Despite being the “wan’ it now!” DIYers paint of choice, the first thing I want to say about sanding chalk paint is leave it as many days as you can to harden off before you start finishing the piece. 24 hours is enough, 48 is better – anything beyond that is better still as the paint continues to harden off for weeks. Of course you don’t have to sand your work, you could just simple go right ahead and wax or varnish it (again after waiting at least 24 hours, but preferably a bit longer), but you might want to sand it for a smoother finish; for a chippy, distressed look or to reveal a second colour beneath in places. Chalk paint tends to be very “chalky” when newly dry, and you can rub it back to the wood or and under colour with a damp rag when freshly done.Sandpaper is a bit of a minefield for the novice, it is easy to stand in front of a rack of it in the local DIY store and wish they did it in pretty colours, as then it would be far easier to choose which to go for 🙂 Basically- the lower the number, the coarser the grit on it and the more abrasive it is. Anything below 80 is for preparing surfaces – 40 to 80 is great for rubbing back before you paint. After painting you want to be using stuff above 180. A 180 grade is ok for distressing but I use right up to 2000 to get a great polished effect. I generally use a good open gritted wood sandpaper (brown or red) to rub stuff down before painting, then a silicon carbide (black – black/blue) sandpaper for finishing. When finishing, I find it is best to start with a higher grade and work down if needed. And I generally use wet/dry sandpaper as sometimes it is handy to use it wet, especially when rubbing back to a colour beneath.
“Slowly and Carefully” should be your sanding motto – you are not aiming to beat the life out of your hard work, you are utilising the sandpaper to achieve the required finish. It is far too easy to be a bit heavy handed and rub too much off, intensely annoying as I can tell you from experience! Sanding chalk paint is an ULTRA dusty business, so DO wear a mask and goggles, sand outside if possible, or certainly in an area that can be easily cleared up , or is well protected. Sand in the direction of the grain, if there is any.
Sanding will always be a matter of personal choice, and will vary from project to project. My best advice — as with everything — is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE learn by being hands on with the materials; as ever, don’t make your first project Aunt Betty’s old family heirloom dresser, begin with things that don’t matter so you can make mistakes, because mistakes are how you learn. Sanding blocks are great for big, flat expanses of surface, but again are often a matter of personal choice. I generally get annoyed with them and ditch them half way through sanding something. I also sometimes use nail files/emery boards for small, tricky areas. You can get sandpaper at your local DIY shop, the big DIY chains and Amazon do a good range, especially when it comes to the finer grades. My Grandad used to swear by something could Flour Paper (also known as Cabinet Paper) for the best finish, I haven’t tried it as yet but I plan to, and will share the results with you on here when I do. Some people use wire wool to rub back and finish, but personally I can’t stand handling the stuff (I must have been a mouse in a previous life) so rarely use it.
Hope the above has been informative and, along with my other blogs, has encouraged you to have a go at a project with chalk paint, the only rule is that it should be fun 🙂 If you have any questions or comments on this article please feel free to leave them in the comments below, or if you follow our Facebook page you can ask questions and leave comments there 🙂 J x