Simple Steps to Chalk Paint a Dresser

You know that old dresser you have in the back bedroom? It’s too good to toss, but not pretty enough to give away? How about a chalk paint make over to make it look old and new again?

TO PREP OR NOT TO PREP? Perhaps the #1 benefit of chalk painting furniture is that it requires almost NO prep work and NO priming. But you should assess your piece. While you can usually go straight to painting, if it is extra shiny you may want to do a quick hand sanding to knock down the shine. If you can feel layers of polish, you may want to wipe down with mineral spirits to dissolve any residue. If the piece has chips or gouges, those will have to be addressed as the paint won’t make those problems disappear. Remove any hardware.

JUST START PAINTING! You do NOT have to be a perfect painter! Long fluid strokes work best. You can do crisscross brush strokes to add texture. As you are painting check the edges to make sure it is not running or globbing on the side you are not directly painting. If you notice any discoloration coming thru the paint you can stop and apply a Clear Shellac (Zinsser) to seal the piece before painting.

TWO LIGHT COATS of paint is the rule, not a heavy gloppy first coat to try to cover the surface. Apply the second coat of paint AFTER the first coat is completely dry. When you apply the second coat, dip the tips of the brush in a bit of water to help the second coat glide on smoothly. It makes a huge difference.

DON’T STRESS, DISTRESS! (optional). Some suggest distressing after your first coat of wax but I like to do before – total personal preference. The key is to distress naturally – think about the areas where a piece would naturally wear over many years – around handles or knobs, corners and along edges and a few random spots here and there. You can use a variety of tools for distressing: sandpaper, keys, chains…be creative!

WAX ON WAX OFF. Always start with clear wax and remember that a little goes a long way! You can apply wax with a brush but I have found the easiest way for me has been to use old t-shirt scraps – dip into the wax and rub into the piece. Then rub with a clean cloth to remove any excess.

COME TO THE DARK SIDE? After you have applied your first coat of clear wax you can decide if you’d like to use dark wax for an extra distressed/patina look. Try to make sure your clear wax isn’t completely dry. That way, if you apply too much dark, you can use clear wax as an “eraser” by dipping a clean rag in clear and running over to remove. I like to use a bristle-y brush for applying dark wax. It helps get way into those cracks and crevices. I apply the wax and then immediately rub high areas and any areas where I want to back that darkness off. It is important to note that the dark wax can significantly change the color of your painted finish so you may want to create a sample for testing.

THE GOLDEN TICKET. Another thing you can add to your piece for a little extra flair is a gilding wax. This can be found at any crafter and comes in a variety of colors. You can apply with your fingers, a brush or cloth and rub with a clean cloth to buff.

THE FINISH LINE After two coats of wax, you can choose to leave the soft matte finish or buff (to rub the cloth or brush briskly over the surface) to a sheen, if you so desire. For a higher sheen level, wait 24hrs to buff with a soft cloth. It takes 21-28 days for wax to fully cure, so until then use extra care with your piece.

CELEBRATE YOU! Step back, take a sip and ENJOY your masterpiece – you ARE an artist!