Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chalk paint doesn't always need distressing



I get asked all the time if you can achieve a smooth look with chalk paint such as Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Yes you can...And I've put my tips to achieve this look below. While chalk paint is very well suited to the distressed shabby chic look, you can also use this lovely velvety paint to create clean lines such as a modern style, a classical French look or Hamptons style. If you read through Annie Sloan's book "Creating the French Look" you will see that she will often not distress furniture painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Chateaux Chic
Chalk paint, both bought and home made, has very good bonding properties and can be painted without primer onto most surfaces - timber, plastic, metal, glass, porcelain etc. The calcium carbonate (chalk) makes the paint dry quickly and once you have applied wax as a top coat, your paint work will be durable and resistant to chipping. Sure if you bang a chair against the furniture it might get a chip, but then so would polypac and even my stone bench top has chips after almost three years of use so you can't expect your paint work to withstand brutal damage. However your chalk painted furniture, sealed correctly and fully cured, will withstand everyday normal household wear and tear.

Home made chalk paint

Hamptons Style home made chalk paint

Personally I am not a huge fan of shabby chic furniture (ie read heavily distressed and paint that you can see though) for my house. It is not the look I am after, I prefer more clean lines. I do have a couple of distressed pieces, sometimes you just know that the way drawers slide open that the paint will scratch, especially with old furniture. However I am a huge fan on the velvety smoothness of waxed chalk painted furniture. I thought you might like to see some undistressed chalk painted pieces.

Chalk Painted Wall Hooks


Graphite Drawers



Weathered Look ASCP Cabinet



French Country Armoire in my son's room



Vintage Desk in my son's room

This desk has been ever so slightly distressed, but definitely not shabby chic'd. The chair is also painted in chalk paint and is not at all distressed. Even being used daily by a little boy, it is still in perfect condition.




My hints for a smooth undistressed look

  1. Sand your piece before you start painting. You will never obtain a smooth finish if your piece is all bumped and rough before you even start painting.
  2. Apply several coats for a full coverage of paint. When you add wax to your furniture the paint will always become a little bit more translucent, especially with the lighter colours. if you want full coverage -ie opaque paint then you may need 2-3 coats even with darker colours. 
  3. To obtain a very smooth surface, paint in the direction of the wood grain and sand lightly between coats. This does not need to be laborious -just a soft sand with a fine grit sand paper or sanding sponge.
  4. For the final coat of paint, either water down your paint a little, or before dipping you brush into paint, dip your paint brush into some water. Practice this first as you do not want to wet your paint brush so much that you create drips and streaks. You just want the paint wet enough so it will smooth out as it is drying. (rather than having brush ridge marks)
  5. Wait 24 hours for your paint to dry fully before applying wax. I say this so that the wax doesn't lift any paint on the edges of your furniture.
So there you have it. You can definitely use chalk paint to create most looks. I think you might be hard pressed to create a totally modern look but with a bright colour and buffing to a high gloss then you could also do that although I think it would be easier to use a gloss acrylic enamel or oil paint for that look.

What's your favourite look - less or more distressed?

Fiona xx

34 comments:

  1. Stunning pieces and thanks for the tips, your work is very beautiful
    Xx Jemma

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    1. I grew up in the times when furniture (anything!) was painted because it started to look distressed. We painted then to make it look new again! I am still there, therefor my question about using chalk paint for a non-distressed look. thank you for the kind answers about it. I thought there might still be people around that are not into the 'distressed' look!
      I am going to try it. Maybe even upload my 'victim'!!

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  2. Beautiful work as always Fiona. Thanks for the tips, especially the one about the wet paint brish. I'm going to try that next time.

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  3. Thanks for the tips Fiona. I have never used chalk paint before. I have been considering it though it's a bit out of my price range at the moment - and I am a bit over the distressed shabby look. However it's good to know that it'll work for more modern pieces. It looks beautiful in a hand painted finish but can you use it in a spray gun or is it a bit sticky? I LOVE those graphite drawers!

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    1. Thanks Meg. lovely to hear from you. How are you? Why don't you try home made chalk paint then? its very similar with the finish. I think if you use ASCP in a spray gun you need to water it down a fair bit. cheers Fiona

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  4. those graphite drawers make my knees wobble! i love them so!

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    1. I know! I loved them also. Picking up a gorgeous french chest of drawers tomorrow. very excited!

