How to use chalk paint/wax

September 7, 2015

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I started using chalk paint products many years ago and have always loved the paint and wax.  It can be challenging at times, but you learn tricks along the way.  It is quite easy to use, dries very fast, and is so versatile because of the wax you combine it with. 

 There are around 36 colors in the Annie Sloan paint line, which is the paint I have used the most. You have lots of options though for chalk paint now. The AS line is expensive, but very high quality. It is the one paint line I totally trust. They are all beautiful colors, especially the neutral lighter colors.  If you have never worked with chalk paint before then you need to know that it is very different than regular paint.  It dries very fast.  As you are laying it down it is drying.  Which means you CAN'T go over and over your strokes.  If you do, you will see the paint dragging.   You normally only need to do 2 coats with her paint.  With the pure white color I find I need to do 3 or 4 coats.  You can sand lightly in between coats to smooth out the lines a bit. The sanding really does make a big difference in getting smoothness. I almost always sand everything I paint with chalk paint. It won't take away all the lines though as this is a matte paint. Something else that helps with getting rid of brush marks is using water. Water is your friend when using chalk paint. You can either dip your brush in a tiny bit of water, then the paint, then brush. Or you can spray a mist of paint on your surface, then paint. Or spray some water on a paper plate, dip your brush in that water puddle, then paint. The water really does help with making the paint smoother but you only need a little. If I am painting something large I use small rollers with low nap or sponge rollers.  I like the ones from Sherwin Williams that are velour or mohair. Click here on my affiliate link to see some good rollers. Just see which ones you like to work with-the low nap or the foam. I find the foam ones soak up a lot of the chalk paint but the paint does lay smoother.  To make the paint the smoothest though you do need to lightly sand the coats with 220 grit sandpaper. 

 

You will need to seal chalk paint with wax or you can also use a sealant on it like General Finishes High Performance Top Coat or Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish or Artisan Enhancement topcoats-they have 2 different sealants available. One of them is made specifically for sealing whites so you could try that for your lighter colors. Their Clear Finish really does work over pure white and it keeps white really white. But if I want 100% guarantee of no yellowing over pure white then I use clear wax.  

 

I like to use natural bristle brushes with chalk paint.  Some companies are coming out with a mix of natural and synthetic which are great too.  You can buy Annie Sloan brushes (which are fantastic) from your local stockist or you can buy them from an online stockist.  Just make sure you do not use the cheap ones (from the big stores) that have barely any hairs.  The less hairs the brush has the more lines you will see.  It is worth it to buy good quality brushes that have a good amount of hairs.  Amazon sells all sorts of brushes too. Look for natural bristle or a mix of natural/synthetic.  As long as you take good care of your brushes they will last a long time.  For the paint brushes you can just clean those with warm water.  If they start looking like they are full of colors just clean them with lye soap or Dawn.  The Annie Sloan stockist usually sell the lye bars.

 

WAXING- I really like Annie Sloan wax as it is a superior wax. It is tough, durable, long lasting. Use a wax brush to apply it.  It works much better than trying to put on the wax with a cloth.  You need to rub the wax in. Use a wax brush, which are normally round. You can also buy wax brushes on line from Chalk Supply or various online chalk stores. Your AS stockist sells them and also many other chalk paint suppliers do too. I use the round wax brushes - large and small.  I also use the round stencil brushes to apply wax in the detailed areas and small areas.   ONLY work in small sections.  Do not attempt to do the entire top of your dresser or the entire side of the dresser (or whatever you are working on).  Apply your wax with the wax brush, in a section, pushing it into the surface. Then take your t-shirt piece and rub the wax in, removing it at the same time. Do you get what I mean? You are applying the wax with a wax brush, in a section at a time, pushing the wax in. Then grab your rag and wipe off the excess wax. It is like you are buffing as you are wiping the wax off. Then go on to your next section. The wax dries fast too so that is why you can't leave it sitting there long.  I use old white t-shirts cut up to do the rubbing of the wax and removing the wax.  Your rag will be covered in wax so throw it away when it gets too thick with wax.  Let the piece of furniture sit for 12-24 hrs, before applying 2nd coat.  Repeat the process with application.  You are applying with brush, rubbing it off with cloth, a quick buffing with the cloth.  I don't put on more then 2 coats of wax.  Let the wax sit for a good 24 hrs before doing your buffing. Buffing is like you are just rubbing it all in and securing the wax. The more you buff though the more sheen you will get. So if you don't want the shiny look, then don't buff as much. If you like the gloss look, then buff and buff.

 

If you are waxing a long dresser, you can wax in long strokes, like you painted, instead of circles. It helps your final look. 

 

 

It is always good to apply clear wax first before dark wax. The clear wax will seal all the paint. Plus if you are not familiar with wax yet, it is good practice to just do the clear until you can figure out the darker waxes. So put on a coat of clear and then for you 2nd coat you can do the dark wax or black wax if you are wanting to age your piece. Let the first clear coat sit though for at least 12 hrs first. Another option you have with the wax is that you can combine them.  You can combine some clear wax with some dark wax - any mixture.  That changes the color of the wax.  If you just want the look of a light aging, then use the combination of 70% clear with 30% dark.  I often use the combination of 50-50.  I also put a tiny bit of mineral spirits in to the darker waxes.  It softens it up and makes it WAY easier to use. Otherwise your dark wax will be very streaky. All you need is just a tiny bit of mineral spirits.  Because I have been working with the waxes for so long, I will sometimes go ahead and do the mix as my first coat. But that is because I know what the look is going to result in.  AS does recommend that you always clear wax first. The black wax looks really good when using with her darker colors. The white wax is a bit different than the clear wax in that you want to let it sit for a minute before taking it off. It is slower to dry than the clear and if you take it off right away you will lose the white color. 

 

I have never put on more than 2 coats of wax but you could apply 3 coats if you feel it needs it. You can read my blog on painting cabinets with AS.

 

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