Chalk Paint, Wax and Distressing Furniture :)

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.  :)

The Paint
 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:

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

Photo Credit: Color Me Chalky

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:

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. --Annie Sloan website, lots of great variations you can do with this paint.  --umm, she is kinda like the queen of chalk painting (other than Annie Sloan herself, of course) --this is were I found the video tutorial  --Vignettes Chalk-Style paint facebook page

Blessings to you all, 
Janice :)


HELEN B said…
Hi Janice..
The table is pretty...And you make it sound so easy.. I'm trying to build up my confidence to try distressing a repurposed vanity/nightstand. Just wondering, after the distressing step, do you apply a coat of wax again? (As a finish coat?)
Baytown, TX
Lorena McKenzie said…
I've decided to distress some furniture I have to refresh it's look. All my furniture is incredibly outdated & I don't have lot of money to buy new furniture. I found your blog incredibly helpful. Thanks.
JaniceAileen said…
Hi, Helen! You have probably already found out the answer to your question but just in case, you do apply another layer of wax after the distressing, it seals everything off. :) Good luck and you can do it! Promise! :)
JaniceAileen said…
@Lorena McKenzie
So glad you found it helpful, Lorena! Thanks for stopping by!
Katie Donaldson said…
I love the way you think and word things. Great. And I believe you just sold me on Annie Sloan, fortunately I have a vendor three doors down. :)

I believe I will attempt this, although I've been standing in the back watching for a while. :) Thanks again.
Katie Donaldson said…
I very much appreciate this. Love your wording, lol. You've sold me on Annie Sloan and I have a dealer only three doors down. :) Thanks again for taking the time to post this.
Betsy Powers said…
I think your blog is awesome, and it has helped me hash out what I want to do on my daughters dresser. It's pickled white wood, and I'm going to distress it in a beachy blue for her dorm room. I have 2 questions for you. 1) being as the name brand brushes and wax are so expensive is it possible to use furniture paste wax? 2) Have you ever used dark stain along the edges to simulate dark wood coming through at the edges?
JaniceAileen said…
Hi, Betsy! So glad you found it helpful! You can totally use furniture past wax! Technically, you can finish it however you'd like. :) I've never tried that technique that you mentioned but it sounds like it would turn out really cool---give it a try! Worst case scenario you paint over it if you don't like it! :) Thanks again for stopping by!
@Betsy Powers
Sevgi Ates said…
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Sevgi Ates said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
brenda said…
Looks amazing!! nice job! I want to try this. Just wondering if I should distress before waxing or after like you did?
JaniceAileen said…
Hi, Brenda. You can distress before waxing but be prepared for a lot of dust. Most people distress after the waxing process for that reason alone but you can do it before if you'd like. :)
I just purchased a darling bench which has been done this way. Problem is its blue. Can I paint over it with my color which is red!
I just purchased a darling bench painted this way. Problem is that it's blue. Can I paint over it using red?
JaniceAileen said…
@linda abrahamson
Yes, you absolutely can! You will most likely need two coats but chalk paint it thicker than regular paint and can cover just about anything! HTH!

