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I have a confession – Even though I don’t post a ton of DIY on here, I’m pretty obsessed with it! Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about some of the projects I’ve posted on FB and IG – like when I posted about painting my kitchen cabinets – so I thought I’d write a quick blog post to answer them! If you like it, I may just have to post more!
So many DIY’ers and skilled painters love to use chalk. Why is chalk paint the best for painting kitchen cabinets and old furniture?
- Chalk paint has a beautiful smooth matte finish,
- The best chalk paints adhere well to any surface
- Chalk paint doesn’t chip
- Chalk paint is usually low VOC and non-toxic
With chalk paint, you typically don’t need to sand, rarely need to prime, and can basically skip over the hard steps that usually scare people away from taking the plunge and painting something they desperately want to change.
One of the biggest (typical) downsides to chalk paint, though, is that you need to add a protective layer of wax on top of it. This step can take as long if not longer than painting and can get very messy. Worse yet, you need to redo this step every few years (or more often if it’s an especially high traffic area). Wax wears off over time – especially on something like kitchen cabinets that need to get cleaned frequently.
I love chalk paint but hate applying the wax (and the feel of the wax). You just can’t beat the adhesion and smooth texture that you get from painting with chalk paint so I felt so torn! Luckily, thanks to my obsession with DIY, my feed is routinely filled with ads for all sorts of crafty-stuff and I’m so glad it is!
After years of painting or staining everything including a previous kitchen and any furniture I could get my hands on, I finally found a paint that I LOVE! And… I found it through an ad in my feed! Thank you Facebook!
I’ve tried so many types of paints (not just chalk paint) and have lost track of how many pieces of furniture I’ve painted. I’ve also painted two full kitchens AND a tufted headboard! I can say that my new favorite brand of Chalk Paint is hands down my favorite one to work with. So much so, that my kids have joined in on the fun and paint with me often! (Even my toddler! – it’s that EASY to use!) So…
What’s the best chalk paint for furniture?
It’s Heirloom Traditions Paint! Also known of HTP!
Heirloom Traditions Paint is completely different than anything I’ve ever used before and here’s why:
- Their paint is an ALL IN ONE style paint. This means that it has a bonding primer, chalk paint, and a durable outdoor-level top coat on it! Yes, you can even use it on outdoor furniture and you never need to wax it!
- It’s low VOC and non-toxic like many chalk paints (even WITH the top coat)
- It has FLEX. Yup! You read that right! You could use this paint on an entire couch and it will give the material the smooth feel of leather and flex when you sit on it rather than cracking or chipping off. I’ve tested it on small stuff and plan to use it on our lazy-boy style chair soon!
On top of that, the founder is AMAZING and posts videos a few times a week to teach different techniques. She also does a FB live almost every week in their Facebook group to answer questions! Just search for the brand on Youtube and Facebook!
Thanks to her videos, I’ve perfected my painting technique and like I said, it’s so easy my kids can do it too!
Guide to Painting Kitchen Cabinets and Furniture with Chalk Paint
Here’s a step by step for how to paint just about anything and get flawless results. I’ll also link to the products you’ll need to get started!
Step by Step Guide to Painting with Heirloom Traditions Paint:
Step One: Degloss
This is a simple step that makes ALL the difference. In fact, I’d call it mandatory no matter what you’re painting!
This step removes dirt and oil that might be on the surface of whatever you’re painting to make sure that your paint sticks perfectly and permanently. Imagine if you’re paint is sitting on dirt that later breaks lose of the furniture – well, you’re paint is going to go with it and chip off! Same thing for oil but probably even worse! You want to remove it!
Using a deglosser also lightly etches the surface – basically roughs it up like sanding would without the need to sand and without damaging the piece in any way. It won’t REMOVE the previous coat of paint of varnish but it will lightly etch away some of it.
You’ll know it’s working when any shine your piece might have had gets dulled significantly and the surface begins to feel rough. You’ll also see clear signs of it on your rag! You’ll see the dirt, oils, and maybe even some of the prior paint or stain color come off on the rag.
To do this step, you’ll need:
- Green scrubby sponges (I got these and then cut them into smaller pieces to make them easier to work with)
- Deglosser (this one or this one are great!)
- Paper towel
- Plastic gloves
I like to pour the deglosser in a bowl, dip the sponge in the bowl and then scrub the surface. Work in small areas so that the deglosser doesn’t dry. After you scrub a bit, wipe off with a paper towel.
