Chalk paints have become increasingly popular because of their versatility—they look good on almost any piece of furniture and require no sanding or priming before applying the paint. This makes using it for most projects a plus. In this article, we’ll focus on how to make chalk paint and how it’s different from normal paint.
The Difference Between Normal Paint and Chalk Paint
Annie Sloan created the first chalk paint in 1990. Since then, several artisan companies and paint manufacturers have developed their own brands of chalk paints. Annie Sloan’s original creation inspires most of these paints.
For decades, latex and acrylic paints have been the most popular paints. However, for the last few years, chalk paint has been the forefront topic of the painting world. If you’re uncertain of the best paint to use between traditional and chalk paints, here’s their detailed comparison, including pros and cons.
Besides giving a unique matte finish, chalk paint differs from normal paint in many other ways:
Chalk Paint Requires Less Effort to Apply and Maintain
Using normal paints, you must first prime the surfaces and apply a base coat to help the paint adhere. Chalk paint is a self-primer. It is gritty and porous; hence, it can adhere to almost any surface.
Therefore, using chalk paints not only eliminates the expense of purchasing primers but also saves time by skipping the priming step. This makes chalk paint projects faster, which appeals to many DIYers.
Chalk paint has almost the same durability as traditional latex paint. They’re both water-based and react similarly to nicks, water stains, and spills.
What makes chalk paint easier to maintain than regular paint is its characteristic wax finishing. This durable finish involves applying a coat of wax on top of the chalk paint.
Wax protects your furniture pieces from dirt way better than the clear coats used to protect latex paints. The wax is an extra expense, but it adds to chalk paint’s durability and gives you more value for your dollar by reducing the number of times you need to repaint your furniture pieces.
Normal Paint Has More Color Options
The official chalk paint has limited color options. Even most commercially produced chalk paints come in only matte and light shades. This can be limiting to chalk paint lovers who prefer lots of color choices or are looking for a very specific color. The exception to this is Jolie paint, which allows you to create your own custom color.
Normal latex and acrylic paints come in a wide range of color options. The good news is that you can use either of them as a base paint in your DIY chalk paint projects. This makes it possible to make your own chalk paints in any color that you prefer.
Chalk Paint Has a Shorter Drying Time
Normal latex and acrylic paints take an average of one hour to dry to the touch. You can apply the next coat of paint three to four hours later. Chalk paints dry to the touch within 15-20 minutes. If you’re painting sizable pieces of furniture, one part will probably dry before you’re done with the entire paint job. This makes painting projects faster to finish.
Normal Paint Is More Costly
Is chalk paint cheaper than normal paint? The quick answer is Yes; chalk paint is less expensive than regular paint. However, to say that normal regular paint is entirely more costly than chalk point would be misleading.
When Annie Sloan first created chalk paint, it was hard to find and barely sold in any hardware store. Fast forward to today, chalk paint is very common and is sold even by Walmart.
The increased availability has significantly reduced the cost of chalk paint. That notwithstanding, it’s still more costly than normal paint by the quart.
Chalk paints are more opaque than regular paints. This means that you use less chalk paint than the amount of latex paint needed to cover the same piece of furniture.
If you look at the cost of all the coats of latex paint from this perspective, chalk paints are cheaper in the long run. However, based on the shelf price alone, normal paints appear, at first glance, to be the cheaper option.
Chalk Paints Give Paint Projects a Rustic Look
The primary purpose of acrylic craft paint and other normal paints is to add color; chalk paints add color and more. Because of the chalky finish, they naturally give surfaces a rustic, vintage, shabby, or distressed look.
You can only achieve this look with chalky paint. Regular paints are ideal when you’re designing or painting a furniture piece to achieve a smooth surface. However, if your home decor idea involves giving your dresser or chair a vintage look with a matte finish, go for chalk paint.
Why Make Your Own Chalk Paint?
Should you make your own chalk paint?
If you had asked me this question years ago, I probably would have shouted, “Stick to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!” without thinking twice. I am sure I am not alone in this.
Most chalk-style paint lovers were sold on how “perfectly” Annie Sloan’s chalk paint worked on almost anything and everything. Plus, it was the only available version of chalk paint back then.
Over twenty years after Sloan created the first chalk paint, things have significantly changed. There are many paint companies that sell their own brands of chalk paint products, giving consumers numerous options for their chalk paint projects.
All these emerging brands of chalk paints promise to transform the ugliest pieces of furniture into exquisite artworks without prior sanding or priming.
You would think that with a wide selection of chalk paint manufacturers, things would get better for chalk paint lovers. The reality, however, is that chalk paint fans, in particular those new to the trend, seem more confused than ever before.
You now have to browse through and research long lists of chalk paint brands before identifying one that meets your preference. Even with more manufacturers producing chalk paints, there is still a limited choice of color options in mostly the same matte or light shades that have been around since the creation of chalk paints.
All these factors have inspired chalk paint lovers to try homemade chalk paint, which comes with several advantages:
- They offer more color options: Unlike Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, which only has matte and light shades, you can customize DIY chalk paints to almost any color. That’s because they’re made from latex or acrylic base paints, which have a wide range of color options. This allows you to paint your furniture the exact color that you want.
