Articles

Chalk Paint Hints and Tips

After two and a half years of using chalk paint, I am still learning new ways of achieving better results and making the process easier.

If you’ve just started painting, the following list of hints and tips may be of use. I have put them in alphabetical order, in case you want to beeline a specific topic.

I will add to it whenever something new occurs to me…

  • Application (See also Smooth Finish)

Chalk Paint is often very thick. Not only does it need a good stir before you begin, but you may want to a very small amount of water to thin it down and make it easier to apply. A teaspoon of water is more than enough for a tester size tin and a tablespoon enough for a 1L tin. Try not to add too much water as the paint will become too thin to achieve good coverage. You will also see bubbles appearing as you apply it and it will drip everywhere! An alternative to adding water to the tin is to have some in a container and very lightly dip just the tip of your brush before dipping it into the paint.

  • Bleed through (See also Orange Patches)

Some wood, particularly old and untreated wood, will bleed through (or cause orange patches) to bleed through paint. This is especially noticeable when using paler colours.

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Orange patches show through on the untreated wood of this old bookshelf

If this happens, don’t panic. Grab a tin of Vintro Extreme Lacquer, apply a coat to the area and leave it to try for at least 12 hours. This will seal the bleed and when it’s properly dry, carry on painting over the top.

dsc_2736
Extreme Lacquer seals the bleed and stops stains from appearing through the paint

If the problem persists (which in rare cases it does) apply a second coat of Extreme, leave it for 12 hours and continue. Avoid trying to paint over the Extreme in less than the recommended time. If it’s not sufficiently dry, the paint (or a second coat of Extreme) will reactivate the first coat – a bit like nail varnish – and it won’t work/set properly. This will prevent the sealing action and the orange patches will continue to come through – no matter how many times you paint over it.

  • Brushes

What type of brush should you use? Well, Chalk Paint is very soft and so you need a soft brush. Avoid cheap, coarse brushes which will take off as much paint as you put on and also leave lots of tram lines. Vintro brushes are excellent and start at just £4.49.

What’s best, flat brushes or round brushes? This comes down to personal preference. Needless to say a larger, flat brush is best for large flat surfaces whereas round brushes are good to get into corners and can work well on things like chair back spindles. If you’re going to do a lot of painting on a variety of pieces, it might be best to invest in a couple of different shapes and sizes. You’re bound to use them!

  • Chairs

Painting chairs can be a total nightmare, even for a pro! Spindle backs and awkward places where the paint can easily gather and cause lumps, make it very tricky to achieve a tidy finish. There is no quick fix to this, but my advice is, have a small,preferably flat brush to hand (something from Hobbycraft for a couple of quid will do). These can be very handy for avoiding build up in corners and also on spindles. Treat each spindle as if it has four sides and this will also help you to avoid missing areas. Same goes for the legs.

  • Coverage

New painters often worry when the first coat doesn’t do the job and looks wishy washy and basically awful. This is perfectly normal! Some colours will cover brilliantly with one coat and others need two, sometimes three, to achieve the same depth. Needless to say, painting dark surfaces with white or any other very pale colour will often require 2-3 coats. But you will see a huge difference between the first and second applications.

  • Distressing (See also Shabby Chic)

Lots of people ask me about distressing. It’s really very simple and as long as you’re using the right sandpaper you’ll be fine. Coarse sandpaper (100 grit or less) will strip off a lot of paint so you really want 120 or finer. Finish your painting and when it’s dry, rub the sandpaper along corners, edges, anywhere that wear and tear would naturally appear. This is called distressing and will give your piece a distressed/rustic/shabby chic look. How much you distress is entirely up to you. If you do it too much and change your mind, just paint over it.

moonstone-drawers-detail

  • Edges

Try to paint towards edges instead of away from them.  This will prevent excess paint from accumulating/dripping down the side.

