My adventures with faux chalk paint

Not too long ago I was at a local outlet and I happened to see some plain and inexpensive little tables that I thought would do quite nicely as emergency night stands for my bedroom up at the mountain house.  I had intended for them to be a temporary solution until I found something better. They were  very lightweight but they were made of solid wood and at 16 dollars each I figured they weren’t so bad, even though they were very rustic. And I so hate rustic.  A few days later I was out running some errands with my daughter and lo and behold, on a street corner stood a man loaded down with about  a half dozen of the same little tables. Some were stacked on his back and he also carried one in each hand.  Apparently he was selling them door to door. As I looked at “my” tables from across the road I realized that they sure were ugly. And even cheaper than I had realized. Something needed to be done quickly.

This is what I started out with. Inexpensive (ok, cheap) little brown tables

I figured  now was just as good a time as any to try that popular chalk paint that everyone has been gushing about on practically every decorating forum in the universe. I knew I’d never be able to find Annie Sloan chalk paint in Costa Rica. There are only a handful of  paint brands available here. I also knew I couldn’t order it online because paints and such things are restricted items that can’t be imported into the country unless you have special permits and licenses. I would have gladly paid the steep price for a can of it or two but there was no way to get my hands on any. So, ASCP was definitely out. I would just have to make my own. Now, there are several different “recipes” for knock-off chalk paint and I didn’t really know what the difference was between all of them, so I went with the one that calls for unsanded grout only because I had a couple of bags of unsanded grout left over from some tiling projects.  I went out and bought a quart can of a good quality creamy yellow satin latex paint.  The only hitch was that  the grout I had was: 1. RUST. Left over from grouting terra cotta colored tiles OR 2. BLUE/GRAY. Left over from grouting some blue tiles. Since I was not about to go out and buy a bag of unsanded white grout only to use one tablespoon of it, I figured I’d just use the blue/gray grout and crossed my fingers that the paint wouldn’t turn green. It didn’t. But the shade did change slightly to a paler yellow. That was fine with me. I dissolved the grout in half a cup of water first and stirred it for what seemed like forever, then I added it to about a cup and a half of the yellow paint. It looked nice and creamy . Before I started painting however, I  had to fill in some nicks and holes that were visible in the tables. Since I am not into the distressed furniture look  (ok, I’ll say it. I HATE distressed furniture with a passion) I filled in every single hole and dent with spackle and then sanded the spots smooth.

I filled in the nicks and dents with wood spackle

The tables were rectangular and had long useless legs with lots of wasted space inside of them. So I added a piece of plywood to the bottom area of the legs so that I’d have an extra shelf to put stuff on. I also wanted to dress them up a bit and make them look somewhat less cheap and rustic. So I ordered some wood appliques on Ebay. They weren’t at all expensive and I paid less than 15 dollars for all of them including shipping. I bought two long 11 inch scroll-ly curlicues for the front of each table, as well as eight smaller scrolls, two for each leg. They were really easy to attach too because they are so lightweight. Alot of people just glue them on with Elmer’s glue. I did that, but I also hammered in a couple of small finishing nails into each applique for added support.

I added this little wood applique to the front of each table

And I added a little plywood shelf to the bottom part of the table legs.

Plywood shelves for extra knick-knack space

Now it was time to apply the faux chalk paint. It went on smoothly enough but I immediately noticed that there were little sandy gritty particles everywhere. Hmmmm. This meant only one thing. I would have to sand them.

After the first few brushstrokes it looked like this

Here they are after one coat of paint

After the first coat, I sanded them down a bit to get all the grit off. I wasn’t expecting grit. The last thing I wanted was sandy looking tables. Much to my dismay however, no matter how lightly I sanded I quickly began to see the brown paint showing through in spots. This is great for those who love the peeled chipping flaking look. I don’t care for it. I  don’t see the sense in spending hours painting a piece of furniture only to have the finished product looking like it needs to be painted. But hey, to each his own. If you like distressed, then this is the paint for you. After sanding the first coat I applied a second coat. Repeated the sanding to get the grit off, and then put on a third coat.

Here they are after the third coat of paint

Not quite full coverage yet

At this point I could still see brushmarks and grit. I was beggining to despair. I sanded them down yet a third time

After sanding the tables down a third time (and still seeing flecks of brown coming through) I decided I’d had enough of faux chalk paint. I just slapped on the yellow paint right out of the can. TA DA! Now they looked good. No more grit, no more chippy look. I didn’t bother waxing the tables on top of the paint because not only could I not find paste wax anywhere (everyone thought I’d lost my mind when I asked about such an “antiquated” wax) and secondly the tables didn’t seem to need it because the satiny look of the paint made them gleam.

Almost finished. I added some curlicue scrolls to the front of the legs afterwards

These little scrolls that I added to the legs were late coming in the mail, which is why I added them a few days later. Here they have tape holding them in place so they won’t budge until the glue dries.

So, what did I think of the faux chalk paint? Well, honestly….I wasn’t impressed. I ended up sanding quite a bit just to get the grit off. And all that sanding meant that the paint peeled off in spots and the under color showed through. So I won’t be using faux chalk paint made with unsanded grout again. Maybe it was the brand of grout that I used? I dunno. Perhaps other brands of grout work better. I think that next time I will try the recipe that calls for plaster of paris. We’ll see if there’s a next time………

Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home:


One thought on “My adventures with faux chalk paint

  1. Wounderful modification u did on this tables and they appear in their new form very pretty. When u watched the man sell them, u felt something needed to be done quickly and i agree with u.
    But I’m sure too that if this seller saw ur tables now he would say the same [ Something needs to be done quickly ] so that he can sell them for 100 dollars each instead of 16.
    They’re so pretty, thx for posting.

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