The type of deglosser you use is important because some need to be neutralized with water. The two I linked above do not.
You’ll also want to wear gloves because you don’t want to “etch” your skin!
And while you technically could leave the deglosser on, the whole point of this step is to remove the oils and dirt which is why we wipe it off with paper towel.
One last thing on this topic – You do NOT want to use deglosser as a regular cleaner! It should only be used on surfaces you intend to clean. I’ve seen people ask about this in the HTP Facebook group!
Step 2: Paint!
Yes seriously! After deglossing, you are ready to paint!
But there’s a technique to getting that flawless “did she use a sprayer?” finish!
To get a flawless finish, I recommend:
- Heirloom Traditions Paint
- These sponges
- A chalk paint brush like this one (I use a few different ones based on which is clean!) – optional
- A foam roller (This type though I get mine at a craft store) – optional
- An artist brush (for small spaces) – I usually buy a pack like this one at a craft store. – optional
If you just want to experiment and buy as little materials as possible to start with, I recommend getting just the paint and these sponges. You really can get away with just that and get an amazing finish! I’ve done about 1/4 of my current kitchen using just the sponges.
So what’s the special HTP Chalk Paint Technique?
Well… It all boils down to not being stingy with the paint and STIPPLING!
As the founder of HTP explains, stippling is when you knock down the brush strokes and get rid of the brush strokes. It also breaks it up and makes it stick better to just about any surface!
The only thing they don’t recommend using this paint on is:
- Floors: they haven’t done enough testing to say that it will hold up to heavy furniture being moved on it, but many people have successfully painted their floors with it and been happy!
- Things that hold water: You wouldn’t want to use this on a sink or a bathtub… you need epoxy like this one for that. Other than that, this paint will work on anything else!
So here’s the steps:
- Brush on the paint (or wipe it on with the sponge). Make sure it’s a thick coat but not dripping.
- Using the sponge lightly tap on the paint but only tap on each area once so you don’t overwork the paint which would result in bumps.
- Let it dry to touch which only takes a couple minutes…
- Brush/sponge on and stipple a second coat.
That’s seriously all there is to it! Now let it dry and you’re done!
Now if the idea of stippling scares you, or you have a really big piece and are getting tired, you can just roll on with the foam roller I linked to above. Using the roller will basically “brush” on and stipple in one step. Personally I don’t like it though because I feel like I have less control over how thick the paint goes on but the kids love this option and it’s a way to include them! I keep it handy too for when my arm gets tired of stippling!
Painting with Heirloom Traditions Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need primer?
The founder of HTP talks about this often. There’s really only one time that you NEED primer and that’s if you’re painting over something with red tones or wood with tanins as those tend to bleed through. In that case you need a blocking primer or shellak.
If you are painting something dark with a white paint, using primer is optional. She and I both prefer to NOT use primer even in those cases. That’s because it’s another product to buy and it’s a extra coat anyway so it doesn’t really save you much effort.
For example, when I painted my dark brown table white, I could have done one coat of primer and then 2-3 coats of white paint. OR, I could do 3-4 coats of white paint. It’s the same amount of work in the end and you might get lucky and not need a full coat for the last one… Buying an extra product really doesn’t seem worth it to me. Especially when you will likely end up with extra paint left over even if you don’t do the primer. That would be a lot of unused paint.
To you need to Poly?
HTP does sell a varnish (Poly is a type of varnish) for use when needed. It’s rarely needed though!
Lots of people, including me, have painted kitchen counter tops with Heirloom Traditions Paint. In this case, a coat of varish is recommended because the counters will be cleaned multiple types of day with a cleaner of some sort. Over time, that could wear through the paint.
Everything wears eventually – no paint will last indefinitely – even this paint. But this paint will last way more than others and likely wear rather than chip! So, in the case of counters that will be aggressively cleaned multiple times a day, they recommend an extra top coat.
They have two options for this:
- A clear top coat / varnish
- Tinted varnishes in case you want to add an artistic effect.
Again though, you really don’t NEED a top coat for most projects. I used it on my table top and my counters because I know that they will take a serious beating! Plus I did an artistic faux-wood-grain top on my table and I didn’t want to take any chances with it getting messed up.
There you have it! I hope this helps explain the paint, why I like it and how I use it! This was just a quick post but I’ll update it soon with more pictures and and videos if I can!
In the meantime, here’s a great video that the founder of HTP made on Youtube!