My Complicated Relationship with Chalk Paint.

Does anyone remember when I got to help our friends stage their house to sell? Well, they had planned to get rid of the one of their dressers during their move, and graciously agreed to let me have it! (Thanks, again – Brian & Amanda!!).

Now that I’m finally done painting and sealing ALL of the basement floors (breaking news!), I’m starting to finish furnishing and decorating the bedrooms. I’ll definitely share the full before and after pictures of each space with you as I finish them!

Anywho, this means that last week I finally got to work on giving our new (old) dresser a little makeover! I’ve been wanting to use chalk paint for a while, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. We also have an old TV stand (looking very glamorous in the before pictures of our built-ins project) that is a great size for our basement playroom, but the hubs was convinced we needed to trash it. I decided to try rescuing it with paint, too, while I was already in painting mode for the dresser. My plan was to just use some of the same paint – so basically it would be a free add-on project. ☺️

I learned quite a bit about using chalk paint thanks to these projects, so I’m going to share the process I used for each and how my results differed. First up, was the dresser…

Here’s the dresser before I started:

It has definitely seen better days… There are a lot of holes and red (nail polish?) on it that’s hard to see in the pictures above… The nail polish/paint did bleed through, but it’s in places that aren’t very noticeable, so I’m okay with that (but an important side note if you’re ever trying to cover it up?!).

The first thing I did was remove all of the drawers and hardware (except for the door since the hinges were giving me grief).

One of the supposedly great things about chalk paint, is that prepping to paint is minor. It theoretically doesn’t require any sanding or priming. But since the finish on this dresser was so glossy and it was in such rough shape, I decided to do a quick sand using an electric palm sander with fine grit paper.

Then I wiped everything down and went straight to painting!

The consistency definitely reminded me of priming… After trimming/cutting in the edges, I tried to use a foam roller, but WOW – bubble city!!!

So I quickly went over the surface with a brush, and just used a brush to paint the entire thing.

Here’s how it was looking after my first coat:

I wasn’t going for the distressed look, so I painted another coat on after about 4 hours of drying time. Here’s how it looked after the second coat (I let it dry overnight before putting the drawers back in):

The coverage was great! But I can see why you’re supposed to seal it with wax for the second step. The paint had a definite matte/almost gritty texture (like a chalkboard, hah!).

But first, I wanted to try stenciling on a pattern in a different color. It’s for the guest room in the basement, so why not go crazy, right?! You know I’m no stranger to stenciling. Haha. I got this stencil from Royal Design Studio.

I decided to only stencil the raised panels of the door and drawers…

As you can see, I wanted to stagger the design a bit. I just set the stencil on tissue paper between each new placement to dry the paint off the back of the stencil.

A stack of tissue paper was laying nearby, so using it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but it worked really well! I just sandwiched the stencil between 2 layers, and quickly smoothed the top layer over the painted portion of the stencil. Then I pulled the tissue paper off the front and back and repeated the process until their was little-to-no paint residue on the paper. Easy peasy! It took about 5-6 sheets of tissue paper between each stencil application to dry off the paint. Don’t walk away and let the tissue paper sit on the stencil though, or it might not come off in one clean attempt. I learned this the hard way (and it was probably less than a minute that I let it sit!). Here’s a piece of paper after smoothing it over the stencil once or twice and peeling it off:

Here’s the dresser after I was done stenciling:

The crazy thing is the stencil color is GRAY, not pink! I wish I had gotten a darker gray, but I still think it turned out nicely. I used Valspar chalk paint in Beaded Reticule (green) and Woolen Stockings (gray), both shown below. I’m sure you can see why I was surprised how light they registered in-person; although some of the brightness in the pictures above are from the sun.

