How to Make Chalk Paint

Mixing Up Paint

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Overview
  • Total Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20 to $40

Chalk paint's flat, chalky look and silky-smooth, velvety texture can help you turn ordinary furniture into appealing works of art that resemble antiques.

Chalk paint was created by Annie Sloan in 1990. Similar types of chalky or chalk-style paints are available in pre-mixed form from artisan companies, as well as from major paint manufacturers like Behr and Valspar—plus, there's The Spruce Best Home Chalky Finish Paint. But you can make your own chalk paint with just a few simple ingredients.

What Chalk Paint Is

Do-it-yourself chalk paint is created from a base of latex paint with a thickening agent added to give the paint its smoothness and a higher build. Since the thickening agent is white, it's also responsible for producing chalk paint's distinctive, lightened pastel palette. You just need an old blender, interior latex paint, and a thickening agent such as calcium carbonate or Plaster of Paris.

Paint

Have the interior latex paint tinted to your desired color at the paint store.

Remember that the thickening agent will lighten the color, so you may want to choose a paint slightly darker than the color of your intended chalk paint.

Thickening Agent

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is the white powder that gives chalk paint its chalkiness. It is odorless, flat, and non-toxic, except in concentrated amounts. The calcium carbonate used in chalk paint is mined from the earth or sometimes is extracted from seawater.

Since calcium carbonate is used for making wine and beer and as an additive for dietary calcium, it is readily available online or at health food stores. Look for packages of pure calcium carbonate in at least 1-pound packs.

Plaster of Paris

Calcium carbonate isn't the only material you can use as a thickening agent. One favorite is Plaster of Paris because it produces a thicker coating. Due to its quick setting time, Plaster of Paris requires you to work fairly quickly. Using cold water in the 40°F to 50°F range will slow down the setting rate.

Drywall Compound

Another alternative to calcium carbonate is drywall compound (powder). Drywall compound is made of gypsum, which mixes well with paint. Use about 4 cups of paint to around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of drywall compound.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Clean plastic bowls
  • Stirring implements
  • Old blender
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Materials

Chalk Paint Made With Calcium Carbonate

  • 1 gallon eggshell sheen latex paint
  • 1 pound or more calcium carbonate

Chalk Paint Made With Plaster of Paris

  • 1 gallon eggshell sheen latex paint
  • 1 pound or more Plaster of Paris

Instructions

Chalk Paint Made With Calcium Carbonate

  1. Measure Out the Paint

    Pour the paint into your measuring cup. Add 1 cup of paint to the blender.

  2. Measure Out the Calcium Carbonate

    Add 4 tablespoons of calcium carbonate to the blender.

  3. Mix the Chalk Paint

    Turn on the blender at its lowest setting. Blend for one to two minutes.

  4. Test the Chalk Paint For Consistency

    If the chalk paint is too thick to brush on, add a tablespoon or two of water at a time, then blend. Repeat as needed until you have enough paint.

Chalk Paint Made With Plaster of Paris

  1. Measure Out the Paint

    Pour the paint into your measuring cup. Add 3 cups of paint to the blender.

  2. Measure Out the Plaster of Paris

    Measure out 1 cup of Plaster of Paris. Add this to the blender.

  3. Add the Water

    Measure 1 cup of cold water. Add the water to the blender.

  4. Mix the Chalk Paint

    Turn the blender on low and mix for one or two minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water. If it is too thin, add a tablespoon of Plaster of Paris. Mix again until you reach the desired consistency. Repeat as needed until you have enough paint.

Tips for Making and Using Chalk Paint

Apply Thin Coats

Because chalk paint has such a high build, it's best to apply it in multiple layers. Thick layers may turn out lumpy and pockmarked.

Top Coat With Poly

Though wax is usually the top layer for chalk paint, you may want to try a matte polyurethane coating. You will lose some of the silky texture but the paint will have a more durable top surface.

Experiment With Brushes

Different brushes produce different effects. A soft-bristle nylon or polyester brush will create a smooth surface with few brush marks. A chip brush will leave heavy brush marks for a more antiqued look.

Try Two-Color Distress

The way to create depth is to use the two-color distress method. If you delicately sand down just one coat of chalk paint, you reveal wood. But if you have two different colors, a light sanding of key sections exposes the lower coat. And when the lower coat is darker than the top coat, you create even more depth.

Sand Down Wear Points

For furniture, lightly sand contact points to replicate wear marks for an even more realistic antique look. For a chair, you would want to sand edges around the seat, the back, and the arms.