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 

204Posts

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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112 Responses

  1. Loulou says:

    I love it thks Great

  2. freya says:

    Thats really cool, I'm hopefully going to try this myself. I really like using Annie Sloan paint but like you said there just isn't enough choice of colours, especially if you want to use brights. I just wanted to ask if using the plaster of paris lightened the paint at all? I want to know if the plaster of paris lightens the colour much? I want to paint a chest of drawers a rich, dark teal colour but I'm thinking if i mix acrylic with plaster of paris it will lighten too much. thanks, Freya

    • Heather says:

      I have used plaster of paris several times in my chalk paint (light colors and dark colors) and the color has never changed. Hope that helps!

  3. PamVolkl says:

    you can also use LIGHTWEIGHT spackling instead of plaster of paris and then no need to add water. To "JustMe" when you mentioned "graphite black" – it struck a note. Did you begin with CHALKBOARD PAINT, rather than latex flat? This could be the reason for the not so good turn out! Don't confuse CHALKBOARD PAINT with the paint you are trying to end up with!!! NOT the same thing as the author originally stated. You are MAKING CHALK PAINT . If the paint you begin with is really thick and brush marks are an issue, you can purchase an additive that is made specifically to eliminate this (it's cheap and goes a long way!). I have had great luck with the LIGHTWEIGHT spackling and it eliminates having to work out the lumps in the plaster of paris.Good luck everyone. Also, watch for waxes you can get the are dark, med and light. You can also try putting on a clear wax first, followed by a stained wax. The stained wax gives a beautiful antique finish.

  4. Skye says:

    Also, buffing the wax coating after it's dried creates a BEAUTIFUL, soft and subtle sheen. I followed this recipe (with a quick buff) for some picture frames (mixing my own paint from what I already had) and they came out BEAUTIFUL! THANK YOU!!!

  5. amy says:

    Thanks ! I just completed my first project using chalk paint. This site gave me exactly what i needed. I love the end result!!!

  6. Ashton says:

    Thank you SO much! Just finished a picture frame, now onto a bigger project!! Just wondering how you store leftover? I have SO much and don't want it to go to waste! Thanks :)

  7. JustMe says:

    Okay, so I'm back to admit I ran my flapper too soon. My apologies. After I applied two more coats using my husband's expensive paint brush (I had used a foam roller before), and I allowed the end table dry completely over night, the brush marks are not really that visible BUT what is visible just seems to make the paint job look that much better! Kind of hard to explain, but I love it now. Again, my apologies for speaking too soon, but I still suggest people test this out on something before going all gung-ho on it. And also, my first application was put on sparingly (which may also be why I thought it was going to be horrible), but I think that's a good thing as it helped the paint to adhere better to the piece since I did no prepping on it.

    • JustMe says:

      I haven't waxed it yet and have heard horror stories how some paint can chip and peel off if during waxing, but I'll be back to let you know how that goes. I think since my coats were so spare that all should be well. Also, it did lighten my paint some. The first end table that already had a few coats of the paint before I painted it with chalk paint is just a tad bit darker, probably only noticeable to me. I don't have any paint left to go over it again, but may just leave well enough alone. ;)

      Lesson learned…

    • Elaine says:

      All paint rollers and bruses can be washed in a washing machine they come out like new

    • Sheila says:

      Thank you, JustMe, for filling us in on how this worked for you. I have not dont a project yet, I have a chair waiting, was dreading it a bit, but you have made me feel better about it. Now, I can go on and do it. I am glad your project turned out well after all!! (Sorry,but I did laugh a little when I read your posts…you were really telling it!) Thanks again. I was ready for a failure, then read your second comment and said, "Whew!" :)

  8. JustMe says:

    I purchased two sample canisters of Graphite Black in flat with primer. My plan was to paint the bottoms of my end tables, seal them with polycrylic, and then go over them again with the paint so that it would have a flat appearance to hide a lot of the nicks and whatnot. I found this post and wanted to give it a try. I've heard so many people rave about this chalk paint and really thought it was going to come out great. So, I mixed my paint with the Plaster of Paris and viola – so far it looks like crap! Not only did it lighten the color of my last canister of paint (which I had to use all of for the mixture), but it does not have the same nice finish as the first end table. Very disappointed and now wishing I hadn't done this. Now I have to find the time to go out (I have a lot of children and getting out is not always easy) and get more paint. I'm chucking this watery mixture…talk about epic fail! My advice, play around with this stuff on something you don't care about before using it on anything important!

