DIY · Interior Design

Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax

Like many DIYers, at one time or another, I have painted every room in my house and much of the furniture in it. As you might imagine, all this practice has made me a pretty proficient painter. Nevertheless, I don’t enjoy painting. And the older I get, the less enthusiastic about painting I become. My aversion is such that lately, every time I tackle a new painting project, I swear to anyone who will listen that this is the very last time I will ever pick up a brush. Unfortunately, for me, it’s very hard to retire from painting. The reason for this is that paint is the single most transformative and inexpensive way to update anything. So, after recently installing dramatic wrought iron sconces above the buffet in my breakfast room, I wanted to refresh the whole area, starting by using chalk paint to repaint the framed tin ceiling tile that hangs above the buffet.

Breakfast room buffet styled for Christmas with old dripping candle sconces and framed red ceiling tile --Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
Breakfast room buffet styled for Christmas with old dripping candle sconces and framed red ceiling tile.
New hard-wired wrought iron sconces flank the freshly chalk-painted and waxed framed Victorian tin ceiling tile --Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
New hard-wired wrought iron sconces flank the freshly chalk-painted and waxed framed Victorian tin ceiling tile.

Despite all my painting experience, I had never used chalk paint before. As a reluctant painter, chalk paint appealed to me because it is purported to be quick-drying and to cover almost any material without the need for sanding or priming. The velvety matte shabby chic finish of this medium also seemed perfect for my vintage ceiling tile.

Tips For Using Chalk Paint

The Chalk Paint was developed by a mom named Annie Sloan in 1990. Since that time, a lot of other similar products have come on the market. There are even recipes for making your own chalk paint by combining plaster of paris, water, and latex paint. However, I have read many articles that state that Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is still the gold standard, so that’s what I chose to use for my project.

Because I was a chalk paint newbie, I researched Annie Sloan products in my area and found a wonderful resource in Artisan By Design. They are both an authorized stockist and instructor for Chalk Paint. When I told them I wanted to create a custom color to coordinate with my draperies, they were able to show me samples of tons of color combinations. I decided to use a blend of 2 parts Country Grey and 1 part French Linen. I was able to buy mini 4oz—jars of both paints as well as a mini can of Annie Sloan dark wax.

Mini jars of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Country Grey and French Linen, Dark Soft Wax, and wax brush --Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
Mini jars of Annie Sloan Country Grey and French Linen Chalk Paint, Dark Soft Wax, and wax brush

I applied two coats of the custom color I created with an inexpensive disposable sponge brush. I didn’t really need a second coat to achieve adequate coverage, but I felt the color after the first application was a bit too light and decided to do a second coat using a bit more of the darker French Linen. The paint is extremely forgiving, easy to use, and clean up. I probably could have completed the entire project and hung it back on the wall in one day, but I was nervous about applying the wax, so I waited until the next day to try it.

Chalk painted vintage tin ceiling tile --Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
Chalk painted ceiling tile before the application of the dark wax.

Tips For Using Dark Wax

Artisan By Design sells wax brushes. However, I bought one from Michaels instead because it was cheaper. To seal your chalk paint project, you need to either wax or polyurethane it. Wax gives the piece a softer, more traditional finish, but poly is more durable. Since the ceiling tile is purely decorative, durability was not a factor. I wanted to use dark wax rather than clear because it would create a more vintage look and accent the detail of the relief designs on the tin tile.

This was when I discovered that I was not such an expert painter after all, and I was right to be intimidated by the wax. I started by dipping my brush in the dark wax and began applying it liberally to about a quarter of the tile. I thought I was being smart by only waxing a small section at a time. However, when I tried to buff off the wax with a cloth, I found that no matter how hard I rubbed, most of it wouldn’t come off. Despite all my careful color planning and mixing, the dark wax had turned the paint brown.

--Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
Dark Wax Disaster!

When I stopped panicking, I googled how to remove wax and discovered that it is possible to knock back the dark wax with mineral spirits. I put a little mineral spirits on a cloth and low and behold; it removed most of the wax. After that fun adventure, I realized that I needed to apply a lot less wax at a time. On my second attempt, I dipped just the tip of the brush in the wax and then swirled it on a paper plate. Then, working in 3″ x 3″ sections, I lightly applied the wax and then quickly buffed most of it off with a soft cloth.

Chalk painted Victorian tin ceiling tile after the application of dark wax --Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
The details in the tin relief show up to best advantage after the application of the dark wax.

--Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax

The ceiling tile turned out just as I envisioned it when I hung it back on the wall between the sconces. The rest of my buffet update includes a new floral arrangement, decorative plates, and a pair of pagoda lanterns.

--Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax
Buffet arrangement with newly painted ceiling tile

I feel that the more neutral tile color and lighter accessories really allow the sconces to shine. And while I am still not excited about embarking on another painting project, I would definitely use chalk paint again.

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10 thoughts on “Tips For Using Chalk Paint And Dark Wax

  1. So cool how you were able to completely transform that space with just a few changes! It looks really great. I appreciate your sharing the story of your initial misstep and how you corrected it– it will definitely save me some panic if I ever try out something similar!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Shirley. It depends on the project as to whether I use a sponge brush or a regular bristle brush. On wood, I always use a brush. For this project, I chose a sponge brush because I didn’t want brush marks and I knew that the sponge would easily deposit the paint in all the crevices of the pressed tin design.

  2. I haven’t painted anything in such a long time. But your post reminded me that my daughter’s nightstand could use a bit of freshening. Yellow I think. Maybe with a dark wax.
    Have a wonderful week!

    1. I think a yellow nightstand with dark wax would be very pretty. Good luck with your project and thanks for commenting!

  3. Love the new look Lisa and your honest tips about using chalk paint and dark wax. It’s such a forgiving medium and there’s just something about the dark wax that instantly adds character and depth.

    1. I agree, Michelle. I am so pleased with the way my tin ceiling tile project turned out that, despite my aversion to painting, I find myself looking around for something else to chalk paint.

  4. It looks really good — and genuinely vintage. Did you have to mask off the frame when you painted, or were you able to paint neatly enough? Did it have to dry for a long time? I have been wanting to paint the frame of a large mirror in my dining room, and I wonder if the chalk paint and wax would be a good choice. I usually don’t like how regular paint looks on things like that.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I did mask off the frame because I had never worked with chalk paint before and I wasn’t sure how controllable it would be. It dries very quickly so that if you need to, you can do multiple coats in a day. I think chalk paint and wax would be a great choice for your mirror. It covers like a dream –so sanding or priming required.

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