Frequently Asked Questions
Chalk Paint® decorative paint & Annie Sloan Soft Wax
Q. Do I need to sand before painting with Chalk Paint®?
A. Chalk Paint® decorative paint adheres to almost any surface, indoors and outside, and there’s rarely a need to sand or prime before painting. Most times cleaning and dusting off the surface will do. There may be times, however, when you’ll need to sand to remove loose paint, rust, and other surface debris, or when the surface is very glossy (this includes melamine and laminates). Remember to change out your piece of sandpaper when it becomes clogged with old paint, etc. A fresh sheet makes the task at hand easier to accomplish.
Q. What is the best way to apply Chalk Paint®?
A. Typically Chalk Paint® decorative paint is applied by brush. Enjoy your painting and don’t be shy with your brush. Apply the paint liberally. Some brush marks showing in the finish can be part of the look.
For a demonstration on how Annie herself applies Chalk Paint®, visit her official YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/user/AnnieSloanOfficial and watch her Chalk Paint® Tutorials No. 1 and No. 2.
Q. What type of brush should I use to apply Chalk Paint®?
A. Your brush doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to have certain qualities because working with bad brushes can be very frustrating. A brush that is made of natural bristle works best. The bristles should be fairly long and flexible with a little bounce to allow you to be expressive in your work. Don’t choose brushes with bristles that are too short since the paint will not flow well, and don’t use a brush with hard and inflexible bristles, because the paint will look scratchy. Don’t have a floppy brush either because you will have to work too hard to make the paint spread.
Annie Sloan’s oval Pure Bristle Brushes are excellent for applying both Chalk Paint® decorative paint and Annie Sloan Soft Wax. These brushes give you the freedom to paint expressively, they hold lots of paint, and they are comfortable to hold and easy to work with.
Q. I am planning to paint an unfinished piece of furniture with Chalk Paint®. Are there any special preparation steps I need to take?
A. Chalk Paint® decorative paint can be applied over new, untreated wood with ease. However, on wood that has wood knots and/or open grain, you should first apply one or two coats of clear shellac, a natural non-toxic sealer, with a cloth pad to block any tannins that can bleed up through your new layers of paint. This is particularly important on pine, oak, and mahogany.
Q. I am looking for the perfect color for my project. Do you have any suggestions for mixing colors to get the color I need?
A. The best way for you to find the perfect color for your project is to visit your local Annie Sloan Stockist. Each of our Stockists has been trained in the Annie Sloan Method and they can guide you with making the perfect choices. If you don’t know who is your local Stockist, please visit www.anniesloanunfolded.com and click on “Find a Retailer.” Enter your zip code and a listing of Stockists closest to you will appear.
There is also a very informative chapter on working with paint colors in Annie Sloan’s latest book, Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and More, including tips for mixing colors and layering one color over another. This book also contains 40 step-by-step projects using Chalk Paint® decorative paint and Annie Sloan Soft Wax. It is available from your local Annie Sloan Stockist, booksellers, and online.
Q. Are Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax good choices for kitchen and bathroom cabinets?
A. Yes! You can use Chalk Paint® decorative paint on most wood cabinetry. Chalk Paint® is meant to give character and interest to cabinetry rather than a perfectly smooth “factory” finish. Typically there is no need to sand or prime although in areas that receive a lot of use, like the cutlery drawer, it might be wise. Apply at least two coats of paint and then two or three coats of Annie Sloan Soft Wax for protection, allowing each wax coat to dry 24 hours before applying the next. Soft Wax makes a good bond to the paint for durability. You can easily maintain your finish by simply wiping the surface with a soft cloth and mild soap and water to clean, and refresh every now and again with a light application of wax as needed.
Q. I would like to distress my finish for a more aged look. What is the easiest way to do this?
A. With Chalk Paint® decorative paint distressing is no longer an arduous chore. Most finishes are best when just a bit of paint is evenly rubbed away here and there using fine grit sandpaper. This will be easier to do if you apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax first. This will also reduce any sanding dust, helping to keep your workspace clean.
Q. Is Graphite Chalk Paint® a true black?
A. The Chalk Paint® decorative paint palette doesn’t include a true black. Graphite Chalk Paint®, which is almost a black, is not a simple, hard color but a mellow, sophisticated one. You can create a darker appearance to Graphite by first applying a layer of Aubusson Blue Chalk Paint®. Follow this with a coat of Graphite. When the paint is dry, apply Annie Sloan Dark Soft Wax. You can also mix a bit of Aubusson Blue into the dark wax to make an almost black wax.
Q. Are Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax safe for use on baby cribs, etc?
A. Absolutely! Both Chalk Paint® decorative paint and Annie Sloan Soft Wax are safe to use on furniture destined for baby and child use. However, before putting the item to use, please allow these materials to harden and cure for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Expectant mothers should not apply Soft Wax themselves but find someone else to do so instead.