    • Gigi says:

      That is what I am going to do. I bought 2 really cheap wood pieces at Goodwill just for this purpose. Once I get it down I will do some other pieces I want to do

    • Bonnie says:

      I've read on several sites that when you buy your paint, do NOT use the type that already includes the primer…get the plain and simple latex. Supposedly, the bonding agents in the newer paint/primer combo paints react negatively with the additives found in the diy chalk paint recipes, such as plaster of paris, calcium carbonate, grouting.

  9. Connie says:

    Wow, can't wait to try your recipe. I'm going to take a class, but with the cost of the brand name chalk paints doing a large project seemed to be a budget buster. Now it is much more doable. Thanks

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I want to use the chalk paint for a table that I want to paint black. How well does that work ? Would the black look more grey ?

  11. Lisa says:

    your post was so helpful! Thank you! Just completed a bookcase!

  12. marti says:

    I bought a 8 ounce jar of "chalk paint" from a boutique and paid 12.50. after reading your site, I went to Home Depot and purchased a quart of latex matching her paint, since I already did a chair with hers, I bought the plaster of paris and mixed it, I have to say I am thrilled, so much cheaper and it glides on just like the 12.50 priced jar! Thank you!

    • marti says:

      It does thicken up while using it but I add warm water to it, when first mixed it was thin but as I was painting the container of paint thickened, but as I said, I added little more water

  13. Kim says:

    what if you are using chalk paint on a kitchen type chair, do you need to apply anything else so the paint doesn't come off?

  14. Margaret says:

    I have never used chalk paint but love the idea of being able to paint a piece of furniture w/o all the prep. A couple of questions: 1. I need to paint our kitchen table. Should I use a different paint on the tabletop or seal it in some way to help protect it? I will probably do a distressed finish so it doesn't matter so much if it wears away a bit, but I'm wondering how it will do on the top which is wiped clean so often. 2. B/c the paint has a chalk type consistency when it's finished, will it rub off on clothing, etc? I have some chairs and a bench I'd like to paint, but was concerned about the paint rubbing off on clothing. Thanks for your help!

    • Carol says:

      Just use the wax on top of the table…maybe a couple of coats. You can always seal it with a vanish (makes it shiny, if that's ok). Another option is to cover your table with a piece of glass, cut to the correct size. It will not rub off on clothes.

  15. carolmum says:

    how do you know how much you are making? Does this depend on the actual quantity of paint you add to the chalk solution? I have a number of pieces of furniture I want to give the chalk treatment and I want to ensure they all match! So if I were to use a 5litre tin of emulsion paint, say,would this be the quantity I end up with? If you see what I mean?! Also does the chalk solution affect the color of the original paint?

  16. Angela W. says:

    Just curious if you could use sheetrock joint compound instead of Plaster of Paris? All we are basically doing is thickening up the paint, aren't we?

    • uncle chris says:

      you can use non-sanded grout, not sure about the sheetrock compund. lots of other options and techniques, just google it! lots of videos on youtube as well…going to try my first chalk paint project today using plaster of paris.

    • Paula C says:

      I think you can use Limestone Powder also.

    • joni says:

      I have used the sheetrock compound and the plaster of pairs and both worked great

    • Cacadogg says:

      Baking Soda, even!

