DIY Chalk Paint Furniture Updo

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A few weeks ago I enjoyed re-finishing my childhood furniture, which was also my mom’s childhood furniture!

The week beforehand, my friend hired me to help organize her house, which included chalk painting thrifted furniture with her.

Naturally, I got the bug. The chalk painting bug.

She posted all about it here and here so check it out.

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painting chairs with Janice – the before pic


Janice’s chairs – the after pic

When I say chalk paint, a common first consensus of thought is chalkboard paint, but this is actually not chalkboard paint, but a chalky textured paint.

Annie Sloan is a British designer of a line of chalk paint which is heralded as top quality in the furniture chalk painting world. One of the great things about this kind of paint is that it requires no sanding or stripping or prep work on the furniture other than a simple wipe down of any dust, and removing hardware. You can simply start painting. Distressing the painted furniture is quite easy as well, only requiring sandpaper.

I wasn’t quite willing to part with 2 Andrew Jacksons for one quart of her paint. At $40 a pop plus the cost of wax and brushes, I got determined to find a way to make it for less. Story of my life. I googled DIY chalk paint and found some recipes for making my own paint and even a great color matching blog post for Annie Sloan colors. I chose the Old White color and matched it to Home Depot’s Behr Polished Pearl UL160-10.

One quart of paint stretched so far, that even with 3 coats on each piece of furniture, as well as some small side projects like shelves, I had plenty left over. For the truly budget conscious, I recommend the sample size Behr paint which is 8oz. This is not an exact measurement, but I venture to say I could have done 3 coats of paint on this full piece of furniture with 8oz of paint, mixed with 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris and 2 tbsps of water. I would say that a quart could cover three pieces of full sized furniture at 2-3 coats each!

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Chest of drawers BEFORE

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Dresser BEFORE

Gather SUPPLIES for mixing your own chalk paint:

  • Behr flat latex paint – $2.94 for sample 8 oz size or about $14 for a quart
  • DAP Plaster of Paris – $7 or $8
  • Paint mixing stick (free at Home Depot) – free
  • Small Rubbermaid container with lid for mixing paint into – $1
  • 2 tbsp water – free
  • Measuring utensils: tbsp & 1/3 cup


Pour 2 cups of paint into Rubbermaid container. Slowly stir in 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris. Add in 2 tbsps of water. Stir until consistency no longer shows the chalkiness of the Plaster of Paris.


Remove hardware.

Dust off furniture with dry rag.

Just start painting!

First coat – no technique is needed – just have fun with it.

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I had a visitor pop his head over the fence to “wish me success” and ask what I was doing about 4 times. Cuteness.

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Dresser after second coat.

Garage was a disaster zone for a few days.

Second coat – no technique needed. I waited at least a few hours between each coat.

After the second coat, I sanded and waxed.

I used 3M sandpaper, 180 fine grit. I read that between 150-200 grit are recommended for distressing painted furniture. I went for middle road 180 fine grit.


I folded the sandpaper in fourths and just rubbed against the edges several times, and kept a dry rag handy to wipe off dust as I sanded. This was my favorite part! It is the part that I think gives it the most character.

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Dresser drawers after distressing and waxing.

You can choose whether to lightly or heavily distress. I opted for light distressing. My parents told me about a show where antiquers took a chain and threw it against the furniture to create nick-marks. I did that once and then wimped out. Sanding gave it enough character for me without having to create more dents in the drawers.

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closer up view of distressed dresser

After the second coat of paint & wax, I sanded the “globs” where the paint dried too fast. I distressed the natural edges of it with sandpaper.

When painting outside, beware to quickly brush out the chalk paint once applied because it dries faster than normal paint. Another tip is to mix the paint & Plaster of Paris & water in a plastic container with a lid. When you are painting, keep the lid applied to the paint container because it can also dry out quickly, especially if you are in the sunshine.

After the second coat of paint, sanding the globby paint off, then I applied one coat of the Minwax paste finishing wax instead of Annie Sloan wax. And then I distressed with sandpaper again.


