Painting with Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan

1 Painting with Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan
1.1 What prep work is necessary before painting? Do I need to strip? Sand? Prime? Shellac?

   NO stripping, No sanding, No priming, No Sealing!! Honest!  Shellac is a sealer—no sealing is needed.  Chalk Paint® adheres to the surface better than any primer.  (Only use shellac if a bleed through problem occurs, which is very uncommon.  This is an unnecessary extra step too. See the section on shellac for more details.)

Make sure your surface is free of rust (unless you want that to show through) and loose paint.  Painting over loose paint will not stabilize the failing substrate.  You will need to sand that. 

If the surface has chipped off paint, varnish, or veneer and you want the end result to be smooth, you will need to fill in the low lying areas.  We recommend using Wood Icing™--extra creamy and easier to use than typical wood putties, it is also more cost effective.  Wood Icing™ can be stained or painted.  If a super smooth surface isn’t necessarily desired, Chalk Paint® can be applied thickly, creating texture that will cover up the imperfections on the surface.

Other than that, make sure your surface is clean and free of dust, dirt and grease.  Sometimes a damp cloth will suffice.  Other times (like kitchen cabinets) we recommend cleaning thoroughly.  Although some people choose to use dish soap, tsp or tsp alternative, we highly recommend a non-toxic cleaner that will not leave behind a residue.  (Do NOT use oil soap to clean!)  We have found the best cleaner to be Basic H.  It is a highly concentrated, non-toxic cleaner that will not leave a residue.  We recommend mixing according to the directions for degreasing and using the green scratch side of a Scotchbrite™ sponge.  That abrasive sponge aids in getting the surface extra clean while slightly deglossing for the best adhesion possible.

1.2 How much will a project pot (sample pot) of paint cover? How much will a quart of paint cover?

   It depends on the color of paint you’ve chosen as well as the color of the piece you are painting over and the technique you are using.  If you are doing a light barely-there coverage, you will get a lot more coverage than doing pure white over black and wanting completely opaque coverage. For full coverage, here are the average coverage rates. 

A project pot will cover 18-25 sf. That is equal to one very thin coat on your front door.  And you’ll need more than one coat if you want solid coverage.

A quart will cover 150-200 sf.  Painting two coats on a kitchen table and 4 chairs – or – an average sized dresser and 2 end tables is achievable.

1.3 How long do you wait between coats of paint?

   If you are working in ambient temperatures, as long as the paint has dried to touch, you are fine to paint a second coat.  Typically this is only about 10-15 minutes so when you’ve finished the first coat, the area where you started is probably dry enough to start your second.  Unlike latex paint, there is no waiting several hours between coats.  If working over plastic or glossy surfaces, waiting until the first coat is fully dry is recommended which may take up to an hour.

1.4 How much paint do I need to paint my kitchen cabinets?

   It will vary depending upon the type and color of wood your cabinets are and the color you want to paint them.  For maximum durability, we recommend doing a full coverage application to ensure there is enough paint for the wax to soak into.  You can look at your square footage and know that a quart covers 150-200 square feet and buy accordingly.  Or, to make things a little easier, count your doors and drawers.  If you are going to paint 2-3 coats of paint doing the fronts and backs of the doors, and the surrounding box exterior, one quart will cover approximately a section of cabinets with 4-5 doors and 2-3 drawers. 

1.5 How do I minimize brushstrokes? Do you sand between coats of paint? What if I want a super smooth surface? Should I add water to my paint?

   Unless there is something you see that you find objectionable, there is no need to sand between coats of paint or to sand before waxing.  Only if you see something that isn’t to your liking do you need to sand.  Even if you want a super smooth finish, it is unlikely you’ll need to sand.  Instead, be sure your application is light and do 2-3 thin layers spreading out the paint as far as it will go.  The more you fuss with the paint, the less smooth it gets.  Don’t be a perfectionist and overwork the paint if you want a really smooth finish—you’ll get just the opposite of what you want to achieve.

1.6 I want a really smooth finish without brushstrokes. Should I add water to my paint?

   Adding water to your paint will just minimize the coverage you get from it.  Using a damp brush can create a smoother finish.  The tiniest bit of water goes a really long way. 

Are you sure you don’t want any brush strokes?  If so and you really do want a factory sprayed look, you will need to spray your paint or use something different.  You can get a very smooth, professional hand painted finish (which typically costs at least 30-50% more if you were paying someone else to do it) that feels like silk and in our opinion, much more luxurious without watering down the paint and using a brush.  Come into one of our Fleurish Home locations to see and feel our pieces to decide how you want to finish your project.   

