Chalk Paint? Not So Much.


I know everyone in blogland is on the Chalk Paint Bandwagon. I’ve read countless posts on how wonderful it is. And I’ve seen beautiful results. But so far….I’m not a fan.

I have a few pieces in our bedroom that are wood. For the most part, the wood is dark. This piece is from our Craftsman days in San Diego when the trim in our house was a darkly stained wood and so many of our pieces of furniture were, too. I’ve been wanting to paint the various pieces in some sort of cohesive color and, hopefully, brighten up the bedroom in the process.

You can see the dark finish this piece had originally if you look at the top of the blanket chest.

One of the selling points of Chalk Paint is that it goes a long way. The instructions always point out that you don’t need to use a primer. And one (or two) coats of paint is enough to cover the piece. I had to use 4 coats of paint. Believe me, if I had known, I would have primed the piece first. At $36.95 for a small can of paint, 4 coats of paint is pricey.

I was frustrated.  A small project that I thought would take a short amount of time took much longer than expected. I’m still not entirely happy with it.

I don’t get what the big deal is about Chalk Paint. Has it been overhyped? It’s awfully expensive. If I thought it was worth the effort, I’d rather make my own. There are plenty of recipes for it on the internet. But is it worth the effort?

And I wonder – why not just use regular old paint like I normally do? Why go to all the expense of chalk paint if I can use flat latex and some wax and come up with this?


It isn’t a great photo, but this is a $5 cabinet that I painted and aged and waxed. For the price of some latex paint and some paste wax (which I still have) this ends up being much more affordable.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending $36.95 on a quart of paint, it had better be fabulous.

So far? Not fabulous.

I know that some of my readers use chalk paint and love it, so maybe I’m missing something? Or doing something wrong? If I am, please let me know! I’ll be happy to adjust my current attitude.

By the way, has anyone else received a Malware warning while on PicMonkey? This morning I was editing a photo and was about to save it to my computer when I got a big old Malware warning (I was on Chrome.) I quickly closed that window and ended up editing in Ribbet. I wonder sometimes if these warnings are real or are the result of an overactive and extra vigilant browser. So now I’m running my virus software to make sure everything is okay. Edited to add: Saw this explanation today. PicMonkey and other sites must have been advertising partners with this site. All is okay now.

And my wireless router appears to be acting up.

Happy Monday.



  1. Sherry says

    Claudia, I might be totally off base, but I thought chalk paint was for surfaces you wanted to write on with chalk. It does sound like an expensive proposition to use it otherwise.

    I am not a new reader, but this is my first response to a post. I very much enjoy your blog. ~Sherry

    • Claudia says

      No, that’s chalkboard paint. They are two different things, though they probably have some of the same components. The paint I am using is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. You can google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Sherry!

  2. says

    I thought I was missing something, because I don’t understand what the hullabaloo is about either. Admittedly, I’ve never seen a project done in chalk paint “in person”, just photos. But I like the finished look of regular paint better.

  3. says

    Hi Claudia. I came to leave a message about the pottery but found a newer message. First of all. I started collecting the minature pottery because I loved your pottery collection. I have no room for large pieces and I love the little pieces. I didn’t know that you were collecting the little ones. Such a sweet person to send you those and a little heart as well.
    As fas as the A.S.C.P. I fought buying it for a couple of years. I bought other painted several little things. It was okay and the pieces came out okay with a little tweaking. And the price wasn’t alot cheaper. Then I took a class that one of my blogging friends offered. The insructor had some inside knowledge about the paint. Such as you can paint over any surface, no fumes, easy cleanup, doesn’t drip, can mix with other colors, no need to prep, most surfaces you don’t have to prime (I know you said you should have), the unique colors, and on and on. When we took the class she had us paint several little things. She had us paint rather random, actually sloppy, not like what we would be used to. Now, the largest thing I have painted is a large wall shelf. My next project is a banket chest. I am glad I started small. The wax is hard for me. I can’t do the rubbing. I may look into buying one of those buffers. I will use the A.S.C.P. again. Our instructor showed us how to use the wax, how to mix it with the light and the dark. That makes a big difference. I must say. The pieces I painted with regular paint last summer look like the one you posted here. Good luck. Don’t give up on it. It is expensive. I think that maybe you are putting too much paint on it somehow. I am like that as well. I don’t like the super chippy shabby look. Try the messy sloppy application technique. So hard if you are a bit OCD like me. (((((HUGS)))))

    • Claudia says

      I did do a messy sloppy application! In fact, I was afraid that I was too messy. And I didn’t put too much paint on it, Debby. In fact, maybe not enough – as I had to do 4 coats. Maybe if I had primed first I would be feeling differently? I’m not giving up but I don’t think I will buy any more cans.

