My Biggest Chalk Paint Secret-Revealed [How to]

how to pant with chalk paint1

I’ve been working with chalk + clay paint for a many years now, and I think it’s safe to say that I have a (mostly healthy!) obsession with it’s simplicity and beautiful finish.  I chalk paint just about everything, from furniture to fabric & home décor (all of which you can find at my shop, Picklee on Spring).  I’ve shared many chalk + clay paint tutorials in the past,  but today I want to share some information on one of the simplest chalk painted finishes imaginable, THIS is my biggest chalk paint secret.  The technique is referred to as “dry brushing”, and it works pretty much exactly like it sounds!

You can see above how this antique Serpentine chest looked before it’s transformation, not so nice!  However, I can assure you that this was one of the easiest chalk paint transformations ever.  I used a “dry brush” technique on this chest for two reasons; first, because I wanted it to have a super aged/distressed look, and second, because it had a very dark & oily finish that I knew would “bleed” (which actually can work with and enhance this finish). In short, the dry brush technique uses a super light coat of one paint color on top of a raw wood surface.  This technique can however be used on top of previously painted surfaces too, you just won’t have the same naturally aged wood finish.

Dry Brushing with Chalk Paint- How To:

1. Select a paint color. As noted above, this finish works best when you use a light paint color on top of an extra dark piece because the dark wood tone brings out lots of color variation in the light paint.  I used CeCe Caldwell’s Nantucket Spray on my Serpentine chest.

2. Make sure your piece is clean and dry.  Wet just the tip of a thick bristle paint brush with very little paint.  Chalk paint tends to run on the thick side, so adding a touch of water to the paint can make this process a lot easier.

3.  Apply the paint to your piece very lightly and in a somewhat sporadic motion, the point of this process is that you won’t be covering all of the exposed wood. You can rub off any areas that have covered too heavily with a damp cloth.

4. Once you’ve covered the entire piece, allow it to cure overnight.  It will be dry within about an hour, but the paint will need time to cure to the wood before sealing it.

5. To seal a piece with this type of finish, I typically use CeCe Caldwell’s Clear Wax.  The clear wax top coat hardens and protects while adding depth and dimension to your piece.  The clear wax is applied with a wax brush (or non-pilling cloth).  Simple dip the wax brush into the clear wax and buff it onto your piece in a circular motion.  You’ll begin to see the color of your piece darken as the wax soaks in.  Once the clear wax dries (after about 2 hours), you can use a clean, pill-free cloth to buff and smooth out the finish.

Your “dry brushed” piece is now complete!  I told you it was easy!

distressed chalk painted dresser


The deeper colors on the piece are where the natural wood is peeking through.  The dark stain on the natural wood is working with the chalk paint to create multiple shades of pale greens and blues…

chalk paint aged distressed dresser gray 2


This piece is perfectly imperfect!

distressed look tutorial with chalk paint



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