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. Hi-
    Can I use chalk paint over a chair that has craft paint on it? Will the chalk paint adhere properly?
    PS. Thanks for all your feedback!

    1. Hi Nancy – I would go over the surface using 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface and knock down the shiny surface first. Clean off the sanding grit and then you can paint right over the craft paint.

    1. Hi Rebecca, just to add to Diane’s comment, i bought my Calcium Carbonate at my local Shoppers Drug Mart and super cheep, $5.22 for 2 Litres

    2. I can;t find it where I live either so I ordered it from Amazon. Be sure and shop through all of it though, as they had varying prices.

    3. i buy calcium carbonate powder from my local stock feed supplier- it is $3 per KILO:) thats a lot of powder-much cheaper than health food store etc . for anyone that likes to use bi carb of soda to make paint you can also get this at stock/pet feed stores:)

      1. Hi Veronica – Thanks for sharing this information about where to buy the CCP. It is good to know since everyone has access to different types of stores in the area they live. :-)

    4. Calcium carbonate can be purchased from home brewing stores as it is used in wine making.

      1. Thanks for sharing the info on where to buy CCP for making chalk paint David – I have to find a home brewing store in my area. I would love to see how it compares to the brand I buy at the health food store.

        1. Im finding this a very interesting blog – thankyou everyone for your input. I am a potter and use Calcium Carbonate as a glaze ingredient. I buy it in 5kilo bags, very cheaply, from a pottery supplier – I live in Australia. I have not heard of ‘latex’ paint in Australia. Are you just talking about regular water based house paint? (we refer to it as acrylic paint)

          1. Hi Jill – Yes latex paint is water-based paint. It has rubber in it to, hence the name latex. Here in the states it comes simply… latex and in acrylic latex formulas. I have used Calcium Carbonate Powder with both to make chalk paint with great success. I think your water based acrylic will work fine.

  2. Hi Diane,

    Listening to a radio show about gardening. They are using the word lime and calcium carbonate interchangeably. The only added ingredient is possible magnesium. What do u think about chalk paint from lime?

    1. Hi Rebecca – Yes you can make chalk paint using Lime. Some say it could be toxic, I think that is why you don’t see more about using it, but it will work if you can find a fine powder form of it. The calcium carbonate powder I use is for bone health – you drink it – not toxic :)

  3. I just tried to mix together some chalk paint and used your exact recipe with the unsanded grout. I used 2 Tbsp. and about 1 Tbsp. of water and 1 c. of paint. After stirring it together it formed into a large clump and not a paint consistency at all. Where did I go wrong?

    1. Hi Allison – What type of paint did you use? The paint can’t be one that has a primer in it already. Valspar has a primer in it. Acrylic craft paints may also bind the paint. I have found that Calcium Carbonate Powder that you can buy for about $6 at the health food store will not bind any paint. It will stay smooth for months – even if you make a quart of it.

    1. Hi Suzanne – Most of the waxes I have used have a mix of wax in them, beeswax being one of them. It should be fine by itself, since it has been used over furniture for ages. Just use thin coats and buff it to a shine.

      1. Thanks Diane, One more question can i use craft paint to add color to different projects. Thanks, Suzanne have a wonderful Easter! :)

        1. Hi Suzanne –

          Craft paint will bind up with Plaster of Paris and Non-sanded grout recipes because it has an acrylic in it. I have made chalk paint with it, but have only made it in small batches. It will get thick fast, but you can still paint with it. If you want to use craft paint – mix it with the Calcium Carbonate Powder, it does not bind up as fast with the acrylic in the paint.