“Chalk Paint – Four Myths are they Confirmed, Plausible or Busted?”

Chalk Paint Myths – ConFirmed, Plausible or busted?

Ever wonder why sometimes chalk paint fails? Or maybe you feel what people have said about chalk paint isn’t true?  Lets play a game of Myth Busting with chalk paint! All these have been my own personal observation and what I have found from my personal experience and research.


EDIT: I would like to take a moment of silence, today on Memorial Day, to remember all those who have given their all….


Thank you all for that moment. May you have a blessed Memorial Day.


This is a continuation to my previous post:


COnfirmed Busted plausible

MYTH #1 Chalk Painting Inside! – Plausible!

PAINTING INSIDE WITH CHALK PAINT CAN BE DONE! But not with most chalk paint brands… Only a few brands are non toxic (kid friendly) and VOC free. VOC fumes can be a nasty thing to inhale and can cause many serious problems for many painters and those who live with you. Please check with the brand you are using to see if it is VOC free before painting inside with your windows closed. NOTE: Latex DIY chalk paint is not VOC free unless the base can AND the colorants added in to make the color you want are both VOC free. Most latex paint actually gains more VOC fumes from the colorants added to the bases. They can label the cans VOC free or low VOC because it is, if you buy it as is and paint it as a white with no color added. Please check with the EPA website and take a moment to read up on health issues associated with VOC fumes:

I love the chalk-acrylic paints I use as they are non toxic and VOC free… allowing me to chalk paint inside with inclement weather outside.

Painting inside chalk paint no ventalation

MYTHS #2 All chalk paint covers in two coats! – PLAUSIBLE!

PLAUSIBLE because it once again depends on the brand! DIY & latex recipes and some cheaper chain store acrylic brands are Busted with this Myth (see image below). These brands and DIY recipes cover about 80 sq ft per quart where as higher quality brands can cover up to 190 sq ft per quart causing this myth to be Plausible due to the quality and coverage of the brand of chalk paint you are using. I am a huge fan of the quality acrylic paints because well… time is money honey, with two kids, two dogs, my man child and my own business to run I don’t have time to take 2-3 days longer to finish a project just to save $10, do you?

These are dresser drawers that I painted with a chain retail store acrylic brand….. yup, there is bleeding that needed to be sealed, and 7 coats of this brand’s chalk paint… SEVEN to get an even white finish! When painting  light colors onto dark pieces, or dark to light, it usually takes a third coat no matter what your brand… but seven?!?! Lets say I was less then impressed with this brand’s coverage. (This image only shows 5 as I only had 6 drawers to work with… but the one on the far left needed 2 more coats to be finished.) The final result looks good… but it took 2-3 times the amount of product and time to apply it vs. a good quality acrylic chalk paint that only takes 1/2 – 1/3 the product and effort.

chalk paint many coats poor brand

MYTH #3A no prep! – BUSTED!

BUSTED?!?!?!  I know! I KNOW!!! This saddens me too but keep reading it’s not as bad as it sounds.

People tend to throw around “no prep work needed” interchangeably with “no sanding and priming needed” this is not true entirely. It may seem like a given but one major reason chalk paint fails is people don’t clean their pieces thoroughly. No matter what chalk paint you use… it will not stick to dust, dirt, product build up or oils left behind by food or humans and pets without a bonding agent OR simply to have the surface area thoroughly cleaned, cheap and easy!  So get out the elbow grease and get ready to get down and dirty with your project. While doing so find all the reasons you scored it so cheap in the first place… like that broken drawer guide or the missing details on the back foot you didn’t see. If you are selling this piece these need to be fixed.

I clean all my pieces with a 50/50 water/vinegar mix and a quick squirt of blue dawn soap. I use a microfiber cloth, toothbrush, scrubbing brush and a stripping pad from 3M (it’s green the size of a dish sponge and found in the stripping supplies at the hardware store). I am not stripping with the 3M pad but rather scuffing the surface while I clean and sometimes it saves me from having to a quick wipe down sand also. It also takes off product buildup when prepping, I would not use it on any piece you are planning on not refinishing. Then, no matter what, rinse your piece very well with plain water and a clean rag. Even vinegar can cause chalk paint not to stick to the surface.

MYTH #3B no sanding, Priming or stripping needed! – PLAUSIBLE!

I am breaking your high hopes of an easy project flip I know but again… keep reading. Though most of the time this myth is true, there is always exceptions to the rule. So never say never! There are some cases where a slight bit of hand sanding is need.

– if there are gouges, deep scratches or peeling spots in your old finish. Those areas need to be sanded possibly even filled with filler then sanded to level them out.  Though if you are going for a distressed look the dings and dents or even scratches can add to the character of the piece. But you must sand if your old finish is flaking or peeling.

#2 – if your old surface is shiny/glossy/slick or a non wood surface like Laminate. If you really want your new finish it to last, and lets face it… with all this work we DO NOT want it to peel up and scratch off the next time we PCS . I do suggest taking a higher grit sandpaper 200+ and quickly “wiping” down any gloss/shiny surface you wish to chalk  paint or if the piece is laminate and faux wood. Stripping or major sanding is needed if the piece’s old finish is oil based. Try painting in test spot, if your chalk paint separates when painted on the surface of your piece and looks like puddles or a crackle finish then the original finish is oil and it needs to be stripped or primed with a specific primer for oil based finishes that will allow a water base coat on top. Remember oil and water don’t like to mix.


MYTH #4 – Doesn’t matter what brushes or tools you use! – Busted!

There are many types of ways to apply chalk paint, brushes, sponges, rollers, sprayers and even within those categories may different products to choose from, so it should not surprise you that there is a reason for this variety. They all have a purpose to help achieve everything from a modern metallic finish to a chunky, junky farm house finish.

    • Cheep chip brushes are great for dry brushing and antiquing.
    • Rags are also good for antiquing and fading.
    • Quality brushes rated for acrylics and water based paints are great for solid applications of chalk paint leaving a smooth surface.
    • Foam brushes are good for sponging over stencils you are using.
    • Rollers are great to cover larger flat surfaces quickly.
    • Sprayers cover the entire piece very fast but at the loss of some product blown away into the breeze. Your chalk paint may also need to be thinned out with water to use in a sprayer.
    • Sponges are great for applying antiquing glazes and washes as well as thinner layers of colors for a multicolored layered look.

Knowing what tools are best for what applications one of the keys to a beautiful finish with your desired look. Some tools work better with acrylic chalk paints and others work better with DIY latex recipes. Some are just trial and error per the way each individual paints. I suggest if one is not working for you that is okay, I personally don’t like chip brushes for a main base coat of color. I prefer to have a great quality brush (Cling On Brushes brand is my favorite) for a good smooth coat where I don’t have to sand between coats due to lumpy brush stroke textures. On the other hand… some distressed pieces need that texture and it can be a cool affect when used on the right finish.

So in the end know your chalk paint brands limitations and benefits as well as try different tools till you find what works best for you to ensure a successful application and safe execution of your  DIY project.


Happy  Chalk Painting! See you next Monday.

L. Grace Lauer

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