DIY Furniture Makeovers with Chalk Paint
Have you ever scrolled through pinterest, seen a beautiful DIY repainted furniture piece and thought, "that's nice, but there's no way I can do that!" Well, fear not, we're here to tell you - it is possible!
In fact, it's a lot easier than you think, and you may even enjoy the process. And while it's not necessarily inexpensive, it's certainly far more cost effective than buying new furniture.
Now, ready to spruce up your space? Let's explore repainting with chalk paint!
Step 1: pick your furniture
Personally, I shop for my furniture makeover pieces off of Kijiji, but it depends on the region you live in. In Alberta, Kijiji is quite popular and is where most people post their furniture ads. Residents of British Columbia, for example, seem to use Craigslist more than Kijiji. Take your time during your search – you want to find the best deal possible, and many people are motivated to move old furniture out of their home. Paint, brushes, waxes, etc. will all cost you, so starting at the lowest possible price point is ideal.
When trying to find the perfect piece, look for these qualities:
- Buy something that is real wood. Painting over veneered wood is fine, but it doesn't allow for much sanding, and the quality isn't as good as something that is solid wood through and through.
- Unless you really really like the piece of furniture, don't buy furniture that is already painted. Just trust me on this. If you do this, you'll have to use furniture stripper, and it is POTENT. It smells, it's harsh, it's messy, it's time consuming, and it's the worst. Sound like I'm speaking from experience? I am, and I'm pretty sure I'm a few brain cells short as a result.
Step 1.5 – Or just pick your own furniture
Got some hand-me-down furniture that needs a makeover? Even better! Sometimes, doing a furniture makeover means making what you already have work for you!
Step 2 – Get your supplies
There is no shortage of chalk paint in this world. It is an extremely popular type of paint at this moment, you could even make your own. My personal favourite is FAT Paint. It's a Canadian company that provides quality paint in a variety of really stunning colours. FAT Paint uses retail distributors who sell the product out of their home, with a few select stores selling the product as well. You can find a list of retailers by typing in your postal code here. Otherwise, stores such as Michaels also sells chalk paint, but in small quantities. Companies like FAT Paint also sell flat brushes (best for painting furniture), waxes (allows for a different type of finish), and top coats.
Step 3 – Prep
Chalk paint is a very easy paint to work with and will almost cover anything. The amount of prep work required will depend on the type of finish you're looking for. Chalk paint users typically like a distressed finish in order to make the furniture look vintage.
However, a non-distressed finish looks just as lovely:
If you're going for the vintage look, consider what you want to come through when sanding off the paint. Also consider if you want to keep any scratches/dents/etc, because that will determine how much sanding you will need to do and whether or not you'll need to fill those scratches (I personally always keep them because I like the vintage look. If you do decide to fill the scratches, you'll need a wood filler. Again, it will depend on the finish you're looking for). Ideally, you will want to sand the entire piece of furniture, wipe it off with a damp cloth, then begin painting. Regardless of whether you do much sanding or not, always clean the furniture piece first. Full disclosure:
I rarely do much sanding when painting with chalk paint for 2 reasons:
- I hate it
- I'm lazy
Step 3 – Can I start painting now please?
Yes! Once you begin painting, you'll notice quickly just how much chalk paint covers the surface of your furniture. Some lighter white or beige colours will bleed through, which means you either will need to paint a couple of layers, or you can add a coat of shellac to the furniture piece before adding the paint. I usually just paint an extra coat on top.
When painting, I paint top to bottom in long strokes, going with the grain of the wood. Chalk paint dries quickly, and your first coat will likely look terrible, but it looks much better with a second coat.
In between each coat, it's a good idea to very lightly run a fine grit sandpaper over the paint just to take out some brush strokes, then wipe off with a dry towel or use an air compressor to blast off the remaining paint dust. Again, I only sometimes do this because:
- I hate it
- I'm lazy
Step 4 – To distress or not distress?
When you've completed the painting process and look at your furniture piece and think, "this is too much work to then rub off with sandpaper," then don't. I once had a dresser that looked too pretty in the end to distress. But if you really like the vintage look, here is how to distress it.
Using a hand sander, distress the main areas that typically get worn out on furniture, such as:
- Protrusions and raised decorative details
- Add some distressing to select surfaces in small quantities as well to really achieve that vintage look.
The amount of distressing is ultimately up to you. It's always helpful to take a step back and look at it from a distance.
Step 5 – Apply your finish
You'll need to apply some type of top coat to the chalk paint in order to seal it in and protect it from water damage. This again comes down to personal preference. Clear wax gives a really nice finish, but spraying or painting on a clear top coat is much quicker.
If you decide to use the wax, use cheesecloth to apply it. Dip the cheesecloth into the wax and massage the wax in small circular strokes, always working the wax into the furniture. Be sure to use it sparingly; you don't want to glob it on.
Step 6 – Optional hardware upgrades
A nice finishing touch at times can be upgrading the handles and knobs, or spray painting them, as I did here:
It is also perfectly fine to leave them as is, it's a personal preference!
Finally, check out this before and after. In my humble opinion, it's majestic!
That's it! As you can see, it does take some investment of your time to do this, but the end result is something that is your own, is unique, a beautiful addition to your home, and let's face it, it's a #pinterestwin.
There are multiple helpful blogs on this topic, so here are a couple:
-LaToya at Northview