Chalk paint furniture to refurbish it vintage-style
Do you hate that old dresser with the scratches and dings? Or maybe that dated coffee table no longer works with your scheme, or the stains on the sideboard get you down. If you look at a tired bit of furniture and ache to replace it there is an alternative – chalk paint! If you’ve watched any renovation show in the past 5 years, you have seen the transformative power of chalk paint. Decorators and DIYers alike love chalk paint for breathing new life into old furniture and fixings, providing a vivid finish that can be modified to any interior or theme.
If you want to chalk paint furniture but aren’t sure how to get started, you’re in the right place. In this article we give you the tips and tricks to get the perfect finish from your furniture chalk paint, and give you a rundown of some of the best chalk paint products available in Ireland.
Why chalk paint is the best interior paint
Oscar Wilde once said “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months” and furniture is no exception to the rule. What was the height of style one year may be dark and blocky the next. But well-made, useful pieces will last forever. With chalk paint, furniture can be revived and renewed while keeping its vintage charm. The finish is matte (it is chalk paint after all, the surface is chalky), but once sealed with a wax or varnish this will mellow out. So what else should you know about chalk paint?
- You can keep the prep work to the absolute bare minimum – One of the reasons chalk paint is so popular is because of its “no prep necessary” claim but be aware that there are two camps – those who prep and those who don’t. It adheres well to most surfaces without a primer and all you need is to make sure they are clean. However, if your surface is smooth and glossy we would recommend you sand it down beforehand just to be sure (if it has varnish or gloss on it already for example).
- It’s easy to apply – Chalk paint goes on opaque and covers well. You might need two coats for full coverage, but there are is no need for thinning or anything tricky – unless you want to play with the finish, of course!
- It’s eco-friendly and safe – Chalk paint consists of minerals, pigments and water. It is completely free of harmful substances and is considered toy safe for children. Milk paint is another non-toxic paint option.
- It’s fast drying – You can complete a project in a weekend, doing the undercoat on Saturday morning, the second coat Saturday afternoon, and sealing coat or wax on Sunday. Even though it may be dry to the touch, remember to give the piece 3-5 days to really cure before being too rough with it.
- You can play with texture and finish – The chalky matt finish of chalk paint will retain brush marks which is part of its appeal. The paint can easily be given a worn, vintage look by playing around with a sanding block or steel wool, using different colours for base and top coats can provide interest and a layered look, thinning the paint can make it seem more like a stain or wash that an opaque colour. It’s up to you!
Tips and tricks – How to chalk paint furniture
Though a chalk paint furniture makeover may be easy, it can still be intimidating to a beginner. So here are the top tips and tricks for getting the perfect finish first time.
- If you’re nervous, start small – Get your eye in with a smaller or simpler project, a flat surface or something you won’t mind not getting perfect. Practice your brushstrokes on a surface that isn’t so visible – the side or even underneath – so you feel more confident and know what to expect when you tackle the more important surfaces.
- Do not skip the cleaning – Though you may not need to sand the whole piece, you definitely need to clean it. Wash it down with mild soapy water and make sure to get any oil and grease spots. Do sand out or fill dings and scratches that you don’t want to show through your final finish.
- Long and even brushstrokes – Go with the grain and apply the paint in long sweeping strokes. Chalk paint dries fast so work quickly and try to make your brush stroke stretch over the whole length of the surface you are painting. If the paint is too thick you can thin it with a little water.
- Don’t give up after the first coat! – The first coat won’t look great. In fact, you may have a moment of panic. Fear not! The second coat will go on more smoothly and you will see what everyone is talking about.
- Sand the paint after the second coat for a smoother finish – Using a very fine sandpaper (220 grit), lightly sand the surface of your paint. Don’t wear through the chalk paint, just leave with a smoother finish than the chalky matte that will still work with the waxing or sealing.
- Layer your colours for an interesting finish – If you use a different colour for your first and second coat, the distressing sanding will reveal the colour of the layer underneath, giving the piece an interesting worn and layered appearance.
- Old timey charm – If you are going for the rustic look, sand down the paint once you are finished. Focus on edges and drawers that would be more likely to get knocked and worn to give it an authentic feel.
- A little wax goes a long way – Don’t stick your wax brush directly into the wax. You need to control the amount you use so you don’t overdo it – put some of the wax on a tray and work from there. Apply it in thin layers, it really doesn’t take much.
Best chalk paint brands in Ireland
With the popularity of chalk paint it is no surprise that you can now find it everywhere. But what are the best products? Below we have outlined some of the top chalk paint brands available in Ireland.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: the origin of chalk paint
Annie Sloan chalk paint was the first marketed chalk paint; the chalk paint that started the hype. Developed as a furniture paint that was versatile and easy to use, Annie Sloan chalk paint quickly took off. Annie Sloan also produces the waxes and lacquers for sealing their products. The Annie Sloan chalk paints come in an exciting range of 42 chalk paint colors, including exotic as well as contemporary shades. Their chalk paint waxes come in clear, dark, white, and black.
Rust-Oleum Chalked – chalk finish paint you can trust
Rust-Oleum is a name in paint you can trust, and their chalk finish paint called Rust-Oleum Chalked is no exception. It is even available in both liquid and sprayable formulations, just to potentially make the whole process even easier. The colour range might not be as large as the famous Annie Sloan chalk paints – today there are 12 colours – but they include Farmhouse Red, Linen White, Serenity Blue, Charcoal, and Aubergine: sounds delicious!
FolkArt Chalk Paints – Not the ordinary chalk paint
Another one of the popular chalk paint brands in Ireland and probably worldwide is the FolkArt Home Decor line. Aproximately 42 colours give a beautiful range for redecorating cabinets, chalk paint furniture – all without the need of priming! FolkArt chalk paint is a brand of Plaid that exists since 1976 as a high-quality paint manufacturer in the arts and crafts industry and therefore promises excellent sanding qualities as well. Because of the ease of application and sanding as well as high pigmentation, they claim to be not the ordinary chalk paint. So if you want to be sure of a decent quality chalk paint finish, try out the non-toxic, water-based FolkArt chalk paints.