So this week I had a play with chalk paint; I had an old nasty mirror hanging around and wanted to spruce up the frame to make it acceptable to hang in the house. The project got off to a rough start when I managed to hulk out and smash the mirror when removing it from the frame… so I guess it’s a photo frame now, that’s fine, I can live with that.
Chalk paint was something I really wanted to try for a few reasons: you get a lovely vintage look with chalk paint, chalk paint would match our furniture in the second bedroom but most importantly, chalk paint is notorious for no fuss furniture upcycling: no sanding, no priming, just paint it and off you go…. I may have underestimated how simple this would be. I think I should have perhaps done a bit more homework before I started. So here it is:
What I learned about chalk paint:
1. Homemade chalk paint gets lumpy very easily
I am fully aware at this point that all of my problems with chalk paint may have stemmed from my desire to do everything myself and not just buy some chalk paint. I bought myself some plaster of paris and I hunted around for some spare paint around the house (white emulsion, why not?). I used this recipe for chalk paint (recipe at the end of the post), halving it so I didn’t have too much.
I mixed a little water into my plaster of paris…. urg this stuff is nasty: instant clump central! I stirred and stirred smoothing out all the lumps before adding my paint. I then continued to stir and stir until I was sure my paint was smooth and then stirred a bit longer for good luck! I gathered up my brush and was all ready to go!
I actually don’t think I can truly describe how disappointed I was when I loaded up my brush and made that first fateful brush stroke…. Lump central! Not even the odd little lump that you can pick out and paint over the gap. No this is just paint with sand in. Hoping that it was just the top of the paint and that it might perhaps smooth out a bit I decided just to stuff it and keep going and if it was completely lumpy hope that sanding could hide a multitude of sins.
2. It may be wise to prepare the surface first
I was very taken in by all the promises of chalk paint being the perfect solution, simple and easy and needing no prep. It may have been my crappy homemade paint or the nasty veneer surface but the paint did not paint on as easily as I expected. I was very much hoping for an instantly coated surface (anything for an easy life) but it was immediately clear that the mirror was going to need a few coats just to cover the nasty surface.
To get good coverage I would prepare the surface next time, even if it was just to sand the surface a little to give the paint something to stick to. Really I needed to scour the web for tutorials and learn how to properly prepare before I started… but I just jumped in like I always do!
3. Pay attention to which direction you are painting
Perhaps I needed a different type of brush but I found the brush strokes showed up a lot when I was painting. I tried to make long strokes up the sides of the mirror to minimise being able to see the strokes crossing but really my big hope was sanding can fix everything…
4. It can be messy messy messy!
I don’t know what I was expecting from chalk paint… but with a name like chalk paint I should have expected it to act like… well… chalk.
Run your fingers along your dried paint and you will get very chalky hands. Sanding the paint will make a lot of chalky dust. Just be sure you don’t mind a bit of mess where you’re painting ie. don’t do it in the dining room like I did.
5. Sanding can hide a multitude of sins
After painting the frame I was really resting all my hopes on the sanding. My finish was currently both patchy and lumpy at the same time and looking pretty darn shoddy. But as I ran some fine sandpaper over it it all started to look a lot better: the lumpiness melted away and the patchiness started to look a bit more intentional! I could even sand more on the corners where the brush strokes met and the all the messiness disappeared! So in the end, after everything going wrong and being pretty sure it was going to end up looking really crap…. It really didn’t look that bad in the end! I mean… I’m not putting it up in the house… It aint that good. But it’s not bad.
So this whole chalk paint thing had rather a larger learning curve than I expected and didn’t entirely go as well as I hoped, however I have learned new things and will most definitely be doing my research before my next project.
What are your experiences with homemade chalk paint? Anyone have a recipe that won’t let you down? Comment below, I love to hear about it and love to see your projects!
My Pinterest boards are jam packed full of inspirational crafts and makeovers so check them out!