So, you have a plain piece of furniture that you want to transform into a stunning statement piece. You feel slightly confused, though.
You often hear the words “chalk paint” but what does it mean? Is it different from chalkboard paint and is it the only option? What ARE your options?
Firstly, yes. There is a difference between chalk paint and chalkboard paint. Chalk Paint is a specific brand of furniture paint by Annie Sloan, which took the DIY world by storm a few years ago. Similar products have been developed since and are widely available in paint stores with descriptors such as “chalky”, “chalky finish” or “chalked”. In this case “chalk” refers to appearance. Imagine mixing normal interior paint with plaster of Paris and you’ll get a good idea of the effect – an ultra-matte, chalk-like look.
In chalkboard paint, on the other hand, “chalk” refers to function. This type of paint is mostly black and applied to mimic a blackboard which you can use for writing or drawing.
Secondly, no. Chalky paint is not your only option for furniture. Any water-based paint suitable for interior walls (also known as acrylic paint) is equally suitable for redecorating furniture. In fact, until the arrival of chalks, acrylic was the natural choice.
Why do people choose chalk?
Thanks to their texture, chalky paints are easy to sand down a little bit after painting, so they are perfect for creating a distressed or vintage look. If understated elegance is the goal, their flat finish is also right on point.
The paint’s thickness lets it bleed less, so stenciling or lettering is completely possible even if you are a DIY beginner.
But chalky paints’ biggest appeal is by far their adhesiveness and opaqueness. They stick to almost any surface without prepping. They are thick enough to cover up these surfaces well. The predominant verdict is therefore that chalks eliminate a great amount of time usually spent on sanding and applying primer.
Fans describe it as a game-changing product for people with little patience for prepping, and with little skill or experience as imperfections can easily become part of the look.
Why do people choose normal acrylic?
Price, finish, colour options and durability spring to mind. Litre-for-litre, normal acrylic costs considerably less than chalky paint. (If you’re using leftover wall paint from your most recent project, the price drops to zero!) Furthermore, the primer needed below a coat of acrylic is cheaper than the wax topcoat – and special brush – which is strongly recommended to achieve durability in chalks.
In terms of finish, shabby or rustic will not always be the desired look. Chalky paint will always be matte, not sanding down second-hand furniture will always let some bumps and imperfections shine through and some DIY gurus point out that it’s hard to avoid visible brush strokes when using chalk. A sleek, shiny finish can only be achieved through proper preparation, the right technique and paint with a degree of sheen.
Normal acrylic paints come in an endless number of hues as opposed to chalky ranges which are limited in size.
Lastly, chalky paints are not made to withstand stressors such as water, extreme heat or even high traffic, all of which can be handled by the right kind of wall paint.
The bottom line
There’s a place for both, and pros and cons either way. The trick is to be informed about each product’s properties, to choose the one that’s fit for YOUR purpose and then to start experimenting!
Remember that a reputable paint store such as AAA Paint have expert sales consultants whom you can ask for advice.
Visit us at 43 Porter Street, Worcester or phone 023 347 3987.