The Best DIY Chalk Paint Recipe For Painting Furniture

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Post Updated: 8/7/2021

How to make the best DIY chalk paint recipes that will create a beautiful finish to turn ordinary furniture hand-me-downs and thrift store finds into furniture you will be proud to use to decorate your home. A chalk painted finish can be distressed to look aged or left alone to create a more modern finish.

chalk painting a stool pink - text overlay says how to make chalk paint.

Chalk paint was created by Annie Sloan in England back in 1990. With it’s popularity, many types of chalk-style paints have been created since then by major paint brands such as Rustoleum, Behr, inexpensive craft store brands as well as boutique brands.

You can also make your own chalk paint with just a few ingredients and this is what you will learn to do in this article.

One of the first things many ask when considering painting a piece of furniture with DIY chalk paint is why would you make your own chalk paint recipe when you can buy it ready-made?

Supplies needed when making the best diy chalk paint recipes

Why Should I Make My Own Chalk Paint?

There are two reasons why you would want to make your own DIY chalk paint:

  • Making your own chalk paint will lower the overall cost of your project since you can use leftover paint you already have, including 2-ounce bottles of acrylic paint from the craft store. Most ready-made chalk paint comes in a quart size. When you only need a small amount to paint a small item the unused paint can go to waste.
  • You no longer have to choose by a limited color selection that a brand name of chalk paint offers. When making your own chalk paint, you can choose any paint color you want with no color limitations.

How To Make Your Own DIY Chalk Paint

DIY chalk paint or homemade chalk paint is made using latex paint and adding a binding powder that when added to the paint will harden the paint as it dries. This is what gives chalk paint its smooth and lasting durability.

Binding powders that work well are calcium carbonate powder, Plaster of Paris, chalk powder that is sold to fill a chalk-line making tool and drywall compound.

You can buy these ingredients online or at the home improvement store, except carbonate powder. I buy it very inexpensively on Amazon, but it is also sold in heath food stores, as well as where beer and wine making supplies are sold. You will be able to make a few chalk paint mixes with one 12 bag or container.

There are many others binding powers you can also use, including baking soda and non-sanded grout. These work, but I have found they don’t work as well as calcium carbonate powder that produces a smooth velvety finish.

All these binding powders are white in color, you will need to mix it into the paint well. An old hand mixer or blender works well to do this, but you can also simply stir it until the mixture is smooth.

painting a mirror with light blue chalk paint

What Paint Should I Use to Make My Own Chalk Paint?

When making your own chalk paint, you want to use latex paint, preferably in a flat or eggshell finish. I found contractor paint or the least expensive formulas that a paint brands sells work very well.

If you plan to use wax to seal the painted finish, you want a flat finish so that the wax will absorb into it to create a sealing barrier. If the paint sheen is too glossy, the wax will glide right off.

The binding powder you use will also lighten the color or the paint, so go a little darker than the color you want so keep that in mind when choosing a paint color.

What DIY Chalk Paint Recipe is the Best to Use on Furniture?

When making chalk paint, the best DIY chalk paint recipe are usually for those who have made it are totally smitten with the DIY chalk paint recipe they use. These recipes have different binding agents is them that range from unsanded grout, cornstarch, and gypsum powder.

I have tried them all and and have gotten the best results when I use calcium carbonate powder. It is a fine powder that is sold in health food stores, farm supply and beer making supply stores.

A turquoise side board that was painted with the DIY chalk paint recipe using calcium carbonate powder.

Calcium Carbonate Powder Chalk Paint Recipe

Of all the homemade chalk paint recipes, using calcium carbonate powder is my go to recipe. It is a fine odorless, and non-toxic powder. The health food grade is the best since the powder is ultra-fine and easy to mix.

supplies needed:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • 2 Tablespoons calcium carbonate powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of warm water
  • 1 cup latex paint
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together calcium carbonate powder and warm water. Stir well to create a smooth pancake like batter consistency. If too thick, add a little more water and stir well.
  2. Make sure all the powder is dissolved in the water.
  3. Pour the mix into a cup of latex paint and stir very well or use an old mixer or blender container.

How To Make a Quart of Chalk Paint Using Calcium Carbonate Powder

Mix 8 tablespoons of calcium carbonate powder and 4 tablespoons of water.  Stir well to make sure powder is dissolved. Pour into a quart of paint and mix well.