  4. says

    I’m glad you asked this question, as I’m curious to see what other readers say. I’m not terribly excited about chalk apint either and it would have to be pretty darn incredible to get me to spend that kind of $$ on a quart of it! Geez!

    • Claudia says

      It is very expensive. I see people painting their kitchen cupboards with it – one blogger said she used 3 coats on her cabinets – yikes! I can’t even imagine how expensive that was!

  5. Vanessa Bower says

    Oh the Chalk Paint!!!!!!
    I learned the hard way that you should sand and prime any dark or reddish colored wood prior to using a light colored chalk paint. (i.e. old white) I’m currently working on a very dark stained dresser that has five drawers. I had to paint the drawers four times ,the can of chalk paint is almost gone and I still have the “body” to complete. So, another 35 mile round trip to the only store that sells it in the Kansas City area plus the $36.95 plus tax , to complete a dresser that will house fabrics and stuff in my sewing room. My husband , the numbers guy, is still shaking his head on this one.
    On the positive side, I painted a mahogany mirror frame in duck egg blue and it turned out beautiful. This time, I purchased a “sample pot” for $12.95 plus tax and still have half the pot remaining.
    When the weather gets warmer, I will try making my own chalk paint and experiment on some inexpensive projects. But I do know I will be thinking twice , maybe three times before making another investment in ASCP.
    There is a blog called Altered Designs post date January 18, 2012 that provides color matches in latex paint to ASCP and also discusses the love-hate relationships with the paint.
    Hope this helps, happy painting,

    • Claudia says

      Maybe the chalk paint in darker colors works better. I just can’t justify the expense though, especially when there are so many colors available in regular old paint. Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

  6. Donnamae says

    Well…I think that is expensive for any kind of paint! If you can make your own, then I would try it! Course, this is coming from the woman who doesn’t paint furniture! Guess I haven’t met a piece of furniture yet, that told me it wanted to be painted! (especially at those prices). đŸ˜‰

    • Claudia says

      I like painting furniture that has seen better days – which all of these pieces have – and is not attractive enough to warrant re-finishing. But heck, I’d rather use latex!

  7. says

    I’m happy to read varying reviews of the chalk paint. I, too, have wondered about it. I painted my wooden china cabinet the old-fashioned way – sanding off the old finish, priming, then two coats of a latex cabinet paint. I think it turned out beautifully. I didn’t do any waxing, preferring to let the piece age on its own.

    I hope you keep us posted on further explorations with the chalk paint.

  8. says

    Hi Claudia – glad to hear your opinion about chalk paint. I’m going to buy my first quart and try it out. I’ll let you know what I think. If I like it, I’m going to try making my own.

    I had same trouble with PicMonkey so I’ve gone to IPiccy. Good luck with your router. J

    • Claudia says

      I think I will have to get a new router from my cable company. Cross your fingers that it works.

  9. says

    I wonder if it’s because that piece used to live in San Diego? The walls here soak up the paint and it’s always multiple coats. Due to the dryness, I believe. Perhaps the same thing happened to you …. Now that you’ve gotten this far though, are you going to put wax on it?

    • Claudia says

      I did put wax on it. But I may buff it some more. And you’re right – it could be dry due to life in SD.

  10. says

    Hi Claudia, I was going to ask what brand you were using, and saw the comment that it’s ASCP. I have the Old White, and the Charcoal grey, they cost $50 a quart here in Canada…that should make you feel a little better about your price. And shipping would have been $10 per quart…had I not picked them up. Any cost, yours or mine, is expensive I agree.

