While the 80s and 90s saw people painstakingly stripping painted furniture to return it to its former glory, 2016 is all about upcycling. Wooden furniture of exceptional quality is undoubtedly best left nude, but painting a piece can brighten a room and hide a multitude of flaws in less than perfect wood. However, doing the job well is essential, and chalk painting is painstaking, right? Wrong!
Chalk painting is one of the easiest ways to upcycle a piece of furniture. From small pieces to bulkier items and even kitchen cupboards, a touch of chalk paint will transform tired wood. And it really is as simple as one…two….three. Here we look at the myths of chalk painting and the key to getting a great finish.
Myth one: Too simple to believe…
The first instinct when entering the world of chalk paint is disbelief. No preparation? No sugar soaping, sanding or primer? That can’t be right. It is! Chalk paint goes easily straight onto any surface, whether it is rough wood, varnished, stained or painted.
Myth two: Waxing is hassle!
Once you get over the fact that you really can use chalk paint on any surface, people generally become intimidated by the waxing and buffing, thinking it is an arduous task that will end in poor finish. However, with the right equipment (i.e. a spotlessly clean cloth with no lint, fluff or dust in sight), the waxing is incredibly simple and leaves your upcycled pieces protected from grubby fingers and stains. Some people worry that the wax will take away the rustic “chalky” finish but with a light hand you can protect your paint work without making it too glossy.
Myth three: You need to be a pro to get a professional finish
The simple fact is: chalk paint really is simple and easy to use. As you put on your first coat you will notice it is a bit patchy, but feel confident that the second coat will make it alright. When the second coat goes on and starts to dry (there is no nice way of saying this), it will probably look dreadful. At this point you will either find yourself full of self-reproof and be tempted to try a third coat or a bit of patching up (don’t), or you will go into denial, leave the room and pretend that nothing is wrong. The latter is the recommended approach as, an hour or so later, when the paint has dried, you will be confronted with a beautiful, transformed piece; no patches, no streaks, just a lovely matt finish.
Once the myths have been successfully debunked, you can get on with the fun bit! There are lots of brands around, and some people even make their own chalk paint. Some brands have their own instructions, so it is worth reading the tin, but here are some tips on where to start:
- Get a sample pot, or make up your own paint, and have a go on the back of a piece of furniture or on a small “starter” piece.
- Make sure you remove all drawers and tape up the bits you won’t paint to ensure a professional finish.
- Clean brushes and cloth for the waxing are essential; chalk painting is very forgiving but little bits of fluff, stray bristles, or dust are not tolerated!
- Clean the piece first; a little dust or wipe over with a damp cloth will stop dust from getting into the paint.
- Chalk paint dries incredibly quickly but make sure the first coat is completely dry before embarking on the second.
- For the second coat, add a few drops of water to the paint. Don’t worry, the paint will dry out quickly for the next time but diluting the paint ensures that the second coat goes on smoothly. If the paint feels too rough on application, just add a few more drops until it glides on.
- You may be tempted to wax your piece as soon as possible. If the paint is not completely dry, you will end up rubbing the paint off. So be patient and wait overnight for the wax.
There are few feelings better than the elation you feel at the end of a successful upcycling project. You have saved money and made something less than lovely look beautiful. After your first project it is likely that no piece of furniture will be safe until at least one tin of chalk paint has been exhausted!
If you have a valuable piece of furniture, such as an antique or a piece made from good quality wood, it is probably wiser to have the piece professionally restored in order to maintain its value. Find a local furniture restorer near you and get a quote.