Homemade Chalk Paint (An Experiment.)

 Chalk paint.  It has taken the DIY blogosphere by storm.  Many have either tried a popular name brand version or have crafted their own recipe.  So what is the allure of chalk paint and why do DIY painters like it so much?

 I hadn’t tried the popular commercial brand of chalk paint yet for a few reasons:

1) It’s pricey.
2) It’s not sold in my city so I would have to order it online (more cost).  And I’m the type of person who likes to see and touch things before I buy them.
3) I had never seen an item in person that had been painted with chalk paint so I was slightly nervous about using it on a piece of furniture.
4) As a DIY girl, it went a little against my nature to buy something that I could make myself.

So I decided to make my own version of chalk paint and try it out on something that wasn’t a piece of furniture.  My friend, Christina had given me the two ends of her son’s outgrown crib.  They resided in my garage (much to the displeasure of my husband) for a number of months while I waited for the perfect opportunity to use them.  I thought they would be great for my initial foray into the world of chalk paint.

 There are many different recipes for homemade chalk paint.  Sherry from No Minimalist Here has a great post on how to make your own chalk paint.

I used Plaster of Paris and added it to a white Behr semi gloss paint I already had on hand.  I didn’t want such a bright white for my project so I added in a few drops of  brown craft paint (Ceramcoat Tan Trail) to the mix.  The paint was already a little on the thick side so I added water.  I then added a bit of Plaster of Paris.  I may have added too much because it became very thick like toothpaste.  I then added more water and started painting it on the crib piece.

The benefit of chalk paint is supposed to be that it adheres well and dries fast.  Therefore eliminating the need to sand or prime beforehand.  So all I did was remove the existing hardware and wheels on the crib ends and just began slapping the paint on.

It was thick and watery at the same time.  Almost like smearing it with mud.  To be honest, I was a little unhappy with the first coat.  It dried quickly and then I applied a second coat.  The finish was rough so I sanded it down hoping for the magic to happen that I kept reading about.  It sanded fairly well with paint coming off on the edges for that shabby look.  I had planned on turning the crib piece into a sign for an event honoring my daughter and two other girls.

I taped around the center of the piece and added stick on vinyl letters (from Hobby Lobby) in the three girls’ names.  I then added a dab of pink paint into the chalk paint mixture.  I was going for a pale, vintage look.  By this time it was dark outside so I was doing everything by the light of the back patio.  (And I forgot to take pictures.)  I painted two coats of the now pink paint over the letters and then pulled off the vinyl with tweezers as the paint was still wet.  I then let it dry over night.

 The next morning (day of the event) I realized that the pink was too light and that there wasn’t much of a contrast with the white letters.  I also wished I would have chosen a different font for the letters.  There wasn’t time to change it so I brought it as is.  (I was a little disappointed–all that work and you could barely read the names.)

 I saturated the color in this photo so the names would be visible.  This is more of the pink shade I had envisioned.

 So here again is the before–a disassembled brown crib.

And the after–a faded looking (well, I DID want a worn, vintage vibe) event sign.
As for my homemade chalk paint, I think it was okay.   I do plan on trying it again.  Somehow I missed the “amazingness”  that others find with this paint.  I want to be excited about it and not merely luke warm.  For my personal concoction, I would only use it on pieces that I wanted to heavily distress for it did require thorough sanding.
So what about you?  Any experience with the commercial brand of chalk paint or a favored homemade recipe?  Love it?  Hate it?  Do tell…

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  1. I think after you use the chalk paint you are supposed to wax it after sanding. Just a suggestion.

  2. Rachel @ Thrifty Inspirations says:

    I have been using un-sanded grout instead of plaster of paris and it works really well. I would agree with you that it's more proper use is on something you intend to distress because of the grittiness you can have with the finish. I use a mixer with a whisk attachment to blend the grout with water, then blend the paint in. The first time I tried my recipe it was rather clumpy with only hand-mixing the paint. I recommend a mixer (you could probably snag one at a garage sale for a dollar) and try that next time. I make a cup at a time because I find that if I give 1 coat and let the paint set (even sealing it in a bag) the clumps get to be too much and I have to make a new batch anyway. I've been wanting to try the plaster of paris recipe but I'm pretty content with my current concoction and I have a ton of grout left (only 1tbs per 1c of paint) so maybe when it runs out (if ever) I'll try your recipe. I did invest in the Annie Sloan Soft Wax and that stuff is to die for, however, I have seen people use the finishing paste you can buy at Home Depot with similar results. Either way, love that you were brave enough to try it and share your experience. Love the crib to sign idea. Too cute!