    I’ve used both for quite a while, and still love them, but I have only used the cream on lighter colored projects, it works wonders on those colors. It might be that the quart that you have is just slightly “off” have you contacted the distributor? I know that I had read a long time ago about a blogger having the same issue, the rep for ASCP immediately fixed her problem.

    There usually is a reason why so many people love the product, not all of us are jumping on the bandwagon, I admit I was eager to get my hands on the paint, but it hasn’t disappointed me like it has you. I still love the possibilities, and the coverage. It’s simply the most amazing paint, no fume! less chemical, paint that I have ever come across. With severe environmental allergies being able to use this paint is wonderful, since so many of them bother me.

    But there is no way I would use that paint to paint my kitchen cupboards, financially it’s just not feasible, I save mine for small pieces of furniture, and crafting. I hope that they figure out what the problem is, and help you out.


    • Claudia says

      With your serious allergies, I can see why you like it, Jen. You’re right – no fumes or chemicals. And for many people that is very important. Unfortunately, every piece of furniture I want to paint is dark. I think I will have to use primer. Or just go back to the latex and primer I used on that cabinet and on the kitchen island. Not sure yet.

  11. says

    I don’t think I would like the chalk paint either – the cost and the amount of work involved seem like too much for me. Why not just paint it with a satin finish and then sand it instead of painting it with matte chalk paint and then waxing. It seems like you would get the same effect.

  12. says

    I’ve never tried the chalk paint, Claudia. I don’t paint a lot of furniture but I do have two pieces in the garage waiting for spring. I’m glad to hear the good, bad and the ugly about the ASCP. I just wondered mostly if the expense was worth it. It’s as if it’s a designer label paint! The bench I want to paint is dark, no matter what, I will prime it.

    Thanks for the review and your opinion.


    • Claudia says

      I mostly hear good things about the paint. I am probably the exception. But if a piece is dark, I would say to prime it.

  13. tracy says

    Just this weekend I was checking out tutorials on chalk paint and decided it wasn’t for me. I DO think it looks beautiful in some of those ‘all white’ rooms where everything is very ethereal and vintage looking. But in my house, it just looks shabby, Not chic;-) I like the distressed look on some pieces of furniture, but I prefer getting it with my good old fashioned latex paint, a little stain, and a sanding block.

  14. says

    Claudia, now I have second thoughts about painting my guest bedroom furniture. It is rather dark, stained in the late 80’s but I don’t think it was ever sealed with wax. I also wanted to paint my brass headboard, but now it seems that brass is coming back? So confused. But you are only the 2nd blogger that I know of who isn’t happy with it. xo

    • Claudia says

      Well, go ahead and try it, Barbara. You might have to prime it, which isn’t bad if you know to do it ahead of time. I took the instructions literally and found out too late I should have primed first.

  15. says

    I, too, am a bit wary of the hype around chalk paint. I’ve always had good luck with regular paint and playing around with whatever finishing touches I want. I had no idea chalk paint was that expensive and it certainly is not going to be something I try. Perhaps it’s like fashion … just a trend that’s making someone a bundle of bucks. Good luck in finding a way to finish your chest to your liking.

  16. says

    Nearly every piece of furniture in my home I have painted..Without chalk paint.
    I don’t get the hype either but know many bloggers are selling the stuff, promoting it for $$$ etc…so I hesitate to knock it.
    I started painting my furniture nearly 30 years ago and I always use the cheapest latex I can find. The key to my finish is wax also but I use Briwax and yes iI mix the clear and dark brown sometimes and I also use some other distressing tricks that are my secret and buffing A LOT is crucial. I have also used J&J clear paste wax mixed with brown shoe polish with great results..

    The paint hit the FAD button at just the right time and like all fads will either morph into a permanent product with lots of competition (it already has) lower prices or DIY concoctions ( already has ). Think Huggable Hangers. Knockoffs everywhere.
    I still believe it is the wax applications that hold the secret to the chemical change in the surface paint. 30 years and counting. đŸ˜€
    #0 years later and my finishes hold up perfectly

    • Claudia says

      You are very wise, Z. I used wax on that tv cabinet – Minwax, I believe, and it worked out just fine. I will probably invest in some Briwax, as well.

