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Let's Talk Paint-"A Paint Love Affair" series

Let's Talk Paint

"A Paint Love Affair" series


Painting furniture is what I do, in part, for a living. I have owned my business of selling painted furniture for several years now I can honestly say that the only two types of paint I use to re-do furniture is either chalk paint or milk paint.

Chalk Paint

There are several branded Chalk paint lines out there for purchase. I personally have used Annie Sloan's and Maison Blanche. I really like them both for their beautiful color lines and waxes. Chalk paint has a number of properties that I find extremely beneficial. The top reasons to use chalk paint are fast drying time and great coverage. A coat of chalk paint can dry in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. A few things may affect drying time which are humidity and temperature, but typically the longest drying time for me, has been 30 minutes between coats. The other advantage of chalk paint is the coverage. Chalk paint, because of it's unique properties, can be used on a number of surfaces like wood, plastic, metal and fabric. Yes, I did say fabric! It's amazing stuff!

Milk Paint

Milk paint has a chalk-like quality and offers a real chippy goodness to your furniture pieces. Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint is a branded paint, which I have used and had great results. The colors are beautiful and I am especially fond of the new European line color palette out this year. She also carries furniture wax, white wax (one of my favorites) and antiquing wax which I have used and really love! I won't be talking a great deal about Milk Paint as I will leave that up to the expert herself! You can find awesome tutorials and product information at Miss Mustard Seed's website @ Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed also is one of my favorite blogs and she has great advice to share with you!

Why Use chalk or milk paint?

Whether you use chalk paint or milk paint; both are popular and provide great coverage without a great deal of prep before hand.

In the old days, as my kid's like to say, before chalk paint was widely used, you would have used latex paint for painting your furniture. In order to use latex for your furniture however, you would need to prepare your surface for painting. This preparation involved either sanding or striping the existing paint, stain or varnish layers so that the latex paint had something to grip onto while applying. This process is tedious and time consuming. Those of you that have been through this process and are reading this are shaking your heads right now. Who want's to spend that much time? Well, I did it and really hated that part of it; for good reason! Once I got to the painting part I was a happy camper again. So.....the number one reason for using chalk paint in my book? As I said before chalk paint has a unique property that it sticks to any surface without the prep work of sanding or stripping varnish. For example, look at the below picture of this armoire. It is an Ethan Allan factory finish piece with a satin top coat. The only prep work required was to wipe it down to make sure it was clean!

No prep work + painting=Leasa is a happy camper!

Maison Designs

How to use chalk paint

The first step in using chalk paint is to make sure your piece of furniture is free of any dirt by wiping either with a cheese cloth (available at any hardware store) or soft clean cloth. If a piece is especially dirty, say because it has been kept in storage, then you can use liquid TSP (make sure and wear protective gloves). Simply wipe on the TSP, let sit for a few minutes and then wipe with a wet cloth, allowing it all to dry before painting.

Now, you are ready! The first coat needs to be a light coat, basically spreading a minimal amount of paint to cover the wood but still seeing the wood grain underneath. This first coat will dry very quickly and will be dull and a little chalky!

The second paint coat will be applied moderately so that you are making sure that your entire piece is covered. Try not to miss any spots, corners, etc. in this second coat. This coat will cover the wood grain better, but you will still see some wood grain coming through the paint in areas. Don't worry about this, it will all cover in the third and final coat if that is what you want to do. The dry time on this second coat is between 20 to 30 minutes. You can easily tell if it is dry.

Now, after the second coat, you may decide that you want your piece to look more vintage; as if the paint has worn a little from age. Some pieces of furniture that truly are more vintage, damaged, may look really great with only 2 coats if you plan on distressing (sanding off some of the paint in areas) pretty heavily. In other words, if you want more of the wood to show through larger areas of the paint. If this vintage look is what you are going for, then the second coat is a good place to stop.

Here is beautiful example of a piece that is painted in a vintage style. This piece was artfully done by Shizzle Designs, click on the link here to view their blog post and find out how they did it.


As you can see, from the above piece, this look is about personal preference and the look you are trying to achieve. This piece takes a great deal of skill level to get this kind of paint finish. It's a combination of paint, sanding and tinted waxes. I think it's just beautiful! I also think it depends on the piece whether this vintage look will work. If you want a more detailed look at their process check out their link. You can do it! But definitely don't add a third coat of chalk paint at this point because you will just be taking it off; and this is about how to work smarter, not harder, right? So if you've decided at this point that you want full coverage of paint, then move on to the third coat of paint.

This third coat will give you complete coverage and you won't see any wood grain through the paint. I like to call this complete coverage a "factory finish". I use this term to describe that it is finished with complete coverage of the wood; even if you are going to rub a little bit of the edges to distress it. You will also notice that by applying the third coat, it will not seem gummy or piled up like it would if using latex paint. Now that you have painted your third coat, you will let it dry another 30 to 45 minutes to cure.


The most important part to using chalk paint is applying a soft wax to the piece. The soft wax serves not only as a sealant and protective layer over the paint but it adds a soft satin sheen. Hence, the "factory finish"! I can't tell you how many times I've seen a piece of furniture that looks dull from using flat chalk paint that is never waxed. I've also seen pieces where they have used the wrong wax (by that I mean yellow or thick cakey waxes) and the look is less than attractive. The waxes I use after chalk painting are professional furniture waxes by either Miss Mustard Seed, Annie Sloan or Maison Blanche. They have clear soft waxes that are easily applied and buffed to give it a nice satin sheen. This process is one that in my opinion is absolutely necessary for the integrity of the piece. Pretty serious, huh? :)

The waxing step is simple, once you your paint is dry, you will apply the wax with either a clean soft cloth or a waxing brush. I usually wear a vinyl or latex glove to apply the wax. After the wax is dry which is approximately 30 minutes, you can take a new clean cloth and buff (rubbing lightly over the furniture). The buffing produces a satin sheen to your paint job and also protects the paint surface.

Voila! A beautiful painted piece!

Here is an "After the Magic" photo of the Ethan Allen Armoire I painted with a light gray chalk paint. I lightly distressed it, after the third coat using a 220 fine girt sand paper around the edges to show some of the dark wood through the paint. I finished it with the soft wax and you can really see the sheen in this photo.


Making your own Chalk Paint

Here is where I give you all my trade secrets! Just joking! You can find lots of Chalk Paint recipes on Pinterest and I've probably tried several but the best ingredient that I have found to be non-toxic and easy to use is calcium carbonate. You can find calcium carbonate at any health food store or purchase it online.

I love the products I mentioned earlier in chalk and milk paints and waxes. Keep in mind, that there a great deal of other brands that I'm sure work great so do your research. I talk about these branded products because I use them and I trust them. I am not in any way being paid to endorse these products but am relaying my own experience with them.

Even though I use these products, I now have learned and perfected a DIY recipe that works for me and is cost effective for my budget. So bottom line, I would recommend these branded products or making it yourself. Now I will suggest, if you haven't painted before, to practice painting on something like a wooden photo frame to get familiar with it and not start on a family heirloom! LOL! But especially for those of you that are on a tight budget; try this recipe!

It works and it is easy to use!

Click here for the DIY Chalk Paint Recipe!

Until next time........go paint something wonderful!



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