Something Old Becomes Something New With Chalk Finish Paint

March 31, 2015

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Chalk finish paints are a growing trend in home decor. The beautiful soft finish easily compliments almost any style, and the forgiving nature of the paint itself is practical for even the most inexperienced DIY-er. Chalk paint makes it easy to take something old and create a beautiful new piece of furniture for your home. Older pieces of furniture are often built from higher quality components than you can find on the market today, so even if it’s been roughed up, you can breathe new life into it and create a piece you’re proud to display. You can even use chalk paint on old doors, you can even use them on garage doors, though it would need to thoroughly cleaned to help the paint adhere. You would also need to be careful and not paint the mechanisms or else you would find yourself with a stuck door and needing to call a service like to get it unstuck. The same goes for any table furniture that unfolds or has drawers, don’t paint over those screws or hinges. It’s just one of those things to keep in mind when you’re going on a home improvement rampage.
Brand name chalk finish paints can be pricey, but I found a cheaper alternative. I’m going to share my recipe for mixing your own chalk finish paint, and my experience taking a heavily worn old table and making a beautiful new dining table for our home.

homemade chalk finish paint

Jeremy finished the house last fall, and we moved in without enough furniture to fill it. I’ve been adding pieces and items as I could afford it. I know we still have a long way to go though, and I keep thinking of more things I’d like to do to the place, like changing the lighting design. I know we’re going to need the help of an electrician for that though, so I’ve already started to do things like browse this site to see what sort of services they offer. Back to the present – I had looked at several dining room tables, but most were way out of my budget at the moment. I bought an oak table on Craiglist, and I ended up trading it to a family friend for another table. That table was partially covered in storage at the time, so I had no idea how badly it was damaged when I agreed to the trade. It wasn’t worth offending a family friend to ask to trade back, so I cut my losses. I contemplated burning it because it didn’t appear salvageable, which is a shame really as the table would’ve looked really good in the room that I wanted it to go in. But I wanted to try all of the options that were available to me before going down this route, such as contacting a professional contents packout service or even attempting to give it a clean myself. Either option definitely sounded appealing as I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. So, I thought I might just clean it well and let Gabe use it as a craft/art table first and then assess my options again from there.

Wait until you see how bad the table looked.

chalk finish paint

I kept reading about how forgiving chalk finish paint could be, and I decided this would be the perfect piece to test it on. What’s the worst that could happen? I might ruin an already ruined table? I knew I would only be out the price of supplies and my time. I went to a local hardware store to buy chalk paint. Coincidentally, I met someone who had mixed their own, and learned it was considerably cheaper. I went home to do some research. I found that there is no good set formula for mixing your own chalk finish paint, and that the outcome can vary depending on what brand paint base you use. Here is a rough estimate on how we mixed ours.

1/3 cup plaster of Paris

1/3 cup water

1 cup base paint in desired color

You might have to adjust that slightly; it will depend on what brand paint you use. I don’t recommend using any paint that has a primer built in. You can use it, but it works better if you don’t use a paint+primer. You want the mixture to be thin.

Supplies you need for the project:

Plaster of Paris (found at hardware and home improvement stores)

Flat latex paint

Fine grit sandpaper

1 large bucket

An inexpensive brush

Lint free cloth rags

Sealing Wax

Do not mix more paint than what you need to apply one coat. The plaster of Paris will start to set up and leave specks floating in the paint after a few hours.

You want to thoroughly wash whatever you plan to paint. It isn’t necessary to sand, but I suggest giving the furniture a light sanding so that the paint will adhere. There were some major gouges in the tabletop that I knew I could never get out, but I decided they would give the piece character. Make sure you wash the furniture after sanding, and dry thoroughly. Apply one thin coat of chalk finish paint mixture. Chalk finish paint dries fast, so don’t work too slow. When the paint dried, I lightly sanded, cleaned, and applied another coat. I repeated this step several times. I wanted to build up the finish. Don’t panic if you notice brush strokes, they slowly vanish as the paint dries. I lightly sanded and wiped the table down after the final coat.

chalk finish paint

You will need to apply a wax or polyurethane as a top coat. I prefer the finish of wax, put it can be more tedious to apply. I used a lint-free cloth rag to apply the wax. The wax I used was very soft, and was a consistency similar to pudding. I split the tabletop into 6 sections and worked on one at a time. I wiped on a thin coat of wax, allowed it to sit a few minutes, and buffed it off. Since the table would get heavy traffic from daily meals, I opted to apply a total of 6 coats of wax. I allowed the table to dry for a few days before we used it.


I spruced the table up with a runner and a few decor items. The candlesticks are a mixture of old and new too. I found the silver plated candlesticks in a thrift store for a few dollars. It’s impossible to have regular candles with a five year old in the house, so I opted for battery-operated LED candles. I decided to try the new Energizer EcoAdvanced Recycled Batteries in my candles. I loved that they kept with my theme of taking something old, and making something new. They’re the first battery on the market made from recycled batteries/materials. They’re Energizer’s longest-lasting alkaline battery ever, and they’re available in size AA and AAA.

Energizer EcoAdvanced

Energize EcoAdvanced

diy chalk finish paint

If you’re interested in checking out Energizer EcoAdvanced Recycled Batteries, I discovered this on the back side of the battery “centers” at my local Walmart.


I love my new dining room table and it will spare me from purchasing one for a few years. I’m looking forward to painting a few more items with chalk finish paint. One of my friends who lives in North Carolina has recently had her dining room repainted by one of the Top painting contractors in Mooresville, so I cannot wait to share this DIY painting project with her. I’m also looking forward to filling all of the our remotes and other electronics with these Energizer EcoAdvanced Recycled Batteries, and feeling less guilty about all the batteries we use. I wish there were more ways that we could take something old and make something new.

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Have you ever taken anything old and made it new again?

7 comments on “Something Old Becomes Something New With Chalk Finish Paint”

  1. I love how it turned out! I only hope I can make mine look half this good! Thanks for sharing the formula too! Looks fab!

    1. Thanks Teresa! I can’t wait to hear about your experience and check out your project. If we lived closer we could craft and paint together!

  2. I totally am obsessed with chalkboard everything. I am planning to move soon and plan to paint one of my office walls with it (and perhaps a kitchen area to post the weekly menu). I am not familiar with chalk finish pain, but your table came out lovely. 🙂

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