The answer is never that simple, however I will try to debunk some painting myths for you in today’s blog, as there seemed to be a lot of conversation at last weekend’s Harvest Festival circling around type of paint used, finishes, styles, textures, etc.
Let me start by being completely honest and telling you I rarely use chalk paint. I know most of you will be sitting open-mouthed, gasping…
I do use it on occasion. Well, what occasion then, you ask?
If a piece I’m working on is pretty banged up or a bit rougher around the edges, I’ll certainly use chalk paint. I will also use chalk paint if there is a particular color that I have fallen for and I just can’t quite color match it with latex. Finally, if I know, going into the project, that I want the finished piece to be overly distressed and I’m not concerned with brushstrokes or coverage and I’m going for the less is more look, I will use chalk paint.
Otherwise, latex it is. It’s cheaper, there’s a gazillion (totally a word) colors, shades and sheens to work with, it’s extremely flexible and manageable and you can use almost any technique when painting with latex.
Okay, so here are some common painting myths debunked:
Myth #1) If I want a distressed look, I need to use Chalk or Milk Paint
Truth: Not at all! You can distress any piece using latex paint, it’s easy! If you know ahead of time that you want to distress, either skip the primer (just make sure you sand well enough that your paint can get a good grip), or have your primer tinted to the same color of your paint. Once you’ve finished 2-3 coats, use a fine-grit sandpaper (I like to use anything between 120-220 grit) and slightly distress areas that would naturally be worn, like corners, grooves and moldings. To avoid scratching around the distressed area, ensure you are not sanding down flat surfaces. These would not easily distress naturally anyway. (Tip! I use a high-quality electric hand-sander for all but hard-to-reach areas. It makes the job much quicker, however you must have a steady hand and have a good feel for your tools) If you're going for an entirely distressed, chippy look, on the entire piece, chalk or milk paint may be easier to handle as it's easier to distress on flat surfaces.
Myth #2) If I use chalk paint, I need to wax
Truth: Not unless you want to! There is no rule whatsoever saying you must wax every piece you chalk. In fact, the only time I wax, is if I’m going for an antique look and then I need to use both a clear wax and a dark wax. (Tip! You cannot use a dark wax without first using clear wax, otherwise the dark wax will soak into the wood and nobody wants dark brown blotches!) I use a satin finish polycrylic topcoat with 99% of my pieces. It’s much more durable than a wax, lasts longer and you don’t have to worry about re-coating each year. If you love the look and feel of wax, go for it!
Myth #3) Chalk paint just looks more sophisticated. I really want that farmhouse, vintage look, not cookie-cutter catalog order furniture.
Truth: Ummm…have you seen the pieces I’ve done? 90% of the work I do is using latex paint.
Myth #4) Chalk paint is easier to work with
Truth: It depends, really. In some ways, it can be. It can be more flexible than latex. For example, you can use vinegar and a rag or even petroleum jelly to distress with chalk paint, rather than sandpaper. However, you must be very careful and precise in your placement or you end up with a mess and you need to re-paint, which just adds more work and time to your project. It does dry a lot faster than latex, which can be a huge bonus when you don’t want to wait hours between coats, however it can make it difficult if you are trying to manipulate the finish and it’s drying too quickly.
Myth #5) Milk Paint is just too difficult to use.
Truth: It depends on how you define difficult. I would personally say milk paint is quite the opposite as it gives you much more control in the finish. It does however require you to mix yourself and requires a bonding agent for painting on non-porous surfaces, unlike pre-mixed and ready-to use latex or chalk paint. Milk Paint is also probably the most eco-friendly and greenest option you’ll find out there, with all natural, organic ingredients. I’m looking forward to testing out some milk paint in the upcoming months and will keep you posted on my thoughts.
Myth #6) No prep required when using chalk paint
Truth: There is ALWAYS prep work involved. I can honestly say it’s not my favorite. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty with paint, but the prep work is so important. Even when using chalk paint and milk paint, it’s important to prep. If your piece is rather dirty, a light dusting will not do the trick. You will need to clean that baby with some T.S.P. In some cases, you will not need to sand or prime, however, I must tell you I sand about 99% of the time. I tried to cut corners for a piece I did for my home, knowing I was using chalk paint and shouldn’t have had any problems, however the paint would not adhere and just kept lifting. I knew better than to miss the prep work!
The best policy here is to try, try and try some more. Never stop trying.
I love trying new things. If something doesn’t work, the worst thing that’s happened is that I’ve learned something new. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and don’t be afraid to take a chance, do something different, try a type of paint or a technique you’ve never used before. Have some fun!
And keep asking your questions! I love being able to answer as many as I can, and if I can’t, I’ll be sure to try my best to find the answer…especially if it means doing so in the workshop!
Until next time, my dear readers…get those hands dirty and keep me posted on your own adventures!