  • Orange patches (See also Bleed through)

Some wood, particularly old and untreated wood, will bleed through (or cause orange patches) to bleed through paint. This is especially noticeable when using paler colours. If this happens, don’t panic. Grab a tin of Vintro Extreme Lacquer, apply a coat to the area and leave it to try for at least 12 hours. This will seal the bleed and when it’s properly dry, carry on painting over the top. If the problem persists (which in rare cases it does) apply a second coat of Extreme, leave it for 12 hours and continue. Avoid trying to paint over the Extreme in less than the recommended time. If it’s not sufficiently dry, the paint (or a second coat of Extreme) will reactivate the first coat – a bit like nail varnish – and it won’t work/set properly. This will prevent the sealing action and the orange patches will continue to show through.

  • Rollers

Depending on the sort of finish you’re after, you may want to use a roller to cover large surfaces quickly. Foam rollers are better for Chalk Paint and if the consistency is just right, you will only get the very slightest stipple. Be careful to apply the roller in all directions which will help to get ride of lines. Two or three thinner coats tend to work better than one or two thick ones.

  • Shabby Chic (See also Distressing)

Lots of people ask me about achieving the Shabby Chic look. It’s really very simple and as long as you’re using the right sandpaper you’ll be fine. Coarse sandpaper (100 grit or less) will strip paint off completely, so you really want 120 or finer. Finish your painting and when it’s dry, rub the sandpaper along corners, edges, anywhere wear and tear would naturally appear. This is called distressing and will give your piece a distressed/rustic/shabby chic look. How much you distress is entirely up to you. If you do it too much and change your mind, just paint over it.

  • Smooth finish (See also Application)

Achieving a smooth finish is easier when the paint isn’t too thick. Chalk Paint can be very thick but it has a rich pigment which means the coverage should be excellent. But if the paint is very gloopy when you’re applying it, the brush will start to drag and the paint will go lumpy. Adding a small amount of water to the paint and giving it a good stir should resolve this. Or, dip your brush very slightly into some water before dipping it into the paint for a smoother application and finish.

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Additionally, try to continue paint strokes from one side of a flat surface to the other. Once you’ve applied paint to the whole surface, take the brush smoothly from one side to the other which will help to evenly distribute

If all else fails, there’s always sandpaper. Sandpaper works better and more evenly used with a block. Try and use a 120 or finer and this will remove any grainy or bumpy finish without stripping the paint off completely. Don’t worry if it looks like the colour of the paint has changed. When you sand, you break the bond in the paint which is more noticeable with dark colours. As soon as you apply wax or lacquer, everything will even out.

  • Stencilling

Stencilling is a great way of adding something extra to what might otherwise be very plain, items. All the same rules apply if stencilling with chalk paint. If you stencil straight onto a surface, don’t forget you still need to seal the paint, particularly for delicate patterns, which could come off easily. If you’re applying the stencil on top of paint, do so once the main coat is dry.

rose-stencil-vintro-chalk-paint
Apply your stencil once the bottom layer is dry and remove straight away to make washing the stencil easier

Remove the stencil carefully while the paint is still wet. This makes it easier to wash the mylar/plastic for reuse. I recommend a wax finish over stencils, as lacquer can often reactivate the delicate layer of paint and cause it to smudge. If you need additional durability, use wax, allow it to cure for several hours or overnight and then apply a lacquer over the top.

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Finish with wax, as lacquer can smudge the delicate layer of paint

 

  • Thickness

Chalk Paint is generally water based and some brands are very thick – almost like mousse – when you first open the tin.

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Chalk Paint may be very thick when you first open the tin

Simply add water – not a lot, usually a couple of tablespoons will suffice – to achieve a thinner consistency. If you add too much water, you’ll see tinny bubbles appearing as you paint it will splash more. Also the coverage won’t be quite as good. But don’t worry. You can thicken it back up again by leaving the tin open for a while (possibly a few hours).

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Give it a good stir for about 10 seconds and add a little water if required to achieve a smooth and slightly runnier consistency
  • Two-tone distressing

This basically means painting one colour over a different colour and then distressing to bring some of the first colour through.

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Orange over Turquoise

It’s very simple. Just paint your first colour and let it dry (properly, to avoid it mixing with the next colour) and then paint the second colour. When that’s completely dry, use some fine sandpaper and gently distress as you would normally, applying very little pressure, so as to expose the first colour, rather than remove both layers of paint. When you’re happy with the amount of two-toning, wax or lacquer to finish.

An Idiot’s Guide to Chalk Painting

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Visit my Shop on Etsy

 

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