I still remember when I was trying to understand the buzz about chalk painting. Why would anyone want to paint their furniture to look like a chalk board? Big box DIY stores were no help. Containers were labeled “chalky finish.” Again I wondered, “Why would I want my furniture to feel rough like chalk?”
It wasn’t until I tried Dixie Belle that I discovered the appeal of chalk mineral paint! Painting allowed me to transform the look of my home… without spending a fortune on new decor or furniture. I said good-bye to brown and boring and welcomed bright and beautiful! Here are my favorite supplies and the basics to get you started on your own chalk painting journey.
- Dixie Belle White Lightning
- Primer such as Dixie Belle Boss, Slick Stick or Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 or Synthetic Shellac
- Wood Filler or Dixie Mud (if needed)
- Sand Paper (in various grits if needed)
- Sanding Sponges
- Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint
- A quality synthetic brush such as Wooster, Purdy or Dixie Belle
- Continuous spray misting bottle
- Painters tape
- Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax in Clear or Satin Clear Coat
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Before Picking Up a Brush…
It’s always tempting to dive right in painting…that’s the fun part! But taking steps to prep your furniture pays off in better results. Nothing is more disheartening to finish painting and discover bleed through or peeling paint.
I always check that my furniture is structurally sound and make basic cosmetic repairs such as filling holes and chipped veneer with wood filler. After having numerous tubes dry out, I discovered Minwax stainable filler which comes in a resealable pot to prevent drying. If you do not plan to stain, Dixie Belle Mud is also a wood filler option…and does double duty for raised stencils! Fill any defects, let dry, fill some more if needed (it can shrink as it dries), then sand smooth.
Cleaning your furniture removes dirt and wax build up that could hinder water-based paint from adhering to the surface. Dixie Belle’s White Lightning, a TSP-based product, is an economical choice. Only 2 heaping tablespoons are needed to create a gallon of cleaner! Wear gloves, follow the package directions and remember to rinse with water before painting.
To Prime or Not to Prime?
Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint is designed to eliminate the need to sand and prime but I often lightly scuff sand rough spots and use a primer to tackle potential problems such as odor, stains and bleed thru. Dixie Belle’s BOSS comes in both clear and white and creates a smooth base for paint. At times I have used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 when I will be painting white. While it is an economical alternative, the resulting surface is not as smooth as one primed with white BOSS. Unfortunately, even after using traditional primer wood tannins can cause bleed through. See my blog Painting White Furniture for more details. In this case, I use Zinnser Synthetic Shellac Primer.
If your surface is shiny, glossy or laquered, you run the risk of your paint not adhering or, worse yet, peeling off after you’ve finished. Dixie Belle’s Slick Stick is designed for these situations and also works well on glass and laminate. Slick Stick is an alternative primer and you do not need to use both Slick Stick and BOSS.
Picking Colors and Brushes
I used Dixie Belle Drop Cloth on my first piece of furniture and Vintage Duck Egg on my second. As a newbie painter, I found painting with color was easier than painting white. If you have your heart set on white please seen my tips Painting White Furniture.
Having a good quality brush makes a difference. Who wants to see brush strokes? I started out with Wooster, moved on to Purdy and then invested in a Dixie Belle Mini which quickly became my favorite! Whatever brand you choose, I have found that synthetic brushes result in fewer brush strokes than natural bristle.
As a professional, I want clean lines and don’t like to see paint where I did not intend to paint. I use painter’s tape on the inside frames of drawers, underneath my furniture and to mask off mirrors and glass. I prefer Frog Tape due to its adhesion and clean removal but I have also raided my husband’s stash of traditional Scotch blue tape in a pinch!
Chalk Painting Tips and Techniques
After starting with Dixie Belle paint, I tried other brands to see how they compared. I realized I was lucky to have started with Dixie Belle since it is so easy for a beginner to use! Two features that make it beginner-friendly: self-leveling and a long “open time.”
Self-leveling paint evens out as it dries and results in a finer finish. Open time refers to the period of time when you can continue to work with the paint before it becomes sticky and brush strokes begin to appear. Using a continuous spray misting bottle will provide additional open time and allow you to smooth out brush strokes. Rather than depositing droplets of water like a traditional sprayer, it delivers a fine mist which will not result in water marks or paint running.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Use a slightly damp brush
- Stir your paint
- Your first coat doesn’t have to be perfect
- Multiple thin coats produce a better finish than a single thick coat
- Preserve your brush…dip only the bottom third in your paint
- Allow your paint to thoroughly dry between coats
- Sanding lightly between coats, 220 grit with a light touch or a sanding sponge, smooths the finish and removes stray hairs or residue
Sealing your Chalk Paint
Dixie Belle paint is self-sealing and durable in 30 days. In my house, dogs and vacuum cleaners have a habit of running into my furniture so I prefer to seal before placing into use. I also seal any piece I plan to sell.
In most cases, I opt for Best Dang Wax in Clear or Satin Clear Coat. Wax results in a soft matte finish while satin clear coat provides a subtle sheen. To choose the best sealer for your project, and tips on application, please see My Top Five Ways to Seal Chalk Painted Furniture.