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Shelly said…
What kind of fabric did you use to cover your dining chair cushions and where did you purchase it? :-)
JaniceAileen said…
Hi, Shelly! I used burlap to cover my chair cushions. :)
Lisca Meijer said…
Thank you, that was very helpful (and very honest). I have bought some ASCP and have painted the bathroom door and a blanket chest with no problem at all (the slap it on method as I am new to this game). I'm going to wax today and thought I'd read up on it... Thank you.
Ashley Lewis said…
What color chalk paint did you use for your dining room table? I noticed in the picture of the Annie Sloan paint brush that the chalk paint color was old white and I am assuming that was the color for the chairs..
Sheila Culp said…
Great information! Thank you for posting!
Maria Young said…
Thanks, for the helpful post! What color's of ASCP did you use?
JaniceAileen said…
@Ashley Lewis
Yes, Ashley, Old White is what I used for the chairs. :) I used ASCP "French Linen" for the table. :)
JaniceAileen said…
@Maria Young
HI, there! I used ASCP "Old White" on the chairs and "French Linen" for my table. :)
Jill Welch said…
Hi, Just came across this. I like to read rather than watch videos, lol. And I haven't used chalk pain yet. So did you paint a base color? Or is the natural wood that shows through the distress? I'm thinking of painting a variation of off white, on a wood piece; and am ok with the wood showing through the distress (i.e. not painting a base color, of say black). Thanks.
JaniceAileen said…
@Jill Welch
Hi, Jill! I did not paint a base color. I literally applied the paint right over the veneer finish of the table. It was originally a dark cherry finish. So, you are good to go! That is the beauty of chalk point, no prep or base coats needed! I think you should go for it! Hope that helps! :)
sindhu said…
Hi Janice.
We're love the color of your table on this page. But the color cards we're looking at show "French Linen" being not as grey as your images. The color cards look more brown than grey. Any advice?
JaniceAileen said…
Hi, Sindhu! French Linen truly is a grey color. I will say that it is more of a "warm" gray, meaning it has some brown undertones as opposed to a "cool" grey which would have blue undertones but I'm certain if you saw it in person you would agree that is is most definitely a grey color not brown. I hope this is helpful to you!!! Best of luck on your project! :)
Katie Smith said…
I've heard that you need to reapply the wax frequently to maintain the look and protection of the wax. How often does the wax need to be reapplied on, for instance, a high traffic piece like a dining room table?
JaniceAileen said…
@Katie Smith
On my dining room table, I repainted and reapplied wax after about one year. I have three kids under 8 so, needless to say, my dining room table gets lots of traffic! If it just received normal traffic sans kids, I expect I wouldn't have to repaint or re-wax for at least a few years. :)
JAG said…
Hi Janice,

Very nice blog here on the chalk paint technique. My question is....besides wood, what other material can you use this paint on?

Thank you in advance!

Ian T. Anstett said…
Thank you for a very good guide. I am currently redecorating in a cottage and wanted a corner tv stand for my husband’s monstrosity of a tv that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg yet blend well in the cottage. I finally found a brand new unfinished piece to do the trick but painting is required.

Your guide was so detailed that I am going to try this out on the new tv stand. Thank you for taking the time to write about this AND including step by step pictures to make following this very easy
Adeline Keil said…
I'm not sure how to achieve the look I want! I purchased bedroom furniture with a natural colored veneer that I am refinishing for my daughter. I am starting with a night stand and already sanded down eh veneer out of habit. I want a white piece with gray to bring out the details (scroll work/curves/edges/etc). Do I paint gray then white and sand down? Or can I paint white then just wax the areas where I want definition?
Elizabeth said…
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Tammy N said…
What kind of wax do you use for this project?
JaniceAileen said…
@JAG Hmmm, great question!You can use it on just about anything! On your normal furniture surfaces like wood, plastic, and metal but you can also use it on other surfaces such as glass and even fabric! There are some great tutorials out there on painting those other surfaces. :) Thanks for stopping by!
JaniceAileen said…
@Ian T. Anstett Absolutley, Ian! Good luck with your piece! I'd love to see how it turned out!
JaniceAileen said…
@Adeline Keil Hi, Adeline! I'm assuming you already got your answer considering you posted last August (your comment got sent to a hold box and I was unaware there were any holds in it!) but there are lots of different techniques to achieve various looks. If you want it to be white with gray showing through, you would paint it gray first and then white on top. When you distress the edges your gray will pop through! :) You could paint it white, put a clear wax on it and then go back with a dark wax to bring out the little details but that that point you wouldn't have any gray in it unless you painted the gray for the first coat. Hope that helped!!
JaniceAileen said…
@Tammy N Hi, Tammy. I used Annie Sloan Wax for this project. :)
Jenny Hayes said…
Hi, I don’t understand how to praise of your site. It’s truly amazing!
Wendy Dinardi said…
hi there! I was just told by a "chalk paint expert" that she never uses wax on a table top. She always uses poly. because it's much more protective on a heavily used piece. That might help with your dilemma on table tops looking splotchy. I love your work!! I've just finished my first piece and I'm hooked:)

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