Testing 1… 2… 3… Versions of Chalk Paint

Jessica from Décor Adventures who was my roomie at the Haven blog conference left me a comment on my last post where I showed you how to make and paint a piece of furniture with chalk paint.  Her comment:

Hi Diane, Looks great! I have a question though. Is this how to make chalk paint or chalk board paint? Can you write on that with chalk? I mean before you put the wax and glaze on. I’ve seen the same recipe for both and wanted to clear it up!

In My Own Style and Decorating Adventures

Her comment got me thinking. I didn’t know the answer, so I set out to find out what the difference is.  I also want to answer all the questions I have received to clear up many readers’ confusion about why you would use chalk paint in the first place, but first – the experiment.

I got a sample jar of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint at the Haven blog conference this summer in the color Provence.  This is my first time to use the brand.  I wanted to see what it smelled like, its consistency, how it felt to the touch when dry.

When I opened it– it smelled like chalk and is a bit more watery than paint, but it had a nice smooth consistency.   I am going to to compare it with two of the most common DIY versions of chalk paint – Non-Sanded Grout or Plaster of Paris.


Since writing this post, I have tried other recipes:

Read all of these posts before making your decision on what to use to make your chalk paint:

Read this to find out more about more chalk paint brands and another DIY version using Calcium Carbonate Powder. 

Also read the comments in each post – I answer all the questions.


Read this post to find the best DIY chalk paint mixture for durability and outdoor use.

My studioffice became my lab.  If science projects were this much fun in high school, I probably would have gotten all A’s and enjoyed the class instead of dreading it.


I bought two sample jars of paint in a satin finish as close to the Annie Sloan color as I could find so when the paint was dry, they would look similar making it easier to compare.  You can use a flat, eggshell, or satin finish paint to make the paint.  Once you add the powder the paint will become flat.   I taped off a piece of scrap molding into 3 sections and marked them.

There are many different chalk paint recipes on the internet. Most use either the grout or Plaster of Paris. Some say chalkboard and others say chalk paint.   All use different amounts of plaster, grout or Calcium Carbonate Powder and water.  Some use hot water, 2 in one primer paints, flat, and Ooops paint.  For this experiment, I used the recipe I have been using with the grout and a version using Plaster of Paris that I found on Pinterest.

Note:  If using the non-sanded grout recipe, do not use Valspar Signature paint or any Primer and Paint in One formula of paint. It will harden right away because of the primer.

****  Read more in my update post **** before choosing what DIY recipe you want to use.


When adding the water to the DIY versions, I tried to get the same consistency as the Annie Sloan paint which was thin like pancake batter.  I added more than each recipe called for.

To get it mixed well – add the water and the powder first to help dissolve it and then use an old electric beater to blend the paint in.  Or you can just stir very well until mixed.   I painted two coats of paint on each section of the molding and let it dry between coats. Once it was thoroughly dry, I felt the surface of each. The Annie Sloan brand was smoother to the touch. Both the grout and Plaster of Paris were a teeny-tiny bit rougher.   Once the wax was applied they all felt the same.

To answer Jessica’s question, I tested the surface on each to see if chalk would write on the paint.  It did on all 3.  All versions produced an ultra hard finish.  So I think there is no difference between DIY chalkboard and chalk paint recipes.


Next I wanted to see how each paint mixture would stack up to the distressing test.  I used medium grit sandpaper to distress the beveled edge on the molding. They all passed beautifully – exactly the same – nice and smooth.   I added the clear paste wax to the right side of each sample and buffed it until the cloth slid easily over the surface.

Johnsons  paste Wax

Here you can see the results.  Note the Annie Sloan is a lighter shade of blue than the other two. I tried to find a color that matched as closely as possible. The left side has no wax and I wrote Hi using white chalk. The right side has one coat of buffed wax on it.  The wax makes the surface smooth to the touch.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence


Valspar Latex paint in the color Flood Tide mixed with non-sanded grout and water.

Non-Sanded-Grout Chalk Paint

Latex paint mixed with Plaster of Paris and water.

Plaster-of-Paris Chalk Paint

In this photo you can see how the sheen of a thin buffed coat of clear wax looks against the un-waxed side.

DIY Chalk Paint Comparison test with the Annie Sloan brand

Two more photos to see the wax sheen.

Chalk Paint sheen test



My conclusion  – there is not much difference between Annie Sloan and the DIY versions.   If I was forced to make a comparison I would say the Annie Sloan brand felt smoother, but that is probably because it was mixed and blended well in a factory, not by hand at home.