  17. says

    I hope everything is ok with your computer. Do you have Java installed? Most everyone does and I’ve heard there have been problems with that…so if picmonkey uses Java there could be a connection.

    I used chalk board paint once…at work, for a chalkboard. It was years ago and I wasn’t impressed either. I thought maybe they had improved on it over the years. Perhaps not. Oh well.

    • Claudia says

      I’m pretty sure I have Java disabled. Who knows? Sometimes Chrome is extra vigilant. Computer is fine – no virus or malware. I have a Mac, which doesn’t make it impervious to those things, but does make it less likely to happen.

  18. says

    I’ve seen all the chalk paint posts too but have not ried it. At the price you quoted, I won’t be! Get real, people– well, most folks have a lot more $$$ than I do, I guess. I’ve painted tons of walls, furniture, crafts, etc etc in my life w/o chalk paint and have survived very nicely. I also have a rule: three coats max, and I’m done no matter what it looks like! :)

  19. says

    I’ve never tried the chalk paint, although I have been hearing about it a lot in blogland. I must say, I think I prefer the look of your $5 cabinet. It’s beautiful. I’ve been trying to get my husband to let me paint my kitchen cabinets but really don’t think that will happen!


    • Claudia says

      Our kitchen cabinets need painting badly! I just can’t contemplate that at the present time.

  20. says

    Hi Claudia, I cannot bring myself to pay that amount of money for paint. I do not paint that much furniture anyway. My kitchen cabinets do need paint but I would never pay that much for paint. That said I have seen some beautiful pieces done with chalk paint. Olive

  21. Annette Tracy says

    Great to read your post, as I’ve been wary of using it also. And admittedly the price turns me off. I have a big old sturdy bookcase that I took the cheap latex paint to a few years ago. It’s dark wood, and I suspect made in Mexico living out here in So Cal. Bottom line is I painted it with only two coats of semi gloss turquoise and sanded it lightly and I love it. I do have an old very dark dresser with turned legs and fancy turns on the mirror I’ve been tempted to use the chalk paint on, but after reading your comments I think I’ll wait til it warms up and do it the old fashioned way, except maybe use a primer! Thanks for posting this.

    • Claudia says

      I have a dark piece with turned legs (sort of a smaller version of my kitchen island) that I wanted to paint with it – but I may do it another way.

  22. says

    Just in time before I buy some of it! I picked out a color and wanted to use it on a large old dinosaur of an entertainment center that I wanted to convert to a cupboard rather than throwing it away–no one wants the huge things anymore! Maybe that would be too big a project for us. My husband will be happy. His words: “Why can’t we just keep it brown?”

    • Claudia says

      Well, I don’t want to stop anyone from buying it, it may be something you love – why not try one of the sample sizes on something? Not so much initial cash outlay and you could test it on the back of the entertainment center.

  23. says

    I didn’t get a message about PicMonkey, but I did about TinyURL, and also when I tried to look up a local obituary. Strange, I thought. I am also on Chrome. Wonder what’s up all of a sudden?

    • Claudia says

      Hmmm. What’s up with Chrome. Maybe a little quick to label something Malware? I don’t know!

  24. Anne Bulat says

    Hi, Claudia! I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time but I believe this is my first comment! I had an old desk purchased from Target that I wanted to paint. Just a plain dark brown, shiny finished desk that came in a box to be put together. I didn’t want to sand all the shine off to paint it. I couldn’t afford to buy chalk paint. I made my own with a very dark blue eggshell finish latex, plaster of Paris and water. I put two coats on the desk. I used Minwax paste wax on top of the paint. I’d never waxed anything before & had difficulty putting it on…so it only got one coat…on the top! No way was I going to try putting it on the legs, etc.! Anyway, it came out a little streaky & worn looking and I love it. I can’t believe how much a quart of “real” chalk paint costs!

    • Claudia says

      It sounds like a good way to do it, Anne. I use Minwax paste wax, too. I think the one thing that ASCP’s was has going it for it is that is is more the consistency of margarine in a tub. Less hard to put on. I didn’t buy it, so, like you, I got frustrated with the paste wax. Maybe what I should invest in is the wax and not the chalk paint!

