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! 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.
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.
Nothing fancy at all to this chalk painting furniture without chalk paint technique and here are my super simple steps:
Chalk Painting Furniture – The Easy And Inexpensive Way
- 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!
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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!