How to Chalk Paint and Distress Furniture
We recently redid our kitchen. And by recently, I mean we started last March and finished in October.
So it goes when you have a baby and a 3 year old…
BUT!!! It’s essentially done now. (Yay!) I say “essentially” because I am constantly switching decor around. The bigger DIY projects are finished, though.
We have a small area of the kitchen that has always served as an eat-in area for us. This area was where we made the biggest changes. We used to have a pub table with 3 chairs there, but after our youngest was born, I knew we were going to need another space in the kitchen. Naturally, instead of just moving the table out and adding a fourth chair, I decided to redo the entire kitchen.
I decided I wanted a built in bench along one wall with a large back on it, a table, and two chairs on the opposite side. I also knew that I wanted everything to be a distressed white.
Fortunately, I have a super handy dad who is always willing to help out with projects like this. So, last spring, he built the bench according to various designs that I had showed him.
I then found a kitchen table at a local flea market for $70.
A few months later, I pulled some chairs off of my neighbors curb that were headed to the dump. (Seriously. It was a set of 4 chairs that were in excellent condition. They just needed to be refinished, or in my case, repainted.)
And finally, in August, my dad came down and built a headboard for me to use as the back to my bench.
So, I finally had all of the furniture pieces I needed. Now, I just needed to make them all match.
Enter the chalk paint.
Truthfully, I hadn’t worked with chalk paint much prior to this. I had heard countless people rave about it, though, and I knew it was a good choice for distressing. So, I just decided to take the plunge and learn along the way. And I did learn a few important lessons for the future.
(This post contains affiliate links. To see my full disclosure, go here.)
Here’s what you’ll need to chalk paint furniture:
- Chalk paint
- Paint Brush
- Polycrylic Finish
- Foam Brush or small paint brush
Step 1 – Make sure all furniture is uniform
Since I pieced together this entire set, nothing matched to being with. I wanted it all to look uniform, though, once I distressed it. So, I decided to paint everything black first. Again, so that what showed through the distressing would all look the same. (If your furniture matches to begin with, no need for this step!)
I happened to have some oil based black paint on hand, and being the cheapskate that I am, I decided to use it. One of the big claims of chalk paint is that you can paint over anything without any need to prep the surface. Therefore, I didn’t think it really mattered what type of paint I used under the chalk paint.
Wrong. Chalk paint does not like to stick to oil paint – at least not fresh oil paint. So…..if you are wanting to use chalk paint over any type of oil based paint, I would recommend giving your piece a light sanding before adding the chalk paint.
Step 2 – Chalk paint!
I read a few tutorials on chalk painting before starting, and the consensus seemed to be that Annie Sloan chalk paint was the absolute best.
Honestly, it was a bit pricy for my taste, but since all of the furniture I was painting had cost me next to nothing, I bit the bullet and bought some.
Chalk paint is definitely different than working with latex or oil paint. It is really quite thick. I read somewhere that you can thin it out with a bit of water, in order to get it to go on a bit easier. I tried this in the beginning, but eventually, I just started brushing it on right out of the can. The thicker it is the better coverage you get, which means fewer coats of paint. Of course, I used my favorite Purdy Paint Brush.
Here’s what it looked like after one coat.
And here’s what it looked like after a second and third coat.
It was difficult to get good pictures since I went with white. Sorry!
Depending on what you’re painting, you may not need to do three coats. Since I was doing white over black, it took quite a bit to get everything covered.
Step 3 – Distress
Here’s where the fun part comes in. I love how easy distressing painted furniture is, and you can do as much or as little as you want.
You simply take some sandpaper and start sanding. Corners and edges distress very easily, while flat surfaces take a bit more elbow grease. The finer the sandpaper, the more muscle it will take to sand down through the layers of paint. So, I would recommend a medium grit.
*Be aware, though, that a very course sandpaper may actually scratch the wood if you are too heavy handed.
Step 4 – Seal your furniture
The final step is coating everything with a sealant. I know that most people use wax to finish off and seal chalk paint. But since this was kitchen furniture that I knew was going to get a lot of use (and abuse from the little gremlins who run my house), I wanted something that would be more durable.
So, I used Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. You just simply paint it on over the top of everything, and let it dry. You can use either a foam brush or a small paint brush for this. I did two coats on all of it.
And you’re done!
The most recent pictures I have are from Christmas, which was really the first time I had decorated the entire space since finishing it.
To see more pictures of my kitchen decorated for Christmas, click here.
I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out, and while it was definitely time consuming, the process itself was pretty easy.
What about you? Have you ever used chalk paint?
Amy the whole kitchen area came together beautifully. Was this your first time using chalk paint? You did a wonderful job. The first time I tried it I had no idea what I was dong. Love how it all looks like it was meant to be enjoy your kitchen area!!
Thanks so much, Mary! It was my first time using chalk paint. I’ve done quite a bit of painting over the years, so I wasn’t all that intimidated by it. 🙂 I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, although I know next time will be even better!
Awwwwwwww Amy I love the new bench in your kitchen. That’s one that’s going to grow with the family. Don’t judge me but I can see your grandkids sitting their in a few years time 😀 Sorry. And so happy you found chalk paint too. It becomes a little addictive but it does have such a lovely finish especially when it’s distressed.
Thanks, Michelle! The chalk paint is definitely fun. I’m sure it will get plenty of use in the future. And I hope I have more than just a few years until grandkids. 😮