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No Muss… No Fuss with Chalk Paint

If I told you there was a paint that you could apply without sanding or priming and that cleaned up with soap and water, perhaps you’d be as excited as I was when I heard about chalk paint.

This particular paint is unfamiliar enough that people often misunderstand and think you mean chalkboard paint.  Chalk paint is altogether different.  It’s a forgiving, luxurious-feeling paint that leaves a matte finish on furniture, cabinets, walls, you name it. A protective, shiny finish can be achieved with the finishing wax. I devoured reviews from users who described the ease of just getting down to the painting part without a whole lot of prep.

The best known manufacturer is Annie Sloan of Oxford, England but a Canadian company, Van Gogh, also makes chalk paint in B.C.  I wasn’t aware of the Canuck version when I made my purchase of Annie Sloan, available at select retailers across the country.  Sloan has been making chalk paint since 2000 and it comes in thirty shades.  I purchased a quart of French Linen ($38) and a tin of clear finishing wax ($35) and set to work on an end table.

The piece of furniture I chose was given to my husband years ago by an acquaintance who was moving and wanted a fresh start.  I always found it too infused with testosterone for my liking. For an end table it’s unusually tall and large. Imagine my surprise when I recently saw the same piece I loathe in a department store retailing for $440. That inspired me to try to give it a new life rather than give it away.

The paint doesn’t require shaking or stirring. The merchant recommended turning the can over for half a day before use, that was all. I did lightly sand a couple of spots on the table where scratches in the wood were obvious and deep enough to show through any top coat but otherwise, it was painted as-is after only a dusting.  Chalk paint can be watered down for a colour-wash effect and Annie’s website offers tutorials on using her products for painting walls, floors, to distress furniture and other ideas. I chose to apply it full strength, wanting complete coverage.

The paint went on a shade or two lighter than the finished colour. It’s thick and easy to work with. The first coat stuck well to the semi-shiny finish, covering it much like a primer. But the second coat was positively dreamy.  It applied beautifully and brush marks that showed up when wet, disappeared when dry.

After the twenty-four hour wait suggested by the manufacturer’s guidelines, I applied a generous amount of the clear wax (you can also choose a dark wax) with an old tea-towel, rubbed it in well and wiped it off with another clean white cloth.  The wax has the consistency of margarine and you need to make sure you remove all of the excess before it dries.  I read horror stories told by people who misunderstood the process and ruined their furniture by leaving too much wax on for too long.

The following day I gave it a good buffing and a second coat on the top for a little added toughness and shine.

The chalk paint’s simplicity coupled with its results has me seriously considering what else I can paint. Two generous coats on the table used only about one-fifth of the quart can and I have most of the wax left, too. Chalk paint isn’t going to put the latex people out of business but it’s a worthy alternative.  For me, its appeal lies in the lack of prep work and the beautiful, custom finish in just a couple of steps.

By Lisa Brandt

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