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EDITED 11/24/14: I wrote this post well over a year ago and still get weekly emails asking me questions about my process. I want to say here that ALL I know about painting with chalk paint and waxing is here in this post. If the info is not here, I've got nuthin' :) Just want to save you time in writing a big long email about your vintage dining set....ALSO, I am no longer painting furniture as a business. I've moved on to other creative endeavors, so I'm not in the loop about the newest products available. Some of the info following might be out of date as well, but I'll leave this post up in case you'd like to research further. I'm no longer answering emails about furniture re-doing as my time is focused on other things, I hope you understand :)
I'm really just a small-ish step away from a complete noob when it comes to chalk paint and waxing.
But I've used it on enough pieces to begin forming some opinions on what I like, what I don't, and why it matters for me and my new biz.
I started off trying out a few DIY recipes (which I will tell you about in another post), then dove right in with Annie Sloan's brand. I've since purchased some CeCe Caldwell and a sample of the American Paint Co. There's many more brands out there. Seems like I stumble upon a new brand every day in blogland (FAT paint, Maison Blanche, Van Gough, Shabby Paints, Webster's, more???).... and besides different color options, I think they're probably all similar in quality and performance, though a few of them claim to be all natural and others have a bit of latex in them. Price-wise they're all more expensive than most latex paints.
(mixing up one of my DIY chalk paint recipes)
Ta Da! How's that for the bottomline?
And you're only 1/4th thru the post. You're welcome.
(testing out different DIY recipes)
What differences? you ask.......my wish is your command.
You're welcome again.
~You have to mix up your own, which I don't mind doing. It makes me feel artistic :)
~Some of the DIY ingredients are hard to come by (calcium carbonate can be difficult to find locally)
~Other DIY ingredients can be pricey (my favorite recipe uses SW primer and a spackle product)
~Plaster of Paris and unsanded grout, while easy to find, are the most difficult to mix in and requires a mask when you sand it...toxic stuff people.
~Usually takes more coats to cover, and needs a quick sanding before waxing, although I usually sand everything quickly regardless of what paint I use as I like a smooth surface with few brush marks.
~While those sample pots are cheap (and cute), the quality is not that of the regular quarts/gallons of latex (I understand some key ingredients are missing), so depending on the paint you love (I happen to love Ben Moore and Sherwin Williams), the savings isn't quite as significant. Still cheaper than the boutique brands, though.
~It isn't all natural like most chalk based paints...for instance CeCe Caldwell's are 100% natural.
~You have to color match if you want the same shades offered by the boutique brands. Again, not a huge issue for me, I love the paint swatch area....and frankly, where I live, folks don't care whether I've used a 'name-brand' chalk paint color or not. Or whether it's even chalk paint.
They like white and off-white. BORING, but that's my reality.
Chalk paint is touted as easier to use due to it's 'no prep/sand/prime' claim. Basically open the can and get to it. I paid attention. That sounded like music to this 'can't wait to paint' gal's ears......
BUT. What they don't tell you is the work involved in waxing on the back end. And most of the time, you're gonna wanna seal that chalky goodness with at least one coat of wax or some other top coat.
The rest of this post is devoted to waxing and waning (and whining) about wax. Get yer cheesecloth.
So far I've used Annie Sloan's, SCJohnson's, Maison Blanche and Miss Mustard Seed's waxes.
Here's info on each based on my usage:
~Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax has a steep learning curve. I'm sure I'm making it too hard, but I've ruined 2 pieces using it, therefore doubling my time re-doing/fixing the finish. More detail below.
~SCJohnson's is stinky, but very low cost and available locally in the furniture cleaners section of big box stores. It isn't as soft as the others, but that's not been a big issue.
~Maison Blanche's wax is the cheapest boutique brand (before shipping) and is low odor, but only buffs to a matte finish.
~Miss Mustard Seed's is the easiest and most predictable....but also the most pricey per ounce of the specialty waxes, and it's easy to use too much as it's like soft butter. Over her milk paint, though, it's da bomb. Sleek, smooth and a bit of shine.
Mostly you're supposed to 'use a thin coat' (haven't quite figured out what that means as each wax has a different feel, and all the different tutorials I've watched seem to put it on differently), rub it in, (wipe off excess if you're using Annie Sloan's), then depending on the brand and the look you're after, you buff it when it's dry (usually within 10-15 minutes), or don't buff if you're after a completely matte finish. Annie Sloan seems to have the most finicky instructions, and expects me to wait at least 24 hours before buffing. Some tutorials for her wax recommend doing a second coat (and wait another 24 hours to buff).
Buffing also sucks. It's hard work, and by the time I've contorted myself into several unnatural positions to paint a piece, I'm over working so hard to get it to shine. And yes, Annie's is the hardest to buff. At least it has been for me. Miss Mustard Seed's is the easiest....shines right up.
Lemme tell ya, there is nothing more frustrating than getting a paint finish just the way you want, only to ruin it with the top coat. Amen.
(see the streaks?)
If you do want to use Annie Sloan's I recommend Cindy's tutorial that I posted here. I still didn't get great, predictable results with AS wax, but did much better with the others using her techniques.
