Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chalk Paint® SOS

Once in a while even the best painters will have an issue. Most can be readily solved, however, and I've presented some of the most common and their solutions below. 

Before your start painting, make sure that the paint is stirred well and that the "good stuff" is not sitting on the bottom of the can. Make sure the furniture is clean and dry. And, paint and store your paint products in an ambient temperature. Extreme cold and heat can definitely affect the results.

Streaks in the Finish

This is almost always a wax issue. I'm always telling customers not to use too much wax, but in this case, it is probably due to uneven application and putting too little wax on the surface. Check your application periodically to make sure you have covered the entire surface - you should notice a deepening of the paint color after application of the wax. Try putting a little more wax onto the surface - this top layer will re-activate the bottom layer of wax and then just re-do the surface, using enough wax to cover, wiping off any excess. Make sure to use smooth, even strokes. When wiping off excess wax, wipe with the grain, from side to side.

Hazy or Sticky Finish

Again, this is likely a wax issue, but this time due to too much wax. You just need a little on your brush and be sure to work it into the paint and then removing the excess with a clean, dry cloth. Sticky happens when the wax does not dry, again, too much being applied. 

One note, it is difficult to remove excess wax once it has dried. You can try adding a little more wax as I mentioned above or as a last resort, applying a little mineral spirits on a cloth and gently wipe over. You may have to re-apply wax after this step.

Review the correct waxing methods HERE.


If you see any yellow or pink spots under the paint after the first coat, stop painting and go get some Clear Shellac at your local hardware store! (I use Zinsser Clear Shellac.) Don't continue to paint, it won't work. The most common issues of bleeding can happen on unfinished woods, or furniture made during the 30's and 40's (something in the finishes being used then). Apply a thin coat of Shellac (if the bleeding is severe, then apply a second coat of shellac, making sure they dry in between), let dry, and you are good to go! No need to remove the first coat of Chalk Paint® by the way.

Paint Peeling or Not Sticking

This is usually an issue with the underlying finish. Although I have found it true that Chalk Paint® sticks to almost anything, some pre-existing finishes are tough and need to be addressed.

First, make sure that the piece you are going to paint is clean and dry. This is especially true if you are painting kitchen cabinets or chairs. Clean with mild detergent prior to painting (I like "Method" cleaner) or wipe with a little mineral spirits if it feels greasy, making sure to rinse this off with warm water. If you are sure the furniture is free of greases and you are still having a problem, then it may be one the situations below.

Make sure the first coat of paint is dry before painting a second coat, if not, the first coat could be lifted by the action of the brush and the application of the second coat of paint. Although the paint dries fairly quickly, the temperature you are painting in does make a difference. If you see any lifting on the second coat, test for dryness first.

If the paint does seem dry, and you are still seeing lifting, then it could be due to furniture polish on the surface of the piece. Yes guys, remember doing this to your furniture week after week? Well, this and other polishes contain silicone that could be acting as a deterrent. Or, it could be that the manufacturer of the furniture used an oily finish to help protect during shipping.

To fix any of these issues, lightly sand down the piece to remove the peeling paint, clean with a little mineral spirits on a cloth or a Scotch Brite Pad, let dry and re-paint. As an extra precaution, a Clear Shellac over the original finish is recommended, but may not be necessary. You could wait a day or so to make sure the paint is sticking and then continue with the painting.

Finally, if the underlying finish is very slick and shiny, like a laminate, a little sanding prior to painting will help with adhesion.


This can be a good thing - if that is the look you are after. I found that temperature has a great deal to do with this - very hot and very cold. If you are painting in a garage and have had this problem, then it may have been caused by temperature fluctuations. It may also have to do with the old finish on the piece if you are painting over an existing finish. (Drying with a hair dryer is one way to intentionally crackle the paint.)

I did have a table top that I painted inside crackle slightly and I'm not sure why. I'm thinking that there were issues with the old finish - it was in really bad shape and I choose to not sand or prep it in any way. I actually embraced the look and when waxed it looked as if I had intentionally crackled it. But, if it's not for you, then sand it down, make sure it is clean and apply a Clear Shellac before painting again.

Paint is too Thick or Too Thin

Chalk Paint® is water based and if the top is left off for a long period, it will evaporate and thicken. Add a little distilled water to thin it. Conversely, if the paint is too thin, just leave the top off and it will thicken.

Irregular Finished Surface

While not actually a problem, remember that Chalk Paint® usually produces a somewhat textured surface, meaning that you can see brush strokes. To minimize this, paint in one continuous line from side to side, thin the paint a bit and use a flat brush. You can even sand lightly after the second coat before waxing to smooth more (take this outside or make sure to have a drop cloth). I personally like some texture and think the Dark Wax looks especially nice over it! Oh, and make sure to stir the paint well before using! Chalk Paint® won't correct a problem with the underlying finish such as if it is chipping, so make sure the finish is pretty much they way you like before painting.

Having a problem that I've not covered? Check out "Ask Rachel". If I've not covered your question there, then email me, I'd be happy to help.

Happy Painting!  Rachel

Chalk Paint® and supplies are available at my two shops:
4323 Irvington Rd., Irvington, VA and 
19 S. Belmont Ave. (in the heart of Carytown), Richmond, VA
For directions to either shop, click HERE

To see more tips, tutorials, photos: Paintbrush and Pearls

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