  3. Danielle says:

    I actually love ASCP. I have never tried to make my own. I drove to Rhode Island as that was the closest to my south shore home in Massachusetts. At the Sea Rose Cottage I bought a large can and some samples and clear wax for sealing and also dark wax. I did a few projects and got completely and totally hooked. Yes, chalk paint is expensive, but I like that there is no real prep work (esp. with two young boys at home) and I love the effects you can get with it: crackle using a a hair dryer, two tone distressing. I also love her waxes and that the clear acts as an eraser on the dark wax. I also love how you can mix paints together to get different colors. I went to a chalk paint class at Sea Rose Cottage and also met Annie Sloan on her tour which was fabulous. I think you should give it a try even if you just get one can and some wax so you can compare your homemade one and chalk paint. Have you tried milk paint? I'm interested to try Miss Mustard Seed's when it comes out.

  4. The Other Me Is Sane says:

    Sounds like you didn't dilute it enough… as for me, I love it. Both the store bought and homemade. I followed Villa Barnes' advice and use gesso instead of plaster of paris. It's a great way to use up old paint samples and leftover paint. I just put the old paint in a large mason jar, add gesso (about 1/3 gesso to 2/3's paint) and then add water if needed. I store it by capping the mason jar. If I am going to use store bought ASCP, I use my homemade gesso/paint mix for the first coat (yes I'm CHEAP) and then use the ASCP for the second coat. Saves 1/2 the cost, right?

  5. ebeth9267 says:

    My friend uses bought chalk paint all the time and loves it. I love what furniture she has used it on, the effects are super cool.

    By the way, I have a post just for you on my blog ;0) Smiles, Ebeth

  6. The House at Bluebird Lane says:

    I LOVE this! It turned out so pretty and perfect for the girls' special day! Can't wait to see what you do with the other headboard. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lindsay says:

    I love Annie Sloan! I'm doing my kitchen cabinets right now. The key is the wax, though. It makes it smooth to the touch and durable. So even if you stick with the homemade, invest in the wax. Also, the coverage is incredible. I am using 2 quarts for an average sized kitchen and island, so cheapy me thought the investment wasn't so bad ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love your blog and follow it, but never comment. This brought me out of lurkdom. Ha!

  8. susan@avintagefarmwife says:

    I love the idea of your project, and I bet you get it just right on your second try. I bought two cans of Anne Sloan when we were in Florida-one duck egg and one white. I was so aggravated when I went to use it and the gal had put two cans of duck egg in my box. Grrr. I still need to distress and wax the piece I painted. Will post pics when I get it done.

    Thank you so much for the cute little sock monkey for Pearl. We have had a crazy week with a very sick parent, so I haven't had time to take Pearl's pic with it yet. I loved getting a package from Texas!

  9. You have the right idea for the home made chalk paint but your ratio is wrong. You need to First start with the plaster of Paris. About a 1/3 cup. Then add about 2 tblspoons of water. Mix it until it has the consistency of pancake batter but no lumps. Add in more water if needed to get this consistency. Now add your paint. Use the whole can of the sample size. I think it’s 8 oz.. Stir again really well. It will thicken up a bit. You can add more water at this point if you think it’s too thick but it should be good. Apply the paint. Will probably need 2 coats. After it dries you can leave as is, but I suggest applying wax. Minwax paste wax works great. After you wax sand it down lightly with a wet sanding sponge ( you can buy these at any craft store for about $2). Sanding after you wax is easier because it doesn’t get as dusty. You can relax again after sanding. You will have your ahha moment when you sand! Good luck!!! I use glidden sample pots from home depot in eggshell. You don’t want the paint to have a shine.