Even the most experienced painters have questions or may need some advise. A list of the most Frequently Asked Questions has been put together below, but feel to email if you need addition help at email@example.com
(click on the question for the answer)
Before You Start Painting
Q. How much Chalk Paint® do I need for my project?
As a rough guide, one quart of Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan covers approximately 150 square feet or 13 square metres (or the equivalent of a small dresser).
For most purposes, one or two coats of paint are enough. Chalk Paint® adheres to almost any surface, and there is rarely any need to sand or prime before painting.
Before use, tip the can upside down for a few minutes and then shake for about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove the lid and stir well. If the paint is too thick just add a little water and stir.
Q. How do I prepare my piece?
Most times simply dusting off the surface will do. Wipe away any noticeable dirt and grime with a safe-to-use biodegradable cleaner and warm water, rinse well with clean water, and let dry completely.
There may be rare times when you’ll need to sand to remove loose paint, rust, and other surface debris, or when the surface is very glossy or made of melamine or laminate. Use a medium or fine Annie Sloan Sanding Pad and remember to change it out when it becomes clogged; a fresh sheet makes the task at hand easier to accomplish.
If you are painting new, untreated wood, apply clear shellac to any knots and open grains to block tannins that can bleed up through your new paint layers. Simply wipe on one or two coats with a cloth pad. It dries in minutes, and then you can get on with your painting!
Q. What is the best way to apply Chalk Paint®?
Chalk Paint® is typically applied by brush. Enjoy your painting and don’t be shy with your brush. Apply the paint liberally. Some brush marks showing in the finish can be part of the look.
To get started, tip the can upside down and shake before use. Then open and stir well. If the paint is too thick just add a little water and stir well.
As a rough guide, one quart of Chalk Paint® covers approximately 150 square feet, or the equivalent of a small dresser – of course, this will vary depending on how many coats of paint you use to cover a piece.
For a demonstration on how Annie Sloan applies Chalk Paint®, watch her Chalk Paint® Tutorials Nos. 1 and 2 on Youtube.
Q. How do I find the perfect color for my project?
We have 35 colors in the Chalk Paint® range from soft and pale to bright and strong. Annie Sloan’s carefully selected range of colors is hugely flexible as you can mix colors together to extend the range and create endless possibilities.If you want to make a color paler add Old White or Pure White. Old White will give the color a softer, more vintage feel, and Pure White will make the color more modern.
Find out roughly what ratio you need by experimenting – you could use your fingers to dab and mix colors, or a teaspoon to make small amounts. For larger amounts you could use a cup or even a can as a measure. For example, start with a dollop of your chosen color, slowing adding Old White or Pure White. A dollop of Provence and two dollops of Old White gives you a ratio of 1 to 2, making a lovely pale, slightly aged turquoise like old faded French shutters. Use Pure White and the color is cleaner and fresher, giving a more vintage 1950’s look!
It’s useful to keep a sample of the colors you make in your Chalk Paint®Workbook, just in case you want to recreate them.For lots more information on mixing colors, see Annie Sloan’s book, Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and More.
Q. What type of brush should I use?
Your brush doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to have certain qualities. The bristles should be fairly long and flexible with a little bounce to allow you to be expressive in your work. Avoid brushes with bristles that are too soft, too short, or hard and inflexible. Annie Sloan’s Pure Bristle Brushes are excellent for applying Chalk Paint® and Annie Sloan Soft Wax. They hold lots of paint and they are comfortable to hold and easy to work with.
Q. Is Graphite Chalk Paint® a true black?
The Chalk Paint® palette doesn’t include a true black. Graphite, which is almost black, is not a simple, hard color but a mellow, sophisticated one. You can create a darker appearance to Graphite by first applying a layer of Aubusson Blue. Follow this with a coat of Graphite. When the paint is dry, apply Annie Sloan Dark Soft Wax. You can also mix a bit of Aubusson Blue into the wax to make it appear more black than brown.
Q. What is the easiest way to distress my finish for a more aged look?
With Chalk Paint® distressing is no longer an arduous chore. Most finishes are best when just a bit of paint is evenly rubbed away here and there using fine grit sandpaper. This will be easier to do if you apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax first. This will also reduce any sanding dust, helping to keep your workspace clean.
Q. How do I clean my Annie Sloan Brushes after painting and waxing?
After painting with Chalk Paint®, squeeze out as much excess paint from your brush as you can, then wash your Annie Sloan Brush well with a gentle soap and warm water to rinse out all the color. Hang to dry with the bristles pointing downwards.
