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DIY Chalk Finish Paint

Revive old furniture and decorating accessories with this matte-finish paint you can quickly blend yourself.

Samples of chalk finish paint in cups

The chalk-finish paint that we’re showing here was made by blending a flat latex paint with plaster of Paris (powdered gypsum), and water. The resulting thick-body paint goes on as easy as regular paint, but adds the look of an antique finish -- with or without distressing. Not to be confused with chalkboard paint, a chalk-finish paint surface can be left with a matte finish or rubbed for a more satiny look. Everyone from decorators to homeowners appreciates its ease of application and ability to add color to a room without time-consuming sanding, filling, and priming.

Distressed-finish coffee table

Chalk-Finish Paint Projects

Layered Look
Put a hand-me-down coffee table on center stage using chalk-finish paint made from two Valspar Signature colors -- LaFonda Ortiz Gold (#3004-5A) as the base coat and City Chic (#CI 51) as the top coat. Distress the legs and table curves and edges to give it a worn look perfect for this style. Mix 5 tablespoons of plaster of Paris and 5 tablespoons of water with 1/2-cup of paint.

Painted dresser

Contrasting Colors
To paint this dresser, we used chalk-finish paint made from City Chic to give the entire piece one coat. After the drawer fronts dried, we added a surface coat of a contrasting color -- Light Avocado (#CI 47) shown -- using a light brushstroke so the base color shows through. Mix 1/3-cup of plaster of Paris and 1/3-cup of water with 1 cup of paint.

 

Painted mirrors

Mirror Makeover
Mix small batches of chalk-finish paint in color combinations to decorate mirrors like the ones shown. Combinations include Light Avocado, City Chic, and Bermuda Sand (#7002-10). Mix 5 tablespoons of plaster of Paris and 5 tablespoons of water with 1/2-cup of paint.

Painted wall shelf

Color Inside and Out
Paint the inside of a cabinet a brighter color (Retro Green, #CI 28) than the outside -- Grandma’s Cherry Pie (#CI 106) under Light Avocado (#CI 47) -- to add personality to a room. The box on top and tray on the bottom shelf of this cabinet are painted in Skyscape (#4007-10A). Mix 5 tablespoons of plaster of Paris and 5 tablespoons of water with 1/2-cup of paint for both colors.

Painted wicker table and chair

Wake Up Wicker
A tired wicker set becomes a charming duo with chalk-finish paint. Clean the pieces with a wire brush before painting. For the chair, tabletop, and table legs, we used Light Avocado. The table body is painted City Chic. Mix 1/3-cup of plaster of Paris and 1/3-cup of water with 1 cup of paint for the wicker portion and 5 tablespoons of plaster of Paris and 5 tablespoons of water with 1/2-cup of paint for the top and legs.

Chalk Finish Paint

Mixing water into chalk-finish paint

Chalk-Finish Paint Recipe
Mix your own chalk-finish paint using the following supplies:

  • Valspar Signature flat latex paint
  • Plastic paint buckets (#40008)
  • Plaster of Paris (#41323)
  • Stir sticks
  • Plastic measuring cups (do not reuse for food)
  • Water (cool, not warm)
  • Paste wax (#45898)

Mix 1/3 cup of plaster of Paris and 1/3 cup of cool water; stir until completely smooth. Mix that with 1 cup of latex paint and stir thoroughly. This will make enough chalk-finish paint for one coat on a six-drawer dresser. Chalk-finish paint should not be stored and reused. If you have a smaller project, mix smaller amounts of plaster, paint, and water in the same proportions.

Brush on the first coat

Apply a Chalk-Finish Paint Finish

Apply the First Layer
Practice painting a scrap board before tackling a project. When layering different paint colors for a distressed finish, apply a heavier base coat than top coat. Work quickly -- chalk-finish paint dries fast -- and immediately remove any particles in the wet paint.

Sand through the top coat to the one below

Add a Distressed Finish
Dip a brush into the second color and dab most of the paint onto paper or a rag until the brush is almost dry. Lightly dry brush color to highlight the raised areas. After the paint dries, lightly rub the top coat with sandpaper, a sanding sponge, steel wool or a dish scrubber to enhance the distressed look. Finish pieces with paste wax.