1.7 When should I sand if I want to distress my piece in that manner?

   It is best to sand after one coat of wax.  Wait a few minutes for the wax to set up, then use 220 grit sandpaper to rub back to another layer of paint or the original surface.  After sanding, apply another thin layer of wax to bring the color back to life and protect the surface properly.

If you want a highly distressed look where most of the paint will be sanded away, go ahead and sand first as the paint sands back very quickly and easily before it has been waxed.  220 is still recommended.  Anything coarser creates unattractive scratch marks that does not make the piece look authentically worn.

1.8 Can I use steel wool to distress or do I have to use sandpaper? Can I use a sanding block?

   Because Chalk Paint® is very matte and absorbent using steel wool to distress will most likely leave dark carbon marks on your surface and is therefore not recommended.  220 sandpaper is best for distressing.  You can use a sanding block if you want—you are the artisan and the final finish look is your choice!  We at Fleurish Home prefer sandpaper over a sanding block because you can maintain more control over the surface area and degree to which you distress with sandpaper.  We actually use very small pieces of sandpaper even when doing a large project.  In our experience, we find we not only have greater control, but prettier more authentic aging and use far less sandpaper than when using larger pieces or sanding blocks. 

Fleurish Pro Tip:  You can use #0000 steel wool over your properly waxed surfaces to increase the sheen of your finish.  It can also be used along with a little bit of wax to buff out accidental drink rings left on your waxed table top. 

1.9 Can I wet distress instead of sanding? What about using baby wipes?

   Wet distressing needs to be done on a piece that has been painted that same day to work best.  We like using a Better than Cheesecloth™ towel because of the nice sturdy texture it has.  Baby wipes will leave behind a residue and can also leave white streaks. We only recommend wet distressing for plastic, metal, or previously finished pieces and only in small areas.  It is never a good idea to get large areas of wood really wet.  Sanding is a better method for large areas of wood surfaces.

1.10 Can I paint my walls with Chalk Paint®? Do I have to seal them with wax? What about for a bathroom?

   Chalk Paint® is a very matte finish paint.  It works beautifully on walls and can be rolled, brushed, or troweled for different looks.  You can leave it matte or finish with a coat or two of wax for a different look.  Because of its very matte finish, in a bathroom you will most likely see where water has splashed so waxing might be the better choice.  If a matte finish is desired, a suitable good quality wall paint would work best. 

1.11 What technique is used when painting fabric?

   Painting fabric can be done with Chalk Paint® because it is not a film forming paint.  You are essentially dying the fabric in place by using plenty of water with the paint and building up the color slowly using 2-4 layers allowing each to dry thoroughly between coats.  Natural fibers are most successful: cotton, linen, and silk.  We recommend wetting the surface, then adding paint and additional water as needed to achieve a thin layer of color.  After color saturation is achieved, sand lightly with 220-320 grit sandpaper and wipe with a damp cloth for a soft supple hand.  A layer or two of wax can also be added after this step but will change the look and feel to something like a thin leather or vinyl.  Leather and vinyl paint beautifully without added water but thin layers and adequate dry time between coats is the key to a successful end result.  We do recommend wax as it will give the look, feel and protection of the original surface.  Sanding is typically not necessary on leather and vinyl either. 

1.12 What do you do if there is “bleed-through”?

Use shellac as it is a stain blocker and will block the tannins from continuing to bleed through. (See the section on shellac for more details.)

1.13 I just need one coat right? If I do one really good coat, will I need another coat?

   You need to ask yourself what look you want to achieve as an end result and what it is you are painting to answer that question.  Painting is an art, not a science and many different looks and styles are easily achieved with Annie Sloan products. 

If you want solid coverage, you will need more than one coat.  You will spend less time and use far less paint doing 2-3 thin coats than trying to cover completely in one coat. 

1.14 Can I paint my fireplace surround? If so should I seal with wax or lacquer?

   Check with your local building code as these vary by county, but Chalk Paint® is not considered flammable so it will be allowed in most cases.  As with any paint, it can burn and release carbon dioxide so caution should always be exercised around open flames.  If it is a wood burning fireplace and the area will get hot, the wax may get a bit sticky, but after wax has cured the flammable solvent in it has dissipated leaving only beeswax and carnauba so it is fine.  Allow the wax to fully cure before using your fireplace.  If you are painting the hearth and it may be sat and walked upon, lacquer may be a better choice as it is designed for floors whereas wax is not.  You don’t have to seal the paint at all either if you don’t want to as it probably doesn’t get a lot of handling.  You can burnish it with 400 grit sandpaper and wipe with a damp cloth if you want to create a light sheen without wax or lacquer.

