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Chalk paint is a really versatile paint that can be used for many projects. You can purchase pre-made chalk paint or you can make your own at home. In this post, I’ll give you two chalk paint recipes that I’ve used at home and walk you through the process of using chalk paint on a wood framed vanity mirror with a shiny lacquer finish.

What is Chalk Paint?

The coolest thing about chalk paint is that it’s really easy to work with, and requires little to NO preparation on the surface to which you are adhering the paint. It also has a really neat chalky texture that some would describe as a velvety, or matte finish. Chalk paint can be sealed with wax (clear, dark or colored) to add depth and character to otherwise boring pieces.

There is pre-made chalk paint available (Amazon link) if you’d prefer to buy it. However, making your own chalk paint is a really cost-conscious and unique way to use some of your leftover paint.

There are many things to love about chalk paint, but my favorite is the minimal amount of prep work. Instead of having to strip a piece of furniture, then sand, then prime with multiple coats, you can lightly sand and apply chalk paint right over top of all of those layers. This makes for much faster furniture upcycling projects that will look great an last a long time.

Chalk paint also allows you to lightly sand and distress the paint finish, mix different colors together and get a lot of different effects on your furniture. It’s very versatile and much more forgiving than using a regular paint — especially on furniture.

DIY Chalk Paint Recipes

The process of making your own chalk paint at home is actually really simple. Here are two DIY chalk paint recipes I like to use.

To store the paint, I used a leftover mason jar from my paint storage project.

1- Plaster of Paris Chalk Paint Recipe

Mix one part plaster of paris with one part warm water. You want the plaster to be a liquid consistency with no powder.

Next, mix the plater/water with two parts acrylic paint. You can use craft paint or even leftover wall paint. Flat finish paint will give you the chalkiest look.

Mix the paint and plaster of paris/water mixture until combined.

How much it makes: You’ll need 1/2c plaster of Paris, 1/2c warm water and 1 cup paint to get about 1 1/2c of chalk paint.

2- Calcium Carbonate Chalk Paint Recipe

For this recipe, simply mix 4Tbsp calcium carbonate with a little bit of water to dissolve. Then, add this to 1cup of regular latex paint. I love this recipe because the paint color will remain very close to the original color. With the plaster of Paris recipe, your paint will be a lighter color because it’s mixed with so much white.

When mixing the calcium carbonate, you can also add 1Tbsp of talcum powder for a smoother consistency. If you don’t have the powder on hand, don’t worry. The recipe still works great.

How much it makes: there’s really no change in the amount compared to the paint you started with.

How to Apply Chalk Paint

That’s it! Now that you have your batch of chalk paint made, simply use a paint brush to apply it to whatever material you’d like to cover. What I love about chalk paint is that it will adhere to almost any surface without any prep work.

Apply First Coat of Chalk Paint

I used an old vanity mirror for my project. The wood was shiny and finished with poly. I just painted right on top of it without even sanding it.

The first coat of paint was very runny and I could definitely see the wood through it.

Original Mirror with Wood Finish
Original Mirror with Wood Finish
Applying the first coat of chalk paint. It will be runny and not cover very well.

It will be runny and not cover very well.

Apply a Second Coat of Chalk Paint

It dried REALLY fast, and I continued by applying a second coat of my homemade chalk paint. After the second coat dried, I took some sandpaper and brushed along the edges and grooves of the mirror to let the wood show through. This isn’t required, but it does give it that worn, shabby-chic look.

This is after 2 coats of chalk paint and a light sanding. It's covered very well
2 coats of chalk paint and a light sanding to distress the paint.

This is after 2 coats of chalk paint and a light sanding. It’s covered very well

How to Seal Chalk Paint

There are many ways to finish and seal your chalk paint. Polyurethane clear sealers work well, in either paint or spray forms. I prefer to use a matte finish so that it keeps its chalky look. I’ve also finished off chalk paint with mod podge. But my favorite has to be finishing wax. Just note that once you add your finish it will darken the color of your piece. It makes it a lot more vibrant in my opinion. If you’re nervous about the outcome, try your sealer on the back or a small corner of your piece first.

You may wonder if you need to seal the chalk paint. I suppose you don’t have to do this. But, if your piece ever gets wet it will reactivate your paint and it can drip or come off. So, I would definitely recommend it.

Apply Wax to Seal Chalk Paint

Once you have the piece distressed to your liking (or if you are skipping the distressing), you just need to apply a furniture wax over top of the paint to protect the finish. You can buy furniture wax at the craft store, or a big box home improvement store. A clear wax will not change the color at all, just protect the wood and give it a little bit more of a sealed/coated appearance.

Brush applying dark wax to green chalk paint mirror frame
I used a dark wax and applier with a brush. After applying, I wiped the excess wax off the chalk paint finish with an old t-shirt.

Using Dark Wax

However, I’d recommend using a dark furniture wax. The dark wax will slightly enhance the color of the paint (but not much). It will also make any of the distressing more dramatic.

To use dark wax, I usually mix it with clear wax before applying. I find it gives me much more control over where the wax goes. If you ever need to remove some of the dark wax you can rub it off with clear wax.

Buff the Wax

Once you’ve applied the wax, you can wipe off the excess with an old t-shirt, rag, or a microfiber towel. Buff the wax with your cloth of choice and enjoy your final product! The wax usually takes at least 24 hours to cure and harden. Make sure you check the instructions on the wax brand you use so you know for sure.

The picture below shows the slight color enhancement from using the dark wax.

Closeup of the final, weathered chalk paint finish.
Closeup of the final, weathered chalk paint finish.
Here's the full chalk painted mirror.
Here’s the full chalk painted mirror.

More Chalk Paint DIY Projects

If you liked this chalk paint project, here are some more that you’ll want to check out!

bright dresser before and after makeover
Outdated dresser gets an emerald green distressed chalk paint finish

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