What is Chalk-Finish Paint?
Chalky-finish paint is a latex-based paint to which a fine granular powder has been added—often plaster of Paris. After the paint dries, the granules create a matte finish. Brush strokes and imperfections become part of the look, making it a forgiving finish to apply. The finish can be sanded in places to create a distressed look or waxed for either an aged look or more satin finish than paint alone.
Watch the video above to see how Valspar’s Chalky Finish Paint completely transforms an old dresser, or explore below to find more ideas for how to use chalk-finish paint in your home and tips for applying it to your projects. You can even mix your own paint with our easy chalk-finish paint recipe.
How To Apply a Chalk-Finish Paint
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.
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.
Chalk-Finish Paint Project Ideas
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.
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.
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.
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 Recipe
This DIY version of chalk-finish paint can be antiqued or distressed and tinted in your choice of colors. Note that the addition of plaster of Paris to any paint color will lighten it slightly compared with what you might see on a paint color chip. Mix your own using the following supplies and instructions:
- Valspar 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)