How To Make Chalk Paint

Have you heard of Chalk Paint? It’s quickly becoming the newest rage in the DIY circle, especially after a blogging conference this summer when a ton of bloggers were given little jars of very expensive Annie Sloan chalk paint. So many blogs I’ve read lately have been talking about it and it looks like a great product but the price? wow!  Unless it comes with someone to paint the furniture for me, I’m just to cheap to pay that much.

Chalk paint is not chalkboard paint. It is a matte finished paint that is usually thinner and great for distressing/antiquing of pieces.

A year ago when we moved into this house the previous owners left us a very sweet gift that I love but I didn’t like the finish.

In person it was dark and hard to see the words when it was just sitting on the shelf. I actually even thought about giving it away but I really liked the message on it and the meaning of the gift so I just couldn’t do it. 11 months after we moved in I finally got the idea to just paint it. Let’s keep all jokes about how slow I am sometimes to ourselves and move on.

I knew I didn’t want a heavy coverage on it and I wanted it to be a matte look. Also to help the letters stand out I knew it would need a little tough love, also known as distressing.

So today I got busy and made chalk paint. I used an old tester pot of paint that originally cost me about $2.50, some old plaster of paris that I have had in my supply closet for way too long and hot water. That’s all it takes! Much better than the tiny tester of designer chalk paint for $16.

So how do you make it? Would you like to know?

Chalk Paint

1 Cup Paint (any color)

1 Tablespoon of Plaster of Paris (shift or stir well to break up clumps before using)

1/4 cup hot water

 Add plaster of paris to paint and mix well. I used a spoon so I could press any clumps against the side of the bowl to break them up. Slowly add hot water (must be hot) and stir well until pretty smooth. There might be some grittiness if your plaster of paris is old but it won’t be noticeable when painted. Stir extremely well and use!

This paint is a little thinner so deep wood grain will show through the paint. After you’re done painting and it has dried, lightly go over the edges with a fine sandpaper to distress. You can seal the paint using a finishing wax if you wish.

So how did my sign turn out?

That’s more my style.


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Bobbie is a homeschooling mom of three girls in the Houston area. Although most of her days are spent scrubbing up paint or ungluing her fingers, occasionally she also takes the time to burn dinner.

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  1. Husband (not pained yet) says

    My wife has great style and this was a great idea. But she does tend to think everything needs to a touch of paint/color/her craftiness.

      • says

        Laughing at husband (not painted yet). I realize it is an old argument of the sweetest kind but it made me laugh and started my morning off nicely. Thank you also for the chalk paint recipe.

  2. Crystal says

    I just used this to paint and distress a shelf. It worked great! What is finishing wax? I’ve only ever used poly or spray on sealer.

  3. Jill says

    Is there any DYI mixture you can make to “prep” the wood? I saw some chalk paint for sale at a very pricey design/antique boutique and they were also selling some other solution they made that they said was “liquid sandpaper” and if you used it (it was very thin and she said very little goes a loooooong way) there was no need to sand or strip the piece before painting.

    Thanks. And thanks for the chalk paint recipe!

    • says

      You can buy liquid sandpaper at any big box store now, including lowes and home depot. I don’t have a recipe for that but I have always heard great things about it.

    • Erik Kilpatrick says

      Liquid Sandpaper softens the original finish allowing your coat of paint to adhere….Use it on Glossy finishes or hard enamels….but remember, after the liquid sandpaper dries, you have a time window to apply your paint as the original coat of paint will re-harden in a couple of hours,

    • says

      absolutely carol, the beauty of chalk paint is that you can just slap it over any surface, I have just discoved annie sloane chalk paint and love it although it is expensive so I am looking into alternatives like this, annie sloane paint has painted straight over an old polished mahogany piece i’ve had for yonks and a cheap plastic like coated veneer £12.99 baby book shelf I got from argos, it now looks like it has lived in a garage for the last 50 years as I used dark wax to age and seal it after using a green shade from a.s.range, I would love to replicate using cheaper alternatives, but for paint jobs for others I might stick to a.s. paint.

  4. Sharon says

    Hi there,
    I live in Bahrain in the middle east. We have most things here but for some reason I cant get water based eggshell ( which is same as latex i think ). I know oil paints are no good but can I make chalk paint using emulsion (wall paint).
    I used to live in UK and upcycled many pieces of furniture and now I am looking forward to doing the same here.

    Thanks in advance

    Sharon colgrave-Holmes

    • Ingrid says

      Hi Sharon,

      I also live in Bahrain (moved here 2 years ago) and I am desperate to find Chalk Paint. Can we find it here? I have several pieces of furniture that I would love to repaint!!! Maybe you could give me a tip or two! Would love to have your opinion. Please do not hesitate to contact me. Wishing you a lovely day, Ingrid.

  5. Teresa says

    Please, could you tell me what color (mark of paint, type and number of color) have you use to make this chalk paint work? becase I like it very much.
    Thanks in advance

  6. Susan says

    I would like to use this recipe to paint an old buffet cabinet. How is the durability of this paint? Does it chip or peel? I have already sanded the entire buffet. Do I need to put a wax over the paint? Thanks for the insight.

  7. rosye says

    Thanks for the recipe! do think I could use it over formica countertop maybe with some wax to seal it? I can’t wait to try it on my old kitchen plaster walls.

    • says

      I’ve never tried it on a shiny surface like formica. If you do that I would prep the surface first and put some type of primer/ sealant on it first.

