Steps for a typical chalk paint project

There are a lot of factors when deciding to refinish a piece. For this example, I’m going to use a dresser as the “typical” piece. These steps can be applied to any project you’re working on – just modified.

Click here for a list of the basic chalk painting supplies you’ll need.

  1. Decide what you want to do with your piece. This is the fun part. Look on Pinterest, look on Facebook Marketplace. Check out websites of stores that sell the type of dresser you’re going to be refinishing. The Annie Sloan website has a gallery of all her chalk paint colours. If you see one you like – say Athenian Black-, head over to pinterest and search “annie sloan dresser athenian black “. A whole slew of results will show up!
  1. Spread an old sheet or drop cloth on the floor where you’ll be painting. Despite your best efforts, there will always be a little splatter somewhere if you don’t do this.
  2. Take out the drawers.
  3. Remove the knobs and handles (also know as “cabinet hardware” and “drawer pulls”). To remove the hardware, look on the inside of the front of the drawer. You’ll be able to see what kind of screwdriver you’ll need (star, square, straight) to unscrew the screw that’s holding it in place. The little rhyme “lefty loosey, righty tighty” will help you remember which way to unscrew or screw in.

For this “typical” project, we are going to assume that you will either be keeping the existing hardware or buying new hardware to fit the existing holes. Click here to learn how to remove hardware, fill the holes and install new, different size pulls or knobs.

  1. Fill your bucket with a touch of Blue Dawn dish soap and warm water. Using an old rag wash the frame, the legs, and the drawer fronts. Anything you’re painting should be washed. At this point, I usually take the opportunity to wash the inside of the dresser as well. I mean, when was the last time it was done? Probably never. Make sure that there is no soapy residue left.
  1. If you’re a fan of straight lines and a clean look, use painters tape to ensure that the paint goes only where you want it to.

Areas to tape:

  • Around the drawers: sides, inside of the front edge
  • Back of dresser: along the side edges and the top edge
  • Inside the frame
Example of inside the frame

Example of side of drawers
  1. Now it’s time to paint! Use your paint can opener to take the lid off the can of paint. Next, using the stir stick, give the paint a good stir to make sure everything is all mixed in.
  1. Take your paint brush (I got mine at Costco!), dip it in the paint and do a thin coat on your piece. I try to go in the same direction for most of it but you’ll be doing probably 3 coats so it will all be covered.

Tip: I typically wait a couple of hours between coats. I find that this gives it enough time to completely dry.

  1. Next comes waxing. I know that this seems daunting but once you’ve done it a couple of times, it becomes old hat. Using your wax brush, dip it into the wax. Swirl it around a couple of times to get some (but not a crazy amount) on your brush.
The supplies you’ll need for waxing.
  1. Lightly brush the wax onto the areas you’ve painted. There is no need to press hard, it’s more of you wanting to put a thin coat. You’ll notice as you do this that there will be some “excess” wax. This is what always happens. You’re not intending to dig the wax into the piece. Rather, it’s meant to sit on top of it.
The excess is very evident – it’s the white bits that you can see on the side of this dresser.
  1. When you’re done waxing a certain section – say the frame or the drawer fronts- you’ll take one of your blue shop towels, and lightly run it over the area to remove the excess. Repeat until all areas are waxed.
  1. Let the wax set for at least a day. There is a way to buff it to make it more of a shiny finish but I haven’t done this yet.
  2. Now it’s time to install your hardware, remove the tape and put the drawers back in. To be honest, removing the tape is my favourite part. Seeing those straight lines make me so happy! The wax will take about a month to completely harden so just make sure you don’t have anything on top of it. Once it’s hardened, you’ll be able to clean it by just using a rag and water.

19 thoughts on “Steps for a typical chalk paint project

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