1.15 Can I paint my brick or stone fireplace? Or any brick or stone for that matter? How should I seal it?

   Chalk Paint® is perfect for brick and stone!  To paint, we recommend dampening the surface with water.  The initial pass can be done with a spray bottle or spritzer.  You want the surface to be damp as it is very absorbent and by wetting it you will help the paint absorb better.  Keep a container of water at the ready to dip your brush into as needed.  Using an Annie Sloan natural bristle paint brush (trust me those nice fat brushes will help tremendously in getting the job done!) dip your brush into the water and paint a little on the area where you want to start to paint.  You’ll work in 1-2 square foot sections.  Now dip the same brush into some paint and apply to the same area where you painted your water.  If the paint is grabbing and biting into the surface too hard where it is difficult to spread, dip your brush back into the water and paint some more water into that same area.  This will help spread your paint.  You want to build up a couple of thin layers so that it soaks into that brick or stone.  You will be left with a surface that still looks like brick or stone but a new color!  It will not have that gross shiny painted look from the 70s—it will be beautiful and natural looking.  No need to seal with anything.  Be sure to always check with your local building code if painting a fireplace as these vary by county, but Chalk Paint® is not considered flammable so it will be allowed in most cases.  As with any paint, it can burn and release carbon dioxide so caution should always be exercised around open flames. 

1.16 How can I make Graphite Chalk Paint® black?

You can’t.  Graphite will never be pure black.  Annie considers the color harsh and prefers the more historical soft iron ore color of Graphite.  You can, however, deepen the color if you so desire.  Graphite has a slightly blue undertone to it and that seems to be the objection from customers most of the time.  You can counterbalance that by adding a bit of Barcelona Orange paint into your Graphite paint.  Orange is opposite blue on the color wheel, which when mixed becomes brown—neutral.  By eliminated the blue cast, the paint appears darker and definitely becomes more neutral.  Be careful not to add too much or you’ll create a deep espresso brown.  Adding one 4 oz sample jar to your 32 oz quart will give you a good ratio.  You can apply a layer of dark or black wax over the paint but keep in mind that wax will never product a solid color rather it will give a slightly mottled appearance.  Be aware that applying dark or black wax without clear can result in a blotchy look so we recommend sealing the paint with clear wax first and then applying a thin coat of dark or black wax.  Never paint on your dark wax and leave it that way.  Wax always needs to applied thinly, removing an excess from the surface.  We have samples at every Fleurish Home store showing various ways we’ve heard people suggest to get Graphite darker.  Come on in and take a look at them and decide which way you like it best!

1.17 Can I use a roller or sprayer to apply Chalk Paint®? Do you use a roller?

   Sure!  You can run Chalk Paint® through a sprayer.  You may or may not need to thin it depending upon the color you are using and the size tip you have on your sprayer. 

You can also roll on the paint if that is the look you like.  Annie intended for her paint to be used as a hand painted decorative finish but you can create any look you like with it. 

Fleurish Pro Tip:  Because the paint dries very quickly, we sometimes will use a combination of roller and brush on large surfaces in order to get a really smooth application if that’s the look we are wanting to achieve.  The pink roller kits we sell in the shop work best.  Other rollers can leave weird textures or orange peel looks, similar to a poorly executed spray finish.  To keep the hand brushes look, roll a thin coat of paint on the surface, then immediately brush over the surface using a paint brush loaded with a small amount of paint. 

1.18 Do I really need to use a special brush to apply Chalk Paint®?

   It isn’t a requirement of course but we do highly recommend using a natural bristle brush.  Natural bristle brushes provide the best coverage of the paint and the Annie Sloan oval brushes are by far the best tool for the application of Chalk Paint®.  Even using just the small sized brush, you will go back to the can less often and work more quickly.  If your budget won’t allow the purchase at first, the second best option would be one of our inexpensive furniture paint brushes as a good “starter” brush.  They are thicker and shed less than the throw-away chip brushes from the hardware store and do a better job than a polyester or nylon brush.  You might consider getting a couple of them to complete your project.  Although they can be washed and reused, they do tend to get saturated and become a little floppy after a while making painting a little more tedious.  Once washed and dried, they bounce right back though.  If you choose to use your latex paint brush, you most likely will need to paint at least one extra coat so the small investment in the furniture paint brush more than pays for itself in time and paint. 