  25. says

    Never tried the chalk paint….back in the day we bought unfinished furniture and painted / stained it OR we stripped old furniture and I did so much of all of that when I was young I just don’t want to paint a thing now, lol..

    MALWARE AND CHROME : Chrome was informing me that malware was on my local station ( where I check weather ) THEN it informed me that the same malware was on the NEXT local station. At that point I got worried that it might be CHROME itself and ran the full scan of MalWareBytes and then MS Security Essentials informed me about some other malware ….( So I think Chrome might have been the culprit ) as after all of THAT ( 45 minutes or so ) suddenly no more malware messages from Chrome! : )

  26. says

    So glad that I like the warm look and grains in wood…Sounds like a lot of trouble…
    When I leave a comment, I have to put in my Name, address, and website each time?????

    • Claudia says

      Probably. Do you clear your browser’s cache? If so, it won’t remember what you put in. When I leave comments on other WordPress blogs, my info usually comes right up.

      I have to do that with Blogger blogs and it doesn’t bother me. Doesn’t bother me with WordPress blogs, either. If I have to re-enter the info, no problem.

  27. says

    I’ve never tried chalk paint and don’t plan to at those prices! And like you said, the look isn’t guaranteed. I think I prefer regular ol’ latex paint.

  28. says

    I’m glad to read this post! I’m not much of a painter but have some older furniture I’m thinking about painting and I don’t see me using ASCP. It is expensive then the wax and I must say a lot of the pieces I see on blogs are OK but really not that much better then just paint and distressing them. So for me it would no way be worth that kind of money. I hope you can get your piece done to your satisfaction!

  29. says

    Well, I have NOT used the ASCP and so what I’m about to say— most dealers and users will tell you it’s APPLES AND ORANGES.
    As soon as I found out there was a DIY for this product; I went for it. You know me. Any options with less expense… and I’m there. I NEVER spend full price on paint. So I will not purchase ASCP. I’ve only used DIY chalk paint.
    It has worked very well for me. The only project I’m not happy with was BLACK. I repainted my lower kitchen cupboards used the same ratio of paint and PLASTER OF PARIS. It has not held up. I have the Littles here everyday—I understand nicks and scratches. But this is a disappointment. I also painted my dining chairs and 3 chair bench with BLACK DIY CP —nope it is chippy. I guess there is a component of the BLACK paint that doesn’t jive with the DIY recipe or maybe I need to tweak it. I’ve waxed them with MINWAX furniture paste…still nicks.
    Now– I painted the cabinets in the bathroom, and I’ve painted shelving, and furniture—different colors, glazes, and waxes; and it has worked well.
    All in all, it’s not ASCP– it’s just DIY– the thing is…I’ve bought a huge 25 lb bag of Plaster of Paris, it was marked down from $14.00 to $9.00 because the box and bag were damaged!!! So, I have enough Plaster of Paris to DIY CP everything in site …from now on! ha!

    Not sure if that helps, but for what it’s worth; it’s my experience. Pat
    P.S.~~~Oh yes, I DO PAINT SLOPPY. No instruction needed. đŸ˜‰

  30. Patti says

    I have previously bought 2 cans of chalk paint in the past but I won’t buy it again because of the expense. I told a good friend about making your own with any paint and plaster of paris and she did it and I have to tell you she has had some fantastic results! She recently used semi gloss with it and it looks wonderful! The next time I paint I will be trying it too. She transformed an old bedroom suit from the 70’s into something entirely new with paint and new hardware. ~Hugs, Patti

  31. says

    I had a similar experience to yours with the ASCP. I had to use at least three coats to get the coverage I needed. I did like the paste wax though. I’ve seen the results of the DIY version of the paint and it looked great, so I think in the future I may try that and use the AS paste wax.

