Make Your Own Chalk-Style Paint

I bought Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint® once, a popular brand of paint that’s no-muss-no-fuss, with an easy application and great, matte result. This is not to be confused with chalkboard paint, quite different in every way, really. The thing with my chalk paint experience though, was that it was expensive, and the retail color selection was limited. If I wanted to overhaul a piece of furniture in 6 different colors, I’d easily have spent $200+ in paint alone. I’ve learned since that achieving this signature velvety, fast-drying finish just doesn’t have to be hard — in fact, it’s something that you can whip up yourself at home for a few dollars in virtually any color, and that’s what I set out to test in my latest project.

With a baby on the way, nursery decor is high on my to-do list. When I stumbled upon this sweet (albeit worn and discolored) homemade rocking horse at a yard sale recently, I thought it would be a cute addition to the space. The wear and tear could be camouflaged with a fresh coat of stain or paint of course, or I could use it as the canvas for that DIY paint tutorial I’ve been itching to try. Bring out some Plaster of Paris, warm water and a half-used paint sample, and you’ve got a chalk-painting party.

How to make your own Chalk Paint in any color.

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Step 1

 Open GalleryPrep your object pre-painting. My wooden horse required some sandpaper to smooth out imperfections.The beauty of the original Chalk Paint is that it can be applied to many surfaces (whether previously painted, stained or bare wood) with ease. Prep work is minimal, and in this case I just had to take a piece of 150 grit sandpaper to the existing finish to smooth out a few rough areas.

Step 2

 Open GalleryMix 1/2 cup of Plaster of Paris into a 1/2 cup of warm mater to dissolve.Plaster of Paris is great for any number of crafts (like these DIY paper bowls), and a box with a lot of product can be purchased for <$7. To start making chalk paint, mix a 1/2 cup of Plaster of Paris with a 1/2 cup of warm water until it dissolves.

Step 3

 Open GalleryInto the dissolved mixture, add 1.5 cups of latex paint of your choice. Mine? Mint green for a neutral baby nursery!With the Plaster of Paris dissolved, add 1 1/2 cups of latex paint. I must have known that I’d eventually find a use for the perfect mint green I bought out of our home improvement store’s bargain bin, because for $1 it matched perfectly with what I had in mind for the horse. Consider using leftover paints from your own paint palette if you want your piece to coordinate with a specific room in your home, or buy a few pre-mixed paint samples at the store for <$6 in the color of your choice.

Step 4

 Open GalleryUse a foam brush or paint brush to apply your DIY paint. Avoid globs!This DIY paint, just like the traditional Chalk Paint, will go on a bit differently than you’re used to from latex or oil-based paints. The first coat, whether applied with a foam sponge brush or a paint brush, will look streaky. It will feel flat and chalky to the touch (even if you used an eggshell or satin paint additive).

Step 5

 Open GalleryThe second layer of DIY paint will have better coverage.The combination of the diluted paint and the Plaster of Paris will help this first coat dry to the touch in an hour (or less)! A second coat will go on differently, eliminating many existing brush strokes immediately. It too will dry quickly, and though you might find that you need to do 3 or even 4 coats depending on the surface that you’re covering, it gets better and better every time, and always dries fast too.

Step 6

 Open GalleryApply a layer of finishing wax to the finished paint job. The finished texture will be soft.The finishing trick to this painting process is to apply a soft wax over the surface of the paint. This is best done in a room-temperature setting, as the wax will be more malleable than if it were being applied in the midst of the winter. While Annie Sloan has her own wax product, a soft finishing wax from the hardware store performs well too. I chose a Minwax variety for the job.

Step 7

The application of the wax is easy. I take a little bit in a rag (cheesecloth works well too if you’re worried about transferring lint) and massage it onto the finished surface. Try to keep application even (there were a lot of grooves and angles in my horse to contend with), so go slow and make sure that you don’t leave behind any globs by accident.

Step 8

 Open GalleryDIY Chalk Paint Children's Rocking Horse.The wax will immediately finish your piece, but allow it to sit and harden for several hours. Use your judgement on whether or not you need a second coat of wax (I didn’t). The finished piece is smooth, soft, and perfect for our home.

Materials

  • 1/2 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1-1/2 cups latex paint
  • Finishing wax
  • Rag

Tools

  • Paint brush (foam or bristle)
  • Mixing bowl
About Emily Fazio 

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I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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113 Responses

  1. A M LALA says:

    This recipe nailed it! I have been playing around with different ratios and I find that most recipes say about 2 tbs paris of plaster and 2tbsp water to one cup paint. It is too gritty and not dries fast with such little additive to the paint. This recipe makes a milky chalky finish and doesn't chunk up! Also most will tell you to use cold water?? No hot water will dissolve the plaster& it only makes sense to me:-/. Thank you so much! I must add from my experimenting that Glidden works better than Behr when I bought some oops colors for larger projects… I guess the brands with a built in primer mess the chemistry up some. Also I have found that the Johnson Wax goes on easier than minwax but that's personal preference. And I just found Martha Stewart's finishing wax in Michael's with my 50% off coupon for $12. It's soft and odorless which makes me one happy New Englander right now! It's too cold to air out the odor of the others. Happy painting everyone!

  2. Kim says:

    will high gloss latex make a difference?

  3. dejahthoris78 says:

    Does it have to be flat paint? All I have is semi gloss. Does it matter? Thanks! I am planning on doing my dining chairs in black chalk paint.

  4. Becky A says:

    I refinish and restore furniture out of my home. I recently have been using "Chalk Paint" (not chalkboard paint). I've been buying it from a local lady down here where I live. She said it's just a combination of latex paint, plaster of paris and water. After attempting it several times it hardens really fast. Her paint comes in jars and it's smooth and creamy. After the paint jar sits for awhile I see that there is a layer of what I think looks like a greasy oil on the top. It's greasy and has a bit of a paint thinner smell. When I rub it between my fingers it feels like an oil. Once I stir the paint it goes right back to a smooth consistant chalk paint. Is it some type of additive. Has anyone heard of this?

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