When I started painting furniture and generally getting involved in furniture renovation I spent days researching techniques, paints and finishes. What were other furniture renovators doing, what did they use, what are other people getting up to? I was keen to find out as much as possible and eager to investigate different options for my work. This was when the phenomenon of Chalk Paint came into my world. EVERYONE seemed to be using it, and I have to say they seemed to be producing some pretty unusual, beautiful items too. I have to have myself some of that, I thought to myself.
I rushed out to find my local supplier of a very well known brand of Chalk Paint and spent a not so pretty penny on my first tin of the holy grail of furniture paints!
It was going to be amazing. The sales pitch for chalk paint is pretty incredible, I can tell you. Among other claims, chalk paint:
- Can be painted on ANY surface
- Can be painted on non-sanded, nor prepped surfaces – NO sanding required!
- Only requires one quick coat
Obviously, for that perfect finish, you kind of need to buy the special chalk paint brush….Oh, and you need to buy the finishing wax too…. My shopping bill was growing quickly. But it would all be soooo worth it!
I took my supplies home and immediately got to work, mixing the paint with an undetermined amount of water to get that consistency of ‘single cream’. A tricky one to get just right. I was off, applying the thin, yet grainy, liquid to an unsanded, unprimed, coffee table. It didn’t look quite right – and it definitely didn’t feel right in my heart – but it WOULD be just fine, I was sure. That one coat didn’t look right. It was blotchy, uneven, patchy. It looked a mess.
Despite being told I would only need one coat, I applied a second coat, which still looked wrong. I applied another coat, but those blotches just wouldn’t shift. The very paint itself appeared to be drawing out all the ingrained dirt and grease from the table, just making the item look grubby.
Perhaps that age old rule of furniture preparation, the dreaded sanding and primering, are still required afterall?! Most definitely.
Perhaps applying the wax would help the paint settle? I spent a considerable amount of time waxing the table – a job which was sold to me as ‘like applying hand lotion’, but in reality is on a mundane par with sanding an item upfront. (In fact I actually enjoy the sanding part more than the waxing part) I left the wax to dry and harden for a couple of weeks, hoping the table would miraculously morph into something beautiful, like a butterfly. The table still sits I the corner of my workshop, it looks fine, but it doesn’t quite have the finish I’ve come to expect from other, sturdier, paints. When the table does get used and/or sold, well, it will need to be waxed again. Chalk painted furniture requires continual maintenance, with regular waxing.
I have voiced my chalk paint concerns with other furniture renovators and heard their opinions – some good, some bad. I have attempted to paint other items, using full preparation techniques first, but I’m still not 100% happy with the results. Obviously other people have worked at getting better results, there is definitely a whole world of beautiful items painted with chalk paint out there. I haven’t really gone down the shabby chic route, but for this chalk paint is perfect – it’s unstable enough for an item to be properly ‘roughed up’, to get that worn look. So, perhaps that’s where I’m going wrong, perhaps when I need to take my work and items of painted furniture down the shabby chic route I will return to the partially used tins of paint, which are currently gathering dust at the back of my paint stash. I really don’t want to knock the product, lots of furniture painters love it and that’s just great but, for me, chalk paint disappointed. I’ve found paints that I really love working with, that produce the kind of results I’m looking for, so for now, I’m chalking it up to experience!