I finally decided to try my hand at using chalk paint. I love using a good wood stain, I have even redone my entire kitchen with gel stain, but I had been hearing so much about chalk paint lately that I decided to give it a try with a “practice piece.”
Using a decades old nightstand with many stains and uneven surfaces, the chalk paint exceeded my expectations, totally transforming the desolate nightstand into a modern piece, without any sanding or priming.
I was sold – and I’m sure you will be too 🙂
Choosing a Chalk Paint
For this project, I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
I went back and forth deciding whether to use Annie Sloan or another brand. I was split down the middle, and I ultimately decided to use Annie Sloan because of the chemical warning I saw written on the wax container of the other brand – in comparison to the natural ingredients used in the Annie Sloan wax (like beeswax).
That, coupled with the fact that it was my first chalk paint project, sold me on the Annie Sloan brand.
For the top of the nightstand, I used primarily French Linen (keep reading for how I made it look like distressed wood)
For the rest of the piece, I used Pure White on the rest of the piece. Also, the Pure White is very white.
Chalk Paint Materials
You can go a little overboard on chalk paint materials, so I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
- French Linen Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – for the top of the nightstand
- Pure White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – for the majority of the piece, and a little for blending the top
- Annie Sloan Clear Wax – to cover the whole piece as a protective coating
- Annie Sloan Dark Wax – to help create the look of distressed wood on the top
- Brushes – I liked using a round brush like this one and I used a 1-inch and 2-inch angular one too
- White lint-free rags – to rub the wax on
- Gloves, mask (if desired), newspaper/brown paper for floor, and baby wipes to wipe down piece prior to painting.
Now, it seems like a lot of materials, but there is a lot of leftover paint, and the paintbrushes will be reused.
The other thing you might be worried about is using wax. However, do not worry – the wax was simple!!
Wax is way better to use than polyurethane, and it went by way quicker than the painting.
Here I am ready to give this old nightstand a fresh new look.
Step 1 – Clean Your Piece
- Clean your piece really good so the paint can stick. I like using baby wipes to clean off furniture.
- Then remove any hardware – like drawer knobs – unless you plan to paint these.
Step 2 – Work on the Top
- First, tape the edges of the piece. Then you can you can uninhibitedly paint the top.
- Then, start brushing on the French Linen paint. Chalk paint goes on just like any other paint, so I gave it a good, thick coat of paint going with the grain. You can go against or in any direction, if you want your whole piece to have an uneven, distressed look. As for brushes, I used the round brush – but any of the brushes would have been fine.
- As you are painting, watch for edges and any dripping. The paint is thick, so it doesn’t drip too much; however, because the paint dries fast, you’ll want to catch any potential mistakes quickly.
- Let the first coat dry. It took about 30-45 minutes for me. Chalk paint dries super fast!
If you want the top to have a uniform color, then apply another coat.
Technically, the top will now be done, and you can move on to Step 3. Yet, if you want to give it a distressed wood look, follow the below steps:
Distressing the Wood (optional)
- Paint a second coat of French Linen, adding a little water in. This coat is different because you are going to add a little water into the gray. Because chalk paint is thick and fast-drying, it’s hard to brush other colors into it. Adding a small amount of water will make the paint a little easier to work with – keeping the paint wet longer, which allows you to brush in the white. As for an amount, you can just lightly dip your brush into a cup of water or you could use a plastic cup to put some paint and water into. Again, just a little dip into the water will go a long way.
- After you give the top a second coat of watered down French Linen, while it’s still wet, it’s time to put some white streaks onto the gray. Use the Pure White and dab your brush in – just a small dab. You can run the brush along a piece of paper to get rid of any excess. The goal is to create streaky white brush strokes on your gray. The round brush is perfect for this. You can make subtle white streaks like I did – or you can make them more frequent and apparent. If you have too much white, then use the gray again – keep layering it until you are happy with how it looks. Remember it’s not supposed to look uniform. The strokes of white are creating character and dimension.
- Let your piece dry again – 30 min to 45 should be good.
- Last, use the dark wax. Similarly to how you just used the white, you are going to lightly (very lightly) dip your round brush into the dark wax. Only the very ends of your brush should have wax. Just as you brushed on the white paint, brush on the wax here and there, giving the piece more dimension. If you put on too much of the dark wax, then layer again with the gray until you are happy with the results. I used a very small amount of the dark wax because I wanted more of an even look.
As far as creating this look, I found this part of the process so much fun, and I am not an artist.
Rather than just painting brush stroke after brush stroke to cover area, it was something different – and was quite fun and relaxing to create this dimensional look.
Also, as mentioned before, if you make mistakes or aren’t happy with the way it looks, it is easy to fix by touching up the paint.
Step 3 – Paint, Paint, Paint
- Now it is time to paint the rest of your piece, leaving the top that you just painted as is. I used the Pure White paint and used the angular brushes to put it on. Don’t forget to also do your drawers.
- The first coat will look streaky (pictured below), but a good, thick coat helps.
- After the first coat dries, give the piece a second coat of paint. My piece was still pretty streaky after two coats (pictured below).
- I did one more coat, which made for a total of 3. For the paint to go on smoother, you can water it down a little. I did this for my third coat because I felt I didn’t need a full thick coat again.
Step 4 – Waxing In Circles
Waxing is actually a piece of cake. If you are good at cleaning, then you’ll be great at wiping on this wax.
- Use two rags – you can split your old t-shirt into pieces, and put one rag in each hand. With one rag you are going to wipe the wax on, and with the other, you are going to polish.
- Start with a small amount of wax (half of the size of a dime) – less is more. Start rubbing it on in circles, like the way you rub lotion into your skin. Work your way across the furniture rubbing in circles.
- Immediately after, using the second rag, work your way across the piece also rubbing in circles. As you buff, you will start to notice the surface becoming very shiny. This is the look you want! You want to polish in circular motions until it is nice and shiny. Once it’s shiny, move to the next area.
Quick Tip: I would use different rags for the top than the rest of the piece in case there is any bleeding from the paint onto the rags.
Also, you could wax the gray top after the top dries in Step 2, instead of waiting until the piece is done. I did this, so I got used to the whole chalk paint profess from start to finish, before doing the whole piece.
Last, I replaced the knob. Home Depot, Lowes, and Hobby Lobby are all good choices for knobs. This knob I had on a different piece and didn’t love it there – but it looks great on this nightstand!
I finished this nightstand within 24 hours I believe – as I kept moving as soon as each coat dried.
It was definitely my best turnaround time on refinishing furniture. When you take away the sanding, priming, and all that dry time, it really speeds up a project.
I loved working with chalk paint, and the results are just amazing. It simply doesn’t look like the same piece.
Even my dad’s jaw dropped when I showed him the before and after! He usually only gets impressed with Ash’s projects 🙂
Also, I have a ton of leftover paint. I went through about 1/8 of the quart of white and barely touched the gray.
Our old piano is going to be my next chalk paint project – I can’t wait to see how it will look.
Stayed tuned (ha ha pun intended!).