  • When making your own – use water and mix it very well into the powder first, making sure the powder dissolves and you get a smooth consistency before adding it to the paint.  Since there are many recipes out on the internet  I think all of them will work just fine.  Each brand of paint you add to the grout, plaster of Paris, or Calcium Carbonate Powder has a slightly different consistency – you will have to tweak the recipe every time you make it.  You don’t have to measure exactly.   It is more about getting a smooth consistency – like pancake batter with no lumps of powder.  Use an old electric beater to mix it – it works perfectly.
  • Many readers, myself included, have had problems at times with Valpsar paint.  It contains a primer. Any paint with a primer or acrylic in it my bind the paint.   If buying paint to use to make chalk paint, don’t use this brand or a paint/primer in one product.
  • All of my pieces have been painted with Glidden Premium paint in a satin finish.  Make sure the label does not say Paint+ Primer in One Formula.
  • I painted three pieces of furniture so far with DIY Chalk paint, two using non-sanded grout and another with Plaster of Paris.  Each mixture’s consistency came out a bit differently, but went on well and each has held up beautifully.  I used white over dark wood on my first piece and was a bit skeptical about not priming it first.  It is as white as the day I painted it – so it is true  – no sanding or primer needed.  I do however sand my pieces with a hand sanding block and 100 grit sandpaper. It only takes 10 minutes and will only help with adhesion in the long run.
  • On my most recent piece – the green corner cabinet –I made a lot of the P of Plaster mixture and had extra. I stored it in a covered coffee can and I checked this morning – it is still smooth and viscous after 3 weeks.  The sample paints I made for this experiment both dried out quickly and I had to add more water. I found out why – they had a primer in them.
  • The weather, type of paint, and mixing method may vary and change the outcome.  If you give 5 different people the same food recipe – the outcome would be that each came out a bit differently due to the age of ingredients, weather, oven temperature, etc. I have found it is the same with Chalk Paint recipes.
  • Plaster of Paris is cheaper than a bag of white non-sanded grout so if cost is a factor, the least expensive version would be the Plaster of Paris. It is sold in the paint area by wood fillers at Lowes and Home Depot. It was $6.00. The bag of non-sanded grout is sold where tile is sold. It runs around $11.00 a bag. No matter which one you choose – one bag or container will be plenty to paint quite a lot of furniture.  UPDATE:  Check out this updated review post for more recipes of DIY chalk paint to try – using Calcium Carbonate Powder  before choosing which one to use. After painting many pieces of furniture and trying all the DIY recipes, I prefer and would recommend using Calcium Carbonate Powder. It is sold in the health food store.  $6 for a one pound jar. You can also get it on Amazon.
  • This outcome got me thinking – would chalkboard paint sold at home improvement and craft stores be the same?  I had some craft store acrylic black chalkboard paint in my stash and I tried it on the piece of molding.  When it was dry, it was a bit more shiny. When I distressed the edges with sandpaper – it didn’t distress as nicely as the others and it was not an ultra hard finish.  I could chip it off with my fingernail.  Not sure about the cans they sell at home improvement stores as the Lowes near me was out of it.


Chalk Paint FAQ #1:   Why would I use it instead of regular paint? 

  • Chalk paint is perfect for transforming furniture.   You could use is  for walls, floors, door, trim, or counter tops, but remember you have to wax it.  Waxing takes time, not sure I would want to do it on anything but furniture.   I would not use it in a kitchen because of the heat on cabinets near the stove or oven may melt the wax. I would use  polyurethane over the paint, but I read somewhere that Annie Sloan is coming out with a book on how to paint kitchen cabinets with it.  If you want to paint a kitchen table with it – add a few layers of wax. You  may  need place mats and a new coating of wax every so often.
  • You can wax and glaze over regular latex paint the same way you do with chalk paint, but it doesn’t distress as nicely and may not sink into the paint.  When sanded, straight latex paint rolls up and shreds a bit. With chalk paint, it turns into powder that wipes away leaving a smooth aged looking finish.   The main selling feature of chalk paint is that whatever you paint does not need to be sanded and primed first.  This is a huge time saver and makes the process of transforming a piece of furniture much easier.

Chalk Paint FAQ #2:   Why do you need to add wax? 

  • When topped with wax, chalk paint produces a beautiful finish that adds depth and character to a piece of furniture unlike regular paint. It also adds a little bit of protection to the painted surface.  Chalk paint dries to a very flat finish that has a chalky feel. You can write with chalk on it.   The wax brings out the color and adds patina.   If you add colored wax or glaze over it, you even further enhance.  It gives it depth and a tiny bit of shine.  More buffing – more shine.    The wax should be applied very sparingly – just a very thin coat is all that is needed.  When you buff  – the magic happens  – it transforms furniture into so much more than just a painted piece of furniture.

