There is nothing more beautiful to me than a gorgeous piece of old furniture or wood. Am I the only one who feels like furniture isn’t made like it once was? As much as I love bringing old furniture to life with stain, sometimes it just needs a good coat of paint to restore its former glory. There are many different types of paint to use with furniture but my personal favorite is make your own chalk paint.
If you’re unfamiliar with chalk paint, it’s a beautiful creamy paint with a chalky crackle that is easy to distress and finishes off a piece of furniture beautifully! The only problem with this beautiful paint is the price tag… Just a mere 8 ounces of it will set you back $10! Fear not thrifty moms, I have figured out a great recipe to make your own chalk paint for less than half the cost and I’m going to share my secret!
The best part of chalk painting is finding a gorgeous piece of furniture you want to give a new look. Head to a yard sale, flea market, or thrift store…there are so many diamonds in the rough to find! I found this beauty at a yard sale one Saturday morning and with my bartering skills, snagged it for $8. Yes, you heard me right, $8! Look at the beautiful detailing! It was quite scuffed up so I knew it was the perfect candidate for a nice coat of paint.
Once you find your chalk paint piece, here is a list of what else you will need to make your own chalk paint–and use it!:
- Plaster of Paris
- any color latex paint
- Disposable bowl (Thrifty tip: I save old coffee canisters for painting projects!)
- Stirring stick
- Sandpaper (When chalk painting, I prefer to use a fine or extra fine grit)
- Optional: Painters tape
- Optional: Clear Wax or Polycrylic
- Optional: If finishing with wax or polyacrylic, a rag
After getting my side table home and having the above items ready to go, the first step I did was take off all of the knobs and handles and gave it a good wipe down so it was clean and ready for painting. The great thing about chalk paint is that it sticks so well you do not need to sand the furniture before using it! This is a huge plus if you are doing a large piece of furniture. Regardless of sanding or not, you do want to always take a damp rag and wipe it clean before painting.
When painting furniture, I put painters tape anywhere I do not want to get paint. I like to put it inside of the drawers so that paint doesn’t drip or look messy inside but if you are lazy and paint drips are the least of your worries, skip the painters tape, I won’t judge!
Once my furniture was ready to go, I prepped my paint. Are you ready for how easy and inexpensive make your own chalk paint is?
In your bowl, add:
3 tablespoons Plaster of Paris ($6 for a large box and will last you a long time!)
Add water to mix into the Plaster until it forms a smooth, creamy finish (it will be about 2-3 tablespoons)
Next add in 1 cup of any color latex paint
Lastly, mix until smooth and even
That’s it! This measurement should be able to cover a small 3 drawer dresser or more depending how thick you paint it on.
Once your make your own paint is mixed, it’s time to paint!
Take your newly mixed paint and paint a nice layer of chalk paint all over the furniture. It will look streaky and not smooth since it is just the first coat. Let that coat dry (one to two hours depending on the size of the piece) and then repeat with a second coat. If the furniture then looks nice and smooth you are done with paint! If not, try a third coat.
Give your furniture ample time to dry before moving to the next step. Once dry, take your sandpaper and lightly sand in circular motions over the entire piece to help smooth the finish. This will be dusty so be sure to do it outside! Next take your sandpaper and with a bit more oomph you want to sand the creases, sides, or really anywhere you feel will give the piece the distressed character you want. Some prefer to skip this step, while others love a heavily distressed piece. I chose a middle of the road approach for this because I loved having the dark wood underneath come through the paint!
After you are done your sanding, wipe everything down with a damp rag to get all of that dust off so it can finish nicely.
For this piece I chose to leave it completed after this step because I wanted a nice muted chalky look. The majority of the time I do finish my pieces off with a sealer coat in the end. There are two main ways you can finish off your chalk paint pieces, wax or polycrylic. Wax is great because it finishes your pieces with a nice soft look and polycrylic (poly) is a nice clean, durable finish. I personally always prefer poly to wax (Here are some SUPER poly instructions that make it easy). Poly gives that nice finished look and in a house with kids, the fact that it is durable, water resistant, and easy to clean, is just icing on the cake! Wax tends to need a reapplication every year to keep that nice smooth look and I personally just do not have time (or the memory!) for that. Whichever finish you choose, application is the same for both! Simply take a rag and evenly and lightly spread over the furniture in circular motions and that’s it!
Can you believe this little side table went from scratched and imperfect to this beauty for less than $20? Make your own chalk paint is so easy to DIY and the results are beautiful!
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Janine Huldie says
Love how your piece of furniture came out and have an older piece of furniture here that I may try this now with, as well. thanks for sharing this easy and simple recipe and technique 🙂
Great! Let me know how yours turns out!
