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 

193Posts

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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106 Responses

  1. Susan I says:

    My painted project came out with sandy like stuff . Had the pop smooth paint went on well but dry sandy

  2. Love2paint says:

    What precautions did you take being pregnant and all? Mask or just painted outside? I'm so nervous to use the paint and plaster of paris now that I'm pregnant.

  3. Becky says:

    I just tried this on a cabinet today, my problem was the paint gets thick very fast and had lots of lumps. How do I mix the paint mixture to keep it smooth without the lumps?

    • Kellie says:

      Mine did that too, it looked like grout. I read a comment that you can add more water to thin it out, so I might try that for the second coat. (I was painting an old vanity with my 4 year old, so I knew it wasn't going to be perfect anyways– I let the first coat dry and sanded out the lumps.. and am planning to add another coat today with more water added to the mix.)

  4. Mary says:

    Need a basic recipe…..plaster/grout & water to paint. (like 1 cup grout+11/2 c. of water to 3 cups of paint????? Help!!

  5. Maryann says:

    My chalk paint is grainy when applied. Is it supposed to be like this or do I need to mix it more? I know I need to sand it for a distressed look, but if I don't want the distressed look, it looks and feels rough.

  6. Becky says:

    Thinking of trying this and was wondering if high gloss paint will work with the plaster of Paris and if so, will the end result look high gloss? I prefer a non glossy finish, but trying to use paint I already have in the color I want.

    • earvetta says:

      I wouldn't use a high gloss would be wise to use a latex or flat. Are you planning on doing any distressing. I've found out that gloss chalk paint don't distress or adhere as well.

  7. estranged575 says:

    Would this chalk paint level out the grain of oak on kitchen cabinets? Also, would scrubbing the kitchen cabinets with TSP first be the only prep needed?

  8. momma15 says:

    I used this recipe and created a beautiful red chalk paint that was very successful. I went and purchased the same exact kind of paint, but with no color. Just the white base. I mixed the paint as I did before and the plaster of Paris started hardening. I poured that out and tried it again and it hardened as well. I went back to the hardware store and purchased another can, but this time had the clerk to shoot just white colorant in the base. I mixed it with the plaster of Paris and it hardened again. So I grabbed up some blue latex paint I had left over from another project and mixed it with the plaster of Paris and it made beautiful chalk paint just like the red. Why is it not working with white paint? Any ideas? Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. Carolyn Finley says:

    Thanks a million for sharing… I spent $20 for 8 oz chalk paint and wax and it does go along ways; however not far enough to do a chest…or any other large piece!!!!
    If you are doing something small, the chalk paint and wax finish I got was from Michael's and it is a great product and goes on very easily. Actually love it!!!!!!!!

  10. gilda says:

    I have started using chalk paint and I want to tell you that I am chalk painting anything and every thing. Someone STOP me. I am making my own, Thanks

  11. Sue Baldridge says:

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

  12. Fab says:

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

  13. sara shaw says:

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

    • earvetta says:

      Plaster will dry out faster and require lots of water and mixing in order to get a smooth finish as to plaster paris.

  14. 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.

    • earvetta says:

      The only surface I've had to prep is lamaited. It will stick, but when I placed a lamp on the dresser and moved it some of the paint came off, so now I prime with Bull's eye 123

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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?

    • earvetta says:

      No it won't just make sure when you have your paint mixed that they use a neutral base for a true black.

  18. Jack says:

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    • earvetta says:

      True Emily, a mask is a great tool when mixing plaster of paris. Also be very careful if you use unsanded grout. On my first try with this when I washed my brushes and tools I ended up with real fine cuts all over my hands!

  21. 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?

    • earvetta says:

      Karen, even with chalk paint there is little or no prep such as sanding. Since these are your kitchen cabinet. I would use Bull's eye to prime first of course the bull's 1,2,3 is white. You can add enough of your latex paint to darken, then paint with your black paint. I would also use a sealer in order to protect them also for easy cleaning.

  22. 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?

    • earvetta says:

      Dana, Lowes do carry the dark wax, but if you're not able to find it, you can make your own. Mix a dark stain of your choice with your wax and stir good.

  23. 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.

    • earvetta says:

      It will harden in a matter of minutes, I add a little water and stir and if I don't finish that day I put my container in a plastic bag and tie it up. Of course I mix my paint by the gallon and have had it to last for weeks. I paint several pieces of furniture at a time either with a sprayer or brush it on.

  24. 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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