Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What's All This About Chalk Paint?

I read about it. I conversed about it. I watched videos about it. I looked a gazillion pictures about it. And I finally threw my hat into the chalk paint ring. How'd it go?

It was ok. I didn't hate it. But mine didn't turn out like the stuff I saw online and in videos. I almost don't care about that because it requires ZERO prep work which, in my opinion, is the WORST part about painting anything EVER. My dislike for prep work before painting has been with me since the very first time I painting something which was way back in grad school. Hate it. Can't stand it. UGH. Double UGH. Triple UGH. Even though it makes a HUGE difference, I will never love prep work. Oops. Tangent. Sorry.

Usually, I am covered in paint and you can tell which wall or item I painted vs just about anyone else's wall or item. Mine will look like a 5-year-old did the work. Not. Exaggerating. I don't mind painting because it covers stuff I don't want to see anymore or gives new life to things I don't want to get rid of but I am terrible at doing it. TERRIBLE. Not. Kidding.

But chalk paint? I thought chalk paint would make even my efforts look pretty darn good because I read it is quite forgiving. Riiight. Maybe for some but I'm not sure it was for me.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Before I tackled the rocking chair my grandparents gave me for my first Christmas, I wanted to practice. I even offered to try it out on Baby M's parents' new house by painting their kitchen cabinets. They said no. To be fair, they've seen my previous efforts. 😆

The internet was somewhat helpful. 

I started with an old, wooden doll bed, a small table, and some frames for Baby M's room at my house. This is the link I used for the decoupage. I really felt like she gave the best, detailed instructions. This gal had great advice about choosing a finish. And this gal who offered good advice on using chalk paint. Seriouly, I cannot even begin a project without researching the how-to archives first. I don't mind one bit learning from the mistakes of others when it comes to projects.

I'm still working on the doll bed because it's a PAIN. I decided to try the spray paint version of chalk paint (yes, it comes in a spray can) but haven't gotten to it just yet. I figure it will be easier since I have spindles and knobs to cover. And on the rocker.

Not everyone loves chalk paint.

There is one gal who HATES chalk paint and I'm including her here because her post contains some very good information. She doesn't like the roughed up look. I love it. It's all a matter of personal preference. Anyway, I did appreciate her point of view and the sharing of information.

Now that I've played around with chalk paint for a bit, I'm still far from being an expert. However, I have learned a few things.

Tips on using chalk paint:
  1. Do the research if you haven't used chalk paint before.
  2. If someone, and I'm not mentioning names, is going to Lowe's and offers to grab a couple of paint brushes for you just say, No. I've never seen cheaper brushes in my life. As forgiving as chalk paint is, use a decent brush. BETTER YET- I will be trying a small roller on the next project featuring a flat surface. 
  3. 2-3 coats should be plenty and you will need them if you're covering brown with white.
  4. I can, actually, see the brush strokes but I tend to purposely look for mistakes. And I use a magnifying glass (not really but it might as well be like that and I see everything. It's a blessing and a curse.) The top looks slightly textured because of this and it's not bad. I was just going for smooth--see #2 where I talk about using a decent brush. Oops. 
BOTTOM LINE: the videos you watch and blogs you read will not be featuring their FIRST attempts so try not to compare yourself to them and GET A DECENT BRUSH or consider using a roller if the surface will allow for it.

Tips on for the decoupage part:
  1. Be sure the piece is exactly where you want it once you've applied the Mod Podge because it is NOT going to come off. 
  2. Choose your napkins carefully. If you painted your furniture piece white, it's going to be a heck of a lot easier to prepare your napkin for placement. I didn't think about it and my napkin background was a beautiful green but that meant I had to cut around some intricate sections. Those intricate cuts are difficult to make and take a lot of patience and time. Plus, they're tricky to place on the Mod Podge coating. But SO WORTH the effort. The flowers on the napkins remind me of my grandmother and I wasn't about to change. Sometimes, stubborn pays off. 
  3. Don't panic when you see all those bubbles and lines when you place the piece on the Mod Podge application. The plastic wrap really does smooth it all out nicely. 
  4. Don't forget to separate the napkin AFTER you cut out your pattern and, don't forget to separate the napkin. 
  5. If you have an artist in your house, there is no shame in asking help with the placement of your design pieces. 
  6. There is great satisfaction in seeing how lovely this looks. 
  7. I still have no idea what decoupage scissors are. 
  8. Be careful when placing your design pieces on the wet Mod Podge. This is another good reason to not choose an intricate pattern as I did. 
  9. Using the plastic wrap is a good idea but I didn't do as good a job here as I had hoped. I couldn't get it just right and I did end up with some ripples and a rough spot or 100 but it was ok. I was going for an antique/vintage look and all that did was help me achieve that particular look. 
BOTTOM LINE: This is the hardest part! Make sure you get your Mod Podge to the very ends of the pieces you're putting on the furniture. The furniture piece will still have a vintage look even if you forget to do a bit of scraping or sanding before adding the poly. 

