How to Paint with Black

So, I bought this large sideboard from a charity shop in Leamington Spa a few months ago and thought, ‘Lots of flat surfaces. Easy!’

large sideboard going black

As I generally go for paler colours I decided to be brave and go with Annie Sloan’s Graphite – a sort of charcoal black – which can look like slate depending on how smooth the finish is and whether you sand it down or distress it.

Black is a sleek and elegant colour so I wanted a smooth finish as opposed to a shabby one, as with some of my other pieces.

However, just as painting dark wood with white can be very tricky (read the article on that here) painting large surfaces with Graphite also has its problems.

Chalk Paint can vary greatly in consistency and thickness. I’ve opened some tins and they’ve been like runny silk. Others have been like mousse. What I learned, after applying two coats of Graphite (first with a mini roller and then with a brush) is that you must work reasonably quickly when working on large surfaces. The beauty of Chalk Paint is that it dries quickly, but this also means that if you dilly-dally (on the top of this sideboard, for example) you’ll start painting over partially dry paint, which causes little lumps. This is what happened to me and with the darkest of colours, it looked awful.

After several hours of painting – it look a lot longer than I thought – I really wasn’t happy with the finish. It didn’t even look shabby chic, it just looked badly done. So out came the sandpaper and I smoothed over all the bumpy bits and painted the whole thing again. This time I worked more swiftly, kept adding touches of water to the paint to stop it thickening, and ended up with a much smoother finish.

As mentioned before, Graphite is not a jet black. But after some mild distressing around the doors, applying plenty of soft wax and replacing the original wooden knobs with new ceramic ones, I think it looks pretty brilliant.


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