Chalk Paint FAQ #3:  Why not just buy the Annie Sloan brand?

  • The main reason is that it only comes in limited colors.  They are coming out with new colors, but being able to make your own custom colors will make your piece truly unique.   I would not have been able to paint the corner cabinet for my daughter in the lime color if I didn’t make my own.  The other reason for wanting to make your own – a quart of Annie Sloan is $35.   DIY versions cost less.

Read more of my posts to find out even more about making and using chalk paint.

I have experimented with different brands of Chalk paint. You can read an update to this post at:  Update To DIY Chalk Paint Post

See all the projects I have made using DIY chalk paint.

I hope this answers all the questions I have received. If not – just leave one here.  If anyone has used any of these versions of chalk paint or has another please share it  -I would love to hear about your experience with it.




  1. Anette Greene says

    Should I construct my new desk first then chalk paint or paint each piece first then put together?

    • says

      Hi Anette – I would construct it first. If you paint the pieces first, a build up of paint may get on the ends and edges and the pieces may not align right as you assemble it. If you want to paint first, just be careful of getting paint on the edges.

  2. Kristen says

    I have been researching chalk paint as well…. Here in Georgia, there is a company called “Rethunk Junk” that offers a class in their version of chalk paint – wonderful product, has a sealer built in and you do not need to wax afterwards unless you really want to up the sheen. One 4oz sample of white paint gave me two coats on a bright red side table, no priming reqd. Distressing was easy with a sander, mistakes easily fixed without having to reprint an entire side. Product ‘cures’ to a hard finish after 24 hrs. Highly recommend this over other paint products that require a wax. They even offer a ‘stain’ and one of the instructors used it on her hardwood floors!

  3. Bev Nethers says

    I have already painted two chairs with Valspar matte white spray paint with primer. Then, I started to wax the chairs with Briwax which is solvent (toluene) based. The wax dissolved the paint. Tried the same thing with gel stain with same results, dissolved the paint. Will Annie Sloan wax work over the spray paint with primer? Do you know of other brands which would work and offer more color options? I need a very light brown.

    • says

      Hi Bev – Briwax is my least favorite wax and I only use the white one when I want to add a whitewash over raw wood. It removes paint as you found out. Annie Sloan has a dark wax and Fiddes & Sons has a few gold and brown colored waxes. These will not remove the paint when applied.

  4. Diane Green says

    Hi Diane, I have a completely unfinished wood table. (I sanded it before I saw the DIY Chalk Paint tutorial) Can you apply chalk paint to a piece of unfinished wood or should I use a primer first? Thank you for your help.

    • says

      Hi Diane – You are ahead of the game. Having a sanded unfinished table is the PERFECT starting point to paint over. No primer is needed. You are ready to go. Use light coats, let each one dry before applying the next and you will get one very nice and smooth finish.

  5. Gena says

    I’m finally getting brave enough to try chalk paint. question–can I use chalk paint and wax coat on porch tables?
    they get some moisture, naturally. but not much sun. THANKS — your tut gave me guts to try this == finally!!!

  6. ann says

    Hi Diane. Do you have an ASCP color equivalent table? I guess what I’m trying to ask is, any diy recipe plus what Valspar(or other brand) paint color would be closest to ASCP Paris Grey or duck egg blue, etc? Thanks! Love your blog!

      • Ann says

        Wonderful! I knew if you didn’t already have one that it would be a great idea for your blog. I haven’t seen one anywhere else! Good luck!

  7. Elen Miranda says

    What brand of wax do you recommend using after painting? I plan on painting a dining set in a dark brown color and I don’t want to have a distressed look to it.

    • says

      Hi Elen – My favorite wax is Fiddes and Sons in Clear. It goes on easily, can be buffed right away, and buffs to a nice clear protective sheen. It adds a nice patina to the paint. If you want to darken the dark brown paint color to deepen the patina, you can add dark wax over the paint. This can make a piece look richer, but not distressed. If this is a look you want, I would suggest using Fiddes and Sons in Jacobean, Annie Sloan Dark Wax, or Miss Mustard Seed’s Dark Wax.

  8. Diane Loszewski says

    when you have used the Johnson wax paste, How many coats do you apply and do you buff in between each coat? Thank You!