Tips for the finish part:
  1. I used the Minwax wipe on, water based, poly. I thought the wipe on would be much easier and I would have more control that way. I'm not sure whether or not that's true. I may very well try a brush next time. Then again, the table did have some ridges and corners that probably were better with the wipe on version. I'll have to actually use a brush to figure that out. Remember, I'm not good with a brush. 
  2. I hate sanding so pulling out the sandpaper in between poly coats was no fun but I did see where it was necessary so don't skip doing that. 
  3. I had hoped the poly would smooth out the ripples in the design part but it didn't. 
  4. This stuff dries quickly but I still waited the full 3 hours before sanding and reapplying. 
BOTTOM LINE: You'll need to decide whether to use the brush on or wipe on and make sure with the latter you use the correct cloth. You have to do the sanding in between coats. 

Don't expect perfection. 

Ok, so it's not perfect and it doesn't resemble a professional job but, for my first try, I'm fine with it. It's not like I'm making it the focal point of a room, though if I ever do I'm calling in the professionals to do the work. This sweet little table is going in the nursery for Baby M to do whatever she wants to do with it. She probably won't even notice it but it will look nice in that room.

I like that the table is white with the pink roses. I love that the roses remind me of my grandmother. I like that I gave it a try. I'm still not sure whether I want to refinish the rocking chair because I don't want to ruin it and, after this project, I don't trust myself.

I lost interest in the finishing part so I only went with 2 coats instead of 3. I will try the spray paint on the doll bed and the frames turned out pretty darn good. I like them just fine.

You have to be patient and take your time. 

I think what I've figured out is maybe the small stuff is fine for me to tackle but the big stuff? Not so much. Why? I lack patience. I'm almost 100% sure that the reason my success didn't WOW me is because I didn't take my time. I feel so rushed with all that goes on around here and the fact that I have to do these things on my dining table (I do cover it first) and everything looks a mess until it's all over. Maybe when I get my house back. Ha!

Yes, I'll keep going. I've got to finish the other pieces and figure out what to do with the rocking chair. Plus, I just bought another pint of chalk paint, WHAT was I thinking????

I'll keep y'all posted!

What are your experiences with chalk paint and/or refinishing furniture? Do you DIY or call in the experts?

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  1. Oh I think it looks fantastic!!! I can't see any mistakes. I love how it looks. I have about a jillion painting projects I keep putting off. I have watched videos but still haven't taken the plunge. I love how fresh and clean it looks.

    1. Thank you! It's nice that you can't see it up close and personal since that's when the mistakes show up nicely. LOL I like the fresh, clean look, too but I can't decide if I'm going to stick with it on the rocking chair. More practice. :)

  2. Blown away by the finished result, Pam! Of course, I would never have the patience to do what you did...or the creativity! I am definitely impressed!

    1. Thank you! If I'd had more patience there wouldn't be any mistakes but there are. Luckily, no one should get close enough to see them and I don't think Baby M will care. LOL As for the creativity, I totally stole the idea. :) But I do so appreciate your kind comment! Fingers crossed that more practice will lead to better results.

  3. It looks really cute. Way to go! I would never tackle something like that. Thanks for all the information you provided.

    1. Thank you! I thought the people I linked to did a nice job on their explanations. I'm going to keep practicing in the hopes of being able to do the rocking chair. If I don't get any better, that rocker is staying as is. :)

  4. I LOVE this, Pam. You did a great job. So creative!!

    1. Thank you! I wish I had slowed down then the top wouldn't have rough places on it but I do like the look. Of course, those rough places are driving me nuts. They're all I think about now. LOL

  5. Thanks for attending the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty, I shared your post.

  6. I have never used chalk paint, the table turned out great. Thanks for linking up with #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

    1. It's easy to use I just needed better brushes. And maybe a roller over that top. Thank you for saying that. I hope my abilities will get better with practice and I'm so glad y'all can't see the thing in person. LOL

  7. Thank you for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I shared this post on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

    1. Thank you for hosting and making it possible to meet so many lovely grandmothers!

  8. Love your project. I love chalk paint but I generally use a primer on my projects. But hear are right my first project was a big one and I am about to redo it. Now that I know better, I will do better. Good honest post about chalk paint. :) Thank you for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I have shared on social media.

    1. Thank you! Yes, live/do and learn. I will redo this one eventually but I'm in no hurry as I have zero extra time these days. I'll do better on all future projects. No primer here. What, do you feel, it does to make a difference?

  9. Congrats Pam! Your post is Featured at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty. See here:

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed your post on chalk paint. I discovered it about 2 years ago and have never looked back. I must admit there is a learning curve so don't give up. I have found that if you sand between coats, and then add wax at the end you can get an incredibly smooth finish. Don't be afraid of it. It really is very forgiving. Your table turned out very pretty. And I don;'t want to talk about decoupage... it is the bane of my existence. I even did a post on how to NOT decoupage with napkins. Haha.


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