Archive of ‘Paint Tips’ category

Making Brown – Color Recipe

brown1Most furniture is some form of brown before you paint it.  Chances are you are not going to paint all your furniture brown.  However, sometimes you really need a good brown as part of your color palette on a project.  I’ve made many browns with Chalk Paint® and have loved them all!

My most recent custom project needed some brown….so this time I mixed up Primer Red and Olive.  I started with 1 cup of Primer Red and 1 cup of Olive, mixed it, and then sampled it on the surface.  I then decided I needed a “bit more” Olive.  This is where you say “a bit more???”  Yep, I estimate I added about 1/4 cup more Olive to this recipe.

brown2I paired with rich Old Ochre on the legs and the chairs!




Another great color recipe for a deep espresso brown is to mix Barcelona Orange and Graphite in a 1:1 ratio!

Brush Strokes & Chalk Paint®

brushIn case you don’t know, I work for my local Chalk Paint® stockist Total Bliss.  I spend Tuesdays and Thursdays interacting with our customers and helping them with Chalk Paint®.  I love it!  My 5 hours a day there feel like 5 minutes….good problem to have huh?

It seems lately that much of our dialogue has been about Brush Strokes and Chalk Paint®.


Yes, you will definitely have brush strokes if you use Chalk Paint®!

Is that bad or good?

It’s a good thing and even and awesome thing most of the time.  Annie created Chalk Paint® as a decorative paint primarily for furniture.  She created it to do lots of different things, and many of those things are based on the texture that you can create with the paint. You create that texture primarily using a natural bristle brush. If you are using the Dark Wax you can achieve a much better look with it by having brush strokes, especially when they are in different directions and length.


Can you see how the Dark Wax sits in the strokes here?


On this piece I only used the Dark Wax in small areas, so my strokes give it texture only where I want and the other areas the strokes are really not noticeable at all unless you really look closely.

There are ways to lessen the appearance of strokes…

First of all the lighter the pigment of color, the more brush strokes the color seems to show.

1.  You can control the paint and lessen the appearance of strokes by using some water to thin your paint.  I always like to keep a spray bottle of water by my side to either mist my brush or the actual work surface.  The paint drys so fast that if you brush through drying paint, you disturb it and create “texture”.  Spritz that spot with some water and “paint it out”.

2.  You can also be more “anal” about your strokes. Painting in one direction with longer strokes helps.

3.  You can also vary the tools you are using to apply the paint with.  I have found that using a flat brush that is either all synthetic bristles or a blend of natural and synthetic bristles produces a much smoother look.  Foam brushes and rollers also are great ways to apply the paint for a smoother look.

4.  You can also perform a light sanding between coats, or after your final coat to smooth out your surface.


I generally use 150 or 220 grit sandpaper…but you can even go up into the super fine grits like 600 to really smooth our your surface. Yes, this take extra time…but if that is the look you want then a few extra minutes to do this really is not that big of a deal.

I’ve had people come into the shop and be very frustrated because their pieces have brush strokes.  They are under the impression that the furniture we paint in the store is “perfect”.  I usually walk them around and show them our pieces and our brush strokes.  It is funny when they realized that they are really just being hyper focused on their piece, and when they step back and look at the piece is really is beautiful and perfect.

Don’t hyper focus on the strokes!

That being said, if you are extremely OCD and just can’t handle it….then maybe Chalk Paint® is not the right paint.  There are lots of other paints and products out there.  Choose the one that is right for you and your desired look!