1.19 How do I wash my paint brush?

   Because Chalk Paint® is a water-based paint, clean-up is soap and water.  Rinse your brush until the water runs clear.  If you are just changing colors, no need to clean further or let dry.  Just squeeze out the excess water and shake out well to remove as much water as possible and you can begin painting again right away.  When you are finished painting for a few hours or the day, we recommend cleaning with our Big Fat Lye™ soap.  Natural bristle brushes need extra care to stay at their best.  The hair can become dry and brittle causing breakage and excessive shedding so using this specially formulated soap will clean and condition your bristles without leaving a residue on them keeping your brush at its best. 

1.20 Can I paint over the wax? What if I’ve waxed my piece and I change my mind about the color?

   Typically the answer would be no because water based products like latex paint or poly will not adhere to wax—the wax would need to be removed first.  However, the unique properties of Chalk Paint® make it possible to paint over wax even though it is a water-based product!  Make sure the wax has fully dried before repainting with Chalk Paint®.  You might consider sanding lightly if your wax is very shiny and the cure time may be a bit longer so just be extra gentle with your piece for a couple of weeks if you’ve painted over the wax.  Otherwise, it’s no problem to do so making changing your mind easy. 

1.21 I want to do a paint wash technique. How much water should I add to my paint?

   There isn’t one ratio that works in all situations.  It depends on the color you are using, how thick your paint is, the temperature in the room and the look you want.  How opaque or sheer do you want it to be?  That can change your ratio drastically!

We never recommend adding water directly to your paint can.  If you want to water down your paint, put it in a separate container.  If you will be storing it for later use, use distilled water or it might get a little stinky.  The impurities and minerals in tap water won’t be harmful but they can make for an unpleasant order if stored for an extended period in a well-sealed container.  You’ll have to play around with the ratios until you find something you like.  This could potentially lead to a pretty large amount of watered down paint!  Instead, we recommend another method.  Keep a bowl of water with you as you work.  Paint a coat of plain water on the surface of your piece, then paint on some paint over the water.  Now you can make adjustments on the spot.  If it’s too sheer, add some more paint.  If it’s too opaque, add some more water.  Wipe off any excess with a towel.  You can always wash it all off with a damp towel and start all over again if you need to!  You have the ultimate open time and flexibility using this method. 

1.22 Do I need to take a workshop? Or can I just watch some tutorials on YouTube?

No, you don’t have to take a workshop.  Everyone on our staff is happy to walk you through the basics of how to paint and wax.  We also give you a free “Getting Started Guide” that Annie Sloan wrote as an overview.  Annie has written several wonderful books about painting as well.  We recommend “Quick and Easy Paint Transformations” as the best step by step guide to all the basics and more including simple crackle, distressing, waxing, gilding, etc.  “Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture” takes everything to the next level by talking more about mixing colors and choosing complementary colors and adds painting and dying fabric to the repertoire.

   Annie places a high value on hands-on workshops.  Our workshop participants, even those that have a lot of previous painting experience, find the workshops very informative and inspiring.  We provide you with instant feedback to help you tweak your techniques and make the most out of your painting experiences, ensure you are waxing properly, and inspire you with creative applications and color combinations.

YouTube and the various tutorials found on blogs can sometimes be helpful but other times well-intentioned individuals giving advice simply don’t have the education or technical background to be teaching others and can give poor instructions.    We hate the idea of you resorting to YouTube so please remember that we are always available to answer questions and offer free technical support anytime.  Call or email us so we can help take out that learning curve for you. 

1.23 What if I change my mind, can I remove the paint?

Sure—a paint stripper can be used to remove any wax and paint.  We recommend a safe citristrip type product but only if you want to return to unfinished wood and strip past all finishes on the piece.  Otherwise, if you just want to change the color, you can just paint over it with a fresh coat of Chalk Paint® in a new color. 

1.24 Can I paint my kitchen countertops with Chalk Paint®?

   Technically yes.  The paint will adhere to laminate and other countertop materials.  A little extra prep is recommended if you decide to go that route.  For kitchens though, just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean you maybe SHOULD do it.  Although we have several clients that have done so successfully, extra caution needs to be taken in the care of a painted countertop.  Like laminate countertops, avoid cutting on the surface or placing anything hot on it.  Like wood countertops, avoid standing water for extended amounts of time.