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  5. You are a master with the paint brush Fiona. I like a mix, sometimes clean, sometimes distressed. xx

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    1. You're very complimentary, Kylie, thanks. Your house is so beautiful with all your lovely things. You've got the look down pat!

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  6. I like a clean smooth finish, or just a tiny bit of distressing. I am very excited because I picked up yesterday a gorgeous square coffee table for my lounge and another coffee table to convert to a low tv cabinet. Both are going to be painted using all of your advice for painting and waxing. The square coffee table is beautiful polished wood and it seems such a pity to paint it, but wood isnt the look I want, so I guess I'll get over it! I got them both via Gumtree in Perth.

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    1. Your coffee table sounds great Roberta, good luck with it all. My advice is paint if you want the painted look, don't worry about painting over wood. I'd love to see photos when you are finished. By the way I'm working on your necklace now
      cheers Fiona

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  7. Thanks for the info Fiona. I prefer a smooth un-distressed finish generally but in the right place, with the right piece, the distressed style can look amazing!

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    1. i am with you there Petra. I've done a few distressed pieces that i really love!

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  8. great to know although I think my latest project really needed distressing as clean crisp perfection was a big ask!
    Bec x

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    1. Yes some pieces just call for distressing don’t they!

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  9. I like smooth paint with glazing. I do distress quite a few pieces, though, because I tend to gather furniture that is early American, simple, farmhouse style. I get a super smooth look by doing a slight sanding before waxing...usually a light 220 or higher is just enough to knock down any brush marks. I also use a paint brush with very soft bristles...so they leave very few brush marks to begin with....even for pieces I intend to distress, I don't like lots of brush marks!

    Your pieces are all so lovely....

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  10. Chalk paints are less costly and looking more vibrant than any other paints. It will give the furniture a smooth and undistressed look.

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  11. Thanks for the great ideas! I'm just beginning the Chalk paint adventure and love all ideas. I also really appreciate your method of cleaning paint brushes. RuthyD

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    1. my pleasure Ruthy, you are going to love chalk paint

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  12. J'adore votre blog. Vos meubles sont magnifiques. Merci pour vos conseils.

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  13. After trawling the net and watching you tube videos researching Annie Sloan and home made chalk paints, I had all but changed my mind on using it it - after seeing several pieces of furniture on you tube ending up looking like my grandchildren had already been using them as climbing frames the whole "shabby" thing really put me off.

    I'm painting my bedroom wardrobe and dressing table BECAUSE they look shabby and I want them to be clean and bright and new! However your page has convinced me to buy a tin tomorrow. I hope my furniture will look as pristine (at least for a while) as yours does. No doubt it will not be long before they do begin to look like everything else in my house - including myself ie both shabby and distressed. Thanks for your great advice and by the way I think Annie owes you a few complimentary tins of paint for promoting her great product in the way that the vast majority of people will actually want to use it!

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    1. thanks so much - I really appreciate this. I hope your paint projects turned out well. Fiona

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  14. I applied home made chalk paint to my finished trim, i am having a problem with applying the wax. It seems to be wiping the paint right off. I have applied 3 coats of a tinted white. Any thoughts?
    Thanks!!!

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    1. hi Jacy - either your paint isn't fully dry or your wax isn't suitable to use with paint? what wax are you using? cheers Fiona

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  15. For your pieces you don't distress What do you do with scuffs, scratches, dings? I have a desk with what I consider normal bumps, nothing deep needing putty. Wonder if it will look bad if I just paint over and not distress. It will be a black shell and white drawers. Thoughts?

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  16. Hi Fiona, thanks for the tips. Do you sand the last coat before waxing. I don't seem to be having much luck with obtaining a smooth finish and have tried to sand the last coat but maybe I have a heavy hand when sanding. Cheers.

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    1. Sorry it's hard to advise when I can't see what you are doing. Just keep practicing would be my advice and work out how you like your finish to be

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  17. I'd like to have my furniture painted in the shabby chic style. Can you give me the contact details of anyone who offers this service please?

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    1. If you are in Sydney I can do that. Please just email me - see the contact page for details

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  18. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I am also not a fan of distressed, but I am a fan of not too much prepping. This is all I needed to read.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! (Sorry if you have trouble commenting, I'm trying to sort it out)