Answers to Readers Questions about Chalk Paint®

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately and I thought I’d take a few a break from my house stuff to address a few of them….I did personally answer them, but I thought I’d share a few with everyone.
Question:  I am confused about the order in which you paint, wax and distress.  Does it matter which order you do this in?
Answer:  If you have read any of Annie Sloan’s wonderful books, or watched her You Tube video’s, you will notice that Annie paints, waxes (clear and dark) before she uses sandpaper to distress.  After she distresses she will then add back some wax to the area she removed it in during distressing.  This method is known as the Annie Sloan Method.
However, it seems that most American’s paint, distress and then wax.  Both ways are perfectly fine in my opinion.  I prefer to paint, distress and then apply my wax.  I think it is a personal preference as to which method you choose to do.  I don’t see much of a difference between the two.  In my class I have my students do it both ways so they can understand the way Annie prefers, try the other way and pick which method suits them.
Distressing before you wax creates a lot more “chalk” dust.  However, distressing after you wax takes a lot more muscle and you use a lot more sandpaper!
Question:  My husband and I painted our kitchen cabinets with Pure White, but it just seems too “textured”.  Do you have suggestions to make the Chalk Paint less “textured”?
Answer:  I do have experience with this for sure.  I used Pure White Chalk Paint® on my kitchen cabinets in my old house.  I wanted a clean white look with no distressing.  I wanted White White! When I painted my cabinets Pure White had just hit the states and it was my first time using it.  Since then I have learned a few things about Pure White.
1.  It had no pigments in it.  It is PURE White.  I love it!  I’m a white white girl.  However, with no pigments the consistency of this color is a tad different.  Using it will require an additional coat for the best coverage.  A tip I’ve learned is to use a base coat of white primer (I use Zinsser).  This will cut down how much Pure White you will have to use.
2.  Unless you are willing to use a very fine grit sandpaper and sand ALL your kitchen cabinets smooth after painting, you will not get a smooth look with Chalk Paint®.  No matter what you are going to have brush strokes with this paint.  If you are going for a smooth, clean, all white look on your kitchen cabinets it is my opinion that Pure White Chalk Paint® is not the right paint for the job.  I would use Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams Pro Classic.
3.  Another tip is that you can mix some Old White into the Pure White to give it a little thicker consistency.  I love a 50/50 mix of Old White and Pure White!!
I hope these tips help!!  If you have questions feel free to ask!

Prepping Surfaces for Paint

We all love Chalk Paint® because there is minimal prep work.  No priming, sanding, or striping.  Beautiful, beautiful words in a painters world.  Music to our ears.
I’m admitting to painting over, dirt, cobwebs, stains and even mold many a time in my life.
But, I’ve been burned a few times too because I did not take the time to clean and “prep” items I have painted.  The cost….TIME!  Sweet and very precious TIME.  And often times a lot more paint, which equals MONEY.
With a super easy, very quick {and cheap!} cleaning protocol you can eliminate any potential “situations” that occur.  “Situations” you say?
The number one cause of a Chalk Paint® “situation” is GREASE and it often comes disguised in the form of this….
Yep, Pledge, aka Furniture Polish.
I remember every Saturday morning Mom handed me a rag and some Pledge and I “dusted” all our furniture.  That is a lot of furniture polish over the years!
Don’t freak out people….It is OK!! I’m going to give you my standard cleaning protocol I use on pieces I feel MAY give me a fit. That means I don’t do this every time, or on everything I paint.
 What happens is that grease repels the Chalk Paint® and it will not adhere to the areas grease has built up on.  It usually happens after the second coat of paint has been applied.  You will notice that the paint begins to crack and peels away from the surface.  To avoid this I suggest the following “prep” steps:
Gather yourself some Scotch Brite Pads, TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate Cleaner) and some Denatured Alcohol.  All these products are cheap and available at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.  Scrub (firmly!) down your furniture with the TSP and abrasive pad first.  Next, get a soft cloth and use the Denatured Alcohol to wipe any residue left behind from the cleaner.
Generally, after doing this you should be ready to pop open your paint and move on.
Generally?  Yes, because there is always an exception to everything right?
Meet my latest challenge….
She looks pretty unassuming right? Well, after my cleaning protocol, she felt very “sticky”, especially on the top, probably where she had been “dusted” with furniture polish over the years.  So, I sanded the top with some 150 grit sandpaper and for the second time I scrubbed her down really really really good with my pad and more TSP.  Still sticky.  This is when I break out another super cheap time saver….
Clear Shellac….Zinsser is my brand of choice.  Paint one or two thin coats of Shellac on the sticky areas, or the entire piece if necessary.  Now you have “sealed” that area and created the perfect surface for your Chalk Paint® to adhere to!
Easy Peasy right?
So, what if you skip the cleaning and you find yourself in a “situation” of cracking and peeling paint?
DON’T FREAK OUT…it is very fixable….
Scrap your peeling paint off, sand down the areas, seal with the Shellac, repaint and move forward!
I’ve painted and waxed this nightstand with no “situations”!  I’ll post some afters soon!

I hope this information was helpful to you!!!