    • says

      Hi Diane – I use 2-3 coats of wax. I apply a thin layer, wait about 5 mins then buff it with a piece of a cut up old shirt. I buff between every coat – very hard to bring up the shine. If you used the Plaster of Paris recipe, it may take more buffing and coats to get a high sheen.

  9. Susan Csejka says

    I have so been wanting to do some chalk painting on any number of items but had found the “name” brands to be cost prohibitive for Grannie’s budget and I love to paint stuff! I do have access to almost unlimited paints thru my town’s reuse/recycle center. So my color choices are beyond the beyond. I’ve painted almost every room in my little house using this benefit as well as bits and pieces of furniture and accessories. Now having read your tutorial several times, I’m read to take the leap!! And I found a source of calcium carbonate on Ebay (RawSupply); good pricing (better than Amazon), free shipping. Just now ordered and waiting most impatiently to get started. Thank you so very much for your blog, ideas, hints, recipes, etc! Such a delight!!

  10. Sheryl Creeley says

    Hi Diane,
    I just tried your recipe with the calcium carbonate & plaster of paris , I applied 2 coats and have a lot of brush strokes when it dried. How can I get rid of them? Should I sand & repaint with a roller or if I use a roller to apply another coat will that work? Any help will be appreciated!!

  11. Betty White says

    Hi Diane
    After much research I finally found cheap calcium carbonate aka LIMESTONE. I can get 20 pounds for $9.95. Just an FYI for everyone who has been having problems locating calcium carbonate: try your garden centers and feed stores. Hope this helps. Happy painting.

  12. Marsha says

    Hi Diane,
    I made chalk paint using a grey grout.
    Thinking that the white grout would make my red paint pint.
    Well what happened was I got a purple instead.
    I didn’t want to throw the whole batch out so I proceeded to paint the table.
    Next day I painted the table again without any grout. The paint was a latex, satin.
    I still wasn’t happy with the results, so the next day I painted another coat.
    I wasn’t able to do the distressing that I wanted to do, due to the purple that came through.
    I waxed the following day, and if am happy with the results.
    But confused by what happened.
    If I used regular white grout would I have had a problem with the colour. (Red and white grout = pink?
    I have done chalk painting before with great results, using pastel colours. But this was a first using a bold red.

  13. Rebecca Cunningham Wasson says

    I have a question about the latex paint. Do you use interior or exterior latex paint?

    • says

      Hi – You can use either. I usually use interior in a satin finish, but if you are going to paint outdoor furniture, you can use exterior latex. If using Plaster of Paris or non-sanded grout make sure the paint is not a primer + paint formula. They can turn the mixture into sludge.

  14. says

    everything i’ve read says to wax the finished product, but i’m painting kitchen kabinets & want to finish with a shellac type coating which will allow for easy cleaning. will this work? thanks in advance

    • says

      Hi Paula – You don’t have to use wax to seal chalk paint, water-based poly works well, too. I have used Minwax Polycrylic and Zinsser Ultimate Polyurethane. Do not use shellac or oil-based poly. They will darken or yellow your paint color.

  15. Evelyn says

    Diane, you are an amazing woman. Such a cheerful giver. I have been wondering about chalk paint and every question that I could possibly have, you have already answered. Knowledge is power and you have liberated me. Thank you so much for your kindness. Also, many of the ladies who commented also gave me additonal insight and in many cases, new ideas. Girl, you rock!!! :) Thank you so very much.

  16. Lesley says

    Hi Diane
    Thank you for such a useful site. I’m new to chalk paint, so I bought a box of ready mixed sample colours. I painted some onto a white chair, but the next day, I noticed that it wipes off very easily with a damp cloth. I’d missed some dust under the chair and accidentally touched the paint. Is it supposed to do that? Is that why you have to wax? Or have I bought a dud batch of paints? I wouldn’t have expected it to wipe off so easily.

    Thanks again.

      • Lesley says

        Thank you so much for the reply Diane. I bought this sample batch on eBay from chalk2chic and put it on straight from the pot. It was quite thin anyway and didn’t cover all that well.


        • says

          Hi Lesley – I am not familiar with that brand of chalk paint. I would try painting your piece again, but try sanding the surface first before painting. I always sand the surface with 100 grit sandpaper first to rough it up a little. This gives the surface some “tooth” and gives the paint something to adhere to. A quick 5 minute going over is all that is needed. Clean off the sanding grit well. Stir the paint in the pot well and repaint. Apply one thin coat, let dry. Apply a second and let dry. Let the paint cure for a few days and then do a scratch test. If the paint comes off, then I think it must be the paint. Have you ever tried making your own chalk paint?

