Watching Paint Dry…

Painting things with Chalk Paint is a quick and easy job, right? It is the holy grail of  paint for the impatient, yes?… Err, well… sorry to disappoint you, but no. Whatever it says on the tin of your well-known brand, or even if you have read my last blog and are now making your own, the truth about chalk paint is, if you want a good end result, it DOES need some preparation and it DOES need time to dry off well between coats. I spoke about preparation in my last blog but this short article is about, well — watching paint dry! P1070142.JPG

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past year of doing up furniture is patience! Now, this has never, ever been one of my noted virtues, and it hasn’t come easy, but numerous tear-inducing disasters have taught me that letting things dry thoroughly and not rushing it definitely pays off in the end. I was, without a doubt,  far too impetuous and impatient with my early projects — not only with the paint but with decoupage and varnishes too — and boy, have I paid the price many times. There is nothing more soul-destroying than lifting a mask to find you laid it far too early and it simply takes the base layer of paint off with it. Or for the varnish to bubble, because you didn’t give the layer beneath time to dry thoroughly. P1070208

At the moment I am working on a Bohemian-inspired chest of drawers, it is a very intricate project involving lots of paint and decoupage techniques in layers, and it is taking weeks and weeks because I am now at a point with my creations where I have learned, the excruciatingly hard way, to paint a layer and walk away… walk away and leave it for at least 24 hours – if not 48… or even more sometimes, especially when masking. I have learned to go off and do something else, and completely forget about the object. I used to be absolutely hopeless, going back every 10 minutes to poke and prod to see if the paint was dry, and if it was no longer wet, on I would rush with the second coat, or the varnish! The thing is, although the paint may be dry on the surface. it probably won’t be thoroughly dry, or in any way hardened; I estimate chalk paint takes at the very least 2 weeks to harden off properly – and drying is always dependent upon the atmospheric conditions at the time. Exactly the same goes for decoupage, and my major nemesis — varnish! So much can go wrong with varnish, as I know too well, and you are left with a perfect piece ruined in the last stages because you rushed the varnish! 22339480_494793144220552_3755728090118268155_o

I once rushed a sign which had white lettering with a red foreground, the paint had been left to dry for days but wasn’t completely hard, and when I brushed the varnish on it immediately picked up the red pigment in the paint and I watched in horror as it merrily turned my lovely white lettering pink! I know it is frustrating to have to wait when you are so excited about your latest creation and you just want to see it done, and I know I am lucky, I have a workroom where I can leave a piece drying undisturbed, but my advice to any of you doing what I do, time and patience are your greatest allies in your quest for that perfect, well-finished piece.


A Few Words on Sanding Chalk Paint…

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.Image result for sandpapersSandpaper 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.Image result for black sandpaper

“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.20712416_1601184943266806_7785725686928375808_n

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