Most folks who have an interest in creating Shabby chic furniture projects are probably familiar with the name Annie Sloan.
Annie has been producing her awesome chalk paint for around two decades now but it has never received such accolade as recently with the onset of popularity of Shabby Chic furniture.
Even though it has been around for a while it is still a very misunderstood product with a lot of people wondering just what it is and what it can do for them. Many think that it is only suitable for producing Shabby Chic or period pieces with a less modern or unrefined look…NOT TRUE!
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is actually a very pure and environmentally friendly product with very low VOC’s and virtually no odour so it’s great for using in enclosed spaces. It is made up with a very high pigment concentrate so goes a very long way with ease.
During this article we’re going to delve into the different possibilities and techniques for achieving the exact look that you desire for your piece and we’re going to get to know this fantastic versatile paint so that it’s like an old friend! We’ll look at the pro’s and con’s so you can decide if this is the paint for your next project.
First of all let’s look at the obvious benefits Of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Even though I’d heard of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint quite a while before I decided to try it out I was gutted that I waited so long. The reason for this is largely that I simply didn’t understand the obvious benefits to this type of paint. I knew that there were different types of paint for walls and for woodwork etc, however I thought that most furniture paints were going to be largely made up of the same composition (yes I’m showing my ignorance, I know!).
It was only after a bit of looking on the Annie Sloan website that I started to notice the benefits of this type of paint. To be honest I was sceptical when I started reading.
Annie Sloan Chalk paint needs NONE of the following:
Not only that but it will paint over just about every surface that you can think of, wood, plastic, tile, metal. glass, fabrics and just about anything else that you can think of. You can even paint over a piece of furniture that has previously been sealed with wax. This is something that just isn’t possible to do with regular latex paints. The use of latex paints necessitates the use of providing a good key by sanding the surface to be painted and then making sure that a good quality primer is applied before adding a few coats of topcoat, making sure they are perfectly dry in-between.
If your project has been previously waxed before such as a knotty or antique pine piece of furniture it’s almost impossible to use latex paints effectively as all the old wax needs to be stripped back to ensure good adhesion. It’s a lot of hard work, and time equals money!
For any project where you simply want to get painting without hours of prep then Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is a Godsend. Now I know that some naysayers out there will be saying “a decent finish without prep is impossible, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is only good if you want a rough finish“. Now don’t get me wrong, you can’t take a piece of furniture with deep welts in it and make it look smooth by painting it with ASCP. If your project piece is in poor shape it will be necessary to either sand off any loose surface material or fill any deeper areas of chipped off paint or deeper knocks, otherwise you will certainly see the indents through the paint.
Traditionally most folks use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because they want to create a time worn ‘distressed’ look or they want to give their piece more texture. What about those who want a perfect flat finish without brush marks or heavy texture? Well once again ASCP is incredibly easy to use to obtain this type of finish. To achieve the flat finish I would use a small foam roller to apply the paint as required to get good coverage. You can also use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with a spray gun if you have one available. My recommendation for this is try to use a gun with at least a 1.8mm tip, 2mmm is even better as the paint will be quite gritty for anything smaller. If you have access to an airless sprayer then even better. You may need to thin the paint down with clean water by around 10% to get good results when spraying.
Once the paint is dry, and before waxing I would gently sand flat any stipples or high spots with some 400-800 grade car body sandpaper and a flat sanding block. This only needs to be done very gently, be careful not to break through the paint. You will find that the paint sands incredibly easily and flats off perfectly to give a pristine finish.
On the flip side of the coin, what if you prefer a finish with a bit more ‘texture’. This would be impossible to achieve with a latex paint, not so with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. If you leave the lid off of your can for a while the paint will start to stiffen and get thicker. This allows you to add some deeper brush marks and some light stippling that can really add another dimension when some dark wax is added to bring out the details.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: The paint of a thousand colours!
If you like to play around a little with colours and shades then this is another area where Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really comes into it’s own. By adding other colours to a base you can make a whole plethora of individual colours to really individualise your project and put your own stamp on a piece.
As with any paint you may still encounter some issues such as a dark woodstain or nicotine stain seeping through and in this rare case you will need to apply a stain blocking sealer primer. To be sure of blocking just about any stain I would recommend either treating a spot with some white car primer. Or if it’s on a larger panel I would go for the Zinsser B-I-N primer. Cover the whole panel and this will seal it to kill the bleed, then repaint with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as before. The beauty of this is that these are all very fast drying products that will allow you to get your project finished FAST!
So you have finished painting your project, now what? Well this is possibly the one caveat to using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint…it needs to be sealed to make it resilient to stains and marks. This is not a big deal though, we just need to add a little wax if our piece is to be used inside.
I personally have used a few waxes with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and they have been fine, however Annie produces her own range of waxes that are designed to work in perfect harmony with her chalk paint.
When Annie Sloan Chalk Paint dries it is very porous and will not take kindly to dirty finger marks or oils from your skin, the wax produces a protective barrier against this. Now when applying wax the idea is that less is more. If it’s applied too thick it may not dry properly and will be prone to marking very easily.
Annie Sloan describes this process as being like applying a skin moisturiser, you want it to dissolve into the skin and not sit on the top as a greasy layer. The same goes for the wax as the chalk paint is designed to bond or fuse with the wax to create a protective barrier.
If you are producing a piece that will see a lot of traffic, such as a table or a dresser you may want to give the top two or three coats of wax for added protection, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before adding another.
Once you have waxed your piece you may want to bring out some of the features by adding a dark wax over the clear. I have written an article that describes this process in detail which can be found here: Dark Wax: Everything You’ll Ever Need To Know
So is there a down side to using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint or is it good for everything?
Well apart from the fact that you need to apply a wax to seal it after painting, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really doesn’t have much of a downside. Some might be facepalming right now thinking ‘what about the cost?‘ I’ll be honest, on the surface of it Annie Sloan Chalk Paint probably feels a little on the expensive side, however when you consider the amount of coverage that you get from each can (around 50% more coverage per litre/quart) than a similar latex paint, it actually works out to be pretty reasonable. In fact here in the UK it costs around £17 (around$27) for a litre (Quart) of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. If you consider that I can paint around 4 average sized cupboards with that one can it breaks down to around £4.25 (just under $7) per cupboard. Now considering the time I’ve saved on prep and clean-up I’d say that’s pretty darn good!
In fact the only downside to using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint may be that it can be a little hard to get hold of. If you’re in the UK then chances are there will be a stockist not too far from you, but in the USA and other countries this may not be the case.
You see the thing is that once you switch over to using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, you really won’t want to go back to using anything else and if it’s difficult to get hold of this will be pretty annoying! However, that said, mail order is widely available from most stockists so getting your Annie Sloan Chalk Paint fix needn’t be too painful. Give it a go, you won’t regret it, and when you fall in love with using it remember who told you about it:)