  17. Lesley says

    Thanks Diane. I will try that. Sounds a lot of work. I thought the joy of chalk paint was little or no prep! No, I haven’t tried mixing my own. Might try that next. Which do you like best? Plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate? Or are they the same? And can you use any water based paint with it?

    You are very kind answering all my questions.


    • says

      Hi Lesley – When chalk paint first came on the scene that is how it was promoted – no prep work. It is true, it is less prep, you do not have to prime with a primer before hand, but it always is a good idea to run sandpaper over the surface before painting. I always do this and was happy to learn at an Annie Sloan workshop I attended that the instructor did the same. I like the Calcium Carbonate Powder recipe the best. I use it all the time now. If I am doing a piece that needs to be super durable – like a tabletop, I will add a tablespoon of Plaster to the mix. CCP mixes into any water based paint and will not clump up. Plaster of Paris may clump up when mixed with paint + primer in one formulas.

  18. Carla C. says

    Hi, where would you get calcium carbonate? I want to make homeade chalk paint for refinishing desk. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Carla – You can buy calcium carbonate powder at the health food store or on amazon. Make sure to get the powder not the tablets. I use the NOW brand.

  19. Mary says

    Love your website. Four out of five batches of my chalk paint have turned to sludge. Luckily I made very small batches. I was using PoP and Zalspar paint and primer in one ( because that’s what I have on hand). The first two batches I used an old blender to smooth out the sludge with no avail. Third one worked and it was semigloss Valspar all in one. The last two batches I used very warm water , no blender, immediate sludge when I added the paint. I looked through several cans of our paints, most are paint and primer. If I use Calcium Carbonate or limestone can I still use my all in one paint and primer or will I still get sludge. Anxiously waiting to start my project. Thanks in advance.

    • says

      Hi Mary – Sorry to hear that a few of your batches turned to sludge but that happens when the PoP and Non-Sanded Grout recipes are mixed with paints with primer in them. It is getting harder to find paints now that don’t have primer in them. Look for basic paint or contractor paint.

      To answer your question: When using the Calcium Carbonate Powder recipe you can use any paint. It will mix up fine and not turn to sludge. Happy painting!

  20. Rachelle says

    I am at the waxing stage of my first chalk paint project and love the look, $$ and ease of it all!! Problem is that as I am waxing some of the color is coming off on the cloth, is this normal? And as I am buffing some of the paint is completely scratching off!! I did not sand the cabinet, just washed.(was a painted piece all ready, just didn’t like the color) My DIY recipe is the calcium carbonate and paint is Behr satin enamel ( just a $4 sample jar bought new ) I did let paint dry 24 hrs before using the SC Johnsons paste wax. Everything was going so well until now, any ideas? Should I have roughen up the cabinet first by sanding? Can I repaint over the scratches now that it is waxed?
    Please advise, would love to do more furniture pieces but need them to hold up to kids

    • says

      Hi Rachelle –

      On some pieces depending on the paint, a little paint may come off when you wax, but not a lot to make a difference in the finish. If a lot is coming off then something is right with the paint, Sample Pots are sometimes not really full-formula paint. What brand of CCP did you use. I always use the NOW Brand. It has never failed me yet.

      From what you have told me, I think two things may have happened. I always sand the surface, even previously painted ones with a quick 5 minute going over with a sanding block. It helps to add some “tooth”. The other thing that could have caused the paint to come off is the sample pot of paint. These little pots of paint are good for showing color, but I have learned that they are not really full paint, they are a watered down or lessened formula of paint. If this is the case for the Behr you used, then it could be that. To remedy your situation. I would go over the areas that have scratched off with 220 or fine grit sandpaper to smooth and remove some of the wax. Clean off the grit. Buy new paint and then re-paint a light coat over the areas using the brush to feather out the paint to blend with the rest of the surface. Let dry and add one more light coat. Sand areas to smooth if yu see a ridge. Use vert fine sandpaper for this. Once the paint has dried for 24 hours you should be good to go for waxing. I use Johnsons Paste Wax all the time. It is smelly, but adds a nice layer of protection and shine.

      For a super durable finish, try the recipe that uses CCP and Plaster of Paris. It will be rock hard and is even hard to distress if you want an aged look. You do need to use paint that does not have a primer it in already though when using Plaster of Paris. The primer in some brands ( Valspar) may bind and make the mixture turn to sludge. I just chalk painted chairs with some leftover SW enamel paint and CCP. I will be posting about them tomorrow.

      • Rachelle says

        Thank you! Did not know that about the sample sizes and will give my next piece a quick sanding first

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