Step 2 was applying the wax sealant, to protect it from damage. It did add a bit of a glossy sheen to it, but it wasn’t super noticeable. It also didn’t feel as smooth as I expected. Since I did this step at the same time on the TV stand, I didn’t take any pictures of this step on the dresser (whoops!). But I did for the TV stand below…

I read the chalk paint brochure at Lowe’s (because I’m a nerd like that), and it said you can also apply a coat of polyurethane after waxing for added protection. Since I still have some leftover from the basement floors, I decided to take this extra step. It was very glossy and smooth after this step!

Let me take a quick break to tell you, I originally had a pink rug in this room, but the dresser looked dizzying on it! So I swapped it with the gray rug I had in the playroom, and I actually like both rooms better this way (happy accident!).

And here’s the playroom with it’s new pink rug:

The greenish wall color plays off of it nicely, the way I had originally thought the green dresser would. But again, happy accident!

But back to the dresser… The next step was to install new hardware. The top row of drawers have different hole spacing for the hardware than the bottom drawers. So I couldn’t use the same cup pulls for the top row, and decided to use knobs instead. But the original knobs I got were comically large…

Oy… So I made a quick swap with smaller knobs we have in our kitchen island, to see if that scale would work better.

MUCH better! I’m not sure the pictures do the difference enough justice. I’m telling you, first my stomach sank, and then all I could do was laugh at how ridiculous the large knobs were. So I ordered new knobs, and a handle for the door (I had originally gotten leather pulls to use one for the door, but I didn’t love it with the glass hardware).

Here’s the finished result:

I love how it turned out! I think the new hardware kind of makes it. But other than the paint color registering a lot brighter/lighter than the paper swatches, the hardware mishap, and the rug switcheroo, it was a really easy and straight forward process. That was a lot of caveats, but the actual painting part was painless, hahaha!

Unfortunately, the TV stand didn’t end out quite as I had envisioned…

I used the same process, except I skipped the sanding part. I did use a sanding block to rough it up the best I could with some elbow grease, but it wasn’t a new sanding block (and apparently I’m not that strong). It did dull the finish a bit though, so I figured it was good enough.

Here are some before pictures (after sanding and wiping it down):

Here’s after one coat of gray paint (the same color I used for the stencil on the dresser):

A little rough, but not unlike the first coat of paint on the dresser. Here’s after the second coat:

SO GOOD; right?!?! At least that’s how I felt. I was LOVING how it was turning out! And isn’t it crazy how much the green dresser makes this same gray paint look almost pink? Must be the undertones in the green paint or something…

Next I applied the wax sealant:

Which, by the way, that expensive brush Lowe’s sells for chalk paint and wax is not worth it. I spent a LOT of time pulling runaway bristles out of the paint. Here’s a stray one I missed and had to scratch out after the wax had dried…

That image is actually of the top of the dresser, and you can see the gray stayed a nice consistent color. That was not the case for the TV stand… Can you see how the wood finish is starting to show through in the pictures below?

I probably should have sanded it and applied more paint at that point, but I was kind of over it. It looked pretty consistently worn (not just in one place or something), so I put on a coat of poly and called it good. (And also cried a little on the inside 😆).

But I was able to use the leather pulls on the cabinet doors, which helps me be a little less annoyed with it. Haha!! Here she is in her new home (the playroom):

The playful pink rug helps to distract from the slightly “off” coloring. And the leather pulls help tie in the black box on top of it. 😁 Also, did you notice the new, snazzy door handle?! It’s crazy how much the updated hardware makes a difference in elevating the space! (Side note: is this post really just about how much I’m into hardware? Lol!)

Anyway, I’m not sure if I applied too much pressure when wiping the excess wax off of the TV stand (I did wax the dresser second, so maybe I got better at it?), or if the big difference was not properly sanding the TV stand. But I do know if I use chalk paint again, I plan on taking the time to sand the furniture first, just in case…

Anyone else have experience with chalk paint that knows where I went wrong?! Please share your tips and insights – I’m all ears! ☺️

3 thoughts on “My Complicated Relationship with Chalk Paint.

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