Whether you apply Chalk Paint® Wax with the Annie Sloan Wax Brush or Pure Bristle Brush, simply wash your brush with very warm water and grease-cutting soap to clean it and then rinse well.
Use a gentle soap. Harsh detergents or even solvents may shorten the life of your natural bristle brushes.
Painting a Variety of Surfaces
Q. Can I use Chalk Paint® outdoors?
Chalk Paint® even works outdoors! It’s particularly good on brick, concrete, stone, and terracotta – and there’s no need to wax. On garden furniture, a coat of water-based exterior varnish will protect against stains and keep the finish looking good for longer. Look for a varnish with UV protection to prevent color fading.
Chalk Paint® will fade in the sun and age gracefully with the elements. Chalk Paint® is a water-based decorative paint and does not have any weatherproof or protective properties. Depending on the look you want and the site-specific conditions, you may find it needs a fresh coat periodically.
Chalk Paint® is not recommended for teak or other naturally oily woods. Always test, if in doubt!
Q. Can I paint my walls with Chalk Paint®?
You can! Apply one or more coats of Chalk Paint® to walls with a large brush. A brush will use less paint than a roller and will add depth and texture to the final finish. You can then wax the wall with a big brush, or just leave it – bedroom walls look great with a soft, matte, unwaxed finish.
Q. Can I use Chalk Paint® on floors?
Chalk Paint® can transform old concrete and wooden floors, even if they’re varnished. Just apply two or three coats of Chalk Paint® and then apply Chalk Paint® Lacquer for added durability.
Always test the paint and Lacquer on a few areas of the floor before you begin to check whether any stains will bleed through.
Please refer to the section “Finishing your Project” in these FAQs for more information about working with Chalk Paint® Lacquer.
Q. What about painting metal with Chalk Paint®?
You can apply Chalk Paint® directly onto all kinds of hardware, including metal work. Chalk Paint® can re-invigorate old brass and other metal fixtures and fittings, and even covers and slows down rust.
Any rusting areas should be sanded and treated with a rust inhibitor before painting.
Q. Are Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax safe for use on baby cribs, etc.?
Absolutely! Both Chalk Paint® and Annie Sloan Soft Wax are safe to use on furniture destined for baby and child use. However, before putting the item to use, please allow the Soft Wax to cure for a minimum of 14 days.
Samples of Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax have been independently tested and certified as Toy Safe according to strict European regulations (BS EN 71-3:2013).
Annie Sloan cares about your health. While there are no inherently harmful ingredients in Soft Wax, we do advise that expectant mothers get someone else to apply it.
Q. Are Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax good choices for kitchen and bathroom cabinets?
Yes! You can use Chalk Paint® on most wood cabinetry. Typically there is no need to sand or prime, although in areas that receive a lot of use, like the cutlery drawer, it might be wise. Apply at least two coats of paint and then two or three coats of Annie Sloan Soft Wax for protection, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Soft Wax makes a good bond to the paint for durability. You can easily maintain your finish by simply wiping the surface with a soft cloth and mild soap and water to clean, and refresh every now and again with a light application of wax.
Q. Can I paint my kitchen countertops and backsplash with Chalk Paint®?
It is not advisable. Chalk Paint®, even when sealed with a quality sealer such as Chalk Paint® Wax or Chalk Paint® Lacquer, will not be 100% non-porous and this can present problems with cross-contamination from food items.
Q. What about using Chalk Paint® on fireplaces, mantelpieces, and radiators?
Chalk Paint® adheres very well to marble, stone, brick and wood fireplaces and mantelpieces with no undercoat required. It can also be used on radiators. Make sure the radiator or fireplace is cold before you start to paint to prevent the paint from cracking. You can leave the paint unsealed or finish with Clear Chalk Paint®Wax if you wish. Remember to leave the wax to cure for at least 48 hours before exposing it to heat.
Q. Can I paint melamine or laminate furniture with Chalk Paint®?
There are many success stories from people who have used Chalk Paint® to paint their melamine or laminate furniture. A little bit of preparation and some patience are needed.
New pieces may be coated with a light oily film for packing and shipping purposes and this should be wiped away with warm water and a grease-cutting soap. Rinse with clean water afterwards.
Lightly sand the melamine or laminate with a fine Annie Sloan Sanding Pad and dust off. Next, apply a very thin first coat of paint and let dry for at least 48 hours to allow the paint to bond to the surface. After that you can continue painting for your desired look.
Q. Can I paint a Thermofoiled surface?
It is not advisable. Thermofoil is a plastic material that is heat transferred to the profile of an underlying engineered wood core such as medium-density fiberboard. Paints of any kind will not bond to this type of finish.