Gingi Freeman says
DUDE, that is BRILLIANT!!! I am saving this post for future use… we are eyeing an antique dresser we have and I was thinking chalk paint… – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com
Perfect! An antique dresser would look gorgeous with chalk paint!
i have a small side table my mom always used, debating whether to do the chalk paint or refinish it. I believe/ think it’s an antique.
Marina @ Life Coach Wannabe says
Wow, I am saving this to Pinterest. It seems simple 🙂
It really is so easy and inexpensive!
Jennifer Guerra says
Always loved this look. Thank You for the great recipe and easy directions. I can’t wait to try it on one of my pieces.
I love the look as well! My favorite is distressing it so that any extra scuffs or scratches from the kids just blend right in 😉 Have fun painting!
I have been wanting to chalk paint several items of furniture in my home, but never did because of the price! Thank you so much for this!
Now that the cost isn’t a factor, there’s no reason not to!
Does this work with any latex paint? I’ve read in other posts to only use a flat or matte finish paint. I have several half-full cans of paint at home that I’d like to use as a chalk paint, but they are satin finish.
I have made chalk paint with every type of paint up to a semi gloss finish! Turns out great every time. If you need adjustment to make it more “chalky” just increase the plaster content!
I have never used a poly before, but with kids it sounds like poly is what I should use. It is for my dining room chairs. What is the best way and type of rag to use for the application? Do I dip the rag in the poly or use a brush to get it on the furniture and then use the rag to smooth it out? Thanks for the post! Can’t wait to redo my table!
I love poly! I use old tshirts as rags, wear rubber gloves as it is a pain to get off your hands. I either dip the rag inside the can or use a foam brush to put a glob on the furniture (you can buy foam brushes at most dollar stores!). Then after dipping/placing on the furniture just spread evenly back and forth and it will dry clear!
Best of luck!
My mixture turned hard. I kept adding water until I could get it smooth and thinner. Is that normal?
Hm, was it old paint? The fresher the paint, the better it works. Also, it should be used right away vs saving it for a later project. It shouldn’t turn hard but you are correct in adding more water to thin it out if that happens again!
Love the color! What shade of bear did you use?
I Actually got this paint in the “oops” pile so it is not a real shade. Sometimes you can find some fantastic colors in there!
Gail Richardson says
Wow! I. Thank you so very much for sharing this great information. I am saving your tips for future DYI Projects! I have two furniture items in mind that I will try to refurbish.
Great! Refurbishing with chalk paint is such a pretty way to do it!
For the polycrylic, do you recommend gloss, satin, semi-gloss, or matte?
Complete personal preference! I personally have 2 small children with sticky hands so I like to use either semi gloss or satin so that it is easy to clean but not so shiny that it takes away from the matte chalk look. If you don’t have sticky hands to worry about, matte is perfect as it will keep that chalky look to the piece!
I just purchased all my supplies, but one ? Can I do wax and poly over the chalk paint or one or the other? Starting my project tomorrow!
Completely up to you! Normally, I choose either and just do poly or just do wax. If you choose to do both though, make sure to do the poly FIRST and wax LAST. Wax can repel some polys so it could ruin a project if you try to place it under a poly. Poly first, let dry, then wax and you won’t have any issues! Doing the wax over the poly is a great technique to keep the soft feel of the paint but also add in durability. You could even purchase a colored wax if you wanted an additional dimension! Whichever you choose, it will look beautiful. Have fun!
I did wax over a chest. If was a pain,frankly! Not easy to dust/keep clean. Now I would like to redo top with poly-can that be done? Thank you!
Oh no! Yes, although I love the look of wax I’m not a fan of the upkeep! Unfortunately, you can not poly over wax, wax repels poly so it will Likely mess up the look of the chest :-/
Beautiful and great idea!
MJ Kramer says
I need help fixing a paint problem. I used this recipe to make chalk paint and it did not work. i was 3 tbs Plaster of Paris to 3 TBs water; mixed that up and added to the paint and it was a brick. Don’t know if the mixing issue can be solved or if the better solution is how to make the flat paint (that the painters did paint onto the bathroom vanity in error) look better and shinier.
Do you have any suggestions?
If you want their flat paint to look better and more shiny skip chalk paint and instead just use a poly. You can purchase it in different sheens with glossy being the most shiny!
Love this recipe, I will definitely give it a try. I was wondering what brand of poly you recommend?
Most do the same thing but I usually use Minwax or Varathane!
I’m wondering whether or not I can use this formula on glass. I am thinking about painting some mason jars and distressing them. Do you have any suggestions for this? TIA! 🙂
Yes you can! Clean the glass first with rubbing alcohol, let dry, then paint! Go light on the sandpaper when distressing. After it dries you can spray with an acrylic spray if you plan on using the mason jars vs just having them as decor.
