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The Ultimate DIY Homemade Chalk Color (and Painted Furniture) Resource Guide

Making your own chalk paint is not only fun, it’s also a unique way to liven up your furniture or cabinets. In this beginner-friendly, DIY chalk paint resource guide, you’ll learn about the best recipes, colors, brushes and tools to start getting the best results with your chalk paint right away.

What is Chalk Paint?

Chalk Paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint) is a type of paint best used on furniture to – you guessed it – create a unique, chalky look. The chalk paint product as many people already know it  was developed by Annie Sloan. The company manufactured chalk paint to allow aspiring project-doers and artists with the easy opportunity to give their furniture and other furnishings a more aged, almost blurry surface finish.

Chalk paint is often accompanied with different types of soft wax in order to get it nice and hardened into the furniture you’re working with. The end result of your efforts with DIY chalk paint will give you the product’s signature and sought-after effect on wood and other surfaces.

Chalk paint’s chic-type effect on your furniture is owed to its thick consistency that makes it so easy to start out home improvement projects with.

If you’re considering tackling a personal project with chalk paint because you’ve been meaning to for some time, or are just starting to learn more about it and its many creative applications, know that you can take comfort in the fact that there’s little preparation involved to get started with your DIY chalk paint.

From start to finish, the process of applying chalk paint to your furniture is a painless task, particularly because of how unbelievably simple the entire process will turn out to be for you.

And while chalk paint is indeed a trademarked paint product by Annie Sloan, DIY chalk paint has plenty of diehard fans who both love the aesthetic it helps create, as well as the enjoyable and simple projects that take but a few hours to tackle.

Chalk paint is a long-lasting accouterments to any number of potential pieces including your furniture and cabinets that can add a fresh new look to your favorite pieces. Read on to discover the many options you have when preparing and applying your DIY chalk paint.

How to Make Chalk Paint
There are plenty of resources out there on the web that talk about store-bought chalk paints and what they’re made of.

There isn’t, however, a whole lot of readily available information as far as making your very own DIY chalk paint goes, especially when it comes to figuring out recipes you can dabble with, or types of furniture you can get creative with.

When you first start thinking about making and using your own DIY chalk paint, you might be looking to liven or change pieces of furniture up with the type of rustic, almost gritty look that chalk paint can give you and your projects.

Your DIY chalk paint should end up coming out pretty thick (this is chalk paint’s consistency that has won over so many of its fans), which is where the equally satisfying aspect of preparation (or lack thereof) comes in.

Chalk paint’s heavy-duty consistency means you don’t need to waste time worrying about figuring out your sanding or priming situation before you begin your project.

How to make chalk paint with baking soda

In fact, the likeliest piece of legwork you’ll need to take care of is a simple wipe down of your painted pieces, so that you can quickly get rid of any grease or residue buildup. When you start off with making your DIY chalk paint, you can also consider using a baking soda mix for your project — just keep in mind that this sometimes ends up creating an extremely gritty chalk paint texture.

You might also want to prepare for having your chalk paint dry quicker than you might figure, so it’s important to have a kind of loose strategy in mind before you start creating and applying your DIY chalk paint in earnest

Simpler DIY chalk paint mixture recipes to use for your personal projects do often involve baking soda, in particular to nail down the grittiest texture possible without sacrificing the little amount of effort involved with your chalk paint project. If you do decide to go this route, then a plain old box of baking soda will do.

Particularly as a first-time DIY chalk painter, you’ll likely thank yourself later for sticking with just a few essential recipes. The more comfortable you become with experimenting with different recipes, the better you’ll know how best to create your mixture.

This first recipe is arguably the simplest, even with the already easy process of creating DIY chalk paint. You’ll be using some latex paint for this one, using about half as much more than the amount of baking soda you’re using. Easy-to-remember amounts for this chalk paint recipe would be

  • ½ cup baking soda along with 1 cup latex paint. You’ll need some regular water on hand too — a few tablespoons of the cold variety should suffice.
  • Make sure you mix your chalk paint until the baking soda is totally dissolved — mixing longer is better, otherwise your final texture might be difficult to work with.

The tablespoons of water you’re using for this recipe will be your greatest ally and will help ensure that your end result isn’t so gritty that you can’t use it.

Another common recipe for making DIY chalk paint involves some Plaster of Paris, which you can pick up at most any hardware or craft store near you. Before you try this mixture recipe out, just keep in mind that a primer won’t work this time around (you might’ve used one for the last recipe, which is OK). Primer will make this recipe’s texture come out extremely gritty and, again, pretty difficult to do much with. Along with your Plaster of Paris, you’ll once again need some latex paint, this time using about 3 parts of it to your one part of Plaster of Paris.