I hate to be so negative about Annie Sloan's wax because I love her paint, and I have a terrific new friend right down the street who is a stockist....but I need to be honest. For those who have been using wax for ages, before it was all trendy and stuff, I'm sure it works fine. For lay folks or those used to more traditional finishes, there is an expensive learning curve. Be prepared.
Previously, I would often use polycrylic...which also gave me fits at times, but it was mostly predictable. I've also used waterbased Spar Varthane (found at my Menards) with good success and non-yellowing performance over white or light shades.
The pieces I've had the best luck with are good old latex with no topcoat (btw, Miss Mustard Seed never uses a topcoat with latex) or spraypaint. More prep at the get-go, but no waxing, glory be. I think I kinda prefer the prep up front idea as opposed to the work of waxing/buffing afterward with iffy results.
So will I continue to use chalk paint? Prolly. I like it for it's no-prep/prime, easy-to-distress and handpainted finish on certain pieces. I also LOVE that some brands are completely environmentally safe. But I'll usually be mixing my own with my old pal latex or even primer tinted with craft acrylic as much as the boutiques due mainly to cost. I haven't found customers (yet) who will pay more for specialty painted pieces.
Waxing may or may not stay in my arsenal....I will use up what I have since I forked out lots of bills for them AND the 2 waxing brushes I purchased....but I may just use polycrylic instead over chalk paint, or wipe-on poly for dark pieces. Dark wax will definitely take a back seat to glazing, which I'm used to using and already have in my supplies. (See a couple great glazing tutes HERE and HERE)
BTW, Jen Rizzo wrote a great piece about why she still prefers polycrylic over wax. Her biggest reasoning is that a piece finished with wax must be stripped before repainting, as well as the need to rewax more often than when using poly. For pieces I use in my own home that get repainted every few years, that was enough for me to decide not to wax those pieces....although in the comments on that post, someone mentioned chalk paint can go over a waxed piece as well as poly over the wax. *sigh* Everyone has an opinion/experience.
One of the gifts of the internet is the explosion of info at our fingertips. One of it's downsides is wading thru the opinions and experiences of others. In my research exploring chalk paint and waxing, I've found others with the same issues I've had regarding the wax (especially the Annie Sloan soft wax, but also with the process of waxing in general). You just have to dig below the raving reviews to find them.
Sausha of Sweet Pickin's hasn't jumped on the chalk paint bandwagon, and it hasn't hurt her business any. (link goes to a post about milk paint and she mentions not caring for chalk paint)
Mandie of Altar'd had a negative experience with Annie Sloan wax, but does carry CeCe Caldwell's chalk paints products and raves about the ease of CeCe's waxes.
Bottom line for me: cost and time. For pieces I'll use in my own home, I might go for the specialty boutique chalk paint. For pieces I sell, it's gonna be hard to justify the cost and time for the most part using boutique brands and waxes. Most customers in my neck of the woods aren't gonna know or care....they just want a white dresser with a hard, smooth finish.
Since writing this post, I've had the opportunity to try some other boutique brands of chalky paint and wax. See my review on CeCe Caldwell's products HERE, van Gogh products HERE, Shabby Paints HERE, and Country Chic Paints HERE.
I am getting better at waxing, but I am concerned about the fumes once my painting goes inside when the weather turns. For now, my favorite waxes to use are either CeCe's, American Paint Company, or van Gogh because they are all natural and pretty easy to use. My new favorite all-around boutique topcoat is VAX from Shabby Paints which will replace all polyacrylics for durability. See reviews linked above for more info.
I still enjoy using boutique chalk style paints over my homemade when I need to get a piece done quickly. I rarely wax. Instead I use VAX (by Shabby Paints), or Spar Urethane in satin by Varethane (at Menards in my parts). Spar Urethane won't turn whites yellow, and I use it like a wipe on poly.
Regarding chalky paint, I am leaning toward CeCe's and American Paint Co....again, all natural and gorgeous colors. There are a few Annie Sloan colors I can't live without, and while I can color match them at Sherwin Williams and make my own, I'm really favoring the ease of boutique brands over DIY at this point. I'm painting everyday, and the all natural, no prep, quick dry, sanding with a wet rag are all pretty dang awesome in turning pieces quickly.
For those who paint their own pieces, DIY is still the best IMO, though, and I will be using up my own DIY stash before investing in more of the boutique brands.
Best DIY recipe (from Diane at In My Own Style): 2 TBLS Calcium Carbonate in 1 TBLS water...add to 1 cup of latex (my choice is Sherwin Williams Color to Go sample quarts at $6!)
Second Best DIY recipe (from Cyndy at The Creativity Exchange): 1 part primer, 1 part spackle, 1 part paint. Be aware that if you use this recipe and are color matching boutique brands, the primer will lighten the color quite a bit. Maybe go a shade darker...
So there ya have it. Talk to me. What's been your experience with chalk paint and/or wax? Had good luck with a DIY recipe or two or twelve? Or do you still prefer latex? Has waxing given you fits too? Or are you a pro and use a brand you'd love to rave about? Let's hear it!
(I push the 'publish' button with a bit of fear and trembling as I know I'm not voicing the popular opinion...)
Sharing with Beth at Tutorials & Tips and Yvonne's Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits