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One of my favorite things to do is to look for old furniture to paint. Why? There are so many beautiful pieces that people often cast aside because there is something wrong with the finish (it has scratches or has dulled) or they are just tired of looking at that particular piece of furniture. There are a few resale stores that I frequent and, of course, I’m always looking on Craigslist or on the Facebook Marketplace. If you are lucky, you may even find a piece that someone has put out on the curb for takers! Even still, you may find that you have a piece of furniture already in your home that you would like to change, update or use in a different room. This is where chalk paint comes in….
Why Use Chalk Paint?
I get asked this question all the time. I have painted lots of things- furniture, fabric, tile, walls- you name it. I love how quickly and easily a coat of paint completely changes something- whether it’s the entire room or just an accent piece. It doesn’t take much time, it’s relatively easy and very inexpensive to get dramatic results. I’ve been using chalk paint for awhile now for several reasons:
-it’s very easy to work with and cleans up easily
-you do not need to do any prepping to your piece before you paint (that includes priming and sanding)
-you can mix colors
-you can add water to it to change the consistency
-you can sand it when it’s dry to get a smoother finish
-it dries relatively quickly and there is virtually no odor
The one downside is that you are limited with customizing colors. You can pretty much get any color imaginable in a latex paint, but you cannot do that with chalk paint. As I mentioned before, you can mix colors, but you cannot go to your paint store and ask for a specific color formation as you can do with latex paint. Also, some of the chalk paint brands can be a little pricey. I’ve used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I do recommend using that paint if you are doing a white finish. However, I’ve been using brands from craft stores recently, such as FolkArt Chalk Paint and find that they work just as well and are available at a quarter of the cost of Annie Sloan chalk paint.
How Do You Protect Your Painted Piece?
After you paint your piece of furniture, it will have a chalky feel to it similar to what touching a piece of chalk feels like. It will have a matte finish, meaning there is no sheen or protection. So, you need to put something on top to protect all your hard work.
I’ve used wax in the past, but I have recently switched to a liquid top coat for a few reasons. I never got the hang of waxing- I watched multiple YouTube videos on how to do it, but I never felt like I was getting the results I wanted. In addition, you cannot paint over wax! What??? So, if you change your mind down the road about a color, you have to sand off the wax first before you paint. OMG Noooooooo!
Enter General Finishes Water Based Top Coat. I LOVE THIS STUFF! I have used it on the furniture pieces I’ve painted in the last 2 years, 2 bathroom vanities (yes you can paint them and yes it holds up!), our front door and our dining room table that we use almost every night for dinner. This stuff is amazing. It is water based which means it is very easy to clean up. You will need to do 3-4 thin coats and sand lightly in between, but otherwise it is easy as pie!
I use the flat finish and there is still sheen- much more than a typical polyurethane, so just be prepared for that.
Now You Know Why…
So now you know why I use chalk paint and why I use General Finishes as a top coat. The next thing you are asking is HOW??? I promise you it is very easy and very forgiving. And if you mess up, no big deal, just wipe it off, paint over it or sand it down. In my next post, I will show you step by step how to paint a piece of furniture. In the meantime, look around your house and see what you want to change up with a fresh coat of paint!