I was not a fan of the wax part of the process. I applied one coat of wax and I’m not sure it did any good. It made no visible difference to me, but then again I am not a pro and just didn’t want to spend time on something I saw no value for. To apply the wax, I got out a thick paper plate – think Chinette. I spooned out some wax onto the plate. I used a cheap chip brush to apply it, which could have been part of my problem. I went strictly for function and not for beauty with the wax. I am sure there are awesome tutorials out there on the proper Karate Kid “wax on, wax off” processes but I am not your ninja for that one! 😉

The wax dried and I applied a third coat of paint. This is the only coat of paint where I actually cared about the technique or brush direction I used to paint. With the first and second coats, literally no technique is required. Just get the paint on the thing – that’s as complicated as it gets. On my third coat I made sure to paint in straight, vertical lines with a clean brush to avoid any glopping on that coat. Success!

I simply bought a can of polycrylic spray to finish it off.

polycrylic spray

Polycrylic is similar to polyurethane, but I read that for white furniture, it is better because polyurethane can cause a yellowing to occur. It was the most expensive part of my furniture re-finishing process at $12 for a can. One note on the polycrylic spray is that I chose the satin finish as opposed to the semi gloss. I wanted a more matte finish rather than glossy. The satin gave it just a tiny bit of shine, but not gloss, with which I was pleased. It took a few coats of spray to get it completely covered. I am afraid I got it a bit splotchy on the sides of the dresser because of my spraying technique, and it is minimally visible once dried, but that is my only complaint for the whole project. Give a good 45 minutes to an hour between each coat of spray, and don’t do it in the wind or dark, or near a vehicle! 🙂

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hardware laid out on newspaper

I spray painted the copper colored hardware with Rustoleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.


It gives a nice contrast to the Old White color paint on my furniture, but not quite as dark as black. Had just the perfect shimmer. I was really pleased with it.

Dresser and chest of drawers completed and in my room!

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8 thoughts on “DIY Chalk Paint Furniture Updo

  1. Hi I have had a fair amount of furniture done from a lady who has tins that look like your ones on this website where should I buy them from as I want to buy them ready made

    1. Hi Anna, if you are talking about the mercury glass looking tin with dried flowers in it, I found it several months back at Marshall’s. You may also try HomeGoods & TJ Maxx, as they are all owned & supplied by the same company. Hope that helps!

    1. Thank you Elia. 🙂 Yes, this can be done in any color. I think I provided a link to the Altar’d Designs website with some color matching options to Annie Sloan colors… I’ve done the Behr Gulf Winds color which is similar to Provence with this same technique of making chalk paint. I think the important part is the type of paint, not the color. From what I read it is the Behr flat latex interior paint to buy. Normally I buy the samples at Home Depot and it is the right kind. Hope that helps and I wish you the best with your projects 🙂


  2. I’m so happy I found this because I literally am doing exactly what you did! I have all the same exact stuff.. Minwax, behr flat sample jar in my favorite color, rustoleum metallic spray paint for the hardware and I’m refinishing a dresser that looks nearly identical. I got Zinsser spray-primer because I did NOT get Plaster of Paris. I think I may go get some, now.. I’m not sure. I’m so torn! Primer + paint or go buy PoP? I obviously wanted the chalk paint effect but it was way too expensive. What would you do if you were me? Go buy the plaster or spray-prime & paint? also, I don’t have polycrylic.. Is this necessary for a dresser??? I figured the wax would be enough.

    1. Hey Nicole! Glad this helps! 🙂 I have never primed anything I chalk painted so I don’t know what to say about the Zinsser stuff. But Plaster of Paris is cheap and goes a long way. I would get it because when you mix it with the Behr flat interior latex paint, it causes the paint to become the necessary consistency that makes it better for distressing.

      Also, here’s another tip or two that I learned later for waxing. Use a cheesecloth to apply it. You can get that at Joann Fabrics for $5 or less. Spoon some wax in between the cheesecloth layers, and rub in circles to apply. The wax comes through the holes in the cheesecloth. If you are using white paint, do a test section of waxing first and let it dry, because the wax may affect the color of the dried paint. I learned that on another furniture project I did.

      I didn’t wax it a whole lot because this was my first furniture project and I didn’t know how to really do it. Polycrylic worked fine for me. I actually went back later and did the brush-on polycrylic with a special teal paintbrush that Minwax makes for water-based paints like polycrylic.

      However, try just the wax and if done the right way, it may be enough! If the furniture piece you are doing isn’t one that is in a high traffic area, has kids knocking it up, or would easily get damaged with more unwanted nicks and scratches, waxing alone may be safe. There are youtube videos on waxing and how to do it right!

      Anyway, hope all this helps with your project!

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