Howdie friends. Thank you for your love for my little desk. I am really happy about how she turned out, and I am sure that the final look happened thanks to paint I used: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
I have painted two pieces of furniture with the chalk paint now, and I love how both of them turned out.
I didn’t really plan on using the paint on these pieces but all the blog reviews had made me curious and I have a big hutch in my living room that I want to paint this year.
I thought AS chalk paint might be perfect for it. So I was very happy to find that there was a Dutch supplier and during our Christmas break I took My Love and me on a road trip half way across the country to get it at the source. I brought two drawers with me (of my desk and of the hutch) to get the experts advice, and she helped me and send me on my way with lots of useful tips and an offer for more online advice.
(voor de Dutchies: de officiele importeur van Annie Sloan verf voor Nederland is gevestigd in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel en het wordt verkocht vanuit een hele leuke woonwinkel, Heart and Home).
I had already started and primed my maid’s closet when the idea to give the chalk paint a try run popped in my head, so I went with that.
I am very happy about how both projects turned out, but as I said I am not all that happy about the process that it took me to get to that point.
So here is my honest, – based on my own experience – review of the chalk paint.
The chalk paint gives a wonderful matte finish, it doesn’t smell, allows you to paint fast and follow up with several layers within hours and the clean up is a dream.
I also found it very hard to paint with.
I had no troubles on the bare wood on the top of my desk. But on the smooth sides it went on irregular and stripy. This happened on the maids closet too. I had already primed that one when I decided to give the chalk paint a trial run, since I was contemplating doing a big hutch in my living room with it.
The primer was a bit spotty and I hadn’t given the closet an even finish with it. Normally that is no problem at all, the first coat of paint will take all that away. Not the chalk paint. It was more transparent so I kept seeing the differences between the whiter and the less white bits underneath. Took me three layers to have an acceptable cover.
Officially you don’t have to prime when you use AS chalk paint so with my desk I decided to follow the instructions I got from the supplier faithfully.
It was no better.
It seemed as if the first layer had big troubles adhering to the lackered and veneered piece, so I was left with visible brush strokes and an uneven finish. But most of all I couldn’t get rid of the marks the brush left when I put it on the piece or when I changed directions with the brush.
This is a really big close-up (and therefore a bit exaggerated) of what happened when I moved the brush in the opposite direction. The only way I could get rid of it was running the brush from one end with no hesitations to the other end. On the desk that was doable on a full length hutch that would be nearly impossible.
My biggest problem with painting my desk, however was that the old white dissolved the old varnish and as a result I had a big yellow mess on my hands.
This close up of the leg shows it (it was hard to photograph it was much worse on some other bits). At this point I had put on one layer of grey and following the directions I had received, I painted it immediately with the white next (the pamphlet said one could/should do it after 30 minutes if you where going for the distressed look).
The grey went on fine albeit a bit stripy, the white went on like a dream (it adhered much better to the grey), but within 15 min this happened. The white dissolved the old varnish and sort of disappeared leaving this yellow behind. I recognized what happened because I had seen it before on a closet I painted with a cheap paint. Back then I had to do 6 layers to more or less get rid of the yellow.
In the end I let it dry like this over night and then gave it another white coat. This one too, somewhat disappeared and left me with a yellow stained desk.
I knew then that I would need to be putting on many more layers to get rid of it completely. So instead I made peace with it. Covered some of it up with a dry brush of grey, distressed the yellow bits the heaviest and for the rest pretended that it was part of my faux aging of the piece.
While distressing, it again became clear that the paint had not adhered very well to the legs or the sides. Because even the slightest distressing brought out the raw wood. I could never only remove the white to expose the grey underneath, it would scrape right off. Only on the top was I able to remove the top white layer and keep the grey.
You can see in the image above how all of the paint was gone on the leg, I did not forcefully remove it. I distressed it very carefully. For the final result I painted over it with a dry brush of grey to make it a bit softer.
So to recap:
What I loved about the chalk paint:
- It takes a bit getting used to, but I love the matte finish. It suits old pieces like this very well, because a shiny new finish would never look authentic.
- I love that it is practically odorless. I painted my desk in the middle of my craft room and it did not stink up my whole room.
- I love that it dries fast and you can start and finish a piece in a couple of hours.
- I love the ease of clean-up. Just run your brushes under the tap and they are clean and ready to go again in no time (you can even forget your brushes and clean them later all dried in, perfect for a messy DIY-er like me).
- It distresses wonderfully and looks very natural as if time itself has done it.
What I didn’t like about the chalk paint:
- I couldn’t get it to adhere evenly to my previously lacquered pieces. It went on rather spotty and stripy
- It was particularly hard to not have visible brush strokes, especially where the brush either changed directions or was put on the piece.
- Because of the less than perfect bonding with the piece the distressing was hard to control and it was impossible to only distress to the previous layer.
- The white paint dissolved the old varnish and therefor not only did not go on well, it also caused a lot of yellow staining.
- So all in all. Would I recommend AS chalk paint? Yeah, I guess so, but with hesitation. I found it rather difficult to work with and unpredictable. But the end result is still gorgeous and I don’t believe I could have got that with regular paint.
- I will definitely use it again, but probably not on my next piece of furniture and I definitely have lost the courage to use it on my big living room hutch that started all of this in the first place.
Now granted a lot of my problems may be caused by some faultiness in my paint technique, so if someone out there wants to buy me another pot of AS chalk paint and teach me how to work with it properly I am game!
Okay now it is your turn, and I am ducking here, because I have heard there are some very ardent AS supporters out there.