Q. Can Chalk Paint® be used as a chalkboard?
Chalk Paint® has a matte finish and can be written on with chalk.
Q. What about using Chalk Paint® on upholstery and leather?
When it comes to painting upholstery, small items which are firmly upholstered (such as a dining chair seat) with natural fabric (such as cotton or linen) give the best results. In these cases, Chalk Paint® can be diluted with water and painted on as a “wash” which will stain the fibers. Fabric that is painted in this way does not need to be waxed afterwards. Please watch Annie Sloan’s video tutorial on this subject, which can be found on www.anniesloan.com.
There are other ways to paint upholstery, but the success of painting any upholstered piece does depend on factors such as the condition, color, and composition of the fabric, how firmly it is upholstered, and the color you are using (reds are less colorfast).
For any project, we would recommend testing in a small area first before you commit to painting the whole piece. As a general rule, we don’t recommend painting very cushioned sofas or suites or items that get very heavy use.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques either – applying the paint more thickly will change the composition of the fabric, making it stiffer. This can then be waxed and buffed to create a leather effect.
You can also use Chalk Paint® on leather and vinyl – build up the coverage in thin coats, and then wax to finish. As the leather creases and cracks with age, so will the paint, so bear this in mind on well-worn or cushioned items.
Q. How do I use Chalk Paint® to stencil on fabric?
To stencil fabric with Chalk Paint®, apply the paint with an Annie Sloan Sponge Roller. There is no need to dilute the paint, but to keep the image from bleeding around the edges, try not to overload your roller with paint. Allow the fabric to dry naturally, then heat seal by tumble drying or pressing with a hot iron.
Q. How do I dip dye fabric with Chalk Paint®?
Dip dyeing with Chalk Paint® is a great way to completely change the color of a fabric. You can control how intense the color comes through simply be adding more water. Linen, cotton, cotton voile, and synthetic curtains all work well with this technique. You can also use patterned cottons or linens
We have found that the deeper pigmented colors work best, such as Aubusson Blue, Scandinavian Pink, Antibes Green, and Florence.
Finishing Your Project
Q. What is the best way to apply Soft Wax?
Chalk Paint® Wax is the perfect complement for Chalk Paint®. In fact, we’d say it’s an essential partner! It adds durability, deepens the colors, and gives a very slight sheen. It’s really easy to get sensational results – just use a cotton rag or your Annie Sloan Wax Brush to get it into corners and crevices.
As a very rough guide, you will need one 500ml can of wax for every 3 to 4 quarts of paint – of course, this will vary depending on how many coats of wax you use to cover a piece. And it’s best to have a little wax left over for touching up. With the lid tightly on, it will last indefinitely.
- When you apply the wax, gently “push” it into your Chalk Paint® for the best results. Think hand cream – and apply it in the same way! Remove the excess wax with a clean cloth. Don’t buff yet – leave the wax to dry for 24 hours before buffing with a clean, lint-free cloth, or leave it as is for a matte effect.
- Less is more, so there’s no need to apply the wax too thickly. The wax should feel touch-dry immediately after you’ve applied it.
- Work small areas at a time, so the wax doesn’t dry before you get to work it in.
To bring out brushstrokes or for an aged effect, work Dark, Black, or White Chalk Paint® Wax into crevices, wiping it back with Clear Chalk Paint® Wax to achieve your perfect result. Always apply a coat of Clear Chalk Paint® Wax before you apply colored waxes – this will allow you to control the color.
The wax will be dry to the touch very quickly but takes longer to harden or “cure.” The “curing” process can take from 5 to 21 days, depending on ambient temperature.
If you want to achieve a really good shine, allow around 24 hours before buffing.
Chalk Paint® Wax is best on interior projects only. It is not suitable for outdoor use.
Q. How long will it take for my finish to cure?
After you’ve applied Chalk Paint® Wax, you’ll find that it will become dry to the touch very quickly. At this stage, it is still what you might call “soft.” It will start to harden as the solvents in the wax evaporate. This hardening process is known as “curing.” Curing can take between 5 and 21 days, depending on ambient temperature.
Of course, you can use your newly finished piece straight away, but you may need to treat it with extra care until the wax has cured completely. Once cured, a piece of furniture finished with Chalk Paint® and Chalk Paint® Wax will stand up to normal wear and tear.
Chalk Paint® Wax is food safe when completely cured.
Q. I need a durable finish for my kitchen table that I can clean frequently. Our kids tend to be rough on things. What should I use?