  32. says

    I have to agree with you on the chalkpaint, Claudia. I’ve been a junker for decades and have never seen an old painted piece with a finish that looks remotely like chalk paint. I’ve made my own for a few small projects, and it’s okay, but I’m much too fickle about color to invest that much money in a quart of paint that will probably not be the right shade anyway. It took 8 sample bottles of paint to get the color I wanted for our kitchen!! Call me old-fashioned, but I’m in the process of painting an old desser with good old washable latex semi-gloss paint. Maybe I’ll start a new trend. Or not. :)

  33. says

    Hi Claudia! I haven’t read through every comment, and have never used chalk paint. But I’ve been pondering painting a desk and old sewing machine cabinet, so have wondered which way to go. In the late 1960s, early 70s, we were “antiquing furniture,” but at that time it wasn’t as popular to give it an aged look by sanding off some paint. And the “stain” coat was left pretty heavy. Then in the 90s, my family had a woodworking business selling decorative country primitives. We used regular latex paint, sanded the pieces when dry, rubbed them with Minwax stain, and wiped them off thoroughly. That left the pieces less dark than the old antiquing procedure did, and we were very pleased with the results every time. (Caveat: watch which color of stain, because if very dark, no matter how much one wipes off, it will leave white an ivory color. For white white and pale colors, I wouldn’t apply stain.) I guess for me, I will probably stick with what has worked for us in the past. I guess I must be too used to the “old days and ways” because sometimes I don’t care for the chalk paint redos at all. Sacrilege, I know! Just my 2 cents. Have a great week! Bess

  34. LuvWheaties says

    Claudia, I wasn’t happy with my one attempt using chalk paint. I needed three coats of Old White to cover a medium oak stained side table. I also had some trouble applying the clear wax, and I really do think part of it is my lack of experience with the product. I am going to try to paint something else with it, since I still have a lot left in the can. I have watched several tutorial videos after the fact, and I am willing to give it another go. I really do love many of the ASCP colors, and have seen and read about many good results on various blogs, so I am keeping an open mind. But yes, it is very expensive, and one has to question whether it is really worth the expense.

  35. Linden Townhouse says

    I can’t spend that much on paint! I buy the Martha Stewart brand (I use semi-gloss) at Home Depot, and I am very happy with the results.

  36. says

    I’m with you, Claudia, and I haven’t tried the chalk paint yet. I’m getting great results just using flat paint (it’s pretty chalky as it is), and if I want it chalkier, I can always add something to it, like unsanded grout or plaster of paris. I haven’t needed to yet, though. People say you don’t need to use much, but I have a quart of sample paint from Sherwin Williams (very chalky) that I’ve done two entire hutches with, top, bottom, inside and out, two coats. So regular paint doesn’t use much either on furniture. People say you don’t have to prime, but flat paint will work without priming too on the pieces I’ve tried. And if you *do* have to prime, well… then I’m not sure I see the ROI on that. Again, I haven’t tried it, but I’m not sure I see the need to and I certainly don’t want to spend $40 on a quart of paint! I’m sorry you’re having a tough time with it! What a bummer. -Angela~

  37. says

    HI Claudia – I hate to see that you had a less than wonderful experience with Chalk Paint®. First off, let me say that I use it , I love it and I sell it. Im a painting contractor and have used wonderful paint. This is super wonderful!
    It is true you don’t have to prime or strip furniture or cabinets or most any other surface to paint over it with Chalk Paint® Did you get some training on how to use it? This is not ordinary paint. This paint isn’t fussy. You do just slap it on like Annie says. It isn’t just a shabby look but so much more…my facebook page has a piece I just did that has a very high end European look. It can also be used as a wash, or thickly, color over color, impasto, etc. etc. It is much more versatile than latex and won’t peel like latex does. Incidentally, mixing something into latex paint is not Chalk Paint® You have made another version of latex paint but you still started with latex. Chalk Paint® was developed 23 years ago and is a registered trademark name of Annie Sloan. You can’t make it yourself. It is the recipe that makes it special, not the
    ingredients. And it stretches a long way, making it quite economical actually. I painted my daughter’s rather large kitchen with a big island and used 4 1/2 quarts….that is just over one gallon of paint, and it was Pure White over golden oak…not an easy task to cover but you can get good coverage with Pure White by using Old White as the first coat. There are so many ways to use it – don’t give up, but do go back to your stockist and ask questions! Some are new but there are others that have been using it like I have for over 2 years since it has been made in the states. Will I go back to latex? Never!! Please contact me if I can help you out at all!!

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