    • Angelman Mom says:

      I have used the non sanded grout and paint for a homemade Chalkboard paint and did my kids table. I don't know how it would dissolve in water before adding paint. I have it on hand so may try it since it will be -20 here in MN and will save me a trip to the store for Plaster!

  17. annie says:

    have used this same recipe in the past and loved it. maybe its easier for those who can afford the more expensive paint but it just doesn't make sense to me. same result and you can mix any color you like or better yet… those $1 oops paints at lowes. ;) and if selling (like me) more profit.

  18. Small Talk Mama says:

    This is just what I have been looking for! Thank you so much for sharing and for the great directions.

  19. Yvette says:

    My kitchen cabinets need serious attention, but we're not ready to remodel just yet. How will this application wear / clean?

    • Beverly Lambert says:

      I would not us this chalk paint on kitchen cabinets etc. you are better off with a latex semi-gloss due to wiping down and cleaning, as the wax does make a protective coating it will not stand up with constant cleaning….You could use a pickling paint, but it may be a cost factor, this would however give you an aged wood appearance. Test with a small area first, depending on the colored/wood tone it makes a difference. And please before any painting on cabinets use SPS(?) first to prep…

    • david says:

      i dont see why you couldnt long as you go over the top of chaulk paint with an polycrylic

    • Nadine says:

      I did my kitchen cabinets and my bathroom vanity with chalk paint and I sealed them with two coats of wax. Everyone who has come to my home has complimented them including contractors who have been doing work on my house. In fact I have been told by many that they look like brand new cabinets. All in all to re-do all cabinets with chalk paint and new hardware the total cost to me was approximately $200. A savings of thousands of what replacing with new cabinets would have cost. I HIGHLY recommend using it on cabinets. They easily wipe clean and hold up extremely well.

    • Nadine says:

      Might I also add that I prefer sealing with wax as opposed to polycrylic as the wax does NOT yellow over time from cooking vapours etc and polycrylic will definitely discolour and become yellow

  20. Lis says:

    Thanks so much, Emily – I have wanted to use chalk paint for awhile now but the cost!!! Now, thanks to you, I can play around with it as I like that soft look of it. And congrats on the upcoming baby

  21. Beverly Lambert says:

    Wondered when someone would figure out a substitute for expensive chalk paint. Been redecorating my home with a relaxed beach feel even though I live on a lake. This will give me the opportunity to refinish my mismatched wood pieces with a time worn look before the finishing wax. Thanks!

    • sheila says:

      my sister is making this paint. I cant wait to do it too. It is great and all her stuff looks good. she does not wax, but I think I will.

  22. Laura says:

    I've never heard of chalk paint.
    What is the point of using it as opposed to just the $1 acrylic you had? Fast dry?

  23. Jan says:

    All the recipes for making chalk paint I have seen have been in very small quantities. Can this be made in a large quantity to paint a larger item like a big dresser or hutch? And is it okay to use this on a wall without using the wax finish?

    • Heather says:

      I used the this recipe to paint a small dresser and it was MORE than enough! I barely used half of it. I'm so glad I didn't double it like I thought of before starting.

    • rstaton2013 says:

      I've been making my own chalk paint for a while also and I found that it does dry out quickly and get too thick to use (could be the hotter temperatures in Houston that causes it to dry fast also). I do best when I store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep the air out. A little does go a long way, so make small batches… you can always mix up more if you need it.

      I've got some examples of larger pieces I've done on my blog http://eclecticfrog.com/blog/

    • Trysh says:

      I doubled it, and it wasn't as good :(

  24. Shelle says:

    Can you use acrylic craft paint instead of latex?

  25. bee says:

    is this paint usable as a chalkboard or just for the look ? I suppose you would leave out the wax ?

    bee

    • merrypad says:

      Hi Bee – Sadly no, this paint cannot substitute for the popular chalkboard paint! Without the wax, it has a tendency to dust away when rubbed roughly (more like chalk itself).

    • Sue B says:

      This isn't for use as a "chalkboard." There's a big difference.

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