Annie Sloan Soft Wax, once cured, provides a durable finish that is easy to maintain. After painting, apply two or three coats of wax, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next, to get the extra durability you need. You can easily maintain your finish by simply wiping the surface with a soft cloth and mild soap and water, and refresh every now and again with a light application of wax. When scratches, stains, and watermarks happen to your wax finish, they are easily repaired with just a bit more wax rubbed into the marked area with a soft cloth.
Q. Can I apply another clear protective finish over Chalk Paint® Wax?
Once Chalk Paint® Wax is used, no other protective finish can be applied to your project. Attempting to add another coating – such as Chalk Paint® Lacquer or another varnish or even polyurethane – over a wax finish is futile.
Q. I finished my project and now I’ve changed my mind about the color. Can I paint over Soft Wax?
With Chalk Paint® and Chalk Paint® Wax it’s easy to change your mind. You can simply apply another Chalk Paint® over your previous finish and then seal with additional wax.
Q. Can Soft Wax be used on outdoor projects?
Annie Sloan Soft Wax should be used on interior projects only. It is not suitable for outdoor use.
Q.How do I use Annie Sloan Lacquer?
As a rough guide, one litre of Chalk Paint® Lacquer will cover approximately 100 to 125 square feet or 10 to 12 square metres, but this will vary according to the absorbency of the floor. Lacquer should always be applied in very thin coats. Results may vary depending on previous treatment of the surface.
When applying Chalk Paint® Lacquer, bear in mind that it is a “penetrating” finish and can pull tannins or stains present in the wood up through new paint layers. This can be especially noticeable on whites, manifesting as a yellow stain. Always test Chalk Paint® and Lacquer on several areas before you begin your project. If a stain appears, simply apply one or two thin coats of clear shellac directly over the entire surface to be painted before painting and lacquering again.
Stir Chalk Paint® Lacquer well before and during use. For large projects, mix your cans of Lacquer together into one larger container and mix well to help ensure a consistent sheen across your entire surface. Apply two thin coats with a quality sponge roller or brush. A small amount of water (up to 10%) can be added to Lacquer for the first coat, and the second coat should be applied full strength. Let the first coat dry one to two hours before recoating, and leave the final coat to dry overnight before walking on it. When dry, Lacquer give a beautiful matte finish with a slight sheen for added strength.
Lacquer is not suitable for outdoor use or in areas of high water such as bathrooms.
Q. Can I seal my outdoor patio with Annie Sloan Lacquer?
Annie Sloan Lacquer was designed for use on interior wood and concrete floors. It is not suitable for outdoor use.
Caring For Your Finish
Q. How long will it take for my finish to cure?
After you have applied Annie Sloan Soft Wax, you’ll find that it will become dry to the touch very quickly. At this stage, it is still what you might call “soft.” It will start to harden as the solvents in the wax evaporate. This hardening process is known as “curing.” Curing can take between 5 and 21 days. Finishes prefer warm, dry conditions during the curing process; high humidity, cold temperatures, and application thickness can extend drying and curing time substantially.
Of course, you can use your newly finished piece straight away, but you may need to treat it with extra care until the wax has cured completely.
Annie Sloan Soft Wax is food safe when completely cured.
Q. How do I care for my painted furniture?
To clean marks or stains, use a slightly damp cloth or chamois with a little mild soap. If you need to use a stronger cleaner, you may need to re-wax the area. Stubborn marks on waxed pieces can often be removed with a little Clear Chalk Paint® Wax on a cloth.
Always use heat mats, placemats, and coasters to protect your painted and waxed surfaces. Keep your painted furniture away from extreme temperatures or humidity. Like you, your finish prefers a moderate climate! Avoid excessive water. Also avoid all liquid furniture polishes.
Waxes dissolve in alcohol, so using Chalk Paint® Wax on bars is not advisable.
Q. Can I apply another clear protective finish over Soft Wax?
Once Annie Sloan Soft Wax is applied, no other protective finish can be applied to your project. Attempting to add another coating – such as Annie Sloan Lacquer or another varnish or even polyurethane – over a wax finish is futile.
Q. What is the best way to touch up or repair damage?
As with all decorative paints, it’s not advisable to paint over small areas that need a touch up – even if you are working with paint from the same batch. When you apply a first coat of paint to a surface, the rate at which the water is absorbed by the surface (known as “wicking”) has an effect on the final color. Subsequent coats will be absorbed by the paint underneath at a different rate, leading to a subtle shade difference in the finish. For this reason, where repairs are necessary, it’s best to paint the entire surface of the affected area, whether this is a section of wall or floor (from corner to corner and top to bottom) or the face of a piece of furniture (for example, a drawer front). There is no need to repaint the entire room or floor or the whole piece of furniture!
