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5 GREAT Tips for Using Chalk Paint®

Chalk painted furniture has become a really popular option for refinishing furniture. In part, because chalk paint® is quick drying, it offers great coverage and it's advertised as needing very little prep work.

Today, I'm going to share my best tips and tricks and advice for using chalk paint with this simple nightstand makeover. Painting furniture with chalk paint® is so easy- even a beginner can do it!

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I found an entire Kindel bedroom set on a local yard sale site. These pieces were in suburb condition minus a few cosmetic scratches and faded areas. Nothing that a fresh coat of paint couldn't make beautiful again!

I love the open basket weave doors and the straight lines and legs on these pieces. I'm not opposed to dark wood, but these peek-a-boo doors needed some brightening up. So, I chose to re-finish these darlings in Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan in Old White.

A Beginner's Guide To Using Chalk Paint®

1. Prep Your Furniture for Chalk Paint

In most instances, chalk paint® adheres to furniture very nicely.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is often referred to as the no prep paint. However, I wouldn't recommend putting your paint brush on a used piece of furniture without doing a few things first.

If your piece of furniture is dirty and greasy after years of use, you will not get a nice painted finish without first giving it a good cleaning. I like to use TSP to remove any kind of dust, dirt and oil build when I'm prepping my furniture.

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2. How To Thin Down Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is a thicker paint. When you use it to paint your furniture you will see brush strokes. That's okay! Chalk Paint® is meant to give your furniture texture and a hand painted look. If you'd like you can thin down your paint by adding a little bit of water before you use it.

Go slow when you're adding water to your paint. Less is more. Pour the amount of paint that you're going to use for your project into a separate container. Then, put the lid back on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® can. A sealed can will preserve your paint longer.

Add one plastic spoonful of water at a time. Then, mix. It doesn't take much water to give it the consistency you're looking for. It's better to add more water then have to add more paint to bring up the thickness. If you want to see less brush strokes on your finished furniture project you can dip your paint brush into a paper cup of water before you dip it into your paint for your very last coat.

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3. You Can Paint Metal With Chalk Paint®

Do you see that weaved pattern on the doors. Those were metal. You can paint metal which means you can use chalk paint® to refinish lamps, freshen up hardware, etc. You can see how we painted the hardware on both this French Provincial Dresser and on this Balayage Inspired Media Console.

When you're painting intricate open details like this metal basket weave pattern, make sure to put a just a tiny amount of paint onto your paint brush and wipe the brush off on the sides of your container before you paint those small details. If you have too much paint on your brush, you'll end up with messy drips to deal with later.

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4. You Can Paint Upholstery Fabric With Chalk Paint®

We painted the upholstery on this settee with chalk paint® several years ago and I couldn't be happier! Painting fabric is a lot less expensive then re-upholstering and it really holds up nicely! After 3 years, it still looks the same as the day I painted it!

When you're painting fabric with chalk paint® you want to add water to your paint so that it's a thin consistency. Keeping the fabric moist is key. I like to have a water bottle handy to spritz the fabric as I paint. You don't want the fabric sopping wet. Just damp enough so that it helps the chalk paint® soak into the fabric as opposed to having thick paint just sitting on top of it.

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5. Protecting Your Chalk Paint Finish

Tips for Using Furniture Wax

You have a few options when it comes to protecting your chalk paint® finish. Furniture wax is great for low traffic pieces such as a sofa table, mirrors, hutches. These should be furniture pieces that don't get handled as often or have to be wiped down on a regular basis.

When you're sealing your piece with wax, a little bit goes a long way. With a plastic spoon, scoop out a small amount of wax onto a paper plate. This prevents your original wax from being contaminated. Use a wax brush, dip it into the clear wax, then wipe off any excess onto the paper plate. Apply and rub the wax into your piece of furniture. Wipe off any excess with a lint free cloth. Apply clear wax before applying any dark wax.

You will need to re-apply furniture wax often to keep that protective finish. Furniture wax is beautiful! It gives your furniture a really smooth high end European finish. However, it isn't low maintenance. If you choose to use the wax on your higher traffic area furniture pieces such as the tops of nightstands, dressers, and table tops where you're setting drinks and food and cleaning up with damp rags, the wax finish is not a permanent solution.

My personal preference is to protect my furniture pieces with General Finishes High Performance in Flat or use Polyvine. It gives my refinished furniture pieces the high durability that I'm looking for but with a low sheen (similar to a wax finish).

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When you paint something in a light hue it really opens up the piece and shows off so many more details. I think these classy refinished nightstands would look perfect with a few table lamps and some great reading books....

Would you like to see some more furniture makeovers just like this one? Stop by Thirty Eighth Street's Painting Furniture Tutorial and Resource Page to see more!

Happy Re-finishing, friends!

Carrie || Thirty Eighth Street

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  1. I love these two pieces -
    I just finished my bedroom set in Old White and my husband spray pained the knobs black -
    I love how it came out.
    I will be posting it on my blog in a week or so - still waiting for the mattress to arrive, and a few finishing touches.

    Beautiful work
    Much love,

    1. Isn't it amazing what a little paint can do!? I just love a good white and black combo. :) Thank you for stopping by! I'd love to have you share your link with us once you're post is up!.. Carrie