Chalk painting furniture and distressing is still a pretty huge deal for those who love DIY projects. This secret technique will save you time and money and is something I learned back when I was in college studying art. Hint…it doesn’t involve any chalky brand paint and doesn’t require any mixing or blending!
Check out my chalk painting furniture before and after. A before…
As you know, the chalky paints can be expensive and back when I was in college there was no such thing as ready made. We made our own, but often if painting wood surfaces we started with THIS STUFF. Amazing…I don’t know if I’ve seen other DIYers use it but if you’re looking for a soft distressed surface that is similar to LIMEWASH, this could be for you! Did you read the post where I used a cruddy old dropcloth to make a summer beach painting? Dead giveaway on what this amazing stuff called gesso is intended for.
What is Gesso?
GESSO is made for painting on canvas and preps the canvas for paint will adhere to it. It’s a combination of binders, paint pigments and yes…it does contain calcium carbonate which is CHALK! You can find out more about gesso for artists in this article. A little bit goes a long way and at under $20 it will last you a really long time with this technique.
How do you apply GESSO smoothly?
If you notice that there are some bumps that pop up after applying your GESSO, it’s no reason to fret. Just sand out the bumps and apply another coat of paint over the top.
How long should you let GESSO dry?
GESSO will dry within about 20 minutes of time. But you do want to let it rest for a while before trying to apply anything over the top of it. You also want to wait until the first coat of paint is completely dry before adding on a second coat of paint.
What type of items can you paint with GESSO?
There are quite a few things that you can use GESSO with. Some of them are:
- and literally almost any surface!
This is what makes it such a popular choice for those that want to change the look of some of their home in an affordable DIY way.
Nothing fancy at all to this chalk painting furniture without chalk paint technique and here are my super simple steps:
Chalk Painting Furniture – Tips for painting with chalkboard paint
- There is no need to prep your wood, similar to using the chalky paints in a can. Just clean off any dust with a rag if your piece has been sitting around awhile.
- Grab a waxed finish paper plate or a throwaway plastic food storage container and squirt a tablespoon or so out.
- I used a small brush on these chairs and since I wasn’t painting the upholstery I grabbed a 1″ angled brush.
- Use a dry brush painting technique similar to what I talked about in my post on WHITEWASHING A FARMHOUSE TABLE. What that means is don’t wet your brush. Grab the gesso on the tip of your brush and drag it in the direction of the grain.
- Have a wet rag on hand and wipe the gesso down if you’ve put too much paint on any areas. Once you start wiping down areas you will have some gesso on the rag, so keep that in mind. You’ll probably want to wet the rag again and squeeze out excess water out as you continue your painting.
- A reader asked me if you can tint gesso and I’m updating to say YES! Just mix in a small amount your favorite acrylic paint and try it out. Start with a small amount and add more if necessary.
Tips and Finishing
- As with any project (or photo styling) I recommend stepping back and taking a look at your progress. It’s amazing how you think something might look and then you stand back and get a totally different feel!
- This wood was pretty porous. I wouldn’t recommend this particular process for anything with a lacquer or heavily glossed finish. If chalk painting those finishes you’d probably want to sand down and use a thicker paint like the real deal.
- It took me 1/2 hour per chair to paint these and only one coat required! They don’t need to be sealed since the gesso sinks in, but if you are using this on a tabletop or flat surface you can seal with THIS (my favorite furniture wax!) or THIS.
I like the new lighter look. The gesso used on top of the wood gives it a French grey tone. Perfect for my French country coastal modern crazy but it works home!
Does chalk paint scratch easily?
Just like most paints, chalk paint is going to show scratches, etc. Just make certain that you’re careful with your surroundings and know that when you choose your paint. Since the furniture that I painted has a more rustic look and feel, I’m not worried about scratches or dings on them because it’s really not going to show anyway.
Will chalk paint stick to any surface?
This is the beauty of chalk paint! It’s made to stick to almost any surface! Some of the surfaces that you’ll see it on the most are:
- Types of Particle Boards
You name it. If it can stick to it, it’s going to. And this also gives you a great big option for decorating and painting even more things in your home with your chalk paint techniques and colors.
How long does chalk paint last?
Make certain that once you purchase your chalk paint, you start on those chalk paint furniture ideas or DIY projects as soon as possible. This is because your can of chalk paint is going to have a shelf-life of 1 year from the time that you bring it home and start.
And while you think that 1 year gives you plenty of time, we all know that life happens. So set aside a day or a weekend to knock out some of your simple chalk paint projects.
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Let me know if you have any questions on the chalk painting furniture technique (without chalky paint) in the comments and please share and pin for later!