Color Mixing with Chalk Paint®

Yesterday I got serious about mixing up a large batch of a custom green using Chalk Paint®.  I have a client who is decorating a beach house.  She has found 6 different chairs to go in the home and requested a fun green to finish them in.  I played around with several versions using teaspoon amounts of Antibes, Arles and Olive.
This involves deep thinking and math at the same time! Yikes!
Here is a bigger look at the mad chemist at work!
I bought a few clean new paint cans at Home Depot to mix in.  They are only a little over $2.00 each and so worth it!
My original formula was 2 teaspoons of Antibes, 2 teaspoons of Arles and 1 teaspoon of Olive, a 2:2:1 ratio.
I next had to figure out my overall amount of paint (plus extra…remember always make extra!!)  Thank goodness we are doing fractions in 5th grade math and I’m up to speed.
I mixed 1 1/2 cups of Antibes, 1 1/2 cups of Arles and 3/4 cup of Olive
Here it is…I managed to get 2 chairs done with 2 coats….
I’ll share them when they are complete!

Things I’ve Learned – Custom Mixes

I’ve got a few words to say today about custom mixes….
and when I say custom mixes I mean
mixing colors together
making waxes and glazes
mixing color and wax
and so on
and so on
Here is my unofficial rule….which still has failed me on occasion….


I have screwed myself a few times over.  I’ve estimated how much I will need and I RUN OUT before finishing up my piece! I’ve tried to duplicate what I’ve made and I’ve failed, causing 2 and 3 times the amount of work I ever would have had to do if I had not made TWICE AS MUCH as I had estimated needing!
I know it can seem wasteful.  You are thinking “why waste what I don’t use?” “Will I ever use this shade again?”  Chances are “No”.  But, you have saved your self a lot of additional product you may have to use trying to recreate your original formula.  Plus, you save yourself a lot of time!
Time is MONEY!  
I charge more for custom mixes knowing that I will be making more than I need.  I’ve learned the hard way too many times!


Things I’ve Learned – Lazy Lids

One of the biggest reasons I love using Chalk Paint™is because I can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.  It is the perfect paint for the people like me who need to see the stunning results with minimal work.
“Minimal work people” tend to be “minimal clean up people” as well…right?
We are not people who like to take the time to hammer nail holes in the rims for the paint to drain back into the can.
We are not people who like to clean off the lids so that paint does not build up around the rim.
We are the people that will buy these lids {above} with hopes that we will have clean, non crusty, easy to use and pour paint cans.
Things I’ve Learned….
I am the person who won’t clean the plastic lid off either.  I’m the person who will let the plastic lid crust up and I won’t screw on right either.  I also dislike these lids b/c the opening is very small for my brush.

Things I’ve Learned….

When you are lazy with your lids expect this at some point in your life!!

So I’m wondering if there is anyone out who keeps their lids all neat and pretty????

Things I’ve Learned – Brushes Matter

When Chalk Paint™ made its grand debut in the Red White and Blue it seemed everyone was using “chip” brushes to spread the new found paint all over anything and everything!  We were scooping up these cheap brushes left and right from stores like Big Lots and even IKEA for cheap!

Here I am {nostril shot and all…too lazy to edit!} using Chalk Paint™ for the the very first time!  Using a natural bristle “chip” brush and getting some pretty great results!
 I never really thought that there might be a better brush out there.  I just naturally assumed this was the best brush to use for all my paint projects.
They would last for awhile and then I would toss them in the trash.  They were so cheap that I could afford to chuck em when I forgot to wash them out…..which I am admitting was quite often.
And then…..
I met this gal and the love affair began!
I fell hard….
It felt like I was spreading butter…
Oh and it held so much paint…
my need to dip in the can every second to load up more paint was greatly reduced…
the way the paint flowed was amazing….
it was like I had been eating Hershey’s chocolate all my life and then was biting into fine Belgium chocolate!
photo from Annie Sloan Unfolded
She comes in three glorious sizes…small, medium and large {duh!}.
She is all natural hair, imported from Italy.
She is oval shaped with tapered bristles and a pure joy to paint with.
Take care of her and she will last you a lifetime.
I can’t even begin to describe how using this brush has changed my painting!

If you will be doing any amount of painting this is a MUST!

Don’t waste your time with the cheapies!!!
What brushes are you using??