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Cheater’s Chalk Paint

Back to those darn chairs, shall we?

I love the look of chalk paint particularly when used with dark wax. I just don’t love the price tag. A quart of good quality chalk paint can cost upwards of $30 add in the cost of the specialized wax and brushes and you’re looking at a $100 project. I figured I could either do it far cheaper or fail miserably at trying.

So first and foremost I cleaned up my chairs, chalk painting claims not to have any prep work. No sanding etc. but if you are working on old dining room chairs I suggest at least giving them a scrub with some Murphy’s Oil Soap just to get the grime from years of family dinners and years of furniture polish and wax off, or not even the best paint will stick.

After that I just started painting away with my favorite primer, which happens to be a really cheap ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is very thick, and very flat so it likes to stick to things and dries rather quickly, it also has good tooth to it. Tooth is the texture that helps other things stick. It’s like painting a canvas with gesso before starting a painting.

After the primer was dry I went in with the color. I did end up buying a quart of this color (it was a custom mix to match the fabric) just because I love it so I know I’ll use it on other projects, but I could have gotten away with just one $3 sample pot. Even at a quart it was only $15.

After getting the paint done I decided to tempt fate and go for the waxing. I decided to try to tint my own wax, I used Minwax finishing wax in natural (aka clear) which is around $10 for a can and a chocolate brown paint I had lying around. I simply took a scoop of the wax and a drizzle of the paint and very thoroughly mixed the two. As you can tell my measuring was very precise.

EEEEEEEWWWWW

I just used a cheap chip brush to mush the wax on, waited a minute or two, and buffed it off. The finishing wax is technically a matte varnish so it will dry hard and help protect the paint finish on the piece. That also means you have to work in small areas at a time so you don’t allow it to dry all the way before buffing it off. The now tinted wax will stick in recessed areas like corners and carved details and any cracks and scratches that the piece has accrued over the years. You could also distress the piece before starting if you wanted it to have a little more character. I discovered that if you happen to have a patch that dries a bit too much before you get a chance to buff it, it can be salvaged. Just put some wet wax overtop of it, wait a minute, and wipe again. It will soften the dried wax and take it back up.

Keep in mind you don’t have to tint your wax a chocolate brown you can tint it whatever color you like. A darker version of the color you’ve already painted the piece would look amazing I have a feeling. Go crazy and do lime green wax on a bright pink piece. Actually I would really like to see that. Or you could tint the wax with white paint and put it over a natural wood piece to give relief to carved areas.

From this to that to finally done!

Yes I realize in the long run it is a few more steps than chalk paint but it also only cost (even with brushes) around $35 in supplies versus the inordinate amount that doing it with chalk paint would have cost me. So the pros, at least for me, outweigh the cons.

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