Non-Crafty Katie, WIR Contributor

Many furniture stores I visit have what I call a “fun section”: the section of the store that has blue and white dressers, red and green tables, and drawers with purple polka dot knobs. The vivid colors that liven up the furniture is called chalk paint…and here’s how you can make the most of this trend.

Chalk paint is paint that’s been mixed with a thickener such as calcium carbonate, baking soda, grout, or Plaster of Paris. You can buy it, make it, and the stuff will adhere to pretty much any surface. No priming required.  Sounds perfect for someone who might not be as crafty as other folks, heh hehm.

I’ve done some research and have even tackled a chalk paint project. Having been there, done that, I have a few words of wisdom about chalk paint.


Tip 1: Find Some Furniture



shake table made from SYP

Furniture maker Mike Flaim out of Ohio made this table for $6.

It can be indoor furniture or outdoor, brand new or old. While a lot of furniture you see that’s been painted with chalk paint is old, you might actually have fewer headaches if you find a piece of furniture that’s new (this way you don’t have to dirty your hands fixing things that are broken, etc). I like this Shaker Table made out of Southern Yellow Pine that I found on woodworker Mike Flaim’s blog.


Tip 2: Pick Your Color

jazzy park bench

Southern Pine Park bench jazzed up = fun fun fun.

Chalk paint can either be purchased or made in any color your little ol’ heart desires. I like to cook from scratch; therefore, I like to make my chalk paint from scratch. In the end, I ended up using the calcium carbonate recipe. I found the calcium carbonate (yes, it’s the exact same stuff that keeps your bones strong) at a vitamin store. Hey, why not.


Tip 3: Paint and Wax Away


chalk paint Southern Yellow Pine table

A little bit of chalk paint and a stencil, this table looks like it cost more than $6.

Use a stencil, get your stamps out, go crazy on the colors…or stay more subdued. Make sure the surface is clean enough and as smooth as you want…the chalk paint will show any bumps or roughness. Oh, and once it’s on the surface and dries, it’s there to stay. After the paint dries (you may need several coats, just like painting your nails), you should wax it to preserve or add more character to your masterpiece.


Tip 4: Accessorize


The perfect little wine table.

The perfect little wine table.

They say the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize, so go for it. Knobs, accents, jewels, whatever works for you.

Your Tools:

  • The Chalk Paint: Well, duh. This is an article about chalk paint.
  • A Good Paint Brush: You can go cheap here, but we suggest not. If you take care of your brush, it can last years.
  • Sandpaper: If you use a piece of unfinished wood furniture, you *might* need to soften some edges before painting. Check out this article on choosing the right grit of sandpaper for your furniture. Otherwise, just get a sheet of low grit sandpaper to ‘wear’ your furniture if you’d like a more shabby-chic kind of look. I like buying a simple sandpaper block.
  • Soft Wax , a Wax Brush, and a Rag:  The wax will harden and protect all of your hard work. It also helps your furniture feel ooooh so smooth if you buff it enough (who says you need to go to the gym for toned arms?). This video does a good job showing the (super easy) technique.

Since the fumes aren’t bad, you can certainly paint inside (in the air conditioning, ahhh).


(Images via MVFlaim Furnituremaker Blog here and here, via Instructables.)