Hey, there! As I hopped onto the refinishing furniture with chalk paint band wagon, I had a lot of people asking questions about the paint, the wax, and the process so I thought I'd go ahead and do a little blog post about it. :) I will say though, 1.I am not an expert, and 2. that there is gobs of info out there, including video tutorials that were super helpful to me and I would totally recommend watching some before venturing out on your own. :)
When I first heard about chalk paint everyone was raving about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. And they (and I) still are. It is wonderful. You can paint it over pretty much any type of surface and DO NOT have to sand or prep in any way other than wiping the furniture down if its dusty/dirty. It is amazing!
Here are the color choices:
Photo credit: http://vintiquingchic.wordpress.com
There are a few other brands I've heard of but not tried, like Ce Ce Caldwell's Chalk paint or Miss Mustardseed Milk paint. I've also heard that there is a recipe or two for you to make your own on Pinterest! Have definitely not tried that yet but I might--stay tuned! ;)
Here in Waco you can purchase it for $39.99 over at Spice Village in a store called Jute. They come in quart sizes or a small sample size. It is definitely pricey BUT it covers a lot more than your regular latex paint. And when you think about the time and energy (and money) you'd be spending on sanding and prepping, it is totally worth it in my book. :)
NOW, for you local folks, you should know of a less expensive but equally as wonderful alternative to ASCP: Vignettes Chalk-Style Paint!
Do you see all those fun colors?! AND you save some money as its $35 a quart, $22 for a pint or $25 for a 3 pack of 4oz jars. :) With the pint size option, you can have fun mixing colors to create your own custom color! I love that!!!
Vignettes Chalk-Style paint is available at The Mix in Hewitt, The Craft Gallery and soon will be available at the Croft Art Gallery on Austin Ave! I would totally recommend giving them a try--same quality paint at a lesser price!
Ok, now back to the how-to's. :)
What kind of brush should I use with chalk paint?
Good news: You can you any kind of paint brush with chalk paint! Now, I went ahead and bought one of the WAY expensive (I think it was $35. I know, yikes! BUT, I'm a sucker for quality art supplies AND I knew I would get lots of use out of it) Annie Sloan Chalk Paint brushes shown below. But, like I said, you don't have to go out and spend that much money on a brush, your typical paint brush will work just fine. Promise. :)
Photo credit: http://thespacebetweenblog.net
Working with chalk paint
You will notice chalk paint is much thicker than regular latex paint. It has chalk (or something like chalk) in its make-up hence the added weight. And from my understanding, the chalk is what allows the paint to adhere well to most any surface and gives it its matte look. You need to shake the can a bit to "mix" the chalk into the paint before you use it as a good bit of it settles to the bottom if its sat for awhile. Other than that, just paint away like you would with regular paint. Most people just slap it on, no stressing about how it will look at all. I paint in lateral movements along the length of the piece. I haven't ventured out into the just "slap it on" way of painting but I might feel adventurous one day and do so! Its really all about the look you are trying to achieve. I will say that once you apply the wax (more on that later) you will be able to notice paint strokes a wee bit. Well, only if you are as detail oriented as I am would you notice the strokes, otherwise you might not notice them at all and be totally happy with the slap it on in any which way method. ;)
Chalk paint has little to no odor so painting indoors is a great option! I painted my table indoors and had no problems whatsoever. Chalk paint dries super fast, too. I painted my chairs outside in partial sun and the only issue I had was the paint drying on the top part of my brush. Kinda odd but it didn't affect anything. I had to work fairly quickly too otherwise the paint dried and created some grainy sections. I did not have that issue indoors so I'm sure its attributed to the windy day we had and the sunlight just working its magic and drying the paint uber fast.
Paint drying on the top part the brush.
You might also notice that this is not a Annie Sloan brush. I had a lovely helper and she was using that one so I used this one and it worked just fine and dandy.
One coat will give you the look on the first photo below and two the look on the second photo below(yes, had to include my doll again). :)
I would say that two coats covers pretty well if you paint nice, even coats. If not, then you might want a third coat but I've yet to find that necessary.
Cleaning your brushes
Just rinse them off with some warm water and you should be good to go. On the brush that had some dried paint on it I scraped it with this grout cleaning brush that I had at the house and it worked wonders after I soaked the brush a bit. :)
What I know about Wax
So, the waxing part of this process is the most challenging part. And that is not to say that it is incredibly challenging, because its not. It simply has a bit of a learning curve and some genuine skill is involved in achieving a nice look. At least, that is my humble opinion. I have not mastered all aspects of waxing so you will for sure want to do your own research on this part if you plan on refinishing something.
