Tips for Painting with Chalk Paint
You’ve all heard how easy it is to paint with a chalk paint – no need for priming or sanding and, for the most part, that’s true. I would say 80% of the time you will have no issues and you will try it and agree that chalk based paint is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The finish is soft, hard and matte – very vintage looking. Then there will be the other 20% of the time and if it is the first time you are using a chalk based paint, well, it will frustrate the heck out of you and most likely it will be the last time you use it not to mention the disgruntled rants and unfavorable review you are most likely to leave. So let’s put aside some of the myths and help you get the best possible result when working with a chalk based paint. Most of these tips will work with any type of paint as most of the issues are common with most types of paint.
What is “bleed through” and how do I prevent it?
Bleed through is the term used when the original stain on furniture shows through the paint as an orangey brownish or even pinkish color no matter how many times you paint over it. This is especially true of furniture from the 1930-1940s. This can also happen with unfinished wood containing lots of tannin which is often in the form of knots in the wood or furniture with existing mildew or watermarks. The way to prevent it is to use shellac over the areas that are giving you a problem. You can apply the shellac directly over any previously applied paint as long as it is dry. We recommend Sherwin Williams “White Pigmented Shellac Primer” but any shellac will do and shellac also comes in easy to use spray cans.
Why is my paint cracking?
Yup – sometimes chalk based paint will crack. Some users may even like this. This could either be another case of bleed through OR a matter of not letting the first coat dry before applying the second coat. Either way, using shellac is the remedy and waiting until the shellac dries before applying the paint again is crucial. I had this happen to a friend recently who was applying the paint outdoors in the humid Florida weather. The first coat was not dry enough before she applied the 2nd coat and it began cracking. Temperature is important when painting. Somewhere around 75 degrees F with low humidity is optimum.
What kind of prep work do I need to do before I start to paint with Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint?
No sanding, priming or paint removal is required in most cases. For best paint adhesion and a professional appearance especially on kitchen cabinets where grease and grime may build up, it is advised to use denatured alcohol prior to painting. For other pieces, common sense cleaning and removing dirt and dust prior to painting. For heavily soiled pieces, use TCP to clean. For pieces with a heavy buildup of Pledge or similar furniture polish, you may wish to remove the buildup with denatured alcohol or go over the problem area with shellac if adhesion is a problem.
If you are a true professional and paint furniture for a living, you will probably clean, sand and shellac most of your pieces but if you are like me, and just paint a few pieces mostly for yourself then you will probably just do a simple common sense cleaning and then dive right in and hope for the best. Most of the time, you will be just fine and your piece will come out perfect but every once in a while you will discover the one piece that you should have used some shellac or a little sanding. It’s not too late, you can still sand or shellac over the existing areas you already painted and then paint over them once the shellac is dry. Sooner or later, if you continue to use chalk based paint, you will run into one of these situations where the paint doesn’t stick or it cracks, chips or bleeds through. It will happen.
A synthetic brush is better than a natural brush if you want less brush strokes. And a foam brush works quite nicely as well.
How do I minimize brush strokes?
To minimize brush strokes, use a synthetic brush instead of a natural brush. You can also thin the paint slightly with water although this can result in applying more coats of paint. You can also lightly sand between coats and the final coat with a fine grade sand paper to reduce any brush strokes.
Is temperature really that important when applying the paint?
Absolutely. Again, the optimum temperature is somewhere around 75 degrees F with little to no humidity. I live in Florida and recently painted a project outdoors in the late May afternoon sun. Well, 24 hours later I was bringing my project indoors because it still had not sufficiently dried because of the Florida humidity. It wasn’t “wet” mind you but when I began sanding, I noticed the softness of certain thicker areas of paint. And most paints, Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint included, cannot be stored below freezing for more than 4 hours. So, not too hot and not too cold.
How is Poet’s Paint different from latex paint and other chalk-based paints?
You’ll find that Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint produces a much more durable finish which will not peel and chip like synthetic based latex paint. Latex paints have a tendency to be “sticky” when you sit on them or rest your arm on them. Poet’s Paint also contains liquid glass for a harder finish than other chalk based paints.
Do I need to use a top coat with Poet’s Paint?
No it’s not necessary but if you want to protect your piece from stains and watermarks, it is recommended. You can use a wax or polyurethane.