DIY How to Make Your Own Chalk Paint and Bring New Life to a Desk


Ya'll, have you heard about chalk paint? I think it's been around for several years but I'm not always up on new trendy ways to do things. But just recently I was introduced to this AMAzing product…I mean it…it's the next best thing next to slice bread or chocolate chip cookies or in my case…jelly beans. My mom has done all kinds of Pinterest "research" because they are knee deep in a reno project and plan on using chalk paint on their kitchen cabinets. They shared this newest technology with me and passed down a bit of knowledge while we were visiting. I immediately came home and started searching chalk paint on Youtube and well, you know me, the wheels started to turn.

The idea of chalk paint is painting any surface without sanding it or stripping it first…let me say that again…there is no prep before painting a piece of furniture. All that needs to be done is a little wipe down with a cloth to get the dust, dirt, and debris off and you're set to paint the most amazing piece of furniture. It's crazy to think about right?

The name brand of this product is called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and it originally generated from England. To purchase this paint you have to find a local dealer! But after doing a bit of research and talking with my mama, you can also purchase "off brand" chalk paint at any home improvement store or you can make your own.

Paint and plaster of paris

I chose to make my own. Now, there are all kinds of "recipes" out there but here's what I did. To make this chalk paint I used a 3 parts paint to 1 part Plaster of Paris ratio. The Plaster of Paris will give it that matte finish. Here's what I did. I mixed a quart (4 C.) of Lowe's latex paint in the color of my choice, which was Majolica green (my husband pretty much thought it looked like mint green and I couldn't disagree), and added  1 1/3 C. of Plaster of Paris…this product can also be purchased at any home improvement or hardware store. I stirred it really well with my paint stick. Now, to do my project, I just used foam brushes. I purchased a pack of several sizes at Walmart for $1.98. You can purchase special "chalk paint" brushes if you would like but honestly the foam brushes got the job done. However, this was only my first project so I might decide down the road that the special brushes are necessary depending on the texture I'm going for. Also, if you make your own, you will want to try and use the paint quickly…like within a couple weeks. I think the longer it sits, the more gritty it becomes and it's hard to stir that out.

Desk before chalk paint

Here is my desk BEFORE the project.

Ok so on to THE project. Many years ago we inherited this super ugly desk. My son just HAD to have a desk in his room where he could do his "homework"! Guess what…never happened…because my kids like to be where the action is and not one of them liked doing homework in their room alone! It was a good thought but this hideous desk became a catch all. Really though I should clarify…the bones of the desk are cute but the color…barf! Always hated the color but I always thought I would have to strip it and it just seemed like a ton of work for a free desk. BUT then chalk paint came along and AHHHH (can you hear the angels singing)! So I asked my little guy who is 11 if I could have the desk for all of my sewing paraphernalia and he kindly said yes…what a sweetie.  So after moving furniture and finding places for all the junk…ahem…I mean treasures…and wiping it down, I was ready for paint. And guess what…I just started painting…no stripping…and no sanding…just chalk paint. So can I tell you the other nice thing about chalk paint? It dries within the hour!! Yes siree, within the hour! So you can do a small project nearly in a day…it's so fabulous. However, on my project I did two coats of the chalk paint and called it a day.

Wax for chalk paint project

So let me tell you why! One of the next steps you have to do with chalk paint is the waxing process. Waxing just gives your project a finished look with a very slight sheen. It's not hard…a little scary…but not hard. I wasn't sure about this part so I went back to the YouTube videos to get a feel for how it all worked. Plus, I had to bribe my college boy to go to the local Annie Sloan dealer to buy me some clear and dark wax. You will need both. Again, you can buy Minwax but I guess I just wanted the real deal. I was treading unknown territory so I just decided to be all legit. I waited several days to get back to the desk, because in all honesty, I was scared…really truly scared to rub that dark wax on. I think this is the general consensus for newbies.

Putting Wax on the Desk

I finally bolstered enough confidence to give it a go. My son was home from college and brought me the wax and I just decided to do it. First, you want to use a lint free rag and probably plastic doctor gloves. I raided my boys closets for some old t-shirts to cut up and found they are the best! You will want to apply your clear wax first, as it kind of works like an eraser when you put your dark wax on. If you put your dark wax on first, you won't be able to adjust the depth of color you're searching for. Does that make sense? At this point, you really might want to check out some videos to get an idea of what your looking for. I will tell you that you want just enough clear wax to work into your piece without it leaving a tacky surface. This part takes a lot of elbow grease…I got quite the work out and even broke a sweat. Personally, I would definitely consider it exercise so plan on counting it on your Fitbit activity log;) Next, you are ready to apply the dark wax IF you want to tone down your color…remember the mint green?...yeah, I definitely wanted to tone it down and make it looked aged BUT dark wax is not necessary if you love the way your piece looks with just the clear wax. Now, this is the scary part as the dark wax is REALLY REALLY dark but don't worry…I don't think you can ruin your piece. The purpose of the dark wax is to bring out the detail in your piece and to make it look aged. So you want to do the same thing with the dark wax as you did with the clear wax. Put a glob on your cloth and start working it into all the crevices of you piece. And if you get it too dark in places, you can come back with your clear wax and take some of it off. Again, make sure you're using your muscles to rub it in as you do not want to leave a tacky surface. After you are done with the dark wax, you are pretty much done. I let my desk "cure" for a couple days. I don't think that is actually necessary but I was a little nervous about the wax rubbing off on clothes and such…I was just taking extra precaution.

Desk corner


finishsed desk

Voila, here's the finished desk. Way better don't you think? I also bought glass knobs at Lowes to dress it up a bit and I love the way it turned out! I am anxious to get started on another piece of furniture. It makes my hubby scared because my solution to every problem right now is chalk paint. I am planning on taking on a bigger project this summer and I will record and blog about it so you all can see how it turned out!

Have you tried your hand with chalk paint? Let us know. We would love to hear about your favorite chalk paint DIY project!

Looking for other DIY ideas? See how a trip to Lowes and some hand drawn plans turned into an awesome wood headboard!

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  • Maura Osborn
Comments 2
  • Jacki Alcorn
    Jacki Alcorn

    Thanks for the note, Tamela. Glad you were inspired by our project. Best wishes for a speedy recovery with your back!

  • Tamela Loretta
    Tamela Loretta

    Hi, I just thought I’d say I’m glad you did this project,it was interesting! I’ve not done it yet, I bought the paint and was planning on painting a plant stand I have. It isn’t painted so I’m starting with scratch. I hope to paint it as soon as I can get rid of the pain I slipped a disc in my back, so as soon as I get better I am going to try this.☺

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