Q. Can I paint my walls with Chalk Paint®?
A. Chalk Paint® decorative paint can be used to give both old and new walls depth and interest and even a bit of texture. Apply one or more coats of paint with a brush or roller for coverage and let dry. You can leave the paint as is, but some like to apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax over the paint for a really smart polished look.
Q. Can I paint my melamine or laminate furniture with Chalk Paint®?
A. There are many success stories from people who have painted their melamine or laminate furniture with Chalk Paint® decorative paint, including pieces from IKEA. A little bit of prep and some patience are needed. New IKEA pieces may be coated with a light oily film for packing and shipping purposes and this should be removed with a cloth moistened with mineral spirits. Lightly sand the melamine or laminate with fine grit sandpaper and dust off. Next, apply a thin first coat of paint, and let dry about 48 hours to encourage the paint to bond to the surface. After that, you can continue painting for your desired look.
Q. Can I paint my kitchen countertops and backsplash with Chalk Paint®?
A. It is not advisable. Chalk Paint® decorative paint, even when sealed with a quality sealer such as Annie Sloan Soft Wax or Annie Sloan Lacquer, will not be 100% non-porous and this can present problems with cross contamination. The surface may look clean but it may not be deep down into the finish.
Q. Can I paint the brick around my fireplace with Chalk Paint®?
A. Although Chalk Paint® decorative paint can be applied over many brick, stone, and concrete surfaces, you should first check with your local government offices to see if it is permissible to paint around your fireplace. Every county or province in North America, Australia, or New Zealand has a set of building codes, including codes that may restrict the application of paint within a certain distance from the firebox.
Q. I am painting a piece of furniture with Chalk Paint® and a yellow stain has appeared in my new paint layer. How do I cover it?
A. Yellow or pink stains can appear in your new paint layers when painting over pieces previously finished with a non-colorfast stain (typically found on older pieces from the 1930’s and 1940’s) or certain woods with open grain, such as oak and mahogany. When this happens, don’t worry. Apply one or two coats of clear shellac, a natural non-toxic sealer, with a cloth pad to stop this happening. There is no need to remove the stained coat of Chalk Paint®; you can apply shellac directly on top. Shellac dries in minutes, and then you can get on with your painting!
Q. Can I apply Chalk Paint® over a surface that was previously finished with linseed oil?
A. Linseed oil, a finishing product used to restore wood's natural moisture, is typically found on vintage pieces of furniture with a stained finish. Unless it has weathered to the point of almost being gone, the surface may not be receptive to new paint. Clean well and apply one or two coats of clear shellac, a natural non-toxic sealer. Chalk Paint® decorative paint can then be applied as you would on any other wood surface.
Q. I have painted my project with Chalk Paint® and the paint is not sticking in some areas. What should I do?
A. A clean surface is important for any paint project, especially on items from the kitchen or bathroom. Sand the areas where the paint is not sticking to remove the loose paint and then inspect the surface. Remove any old greasy, waxy or oily residues with a soft rag moistened with mineral spirits. Then clean with soap and water. Use a Scotch Brite pad to lightly scrub the surface, and a soft brush to work into open grain and intricate carvings. Rinse well with a clean rag and warm water and let the piece dry completely. Then reapply your Chalk Paint® decorative paint.
Q. What is the best way to apply Soft Wax?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax should always be applied in thin layers using a brush or cloth, gently spreading and pushing the wax into the underlying paint so it absorbs (just like hand cream!). Work in manageable sections and remove the excess wax with clean absorbent cloths as you go. Change to a clean cloth frequently as an old one can become clogged with wax and become ineffective. Let the remaining thin layer of wax dry before buffing. This process can be as little as 10 – 20 minutes, but 2 hours or even overnight can sometimes be best. You will know when the wax is dry when the surface no longer feels cool or damp to the touch. Once dry you can buff with soft cotton cloths. Buffing lightly will produce a satin sheen, while more vigorous buffing can produce a higher sheen or even a gloss. If the wax has been properly applied and all of the excess wax has been removed, your finish should feel dry, and never oily or sticky.
For a demonstration on how Annie herself applies Soft Wax, visit her official YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/user/AnnieSloanOfficial and watch her Chalk Paint® Tutorials No. 1 and No. 2.
Q. I use spray furniture polish when dusting my furniture. I recently tried to paint one of my pieces with Chalk Paint® and the paint cracked in some spots. How can I fix this?
A. Many spray furniture polishes contain dimethicone, a silicone used as a film former to protect surfaces. This silicone can cause cracks to appear in your paint layers, especially along edges. Sand the affected areas with fine grit sandpaper and then seal the surface, including the remaining paint, with one or two coats of shellac, a natural non-toxic sealer, applied with a cloth pad. Shellac dries in minutes, and you can then get on with your painting!
Q. I finished my project with Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax and now I’ve changed my mind about the color. