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 

168Posts

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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71 Responses

  1. Sue Baldridge says:

    The paint gets very thick, very quickly. Almost too thick to push around. Can it be diluted?

  2. Fab says:

    Emily, love your blog and your topics.
    As an RIT Alumni, it is great to see someone from Rochester.

  3. sara shaw says:

    can you use plaster for a dry wall or does it have to be plaster of paris ?? xx

  4. Penni says:

    Is there any prep at all that is needed on furniture before painting with chalk paint? Will the paint adhere to any surface? Do I need to sand lightly? Thanks for any help anyone can give me.

  5. Val says:

    Thanks very much for sharing your receipe for chalk paint with us. I can't wait to get started on my project and am even more happy at the thought that I wont have to fork out the 27 euros the Annie Sloane paint costs in Ireland.

  6. Lesley Morgan says:

    Hi Emily, thanks so much for this recipe for chalk paint. I'm in South Africa and this is a recent product on the market here and expensive. So I really appreciate your blog. I'll try it soon on a kist (blanket box) that needs refurbishing, and if I like the effect I'm thinking of trying it on my dining table. Your rocking horse looks lovely so I'm motivated by the pics. Lesley

  7. Alisha says:

    I want to paint my bedroom furniture black using the above technique using chalk paint. My furniture is currently dark wood. Will this affect my final result. Will it end up coming out more gray than black?

  8. Jack says:

    how do you make the dark wax? I paid $30. for a small container.

  9. Eric says:

    Just made a batch following the instructions given. Not very chalky, maybe because I used it with some semi gloss I had sitting around. any feedback would be appreciated.

  10. Emily says:

    I love the idea of making your own paint. I'm a chemist so everything has a recipe. It's not hard. There is no TRUE reason that designer paint has to cost so much. However, plaster of paris is dangerous. You really should use a mask and be outside when using it. Also, being pregnant while using it is a HUGE no-no. Please be careful.

  11. Karen says:

    I want to paint a cabinet black. It is currently stained and varnished. Is there anything special that needs to be done to achieve a deep black color?

  12. Dana says:

    I need help with the waxing. I have the miniwax clear wax but can't find the dark wax. Can I add something to a bit of the clear wax to give it color?

  13. col says:

    Good day, i am struggling. I made the mixture, half cup plaster, half cup water and then one and a half cup of paint. After mixing it, it hardens and after painting for 10min it is almost cement. It was very warm today. Can anyone help

    • nancyb says:

      I have read that Annie Sloan is not to be used during hot weather. Try either waiting until the weather cools or take your project inside, if possible.

  14. CooleyBros says:

    As an owner of a painting company http://cooleybrotherspainting.com I am always on the hunt for new and fresh ideas, not only for the company but also for myself as well. Thanks for sharing! Congrats on the baby too, nursery decor is high on daddy's list as well :)

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