So basically, I watched THIS video and used her technique which consists of 1. spreading a bit of the wax on a paper plate, 2. tapping the brush lightly onto the wax, 3. then swirly the brush around on the paper plate to spread the wax evenly on the bristles and 4. applying it to your piece in circle motions (cue "wax on, wax off").
You have to make sure you apply a VERY thin layer of wax evenly over you entire piece and I think that is where my problems lie. Well, at least part of them anyway. On a piece like a chair, where there is no large surface, waxing is a piece of cake. I don't have to worry about an even coat because the surface is small and for whatever reason, it is easy to create a uniform look. But on a larger surface, like my dining room table (my latest project), I achieved this look:
Can you see the splotchiness? Now, I know that it doesn't look terrible, but it isn't what I was hoping/aiming for. It only looks that way with light shining on it and your head turned just right BUT still. I was a bit bummed. SO, I'm afraid I have no tips on how to NOT achieve this look but I'm not giving up on mastering this part of the process. If I figure it out I'll update this post and if YOU are reading this and know what my problem could be, please, be my guest and enlighten me!
What I do know is that having a specific wax brush is SUPER helpful. This is where I would highly recommend getting an Annie Sloan Wax brush. I bought mine from HERE. They aren't cheap either, about $30 for one BUT very worth it. I waxed one piece with just a regular cheap brush and it worked but was even more uneven. The Annie Sloan Wax brush is made specifically for spreading wax and for whatever reason, probably the shape and the quality of the bristles, it helped create a more uniform look. It was easier to use than a regular brush, too. I know there are people out there that just use a regular, old paint brush to apply their wax but I am just not that skilled!
Now, once you apply your first coat of wax you can distress as desired (more on that below), then wax again. I was told to apply 2-3 coats on "high trafficked" areas and 1-2 on surfaces that rarely get touched. The process is, 1. apply your wax, 2. wipe off and excess if any, 3. let dry (a couple of hours), and 4. buff. You can use cheese cloth or really, any lint-free piece of cloth that you might have lying around the house. I used an old t-shirt. I first buff in a circular motion then finish off by going over those strokes with straight, lateral ones. You'll see the wax start to have a sheen to it once its been buffed.
Cleaning your wax brush
Ok, so in that video tutorial that I referenced, she recommends cleaning your brush with Murphy's Wood Oil soap, then with some dish soap and let dry. I just wash them with dawn liquid soap and let them air dry but I'm wondering if I should try Murphy's? I will do some research and make a final decision because the last thing I want to do is ruin my expensive brushes!
Man, this is a long post! If you're still reading, then bravo! I'll try to wrap it up with this section. :) You can distress with sandpaper by hand or with a sander. I, of course, went ahead and purchased a sander (of sorts) because I knew I was going to be distressing a lot of pieces and didn't want to have to do it all by hand, although I did do some by hand.
From what I've discovered, there is no right way or wrong way to distress--it is all about the look you are going for. SO, I didn't want an "overkill" of a distress job so I went with a more "lightly distressed look". For my table, I used course grit sand paper and went around the edges of the table, the legs and on a few places on the table top. Here are some pics of that process:
Since I had 8 chairs to distress, I went ahead and used my sand and was so thankful I did--it is work! I basically, went along the natural edges and raised parts of the chairs with the sander. I have a Genesis Multi-Purpose tool that has a narrow point that is really helpful in getting in small areas. It got great reviews, wasn't pricey AND has other functions so it was a great buy all around! It is quite loud and a bit heavy, though.
Here are a few pics of the distressed chairs:
You can see where I tried to go along the natural lines of the chair.
Well, I hope found this post helpful in some way! Good luck with your painting projects and feel free to reply with any questions you might have. I'll leave you with some GREAT resources that were really helpful to me.
http://www.anniesloan.com/acatalog/copy_of_How_to_use_the_paint.html --Annie Sloan website, lots of great variations you can do with this paint.
http://www.thepurplepaintedlady.com/ --umm, she is kinda like the queen of chalk painting (other than Annie Sloan herself, of course)
http://www.simplyreinvented.com/ --this is were I found the video tutorial
http://www.facebook.com/VignettesChalkPaint?fref=ts --Vignettes Chalk-Style paint facebook page
Blessings to you all,