After a couple of furniture makeovers using chalk paint I want to give my honest opinion about using this paint for your DIY projects. In short I have mixed feelings about it. I love the effect you can create with chalk paint but I find the paint much harder to work with than is often advertised. Learn from my experiences in this Annie Sloan chalk paint review.
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The other day I shared my latest furniture makeover, my chalk paint desk. I am really happy about how it turned out, and I am sure that the final look was thanks to the paint I used: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
I have painted two pieces of furniture with the chalk paint now, and I love the final effect on both of them.
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 I could visit. 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.
I had already started and primed my maid’s wardrobe when the idea to give the chalk paint a trial 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.
My honest, – based on my own experience – review of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
The pros of working with Chalk Paint
- The chalk paint gives a wonderful matte finish,
- It doesn’t smell,
- It allows you to paint fast and follow up with several layers within hours,
- 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, lacquered sides it went on irregular and stripy.
This happened on the maids wardrobe too. I had already primed that one when I decided to give the chalk paint a trial run. The primer was a bit spotty and I hadn’t given the wardrobe an even finish with it. Normally that is no problem at all, the first coat of finishing paint will take all that away. But not in the case of following it up with the chalk paint. Chalk paint is 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 faithfully follow the instructions I got from the supplier.
It was no better…..
It seemed as if the first layer had big troubles adhering to the lacquered 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.
The image above 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 when 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 the yellow stain coming through (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 spots 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 the faux aging of the piece.
While distressing, it 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 that used to be bare wood the paint had adhered to thoroughly that I was able to sand off the top white layer and let the grey bottom layer shine through.
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 with a really fine 400 grid sandpaper. 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 working with 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 working with 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.
- The time you save on not having to sand at the start of the project is wasted when you have to finish the piece by waxing it.
Now granted a lot of my chalk paint 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! 😄
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