If you’ve recently seen a piece of furniture with a very matte paint job in soft or bold tones, you were likely looking at a coat of chalk paint. This relatively new type of paint is sweeping the market due to its straightforward application and characteristic appearance, but what makes it so different from other lacquers? Here are a few basics about one of our favorite kinds of paint.
Another Origin Story
In 1990, Annie Sloan went on a hunt for a paint that required minimal prep that was easy to work with. Her search came up empty, but being an innovator, she didn’t let that stop her. Instead, she created a new kind of paint that was latex-based with a bit more grit than your average dye.
In the subsequent decades since Annie’s discovery, many have worked to imitate her formula. While “chalk paint” is a trademark of the Annie Sloan Paint brand, there are many copycats on the market. These are usually labeled as “chalk-like” with a “chalky-style” or as having a “chalky finish.”
Is My Dresser Now a Chalkboard?
Chalk paint is not to be confused with chalkboard paint, which turns the surface painted into a chalkboard. Chalkboard paint is made by combining latex paint and, of all things, tile grout. This allows chalk to adhere to the much grittier surface created by the paint, which can be fun for organizing a space or making a surface friendly for kids.
Chalk paint does not turn surfaces into 1830s classroom accessories. You should not draw on it unless you want to ruin the finish. That being said, it has its own advantages.
What Is So Special About Chalk Paint?
Chalk paint has a very unique appearance: it has an ultra-matte finish after it dries and is usually thicker than other paints on the market. Because it’s so thick and opaque, you can often get away with only one coat. This is helpful in mitigating the paint’s relatively expensive cost. Cleanup after painting is a breeze—steer clear of mineral spirits and just use water to clean brushes after a painting job.
Perhaps the biggest draw is that the stuff is generally easier to work with than standard paint because it requires the bare minimum of prep work. Because of its composition, you shouldn’t have to sand or prime the surface you’re painting. The paint will adhere to almost any surface with little to no preparation. However, if you want your chalk paint to have a very smooth appearance, lightly sanding the surface you plan to paint can achieve that.
Because the paint is so forgiving and easy to work with, it is ideal for those looking to enter the upcycling and DIY world. It’s hard to go wrong when all you have to do is clean the surface and slap on a single coat of paint!
Where Should We Start?
You can use chalk paint on just about everything. It is most usually used on furniture, but if you love the finish, it can also be used to paint cabinets or even entire walls. There is some debate on how well it adheres to metal and laminate, but any surface is pretty much game as long as it is dry and clean, even if it is already painted.
A common style to create with chalk paint is a distressed look. A piece of furniture or other surface gets a base coat of paint and a top coat in another shade. After the layers have cured, strategic areas of the top coat are sanded away, revealing the hue underneath. The distressed look adds charm and a gently aged style. If, however, you like a more modern and streamlined look, you can skip the sanding and work in solid color blocks.
To really preserve the longevity of chalk paint, it should be sealed properly if the painted surface is going to see a lot of traffic. Tabletops and stairs should be painted, allowed to cure thoroughly, and then coated with a few layers of soft wax. Varnish or polyurethane may also be used.
Chalky Options with Wilson’s Paint and Floor Coverings
Chalk paint can be made at home if you are on a budget by combining latex paint with Plaster of Paris; however, the ratio is easy to get wrong. You can save yourself trouble and money by speaking to one of our Wilson’s representatives about the specialty paint. Whether you’d like to take on the job yourself or you’d prefer professional painting services, we are here to help.