  8. Ali says

    Hi… I am getting ready to paint an antique bed, and I was going to buy Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint… until I saw the price! It only comes in a quart and the cost is $38.00. After several hours of googling “any other products similiar to Annie Sloan’s, but less expensive” I found several websites that suggest to make your own chalk paint by combining a flat latex paint and some magnesium sulfate or calcium carbonate… and than I found yours. The big deal or selling point for Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is the fact that there’s no preping what so ever! You can paint directly over varnish! I was sold on that fact alone!! The bed I want to paint is varnished with many spindles. So the question is… will I be able to use this recipe on my varnished bed?

    • says

      I have never used it on a varnished product. It might be worth it cost wise to make a very small batch of this using a paint pot sample and try it on a flat area of the bed. I hope it works! I know it’ a pain to have to buy expensive paint!

      • Ali says

        Hello Bobbie, Well I painted my bed and so far the paint is sticking! After I painted it I put bees wax, and so far so good! Thanks! I would like to share before and after pictures…
        Take Care

        • says

          Yes would like to see before and after pics as well ..I’m also thinking of doing mine and I’m very nervous as my bed room set is every antique but also very worn and dull ,,but I would so love to take it and make it beautiful again …I love craft projects …can’t wait to see the before and after( …kinda. Excited here)p(::

  9. says

    Hello Bobbie, I’ve become obsessed with painting furniture, but I’ve been paying a local lady to do it, she’s done some great pieces for me, and not that expensive but as soon as I have time i want to do it myself, just for the fun of it. My question is, how does layering colors work? Can I just paint on layers, then paint on another color and sand off or rub off to expose the other color (other than wood) ??

    thanks for your help in this! if you are curious to see the painted pieces she has done for me you can look on my instagram account mrsandigrant —- she has inspired me to find time to paint everything… I wonder if my husband will notice if I paint my dining room table…hmmmm

    • says

      If you were going to layer I would probably do the bottom layer in a flat paint and let it fully cure for at least 48 hours, if not 72 before painting over it with chalk paint. I will check out your instagram later! Can’t wait to see it. Thanks!

      P.S. I have found that husbands usually do notice however it might take a few days unless he’s eating dinner off the floor because the table is being painted in the garage.

  10. says

    Wow! Loved the tut! I actually used a sample given to me by Websters Chalk Paint Powder. Liked it! But it was just enough to paint 4 chairs….so I am going to try your recipe…will let you know…
    My castle doors are always open at the “royal blog” for browsing! Thanx, Tiff AKA The Cranky Queen

  11. Becky says

    I want to know if you have a suggestion for painting table tops, using brown paint, tnat is durable. I have seen this done, using brown or black paint. Whatever they used, left brush marks, that almost looked like a textured look.

  12. Mattia says

    Is this the kind of chalk paint that is like a chalkboard and you can draw on it with chalk? And if so is there a way to make it black? I would love to do this with my bookshelf!!!

    • says

      no! The Chalkboard paint can be found here . You can make it black simply by using black paint with the unsanded powder grout. I hope that helps, let me know.

  13. Claire Martyn says

    Is plaster of paris the same as the whiting that you buy in art shops and mix with the rabbit skin glue to make traditional gesso? Or is it something completely different???

    • says

      No plaster of paris is a powder that you mix with water and it hardens into a plaster. It’s usually found in the children’s section of hobby shops or by the molds.

  14. Chrissy says

    Is there a preferred type of paint to use in this mix? (one that would work better than others?) which did you use?
    Latex, Acrylic?

  15. Heather says

    Curious…. Does the plaster of Paris lighten the paint color at all? I want to make a graphite color and I wasn’t sure what color latex to begin with.

    • says

      That’s a great question. I would buy a small paint sample of the color you’re wanting and try it out. My paint color was already light so I didn’t notice it lightening it any but on a really dark color it might have an effect.

  16. Tina says

    My mom has used shoe wax to finish a dresser. Wonder if you could use shoe wax after this chalk paint recipe?

  17. elisha says

    We are in the process of buying a new home, and i am refusing to buy new furniture for the sake of moving into the new home.. I am planning to revamp all our old furniture, yes with paint and my craftiness.. Hubby happy as its saving us $$
    plus, its unique – noone else will have something the same, which i love! thanx for the idea of the chalk paint, i am bursting to try it now, on one little old table to go into our hallway in the new home.. thank you for sharing:)

  18. lamya says

    Hi. Thanks for the instructions. I just wonder what type of paint to use? I mean oil bzsed, water based, any certain specificatipns since there are many types under each?

  19. says

    I plan to use FolkArt paint (only 2 fl.oz) bottle, can you help me break down the amount to make chalk paint? I can cover a small table with two bottles. Just found your site and am so happy to be able to make my own chalk paint. Thanks so much for sharing. You made my day!

  20. Katherine says

    Honest question…So what is the craze with this chalk paint? I stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest as I’m exploring options to makeover my coffee table. Besides kids chalkboard paint, I’ve never heard of chalk paint. What’s the deal? Thanks in advance 😉

  21. Karen Jones says

    Just wanted to thank you so much for sharing..low on cash I followed your recipe above today and WOW ..I just love the finish!! Cheers, Karen Australia xo

  22. nicola says

    Hi. I love your blog. I made the chalk paint and applied two coats to a pine chest of drawers but it feels quite rough to the touch. Should I sand it lightly or will it soften to the touch when I apply wax?

    • says

      I would sand it lightly. It does come off easily so parts of it might distress if you don’t have the finest sand paper you can buy. Fix any spots that have distressed and then wax it and it should help.

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