When James from Homey Improvements contacted me hoping to share a step-by-step guide for painting cabinets with chalk paint my answer was a resounding, heck ya!
Bio: James is a kombucha tea-sipping blogger who focuses on DIY projects and sustainable living via his family blog Homey Improvements. He enjoys pilates and loves his job as a green construction builder.
Take it away, James!
Are you looking for a way to renovate your bathroom or kitchen cabinets without hiring a contractor? Hate priming even more than you hate sanding? Then this is the project for you.
Chalk paint is a DIYer’s best friend, so grab a screwdriver and start taking apart your cabinets. It’s time for a cabinet makeover!
What’s the Big Deal?
Is it really that wonderful? Well, chalk paint sticks to just about anything. We’re talking:
- concrete or wood
- matte plastic
- already painted surfaces
Remember your last painting project and the loads of sandpaper and bucket of primer you had to use? Chalk paint does away with all of that. No sanding, no priming and it dries quickly. That’s a big time-saver.
Let’s Paint Cabinets!
Before you take a screwdriver to your paint can and get to work, let’s make sure we have our essential supplies:
- Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, Country Chic Chalk Paint or homemade chalk paint
- Paint brush for chalk paint
- Wax brush – yes, this is different from a paint brush
- Soft Wax or Miniwax Finishing Wax
- Soft rags; think old jersey sheets
- Painter’s tape
- Paper plate
Affiliate links are used in this post for your convenience.
Let’s get started!
How to Paint Cabinets with Chalk Paint
Step 1: Prep Your Painting Area
If you’re painting inside, this is the time to tape newspaper to the floor. Really, painting outside in natural light would be ideal, but I know taking the entire cabinet off the wall wasn’t an option for me, so it probably isn’t for you.
Step 2: Basic Maintenance
While the whole point of using chalk paint is to save time, we still have some basic maintenance to do on our cabinets before we paint them. Check the following:
- Wipe down the cabinets and make sure all the gunk is gone. Tip: Toothpaste clumps will ruin your paint job.
- Remove the hinges on the cabinets so you can easily paint the doors. Tip: Store hinges and screws in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware.
- Don’t sand – unless you find a rough patch. This paint isn’t actually magic, it’s just close.
Step 3: Paint Can Dance
Sure, you can open the can of paint and stir it with that plain old wooden stirrer they give you at the paint store, or you can work those arm muscles and do a shake dance with the paint can.
If you plan on making your own chalk paint, you’ll need to go to a store to get the paint can with the powder (either calcium carbonate or plaster of Paris) in it professional shaken.
Step 4: Start Your Engines
Just like that, it’s time to paint. From my experience you’re going to need two coats of paint. I’ve heard of people using more, but that was plenty for us. The paint’s overall texture is thicker than normal latex paint, so be careful.
The good news, though, is that even though this a fast-drying paint, you’ll have enough time to spread it out without fear of leaving brush strokes.
Don’t panic if you see brush strokes in your first coat. They’ll disappear in the second coat.
If you want a shabby chic look, use sandpaper after your paint dries but before you apply the wax coating.
Step 5: Apply the Wax Coating
There’s no way around it — applying a wax coating sounds weird and difficult. Don’t worry, though; this step is a snap.
Why wax? We might love the look of chalk paint, but the feel of the paint without the wax is actually chalky. The wax does several things. It:
- forms a protective seal over your paint
- removes the odd, chalky texture of the paint
To apply, scoop a small amount of wax onto your paper plate to prevent contaminating your canister of wax. Smoosh your brush into the wax, but make sure you don’t get too much. How much is too much? Treat the wax like you would foundation on your face. A little goes a long way; you don’t want your face or your cabinet to melt halfway through the day.
Work the brush with the grain of the wood/paint and not against it. You should see the color brighten up just a bit, but not enough to alter the color, so don’t worry about that. Once you’ve applied a fine coating, grab your soft rag and brush the surface. Think “Karate Kid” for this one. Wax on, wax off.
It’s important that you don’t leave too much wax on the furniture. Wipe with the grain of the wood, and if you touch the wax and come away with any residue on your fingers, keep wiping.
Just like paint, the wax has to dry. Give it at least 24 hours to dry and then you’re ready to go.
If you’d like a visual, watch this tutorial by Paula Driesell from Locksley Lane.
Use wax sparingly – you can add more, but you’ll struggle removing excess. I accidently applied way too much to the first cabinet and realized we were actually leaving fingerprints on the cabinet because of the wax. Since wax easily shows fingerprints, you might want to consider using polycrylic (though it changes the look of the chalk paint slightly).
Once the wax has hardened, your cabinets will look just as good as mine.
And they do look amazing, James! Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us!!
In the chalk paint projects I’ve done I’ve used Minimax’s Paste Finishing Wax and have loved it. You can find it for the best price, Here!
There is so much to love about this bathroom–the soft greenish-blue paint on the walls, the marble countertops and undermount sink, the lanteen-styled wall sconce, the espresso framed mirror to add contrast, the L-shaped cabinetry, the sleek cabinet pulls, and of course the flawlessly painted cabinets!
Excellent work! You can head over to Homey Improvements and check out James’ blog HERE.
As always thanks for being here!!!:-)