Denise Shocklee says
Any wisdom on how to paint the grooves in old French provincial dresser?
Craft paint brushes! You can even find them at the dollar store. I love to use the small ones for grooves and holes on my furniture. That will look beautiful!
Is Poly, polyurethane sealer?
I prefer polyacrylic sealer as it is completely clear, sometimes polyurethane sealer has a yellow tint. Depending on what color you are finishing though either works!
I ralize this post is two years okd, just FYI…I used to have the chest of drawers just like this piece, Im pretty sure your handles are brass and should shine up beautifully. Thanks dor the tips.
Yes they are! Maybe I will try to give them a shine then thank you!
Can you use distilled water in place of tap. I have city water with chlorine etc., not sure if there would be any long term discoloring or what not.
Love this ☺ just mixed up some acylic colours to add to a diy chalk paint once ive made it . The last lot I made using bicarb turned out great was really pleased with the end result. Thought I would give the p.o.p a go as have a big bag of that ( we only get the bicarb in a very small tube).
Got a Matt paint bought the other day I’ve also got a sieve just in case it gets lumpy lol… will be interesting how it turns out.
The plan is to stencil on some drawers of a varnished pine dressing table ( they have been chalk painted in mustard cp shop bought)
And sealed with polyvine which is amazing stuff, small amount goes a long way. With the polyvine ( in uk ) thin coats best as will yellow I have wax but like you the polyvine is durable and feels like a soft wax finish ..
Thanks for sharing
That will look incredible! I love the idea of stenciling. Polyvine sounds like a perfect finish for your project! Good luck!
Babe smedley says
Hi, my name is babe and I was wondering if you can chalk paint on metal?
So sorry for the late reply- You can! Just be sure to clean the metal very well first and sand it down if you can.
Hi, I have loved your recipe!! Did all my,kitchen cupboards over a year ago, they look amazing!! 1 question, I’m now doing a cedar chest, however, its noy a dark color now, I’m doing it a lighting,color grey, would like dark to sand through…should,I paint a dark color before this ? Thanks,again,gor your,post and hopefully you will reply,to my,comment. Thank you so mucb
Wonderful! I would do a dark stain first instead of a paint, then after stain, chalk paint and you can sand through to the stain!
What kind of paint do you use to make Chalk paint . That doesn’t have a odor? I will have to do it in my apartment. Thank you.
I used a latex paint so there was definitely an odor. If you must do it inside, be sure to paint near a window for ventilation and once it dries the smell should subside. Happy painting!
Hello, I just found this recipe on Pinterest. I am wondering if you ever tested your homemade chalk paint in a paint sprayer? I”m planning to paint my honey oak kitchen cabinets. I found a mistint gallon of flat paint in a gorgeous charcoal color that I would like to use. What are your thoughts? Thanks!
Hi Olivia! I have never tested this in a paint sprayer before, as long as you don’t make it too thick and it is a good quality sprayer, it should be ok. My suggestion is to have paint thinner handy as you will likely need to mix that In with this recipe to make your paint is thin enough for spraying! I know that sounds odd but it works great, just start with a little at a time and continue to stir.
Olivia, did you end up using the chalk paint in your sprayer? How did it turn out? I am interested in doing the same with my kitchen cabinets.
Diane L says
LOVE this!! I did 2 layers since I did not want the distressed look, and WOW!! It came out GREAT!! TY TY TY!! I used 2 tablespoons of water and a custom paint I had made up to match a lamp I have. Its PERFECT!! It’s during the coronavirus that I have been wanting this done and I couldn’t be more pleased. When I added the paint I did so slowly. I am not sure if it made a difference, but I enjoyed doing it this way.
Lindsay Houser says
I am SO happy that you loved it!! Such a great idea to work on some home decor projects during this time. You made my day hearing how well it worked out for you! 🙂
Does this mixed up paint need to be used ASAP or will it last a few days to a week if kept in an airtight container?
I used some sale Ben Moore flat paint and the paint and painting were awesome.
You should be able to get a week at most out of storing it. So happy you found a sale color you love and that it worked out well!
How long will this mixed up paint/POP last in an airtight container?
You should be able to get a week max out of it. Thanks for reading!
Nicole Hewes says
Did I do something wrong?
I want to love this, the paint got so terribly chunky even with continued mixing that it became unbearable to work with. I mixed it just before using it. The coverage was stellar, but the chunky aspect was too much. Help!
Oh no! So sorry to hear that! Was it old paint? Or oil based paint? You could try a bit less plaster or a bit more water. Another option is to add a very little bit of paint thinner to thin out the consistency some.