The calcium carbonate powder recipe is how I make all my chalk paint now. I have used it with small bottles of acrylic craft paint to expensive Sherwin Williams paint with satisfactory results.

  • I like using calcium carbonate to make chalk paint because it mixes up into a smooth consistency.
  • Any leftovers, if the container is sealed well, will last for a long time.
  • Making chalk paint using calcium carbonate powder creates a velvety smooth mix that would work well in paint sprayers and distresses beautifully when sanded.

Plaster of Paris Chalk Paint Recipe

Plaster of Paris is a quick setting powder and dries out very quickly. If you need more than one coat for coverage on your piece of furniture, you may have to make another batch.

For this reason, I found it works better when you mix it with calcium carbonate powder.

If I want a super durable finish, I add equal parts Plaster of Paris to my calcium carbonate mixture.

supplies needed:

  • 2 Tablespoons Calcium Carbonate Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Plaster of Paris
  • Tablespoons warm water
  1. Mix powders together and then add cool water and mix well so the mix is like pourable pancake batter. Add more cool to room temperature water a little at a time if needed.
  2. Once the powders are dissolved, add 2 cups latex paint in the color you want. Stir well to mix to remove any lumps.
  • If you plan to add Plaster of Paris to your chalk paint mixture, then use a basic latex paint. One without a primer in it will be the best. Generic brands or contractor paint works better when using Plaster of Paris to make chalk paint.
  • I like the hard finish that is achieved in this recipe when you mix calcium carbonate powder with Plaster of Paris.   If you want to age your piece by sanding a lot of the paint off, don’t use this recipe, use the calcium carbonate powder alone.
The best way to paint furniture like this blue dresser with glass drawer knobs.
DIY Chalk Painted Dresser

Chalk Paint Recipes I No Longer Use

Plaster of Paris and Non-Sanded grout were the first two DIY chalk paint recipe mixes I made and used when I discovered the world of chalk paint.

They both work OK, but are gritty and when you use latex paint that has a primer in it or an acrylic, the mix may thicken and will you won’t be able to use it after a few hours as it dries out fast.

DIY Chalk Paint Making Tips:

  • Never add the powder directly to the paint. It will be a lumpy mess.
  • When finished using the chalk paint. Store in an airtight container. I save coffee containers where I can pop the air out of from under the lid.

FAQ’s About How to Make DIY Chalk Paint

I have received many questions about making the best chalk paint recipes. If you can’t find the answer to a chalk painting question you may have, please leave it in a comment on this post.

Is Homemade Chalk Paint as Good as Store-Bought?

I have used almost every brand of chalk paint made and all are good. Fromr the most expensive, Annie Sloan to the cheapest – Waverly. In fact I like Waverly Chalk paint that is sold at Walmart over any other chalk paint – so don’t let price fool you.

The reason I like homemade chalk paint better than buying it is that you can make any color you want. This is not the case when you buy chalk paint.

I Want to Try Making My Own Chalk Paint, But I am Afraid it Won’t Come out Right.

Painting is easy. It is the mixing and waxing that seems to scare most people away from trying DIY chalk paint.

Mix the water and powder together first, then add to the paint and mix it very well.  You can use an electric beater to mix it well. I make mine in plastic coffee cans with lids so I can store the leftover mixture for future use.

The consistency should be smooth – not too watery or you will lose the effectiveness.

I Want to Paint a Large Piece of Furniture. Can I Double or Triple the Recipe?

Yes – you can double, triple or even quadruple the recipes.  Mix a bit of the binding powder/water mixture into the paint a little bit at a time so you don’t get a big clump to break apart. 

Add a little bit of water until it is smooth enough to paint with. Mix it well.  Some of my mixtures have been thicker than others, but when you use a high quality paint chalk paint brush, it will help you spread it evenly.

I Have Small Children – I Need a Durable Finish. Will DIY Chalk Paint Hold Up to Lots of Wear and Tear?

After the paint and wax have cured (a few weeks), I have found the finish on my chalk painted pieces more durable than the ones I painted with latex paint and a poly sealer. Use the Calcium Carbonate Powder and Plaster of Paris mix recipe on furniture that will get constant use.

To learn more about how to use any type or brand of chalk paint, see these posts:

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  1. Diane, I have used both POP and CCP separately, mixed with warm water. The last paint I used was Behr, paint & primer. Is it the primer that is messing it up? What is the best paint to use?