Finally, water will again come in handy in making sure your end product is not too touch to apply. To start with this DIY chalk paint recipe, you’ll first mix the plaster with your water, until there are no lumps or bumps that you can see or feel when stirring. Then add in your latex paint, mix it thoroughly, and start painting before everything dries. You can then apply the finish of your choice once your chalk paint has dried nicely and evenly.

The final recipe to create your own DIY chalk paint incorporates latex paint and water like the previous two recipes. This time though, our third ingredient will be calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate does a great job dissolving in water, and can help you create DIY chalk paint that is easy to work with while still maintaining a healthy, gritty texture. Calcium carbonate can most easily be found online, but you may also have luck finding it at your closest hardware store.

Make sure the calcium carbonate you purchase says it’s 100% real calcium carbonate, otherwise you may (surprise) end up with a super gritty chalk paint texture. You’ll start with this recipe with a cup of your latex paint, add in enough tablespoons of water (a couple will do) to keep the texture from getting too bumpy, and add four tablespoons of your freshly bought calcium carbonate.

Like we’ve done in our previous recipes, we’ll need to make sure that your ingredients are mixed nicely and thoroughly, and that your paint is applied quickly before it begins to dry. Let your DIY chalk paint dry overnight, and then paint your second coat if you so choose!

Chalk Paint Ideas and Which Colors to Use

When choosing a color for your DIY chalk paint, or just considering what colors are most often used with personal chalk paint projects, it’s important to pick a paint color that might best accompany that sort of charming, shabby look you’re probably going for in your project. Whatever color your might end up choosing, it may be worth considering that a whole lot of DIY chalk paint makers and users are hugely fond of the sanding down aspect that really compliments one, two, or even three layers of chalk paint finishing. At the end of the day, however, it’s important to experiment with different amounts of layers with your DIY chalk paint color.

If you are searching for more concrete directions in which to take your DIY chalk paint project, here are a couple of thoughts to consider. Firstly, it’s often the rich brown or darker green colors that will really nail down the distressed chic look that is instantly recognizable to those who’ve made and used chalk paint in the past.

The larger environment in which your furniture that you’ll be working with is also important to consider. When thinking about color ideas for your DIY chalk paint, try to keep in mind the colors of the room’s other pieces of furniture, and even the colors in the room itself.

It can be a mellow, more relaxed atmosphere that you’d like to create when using the deeper colors of your DIY chalk paint, and it’s incredibly easy to pick from a range of dark colors to achieve that style.

You can pick as few or as many pieces of furniture that you’d like when applying darker colors, especially when you want to completely redo the look of some furniture or even an entire room. Your best bet is to work with colors you enjoy the most, and it’s entirely possible that you’ll end up creating a really unique look for your furniture or room that reflects your creativity best.

DIY Chalk Paint Furniture and More  

You can pick furniture (cabinets are a popular choice among DIY chalk paint fans) that’d be ideal with the nice matte texture you’re looking for.. Even better are things you wouldn’t mind applying a few coats of wax to, or a sanding-down finish to bring out the more distressed side of chalk paint on your furnishings.

For example, cabinets that you can give a deep, dark color to will look particularly great with some of your DIY chalk paint applied. Along with some furniture wax and several hours of your time, you can really bring out a unique finish that will bring out a whole new side of your favorite furniture or cabinets.

Dressers, too – especially ones that you may have kept around for a while – can look great with a new coat of gritty DIY chalk paint. Feel free to stray away from the darker tones and get more creative with your chalk paint colors, too. Old dressers with lighter finishes, for example, might have a totally new dimension after you apply a few layers of chalk paint finishing. This is where sanding down your furniture can really make a huge difference. Or, if you feel like having the absolute smallest amount of prep work possible, you can completely skip the sanding and go straight to having fun with color combinations. Because you can make the end result of your DIY chalk paint so easily dreamy, you don’t have to worry about over-applying too much of your creation.

Chalk Paint Brushes and Tools

We’ve established that no primers or advanced preparation is required when you decide to make your own DIY chalk paint, so you may be wondering what’s left when it comes to getting your hands dirty.

The bare basics tools you’ll need when starting out can usually come down to just a single paint brush and paint pan. And of course, you’ll be painting with your very own chalk paint (hopefully some you’ve made following the above recipes!). You might want to consider using a rather wide paint brush, which will help you to avoid any dry lines while you’re working on your furniture or other material.

A vacuum will come in handy if you’re working with any upholstery, especially linen-based furniture. A lint roller will also get the job done too — the important thing to keep in mind when prepping with these tools is to ensure that you’re not painting on any dirt or dust.
Something you can use to cover the areas you’re not painting over will also come in pretty handy, such as thick adhesive tape. If you do need to clean off paint where you don’t want it in a pinch, you can always keep a damp towel nearby.

As nice finishers to your DIY chalk paint project, you can always consider using some sandpaper to add to your furniture’s new look. Polyurethane or wax products will also go a long way in smoothing out end project, as well as sealing up your chalk paint to give your furniture durability.