Make Your Own Chalk Paint and Save Money
Chalk paint is often confused with chalkboard paint, but it is completely different. Chalk paint has such rich qualities about it that it makes it ideal for crafts.
I use a lot of chalk paint for my crafts, especially necklace boards, jewelry boxes, and my home décor pieces. Plus it’s perfect to work with if you like the distressed shabby look – which I do!
But buying already made chalk paint can be pretty expensive. Out of necessity and through experience, I’ve learned how to
make my own for a fraction of the cost. Not only is it not hard to make, the ingredients are readily available in craft and hardware stores, and they are cheap. The most expensive thing you’ll need to buy is the paint.
Personally, I use mostly acrylic paint, but also some latex. I just got hooked on the acrylic paints when I started out. I love the colors and the ease of using it. And it cleans up very nicely, I think even better than latex. But .. no worries. You can use whatever you have on hand.
When I make my chalk paint, I mix up small portions at a time. Most of the pieces I paint for my online shops are pretty small. I sometimes use cold drink cups left over from those wonderful McDonald’s McCafe or Starbucks drinks. They don’t crack as easily as some plastic disposable cups, plus they come with a tight pop-on lid that prevents spills. (The cup itself is even top shelf dishwasher safe.) Remember to tape over the X used for the straw to keep out air that will eventually thicken or dry the paint.
Chalk Paint Recipe
This is the recipe I use for my crafts. As I said, I make it in pretty small portions, usually no more than a cup or cup-and-a-half at a time for my small pieces. Which works great because if I don’t like the color, not much is wasted. And it’s easy enough to make another batch as I need it. So here goes.
Ingredients, listed in order of mixing into the cup
- Wooden craft stick for stirring
- Water, usually don’t need more than 1-2 T to start.
As you mix up your batch, you can add more in DROPS, only if you need it. Remember this recipe makes a pretty small amount of chalk paint.
- Plaster of Paris, 1-2 teaspoons
If you don’t already have this on hand, just buy a small box to begin. I got mine at Lowe’s. You likely won’t need the 5# bag for a while.
- 2-3 oz acrylic or latex paint –any brand.
Many of the acrylic craft paints like Apple Barrel come in 2 oz. bottles. I prefer the matte finish, but sometimes depending on the project, glossy works best, so use whatever you like.
- Elmer‘s or some type of white glue – about 1-2T
- Mix the water and Plaster of Paris – just swoosh in cup or stir with a wooden craft stick. It stirs up quickly. Too much of the P.P. could make your paint harden or thicken quickly. Or it may cause it to form clumps in the leftovers on down the line. If it does clump, just add a few drops of water at a time and stir with your craft stick.
Too thin and you will not get good coverage on your painted piece.
- Then add the paint and stir with your craft stick.
- When it’s well mixed, add the Elmer’s or white glue. I never measure, just estimate and blob some in.
The white glue is used as a binder. It also gives it a creamier texture which makes for better coverage. It also adds to the paint’s durability.
Note: In case you are going for an EXACT color paint, I should tell you that both the white glue and the plaster of Paris may lighten the color of your paint ever so slightly.
[Glue has traditionally been used in the making of paints and varnishes since the time of the Pharaohs. Once upon a time and not so long ago, glue was made from animal skins or hides, hence the phrase when horse is put down, it is said to be “sent to the glue factory.” Now animal hides are not used so much, but still sometimes, mostly by individuals making their own glue.]
Now comes the fun part – Paint Your Beautiful Craft Piece! Yay for fun! I usually apply 2-3 coats for good coverage, especially if I’m going to distress a piece.
Time-saving and Brush-saving Tips
- Rather than washing your brushes out between every coat of paint, stick them into a zipped up baggie. Even if the whole of the brush won’t fit down into the bag, zip it as best you can without bending the bristles. That will keep it from drying out, and will keep it handy for touch-ups.
- When the project is completed, wash your brushes with mild soap and water, lie them flat to dry.
- Make sure to pop the lid on the cup of paint when its not being used, or cover it with some air tight wrap like Press ‘n Seal or Saran Wrap.
- Over a period of weeks or months, if the paint thickens a little, simply thin it by stirring in a few drops of water at a time.
- For paint that is too thin, simply add more plaster-of-paris in small amounts until you get the thickness you want.