Q. A yellow or pink stain has appeared in my new paint layer. How can I cover it?
On rare occasions, a stain may bleed through your first coat of paint – this is often from a previous oil-based finish and is most likely to happen on old pieces from the 1930s and 1940s (think Mahogany). Bleeding may also happen with raw wood that has not been previously sealed.
If you see a stain bleeding through your new paint layers, apply clear shellac directly over the paint you have already applied. Treat the whole affected surface to avoid any patchiness in the final finish. One or two coats of shellac applied evenly will block the stain. It dries in minutes, and then you can get on with your painting!
Q. My paint is not sticking. What should I do?
Remove all of the loose paint with a medium sanding pad. Clean the exposed areas with a safe-to-use biodegradable cleaner. Rinse well with warm water and let the piece dry completely. Once dry, sand the exposed areas with medium or fine sandpaper and dust off. Then test your paint in a small area to see if it is now adhering. If the paint comes loose again, remove it and wipe on one or two coats of clear shellac over the entire surface and let dry. You should now be able to reapply your paint.
Remember that a clean surface is important for any paint project. So before beginning your painting, be sure you have removed any loose paint with sandpaper and inspect the surface. Wipe away any heavy buildup of greasy, waxy or oily residues with a soft rag moistened with mineral spirits. Then clean with soap and water. Use a Scotch Brite pad to lightly scrub the surface, and a soft brush to work into open grain and intricate carvings. Rinse well with warm water and let the piece dry completely.
Q. I painted a piece of furniture that had been previously maintained with spray furniture polish and the paint cracked. How do I fix this?
Many spray furniture polishes contain dimethicone, a silicone used as a film former to protect surfaces. This silicone can cause cracks to appear in your paint layers, especially along edges. Sand the affected areas with fine grit sandpaper. Then seal the surface, including the remaining paint, by wiping on one or two coats of shellac with a cloth pad. Once the shellac is dry, reapply your Chalk Paint®.
Q. My finish feels sticky and leaves fingerprints. What can I do?
Don’t worry if this happens. It’s simply an indication that too much wax was left on the surface. This is easily fixed by applying another thin coat of Chalk Paint® Wax. This will soften the underlying wax, making it easy to remove all of the excess. Work in manageable sections and remove the excess wax with clean soft cloths as you go. Have several cloths available and change to a clean cloth when the old one becomes clogged with wax.
Q. A water glass left a mark in my finish. How do I repair this?
Chalk Paint® Wax offers water resistance, but it is not waterproof. Spills should be wiped up as soon as possible. If spills remain on the surface, the moisture can penetrate through the wax coating and leave a mark. These marks typically disappear as the moisture evaporates, but if not, you can use a bit of Chalk Paint®Wax on a soft cloth to rub it out.
Q. What is the best way to remove wax?
Chalk Paint® Wax can be easily removed by wiping the surface with a clean rag moistened with a small amount of low-odor mineral spirits. Have several rags on hand and switch to a clean one when the one you are working with becomes clogged with wax. Wipe repeatedly until your rag remains clean. Take care with your used rags. Place them first in a bucket of water and then spread them out on the lawn to dry. They can then be disposed.
Q. I painted a piece of furniture and my paint cracked. Why did this happen?
There are several factors that can cause your paint layers to crack after they are dry:
- Dirt and moisture – always ensure that your surface is clean and dry before painting.
- Using harsh cleaners, or not rinsing well after cleaning – use a safe-to-use biodegradable cleaner and warm water. Rinse well with clean water, and let the piece dry completely.
- Rushing the process – enjoy your painting but take your time. Allow each paint layer to dry completely before applying the next.
- Painting in direct sunlight or near an operating heat vent, or rushing the drying process by using a blow dryer – move to a protected area and allow each layer to dry naturally.
- Using outdated shellac or shellac that has been exposed to high temperatures – always use the freshest shellac and apply it in thin layers. Store your shellac in a dry area that is room temperature.
- Previous use of spray furniture polishes – many of these contain a silicone used as a film former to protect surfaces. This silicone can cause cracks to appear in your paint layers, especially along edges.
Regardless of the reason, the fix remains the same in all cases. Sand the affected areas with a medium or fine sanding pad. Then seal the surface, including the remaining paint, by wiping on one or two coats of clear shellac with a cloth pad. Once dry, reapply your paint.
For more information should have concerns with your projects, check out my Chalk Paint® SOS.