Kitchen Table Facelift – Refinishing with Chalk Paint

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I’m not one who will ever lift, nip, or tuck any part of my own person. However, I have been known to use the above mentioned methods to recreate my furniture. One of the simplest ways to give just about any piece of furniture a better-than-Botox facelift is to employ the miracle of chalk paint.

What is Chalk Paint?

I am pretty sure that the first time I opened a can of this special paint, I heard a chorus of angels proclaiming that this was a gift straight from heaven. The reason that chalk paint is so marvelous for furniture is that you can paint over almost ANYTHING with it. Low quality laminate? Yes. Seventeen (give or take a few) layers of paint that predates dinosaurs? Yes. It will adhere to most surfaces – without priming or sanding. I added my own personal ‘Hallelujah’ to the chorus.

Why does it stick so well? I do not know. I’m no expert. But I do understand that chalk paint has calcium carbonate in it, which adds to its stick-ability. And I’m not a complete dummy, either. I recognize that chalk paint was developed for those of us lifters, nippers, and tuckers who are sick and tired of stripping (furniture) in the hopes of breathing new life into a hopeless wreck of a table. Like mine, for example.

Chalk Paint: A Furniture Refinisher’s Respite

furniture refinish with chalk paint
This farmhouse kitchen table needed a more stylish and chic look

My poor farmhouse kitchen table has gone from having a completely acceptable “shabby chic” look to becoming plain old shabby in the past few years. The extreme “distressed” ambiance is causing me a good amount of stress. It’s gotten so bad that when a guest comes over for a meal, he or she sticks to the table top, just like a Post-it note, because the finish is wearing off causing the table to become tacky. It’s distressing. So, it’s officially time for a lift, and since I’d like to avoid stripping at all costs, I’m returning to one of my favorite stand bys – chalk paint.

How to Use Chalk Paint

table top refinish
I like the look of wood on my table top.

Although I could, I am not painting my entire table with chalk paint. So, since the top is tacky and needs a refinish, I do have a bit of sanding to do. Sanding the surface of a table top is far easier than sanding the spindled legs of the table, so I gladly grabbed my hand sander and got down to business. Keep in mind, if your table top is painted and is old enough, there’s a good chance it contains lead. If you have any doubt, test the paint for lead. If the paint contains lead, you’re definitely not going to want to sand it or dry scrape it.

Our table was newer and urethaned, so there weren’t any lead concerns. After sanding the previous gummy finish off, the top felt nice, clean, and smooth. I applied some mineral spirits to remove any dust or debris that was left behind. After the mineral spirits dried, I applied a new coat of Minwax Stain in Early American, and I had an instant feeling of gratification that only you wood refinishing type folks out there can really relate to. Simple bliss.

staining a table top
Newly stained table top in the drying stage.

Unfortunately, that feeling was short lived. A day later, I applied a polyurethane sealer over the stain, and I regret to say that I’m not happy with the finish. What I expected would be a nice satin/matte finish turned out to be too glossy for my taste. But alas, wood working has its ups and downs, and this downer is one I’ll live with for the time being. At least no one is sticking to my tabletop anymore. And my two year old will almost certainly hammer the table with a fork or worse, and I’ll end up with a redo on my hands in no time anyway. Sigh. Please don’t judge my practicality (laziness?) too harshly.

painting with paint
The contrast between the rich brown table top and the chalky grey of the French Linen on the base was worrisome for a second. But I kept the faith.

My favorite part of the project is this. I brushed some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen onto the ugly, black base of my table.
It took me all of twenty minutes tops! I sealed the chalk paint with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax, which I applied with an old t-shirt. After applying the clear wax, I applied a coat of Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax over the clear wax. I used the same t-shirt, although the use of cheesecloth is the recommended method for working the dark wax in and for buffing and polishing the wax layers. Call me a rebel.

painting with chalk paint
Dark wax has been applied to the leg on the left. The dark wax immediately brought a rich, warm tone to the grey paint, which now blends nicely with the tabletop.
chalk paint and dark wax

The dark wax also sets into the nooks and crannies of the spindles, which gives the legs a relaxed and inviting look that I love.

To finish the project, I applied another coat of clear wax. It took some time (under an hour) to buff the wax layers to a shine, and that was the extent of the elbow grease needed. The wax will cure within a month. It has already hardened a bit, and it feels velvety and smooth.

furniture refinish with chalk paint
Thank heaven that chalk paint allows us to do such an easy lift.

I’m usually a no pain, no gain kind of girl. But refinishing with chalk paint is really, truly painless, and I’m a believer. My kitchen chairs will be next to go under the chalk. It’s the perfect solution for frugal do it yourselfers like me who want to go new but who don’t want to pay for new. Give it a try, and let me know what you think! The folks at Annie Sloan also have a great video on one color distressing with chalk paint:

More Info - via Annie Sloan

Photo of author

About Amy

Amy spent her early years roaming a neighbor's corn field, much to her parents' distress, and eating tomatoes like apples in her Midwest grandmother's garden. She learned to snap green beans like a machine by the tender age of four. Later, as a Colorado gal, she battled the elements and finally had success growing a celebratory rhubarb plant in a high altitude garden setting. At that point, there was no turning back. She gave in to her green thumb and, in order of priority, is currently growing vegetables, flowers, kids, and pets on the high plains south of Denver.

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