    1. Hi again Jill – I am pretty sure it is the primer. It binds when mixed with a chalk paint ingredient. The acrylic in paint and craft paints can turn to sludge, too. I have learned that most “contractor” paints do not have a primer in them. All paint brands sell contractor paint. It is mcuh cheaper and a bit thinner. I use Glidden Premium in a satin finish sold at Home Depot. It does not have primer in it. It always makes up into a velvety smooth mix especially when I used CCP or Plaster. Of all the ingredients you can use to make chalk paint. CCP alone or mixed with some PoP are all I ever use anymore.

      1. Hi Diane! Thanks so much for posting these DIYs! I am happy to finally find a good paint recommendation (the Glidden Premium). I made the mistake of using Valspar and my paint turned to yogurt like consistency! I just used a Benjamin Moore paint sample to test out a recipe and that too did not mix with the POP. I will try the Glidden and see how it goes! Do you have to purchase it in gallon size or can they do quarts, samples, etc. at Home Depot? Thanks again!

        1. Hi Taylor – Glidden is sold in quarts, but they too have just reformulated their paint. Just make sure to get a can that does not say Paint + Primer on the label. If you have a True Value Hardware store near you. They carry Easy Care paint. I have used this for a few projects and it works well.

          1. Diane, I LOVE this post and reading through your answers. You are a huge help to us DIYers. I’m going to Home Depot to buy what you suggested and wondered if I’m painting with white paint mixed with calcium carbonate in my paint sprayer, if I’m painting over a dark oak, will I be ok not priming it first? Or will I just need to do more coats? Thanks!

      1. Hi Ronnie –

        There are a few things that could be why your paint is not sticking. 1. The surface was not cleaned before painting. There could be grease or dirt that is acting as a block so the paint won’t stick. 2. Did you go over the surface with a piece of sandpaper to rough up the surface a bit? If not this could be the reason. All paint even chalk paint needs a quick surface going over with sandpaper to give the surface some “tooth” so the paint has something to grab onto. 3. How thick did you apply the paint? If it is too thickly applied, it may not adhere well. More light thin coats are better. 4. How long ago did you paint the piece? It may just need time to cure. The time it takes depends on many factors. If it is humid where you live, then it can take up to a month to fully cure.

  2. Hi Diane, I have made my own chalk paint in the past but have a problem getting the lumps and bubbles out. What do you use to make the chalk paint into a smooth mixture?

      1. to get lumps out start dry first add water mix add more mix let sit for a bit till it gets thicker( think pancake mix) and add paint slowly and stir and add and stir .. this works with all but the sanded grout method which I have never used.

  3. Thanks, Diane! I wonder if I should just use the Calcium Carbonate? I do like the sound of more durability, though. It will be a conference table that already has nicks. I’m trying to get rid of them.

    Is CCP above the new mixture of both?

  4. Diane, do you know if adding in the calcium carbonate and/or plaster to BLACK paint will lighten the color at all? Going to try black, but it needs to match my trim. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kevin – I have not made black chalk paint yet, so I cannot be sure. One reader told me Plaster of Paris lightened her black paint, another reader had no problem. The darkest paint I have used with CCP is navy blue. It did not lighten the paint. I was quite happy how it looked. I think it is very important when mixing dark paint colors is to make sure the powder is completely dissolved before adding it to the paint. If it isn’t you may see the white from the powder streaking in the brush strokes. Using warm water will help the powder dissolve better.

      1. If you want to be SURE not to alter the black paint color, you can purchase black unsanded grout. I purchased “oops” paint at Lowes and used black grout in it and it’s very,very black and took only one coat and went on very smoothly. Looks great.

        1. Hi Patricia – Thanks so much for sharing this information about the black non sanded grout. Many readers have written about using black paint and I was not sure what would work. You just provided the best answer. XO

      2. Have you or anyone used home made chalk paint in a sprayer? I can’t find the answer anywhere on the internet.

        1. We have used chalk paint in a sprayer and it worked great. Also, it was one mixed with plaster that had been mixed for several weeks.

          1. Hi Barbara – This is so good to know since the PoP mixes can sometimes get thick. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It will help many other readers who many be thinking about using a sprayer. What brand of sprayer did you use?

    2. I painted my son’s dresser frame all in black with a chalk paint recipe using POP and it did not alter the color at all.