DIY Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot about Annie Sloan chalk paint (different from chalkboard paint, just fyi), and I’ve been wanting to try it.  But $35 per quart is not in my budget. So I looked up some ways to make your own version of chalk paint. Annie Sloan has claimed her “chalk paint” doesn’t actually have any chalk in it, but a lot people in the blogosphere have shared recipes (that add a chalky substance) that they think are comparable to AS chalk paint. Annie hasn’t been kind enough (or stupid enough!) to share her formula with the masses, but obviously the vehicle is water (as opposed to oil or other alternatives) and the pigment is probably some pre-manufactured powdered pigment. The binder is the unknown! (Most modern day water-based paints use latex or acrylic). It probably has a few more chemicals and things in it to make it smooth and “commercial” and all that jazz, as well, though she does claim it’s low VOC and environmentally friendly!

Supposedly it’s better than an ordinary latex or acrylic water-based paint for distressing. Unless you wait a long time (and sometimes even if you do), latex paint will peel or ball up when you try to distress it because of its “plasticky” nature. But the chalk paint will just turn to dust.

There are several different recipes that I found. You can add calcium carbonate which is usually available at health food stores, whiting powder, or Plaster of Paris. I went with Plaster of Paris cause it was the easiest to find and the cheapest option. 

I paid $6 at Lowe’s for about 4 pounds. So that’ll last a loooong time.  Add the plaster to a flat paint (I did it with satin/eggshell, too, and it worked great). AS chalk paint has a very matte finish, so you if you want a similar look, you don’t want a paint with a high sheen! I tried a ratio of 1 part Plaster of Paris to 3 parts latex paint. First, mix the Plaster of Paris with a little water and stir it really well until there are no lumps. 

Then slowly add latex paint and stir really well. Even still you might have a few small specks, but if you don’t mix it with water first it will be really lumpy. I didn’t get it stirred well enough the first time so there were some specks in the paint. Luckily, though, since they’re basically just clumps of dried plaster they sanded off really easily. 

The second time I used a filter for my spray gun and filtered the paint after I mixed it so there were no lumps at all.

I also added a bit of Floetrol (my new bff!) to minimize brush marks and slow the drying time.

I usually don’t like brush painting, but I actually really liked the coverage and the way this paint went on. Since it is part Plaster of Paris, it will thicken up over time, but if it gets too thick just add a little water.

I did two coats of my DIY chalk paint on my first project. The first coat was a lighter cream color. After the first coat dried I applied Minwax Paste Finishing Wax (you can buy waxes from Annie Sloan, but again…$$$).

In about 30 minutes the wax dries to a hard finish so you can paint over it. This added a layer of protection so that when I distressed the top coat of paint, the white base color wouldn’t come off, too. Once the wax was dry I did a coat of gray chalk paint.

On the Annie Sloan website it says to wax after the second coat, distress, and wax again. I skipped the second waxing step and just broke out my sanding block and sanded away.

It was like a totally different type of paint. No peeling or balling, it just turned to dust under the sandpaper. And I didn’t even have to wait several days for the paint to cure…just long enough that it’s dry.

It was really easy to distress which is great, but that made me wonder if it would chip off too easily, so I waxed it again to protect it. I haven’t lived with a chalk paint piece, so I can’t speak to its long-term durability. With the cottagey, rustic look of the chalk paint putting a poly on top just wouldn’t make sense, so hopefully it holds up on its own.

Annie Sloan chalk paint even boasts “No Prepping!” That means no sanding, no priming…nada. That’s hard for me to believe, even at $35 per quart. Before I decided to use chalk paint, I’d already sanded and primed the pieces I used, so I guess for now I can’t really say. Next time I’ll try it, though!

Again, since I haven’t tried actual ASCP, I can’t compare the DIY version with it, but I was really happy with my homemade version. I’ll definitely use it again in the future for projects I want to distress, but I don’t have time to hand paint and distress everything. The true test will be to see if I can thin it and filter it enough to use it in my paint sprayer. I’ll try to share pictures of my completed chalk paint piece soon!

Check out my review/learning curve with Annie Sloan dark wax

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3 Responses to DIY Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

  1. Casey June 27, 2013 at 12:01 am #

    So have you used the paint sprayer with that type of paint yet? I attempted to make my own chalk paint yesterday and also attempted to use a paint sprayer… Note the word *attempted*. It didn’t work out too well, but I also didn’t follow the directions to making chalk paint very thoroughly. :)

    • Simple House Expressions June 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Hey Casey! What type of spray gun are you using and what were you unhappy about? I have sprayed DIY chalk paint with pretty good success several times. I actually think I like it better in the gun than normal paint. It covers better even when slightly thinned, and since it’s not shiny, I don’t have to deal with the inconsistent sheen issues that sometimes plague me when spraying!

      First make sure you mix the paint really well (mix the plaster with water first and then add it to the paint to reduce lumps). I thin mine just a bit with water when I’m using it in my sprayer and add a little Floetrol (mostly to slow down drying time). I’ve heard the paint should be about the viscosity of whole milk, but mine is usually a bit thicker (I’m trying to get decent coverage in a few coats. It’s not like I’m painting automobiles!) Then strain it like you would any other paint you’re going to use in the sprayer. I use an HVLP gun with a 1.4mm tip (you could probably use up to 1.7mm?). I set my compressor at 60 psi and with a continuous spray it sits at about 45-50 psi. I have the air flow on my gun all the way up, and I turn the material volume up about as much as the gun will allow (I don’t with normal thinned paint, but the chalk paint is a little thicker.)

      If you’re using an airless sprayer, it could be that you just aren’t happy with the texture. There’s less air pressure and therefore less atomization of the paint (the droplets of paint are bigger.) This sometimes creates more of an orange peel texture. It does cover better and faster though. I’ve never used an airless, so I’m not really sure if there are ways to minimize the orange peel texture. Hopefully this helps a little!

      -Arielle

  2. Karol July 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    I’ve got a handy hint to keep the lumps out when mixing the Plaster into the paint. As luck would have it my hand mixer died and low and behold the beater fits into my drill perfectly!!!! So when I’m pouring in the P of P/water paste I’m mixing with my drill/beater at the same time! I still have reusable paint strainers I use sometimes after the paint has set in a container a bit, but it’s been so much better!
    I too, haven’t ventured out to ASCP. Although it seems the name alone will sell your pieces. However, I’ve checked back periodically with my customers to make sure the finish is holding up and have not had one complaint!

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