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!


  1. says

    Hooray Kris! So glad you had a good and successful experience. The photos look lovely so it looks like a job well done!!!
    Thanks for nod and please let me know when you want to join us for class as a guest blogger!!!!

  2. says

    Hi Kris, I’m curious how your table is holding up? I really want to do this to my kitchen table. But, I have two kids and the table takes a beating everyday! How do you clean it? I worry about spills, caked on food and scratches. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Hi Angela – our kitchen table gets lots of abuse too so I had a piece of glass cut for the top of the table. That way it’s easy to clean, I never have to worry about stains, and my kids have a smooth surface to do their homework on. The rest of the table has held up very well to being kicked with shoes, scraped with dog nails, etc.! The wax is key!! Good luck with your project!

  3. says

    Hi Kris,
    I have a wax/paint question. After I finished painting my piece feels rough to the touch, I don’t want to distress the piece so i really didn’t want to sand. Will the wax smooth out the roughness? I am pretty confused on the waxing..

    • says

      Hi Jackie,
      The wax did smooth out the finish on my table a bit but it didn’t feel all that rough before I waxed. Since I’m not an AS Chalk Paint expert, I’m going to ask someone who is – Laine from MissElaineous Studio – and see if she has any advice for you!

    • Anonymous says

      Hi, I use Chalk paint every day in my furniture at my shop and the secret to a smooth surface with this paint is to water it down 10-20% should be fine, I use 20% water, but remember to brush it on thin or it will run, this leaves a real smooth surface, if its still to rough then a 200 grit will take out the rest, if you not happy with the results then paint it again.
      Good luck, Chris

  4. says

    Hi Jackie & Kris –
    I wouldn';t count on the wax to smooth out the surface completely. The porous and sort of rough, chalky nature of the paint makes it ready and willing to accept the wax – and the two unite to form a fabulous and sturdy bond. However – the best way to get that is to apply the wax LIGHTLY, wait about 10 minutes and buff. If you want the surface to be smoother…you can use a 220 grit sandpaper or block to gently sand. This will take away the roughness of the paint and the friction/heat will cause the wax and paint to bond – and you’ll have a yummy smooth surface. You shouldn’t have to work too hard… but you will want to wax your piece a second time after 24 hours to replace whatever was removed during sanding. Again – wait 10 minutes and buff – should be gorgeous!
    In the future – if you prefer a smoother finish, try dipping your brush into water and offloading it prior to dipping into the paint (in other words, a freshly dampened brush) This will help the paint settle a little more smoothly.

    • says

      Thanks, I’ll give this a try. I’ve been reading alot of the blogs about chalk paint and no one really explains how your piece should feel. With latex you can feel the smoothness. I really wanted to try the chalk paint for the rubbed finish. I wasn’t sure if it should feel smooth before the wax or if I’ve done something wrong because when I rub my hand over the piece it feels chalky and a little rough, on some of the blogs they say they don’t use wax on every piece. The way mine feels now is not how I would want the completed piece to feel. I really wish there were some workshops in my area. I’d love to learn more.
      thanks again..

  5. says

    Kris, thank you so much for sharing your experience with the paint. I have been on the fence about whether or not to use ASCP for a project. Your thoughts convinced me it’s the way to go. Thanks again, for your detailed post. Now to chose a color…ugh!!! : )

  6. says

    I have read that soaking Annie Sloan’s brushes in water overnight before using helps with the brush hairs being left in the paint or wax. After soaking them and they are dry, you are suppose to run your fingers over them and pull out the hairs that have loosened.

    Great blog! I start painting my first piece tomorrow!

    • says

      It’s a good idea before using your brushes to wash them in Dawn dish washer detergent, rinse thoroughly and let them dry overnight. This prepares your brush and you should have less “hairs” or bristles. I agree that using a damp brush, or rinsing your brushes often when using ASCP helps it go on easier, as it does dry quickly. I have found that the wax does smooth out a rough finish just fine and I always apply 2 coats, buffing the next day of course.

  7. Anonymous says

    So I am loving all of this…and especially the adorable sofa that you are using with this table!. I just bought a repurposed table for a kitchen that I am remodeling…and I am trying to decide on the chairs that I want. I have seen some great benches but I love this look. Where did you get it?

  8. Anonymous says

    I don’t wait anytime to buff. I buff immediately and use a polisher (from the big box store) that one would use buffing wax on a car. It makes the surface like glass. I also don’t distress after the wax. I paint, distress, wax and distress more if needed. I love the look the wax gives the distressed portions that you don’t get when you distress afterward. IMHO

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