- You can control the thickness of DIY chalk paints: Commercially produced chalk paints are as thick as they were manufactured; you cannot make them any thicker. For DIY chalk paints, you can alter the thickness depending on your painting needs. To make the paint thicker, add a tablespoon of calcium carbonate or Plaster of Paris.
- You can customize the adhesiveness of DIY chalk paints: As with thickness, only manufacturers can change the adhesiveness of commercial chalk paints. With DIY chalk paints, you’re the manufacturer. To make the paint less adhesive, add tablespoons of water. To make the paint thicker and more adhesive, leave the lid open for a few minutes, then stir it.
DIY chalk paint gives you more room for customization. You are not restricted to the limited color options of commercially manufactured chalk paints.
How to Make the Best Chalk Paint—DIY Chalk Paint Recipe Using Calcium Carbonate
DIY chalk paint is typically made by mixing normal latex paint with a binding powder to make the paint harden on the surface as it dries. The binding powder gives chalk paint its characteristic matte finish and lasting durability.
Making homemade chalk paint requires three simple ingredients:
- Cups of paint: These are normal latex or acrylic paints that act as the base paint. They determine the color of the final product.
- Water: You also need water to determine the thickness and adhesiveness of the final product. The more tablespoons of water you add, the thinner the chalk paint becomes.
- Mixing powders: They harden the paint as it dries. Popular mixing powders include calcium carbonate, plaster of Paris, non-sanded grout, baking powder, and chalk powder. All of them are white and give the paint a rustic finish. If you desire a smooth, velvety look, however, the best option is calcium carbonate.
How to Make Chalk Paint Using Calcium Carbonate as the Mixing Powder
Calcium carbonate is the go-to mix powder for most chalk paint lovers because it’s non-toxic and odorless. This makes it perfect for making paints for health food stores and environments in which the safety and health of children are a concern. Calcium carbonate also mixes smoothly with normal paints and has the consistency of pancake batter. With proper paint storage measures, you will be certain that any leftover paint will keep for a very long time. Unlike most powders, calcium carbonate produces a smooth velvet mix that can be applied using a paint sprayer.
This chalk paint recipe is for making a quart of paint (you can increase the amounts of ingredients used based on the amount of chalk paint you want to make):
- Add four tablespoons of warm water to eight tablespoons of calcium carbonate. We recommend using plastic containers like yogurt containers that cannot react with the calcium carbonate.
- Stir properly to ensure that the mixture is consistent and all the powder has dissolved.
- Pour the mix into a quart of paint and stir for 2-3 minutes until it has mixed well.
- If you want the chalk paint to be thicker, leave the lid open and then continue stirring. To make it thinner, add a tablespoon of water and stir.
Alternative Recipes for Making Chalk Paint
The calcium carbonate powder recipe is the most popular chalk paint recipe. But here are some alternative recipes that work almost as well.
Making Chalk Paint Using Plaster of Paris as the Mixing Powder
As we said, calcium carbonate produces a smooth velvet mix that’s suitable for paint sprayers. If you’re more of a paintbrushes person, you might want to try out the Plaster of Paris chalk paint recipe. Most painters add a few tablespoons of calcium carbonate powder for a more durable finish:
- Mix two tablespoons of calcium carbonate powder and two tablespoons of plaster of Paris, and add a cup of cold water (or room temperature water).
- Stir the mixture until it has the consistency of pancake batter.
- Add a cup of latex paint (or more, depending on the amount of chalk paint you need) and stir thoroughly.
The resulting paint has a unique hard finish that you can only get from mixing plaster of Paris with calcium carbonate. However, if you intend to sand the paint off to age your furniture piece, use calcium carbonate powder only.
Why the Non-Sanded Grout Recipe Is no Longer Used
Initially, most DIY chalk paint makers used non-sanded grout and plaster of Paris as the main mixing powders. Today, however, you’ll have a hard time finding a homemade chalk paint recipe that uses non-sanded grout. That’s because the two powders are gritty and produce thick paint when used with primed latex paints. The paint from those recipes dries out so fast that it can’t be stored and used later.
Spraying, Brushing, or Rolling Homemade Chalk Paints
Chalk paints can be sprayed, brushed, or rolled, depending on the mixing powder used to make them. This makes them one of the best paint options for DIY furniture projects.
If you intend to use a paint sprayer to apply your homemade chalk paint, make it so that it’s smooth and thin. The best option is to use calcium carbonate powder and add extra tablespoons of water. Also, keep the chalk paint sealed when it’s not in use to prevent thickening.
For chalk paints that are to be rolled or applied using brushes, mix them to be a thicker consistency by adding less water and more mixing powder.
Not Just for Furniture
Chalk paint can be used for so much more than just furniture. Expand your horizons and use your homemade chalk paint to decorate everything from jars to flower pots to baskets. In fact, we have a list of 21 project ideas that aren’t furniture.
Wrapping up How to Make Chalk Paint
Now that you know how to make chalk paint yourself and see how easy and fun it is, happy painting! However, if one day you just don’t want to take the time to make your own chalk paint, check out our suggestions for the best chalk paints for furniture.