishes before (it’s what I had on hand) and I did notice a bit more sheen, but it still turned out beautifully.
- Skip the Paint + Primer Options: It’s ideal to find a brand that is not paint + primer. The primer may cause issues with the final result once the ingredients are mixed in. But again, since I’m such a rebel, I’ve used a paint + primer brand before with no immediate issues. I did not make enough to have to store any, so I can’t tell you what the longer term effects may have been.
How to Make Chalk Paint Waterproof
Once chalky finish paints dry, they have no sheen and can be at risk for water damage. The matte finish also tends to attract dust, which can lead to problems, especially with lighter colors.
For the ultimate protection, Protective Finish is your answer. This satin finish clear top coat is durable enough to use on floors and will help your hard work last for many years to come.
Once completely cured, it will provide durable, water resistant protection and is recommended for use on higher traffic surfaces such as painted kitchen cabinets, table tops and shelves/bookcases.
Cure time takes about 3-4 weeks. This process is common with all paints and top coats. Cure time just means the top coat is hardening to its most durable point. You can still use the surface once it is dry to the touch, just be gentle until it is fully cured.
To check if the top coat is cured, use the fingernail test. In an inconspicuous area, lightly press your fingernail into the coating. If it leaves an indent, the top coat is still curing. If the surface feels hard and there is no evidence of your fingernail indent, the top coat has most likely cured.
Protective Finish is a low VOC, non-yellowing and can be applied using various tools such as: paint brush paint roller, paint sprayer, or sponge. It has a milky white look that dries crystal clear. Average dry time is an hour and the next coat can be applied after two hours. Two-three coats are recommended for the best results.
The Best Wax for DIY Chalk Paint
Another way to protect your painted finish is with All-Natural Furniture Wax. This easy to use wax contains no chemicals, drying agents or anything that would be deemed harmful to you or the environment.
Containing only three all-natural ingredients, Furniture Wax is an excellent choice for low traffic surfaces such as bedroom furniture, wall décor or furniture in living spaces that do not receive a lot of foot traffic/wear and tear. It will also help prevent dust from sticking to the paint and will help prevent water from absorbing into the matte finish.
When protecting your newly painted piece, choose Protective Finish OR All-Natural Furniture Wax, not both. One is water based, the other is oil based. Since water and oil don’t mix, you won’t want to use both products on your newly transformed treasure.
Until next time!
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