Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Newbie Tips

Last weekend I finally got around to painting my kitchen table, which is a project that’s been on my to-do list for weeks. You may remember that my table is actually a desk (Ballard Designs’ Whitley desk):

Last weekend she finally got her makeover and I couldn’t be happier with her new look!

The best thing about using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to paint my table up is that it requires NO prep work.  No sanding.  No priming. Nada. 

I chose “French Linen”, a dark gray, as my paint color. I used a natural bristle brush (a $1 chip brush from Home Depot) to apply it. I didn’t get very good coverage from my first coat, maybe because I was painting such a glossy surface, but the paint dries so quickly that once I was done with the first coat it was ready for a second coat. With the second coat I got very good coverage – you can see the difference here:

I probably could have stopped with the second coat but since this was a table that was going to get lots of use and abuse, I went ahead and did a third. Probably my favorite thing about using this paint (other than the fact that there is no prep work…) is that the brush marks smooth out so well as it dries.  I was loving how the table looked at this point
but I decided that it would look even better with a bit of distressing. After using my round waxing brush to apply a very thin coat of the Annie Sloan Wax (really working the wax into the paint by applying mild pressure to my waxing brush), I used some fine grit sandpaper to distress the edges of the desk so that some of the original ivory color came through:

Next, I used a rag to wipe off the sanded bits of paint, rub in the wax all over the table, and wipe off any excess wax.  After 24 hours, I finished it off with a second thin coat of wax, making sure that I covered the distressed areas well. Finally, I went over the table one final time with a rag to smooth out the wax and wipe off any excess. About two days after I was finished fixing her up and the wax seemed totally dry, I used a rag to buff the wax to a nice shine – done!:

The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was great – definitely unlike any other paint that I have used.  While I’m a Chalk Paint newbie and by no means an expert on using it, I picked up a few tips from reading about others’ painting experiences before painting my table, from talking to Laine (my local chalk paint expert) at MissElaineous Studio, and from my own painting project. Here’s my two cents on the paint and a few tips:

*It’s a great paint to use if you’re not experienced with painting furniture because it is very, very forgiving.  I almost had a heart attack after finding a long brush bristle embedded in my paint after the final coat had dried but I gently sanded it out, brushed on some more paint and it blended in seamlessly. I love that. 

*Use a natural bristle brush (usually labeled “pure bristle”) rather than your typical synthetic Purdy brush for painting.  I used a simple chip brush such as this to apply my paint:

The chip brush worked well for me but I did loose quite a few bristles while I was painting so keep a look-out for any loose bristles in your paint as you go along. For applying the wax, I invested in a round Annie Sloan Waxing Brush that was great to work with and really helped to get the wax into little crevices. It too was prone to loosing bristles – I guess it’s to be expected with any natural bristle brush. I bought an Annie Sloan waxing brush because I plan to do some more painting projects in the future but if you aren’t ready to invest in an expensive waxing brush, I’ve read about others who have used a chip brush or even a rag for the waxing and have been happy with the result.
*Don’t apply too thick of a layer of wax – only put a small amount at a time on your brush or rag because a little bit goes a long way! Use some pressure on your brush or rag when applying the wax to work it into the paint – using a circular motion while applying it worked well for me. Also, don’t worry if you find that you have some very small pebbles of wax that don’t smooth out as you are applying it.  That worried me as I was waxing but when I went back with a rag to rub the wax in, everything got smoothed out!

*Distress AFTER you apply your first coat of wax and then add a coat of wax to the distressed areas.

*If takes close to a month for the wax to fully cure so use a bit of TLC for a few weeks after you’ve painted and waxed your furniture piece.

* The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, wax, and waxing brushes aren’t cheap but after finishing my painting project, I still have over half of the quart of paint left and over ¾ of the wax. I have another project in mind for using them, which will make the money invested in supplies seem much more reasonable. Also, you don’t need to spend any money on paint strippers & primers since no prep work is necessary.

*There are several advanced techniques that you can use with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to create gorgeous finishes including techniques using two different colors and using both dark and clear waxes. Many of the studios that stock the chalk paint offer classes that allow you to experiment with either basic or advanced techniques before embarking on your own project. Click {here} to find a retailer near you with links to each retailer’s website for information about classes.

* Have fun! The beauty of painted furniture is that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Having some brush marks and imperfections is part of a painted furniture piece’s inherent beauty so have fun with your project and don’t sweat it if the final result isn’t perfection – it shouldn’t be. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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