For the past few months, a great deal of my time, effort, and money has been spent refinishing furniture. Sounds like a rather strange hobby for an impatient broke chick with nowhere to live, but it has really been something I enjoy immensely. The one thing that has immeasurably contributed to this enjoyment is the type of paint I use--it's called Annie Sloan's chalk paint and it's awesome.
I am far from a diy guru (I typically spend at least an hour talking to a Home Depot associate before starting anything beyond painting), so this chalk paint really makes my life easier. Disclaimer: you CAN get a clean, crisp finish with this paint, but the point is really that you can distress and antique it to give your project that worn-in look. Here are the top 5 reasons I love this stuff and you will too:
1) No prepping beyond cleaning the surface to be painted (no sanding, no priming)
2) It sticks to just about any surface you want, really
3) Water-based (skip the mineral spirits for your brushes) and essentially odor-free
4) Fast drying (I'm talking an hour, 2 hours tops)
5) Distresses with a natural and soft effect
These mean that you can finish a piece in a day. It's faster and a great deal less effort than other paints. Also, because of these factors, if you mess up--no big deal. Because of #1 and #2, you can just paint right over it. Or according to #5, you could just sand it right off and paint back over the smooth surface with no one the wiser. And thanks to #4, you can mess up almost infinitely and still be done in a day. Essentially idiot-proof.
When you are happy with how your piece looks, or you think you are, the best way to finish it is with a wax (I use Annie Sloan's waxes or Minwax). It wipes on easily and over the course of a week or so cures to a smooth, shiny and hard finish. Clear wax will give you a natural looking coat of protection, while those wanting an even more antiqued look can opt for a dark wax, which lends a very aged effect to your project.
But WAIT! You painted your piece, thought you liked it, went ahead and waxed it but over the course of a few weeks have decided it's not exactly what you want.... well that's too damn bad!! Right? Not quite! Go back and read #1 and #2. Just haul it back down to the basement and fix it right up. No weird layers, no cracking no peeling no mineral spirits and no prep work. Sounds like a dream right?? The ONLY non-dreamy thing about this wondrous Annie Sloan chalk paint is the price. A quart of paint will run you about 35 bucks. Ouch! It will see you through quite a few decently sized projects, but in the end how many of the same colored pieces of furniture does one need? I'm more into the mismached, colorful look myself (as you will see in future posts), but thankfully my mom and a friend of ours are both addic--i mean enthusiasts too, which means color trading is the way to go.
If you are in the Brentwood/Nashville (TN) area and are thinking about giving this wild stuff a try, a great source of inspiration/information/paint is a store called C'est Moi off Church Street in Brentwood. Stop in and look through the chalk painted pieces. If you dig it, they sell the paint and the lovely ladies there can answer all your questions. If you need more guided help and aren't already broke from buying paint, you can take a class at C'est Moi that will teach you how to really work with chalk paint. If you are like me, you're going to google the crap out of Annie Sloan chalk paint tutorials and that's okay too, you'll be just fine. You really can't mess up with this stuff, so just relax and enjoy!
Here is a great site to get you started: