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  • Writer's pictureRachelle Fleming

Beginners Guide on How to Use Chalk Paint, Distress & Wax to Paint Furniture & Cabinets

For video tutorial click here --->

Hey friends! In this post I am going to teach you the basics of painting furniture! I will go over prep, painting with chalk paint, distressing, clear wax, and dark wax. If you’re a beginner furniture painter this is a must read! If you’ve been painting furniture for years, check it out anyway, you never know what kind of tricks you may learn!

Before we dive in let’s go over the supplies and tools you will need to complete this look. I’ll be using all Annie Sloan products, the reason being is that she actually invented chalk paint over 30 years ago and I believe it is the best. This is the one I have the most experience with, this is the one I sell in my shop, and this is the one I love. Although, I’m sure there are other good brands out there, and I know there are some terrible ones, I will be refering to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

The first thing you’re going to need is some paint. I’m going to be showing you with Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue. It’s a really great vintage blue green. You’re also going to need something to paint with. I like to use the Annie Sloan natural round bristle brushes. They may be a bit pricey, but they’re worth every penny. I also use an Annie Sloan flat synthetic bristle brush, to get in the tight spots.

If you choose to distress the piece, you will need either a sanding block or a old rag.

For waxing you will need Annie Sloan Clear Wax, an Annie Sloan wax brush, and lint free rags. If you’re going to be doing any antiquing, or using of dark wax, you will need an additional brush and rags for that.

This is the before shot of the piece I will be demonstarting on.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint works on all types of surfaces. Everything from laminate, wood, glass, to metal, indoors and outdoors. You do not need to sand these surfaces for adhesion sake, but it will not hurt to sand them if you want or need to.

Although you do not need to sand, you need to start with a clean piece of furniture. It needs to be clean of oil, cleaners, or built-up residue. I like to clean my furniture with a mixture of hot water, a few drops of dish soap, about a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Then I scrub my furniture down with this mixture. Then wipe it off again with clean hot water.

Tape off any areas, they do you don’t want to get paint on, remove any hardware or drawers. Pop open your paint, and stir it really well. You can add water into your paint if you want a smoother consistency, but be sure to do that in a separate container, not directly into your paint can. I typically paint out of a separate container anyway as most pieces do not take very much paint and I don’t want the paint to dry out in my liter.

Then start painting! Don’t overload your brush with too much paint. Spread it all over your surface in any direction that you’re comfortable with. The round brushes work wonders for getting into any type of grooves or carvings.

Once you completed a whole coat of paint, you will need to let this dry, which typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Here is my piece with one coat of paint.

If you want to, or you need to for the look you’re going for, then do a second or third coat of paint. On this piece that I am showing you, I’ve only done one coat.

You can see here where the paint doesn’t quite have full coverage, but for the look I’m going for it is not going to matter.

After your paint is dry, if you choose to distress we’re going to go over that now. You certainly do not have to do this.

There are two ways I like to distress, one is called wet distressing, where you use a wet rag, but the paint is dry. Simply take your wet rag and rub on your edges, if paint is fresh (within a week or two), it will just wipe right off. Using the wet rag allows for a really clean way to distress without getting sanding dust everywhere. But if you’re not comfortable with that method, you can also use a sanding block. 

Rub your sanding block, or your rag over the edges and high spots of a piece. Try not to create little worn away areas in the middle of flat surfaces, it does not look like natural wear.

Next, you are going to need to seal the paint somehow. Annie Sloan clear wax has been formulated and used with Annie Sloan chalk paint for over 30 years. It’s more of a European way to topcoat, but it is the easiest way I have found, and gives beautiful amazing results. Wax works just fine for cabinetry or other hard used surfaces. Although if you are uncomfortable with it, Annie Sloan does make a matte and glossy lacquer that you could use instead of wax. But for this tutorial, we are going to talk about waxing.

To wax, simply take your wax brush, get a small amount of wax on it, then wipe that across your piece and surface. On some colors you’ll be able to see where you have waxed and other colors it won’t be quite as easy. Work in small sections, a side of a dresser, a drawer front, a 3 x 3 section, by wiping the wax on and then gently wipeing the wax off. You do not want to overwork the wax as you will cause shiny spots and streaks in your finish. If you can put on a thin coat, and wipe off the excess ever so lightly, then walk away, you will have the best matte finish ever. Clear wax your entire piece. (This method is shown at about 16 minutes in, in this video tutorial here

Dark waxing will be next. This step is optional, but can be used to varying degrees to create an antique look. In this image I am showing you how it place the wax in just the crevices using a chip brush.

Annie Sloan dark wax has a brown tint to it, and you can work it into the grooves or all over your surface in whatever way you like. This image shows it brushed all over with a Annie Sloan wax brush, and then will be wiped back off.

A few things to note here, do not use your same wax brush as the clear wax brush, as it’ll be hard to wash out the dark wax fully from it.  Also, know that if you’re having trouble removing dark wax with a rag, put a little bit more clear wax on your rag and it will help loosen that dark wax. If all else fails, grab some mineral spirits and wipe that on the surface, that should take the wax right off.

Once you have completey wiped your waxes off you will need to let the wax cure at least a few days. Technically it takes 21 days for the wax to cure (as is the case for most topcoats) but I have found that after a week or so I am able to decorate the piece and put it in place without any issues. Just depends how much wax you left on.

Here are a few pictures of my piece finished.

Hope this tutorial helped answer some basic questions for you or taught you some new tricks!

You can find other supplies & tools I use at my Amazon store


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