Chalk Paint® Q&A

What is all the hype about Chalk Paint®?  Is it really that different and if so, why?
Glad you asked!  Yes, Chalk Paint® decorative paint really is like NO OTHER PAINT!  Chalk Paint® allows you freedom and flexibility in painting and without any prep work it is so easy, anyone can use it!   You save time and money without doing all the extra work of stripping, sanding, and priming before painting.  The colors are beautiful, inspired from European furniture of the 1700's.  Chalk Paint® is water based and with extremely low VOC's, there is virtually no odor to chalk paint.  Safe for you and the environment.  Chalk Paint® was designed to be used on furniture, so you can achieve a natural soft patina and sheen, not a harsh latex paint shine.

Is Chalk Paint® just a new fad?
While new to the United States, chalk paint is NOT a new fad.  Annie developed Chalk Paint® 20 years ago.  However, it has only been available for purchase in the United States since July 2010.  Annie developed chalk paint specifically to use for painting furniture.  She was frustrated that with the paints (or lack thereof) that were available and created something that would have diverse uses and applications with colors that were true, rich, and vibrant.

My piece is really shiny with a lacquer finish, can I really use Chalk Paint® without striping the finish off?
Yes, you really can! Chalk Paint® was designed to be very easy to use and sticks to almost ANY surface including wood, laminate, concrete, walls, just about anything!

What about the price, is it worth it?!
Chalk Paint® costs $36.95 per quart size pot.  You are able to paint without any extra expense or time spent on stripping agents, primer, or sanding.  Chalk Paint® covers more and uses less than traditional paints.  Chalk Paint® dries very quickly, allowing you to finish your project and move on with your life!  We have a couple of customers that have painted 4 complete pieces start to finish and back in place in one afternoon.  And they used about half a pot of paint!  When you add up the time, money, and paint saved, it really is worth the price!  With Chalk Paint®, the average cost is about $8-$12 in product per piece of furniture.

Why do I need to wax my paint?
Waxing the paint offers protection to your piece.  Chalk Paint® alone is very matte and chalky and will over time actually absorb things (oils from your skin, stains from coffee cups, etc) and can stain the paint.  The wax finish is what seals and protects your piece.

Why should I use Annie Sloan waxes?
First off, Annie Sloan developed her waxes specifically for the Chalk Paint® line.  The wax is very smooth, like soft margarine.  It is easy to use and contains very little odor.  It does not contain harsh chemical solvents like quick drying agents so you are not breathing harsh chemicals into your lungs.    Also, we have actually heard of other brands of waxes that have removed the paint right off the piece because they are so harsh.  Other waxes can also stain your paint color.  Annie Sloan waxes are guaranteed to work with the Chalk Paint®.

I have never used wax before, how do I use it?
If you are new to waxes, it does take a little bit of getting used to, but it really is easy.  The most common mistake people make is to use too much wax!  Brush or wipe your clear wax on, working it into the paint.  The paint will absorb the wax, similar to rubbing lotion into your skin.  Then go back and wipe off the excess (most people skip this important step).  This is done immediately after working the wax into the paint.  Wax on, wipe off!  We prefer to use Rymplecloth (a type of cheesecloth) to wipe off the excess wax.  Then you can accent in areas with dark wax if you would like to, wiping off as you go.  Work in small sections on your piece, putting the wax on and wiping the excess off.  Buff to desired sheen.  Wait 24 hours in between adding additional layers of clear wax if you are building up a for a stronger finish.

Why do I need to wax it before I sand, that seems backwards?
There are a couple of reasons we recommend to wax first.  One, it actually gives you a lot more control when you are sanding, it allows you to expose layers of paint or wood underneath gradually.  This is how you recreate that natural look of furniture that has been painted layer by layer over the years.  Another reason is that the paint is, well, chalky.  It is very messy and dusty to sand chalk!  By waxing it first, you really cut down on the dust.  Another reason to use clear wax first is that it will protect your paint from the dark wax.  The dark wax will actually stain the paint color.

Why do I need to use clear wax first if I want a distressed look shouldn't I just use the dark wax?
Excellent question, we get this one a lot!  First off, please know that the dark wax goes a LONG way, you need very little of it.  The reason you clear wax first is that it will protect your paint color.  The dark wax will permanently stain your paint color if the barrier of clear wax is not there.  When you apply clear wax first, then dark wax, you can control how much dark wax is applied and where it goes.  If you just use dark wax first, where you apply it is exactly where it goes.  That is it, and that is where it stays, darkened paint and all!

Help, I've used too much dark wax!
If you have applied your clear wax first, then the dark wax, you can actually use more clear wax as an "eraser."  Simply dip a clean rag into clear wax and use it to pull off the dark wax.

My wax is still tacky and will not dry, what did I do wrong?
Again, the most common mistake is applying too much wax and not wiping off the excess.  Apply wax with a brush or rag, and wipe off the excess! You cannot take too much wax off! Your piece should not feel sticky or tacky!

How do I get a smooth finish?  I see brush strokes when I paint.
Seeing the brush strokes is part of the European charm to the paint, makes it more authentic.  If, however, you desire a super smooth finish, use a sponge roller to apply the paint. If that is not smooth enough, gently sand the surface  prior to waxing with a fine grit sanding block sponge.  You can also use Chalk Paint® with a paint sprayer, just dilute the paint with a little bit of water.

I just finished my piece with clear wax and dark wax and I can scratch my fingernail right through the wax to expose the paint, what is wrong?
As with any product, it needs time to cure!  While Annie Sloan products are very quick and easy to use, they do need time to actually cure and set up.  Think about it, you can dig your fingernail into any finish before it has had time to properly cure.  Once cured, the wax provides a tough, strong, and durable finish.  Many different factors effect curing time (temperature, humidity, how much wax was used, etc).  Also, remember that Annie's waxes do not contain harsh chemicals such as quick drying solvents.  This makes them more workable as you are using them and are a lot safer to use.  Annie's wax is usually fully cured in about 28 days. As far as digging your fingernail into it, why would you do this?  Would you dig fingernail into a newly finished wood floor?

I am having trouble with bleed through.  Can you help?
Most surfaces can be covered with one coat of Chalk Paint®, occasionally two is necessary.  That said, some pieces of furniture can be stubborn with any paint!  Bleed through can occur on pieces that have been polished with oil-based polishes that include a stain like "Old English" or mahogany pieces that have a deep red stain (1930's pieces). If bleed through is a problem, we recommend you use Zinsser Clear Shellac (available at Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc). It is a natural, non-toxic sealer that will block stains and bleed through.  We also use it to seal knots in unfinished pieces of wood. You can use Shellac just on the spots that are bleeding through.  Wipe or brush it on top of where you are experiencing bleed through, allow to dry, then continue painting as usual.  

Have another question you don't see here?  Please contact us here and we would be happy to answer your question!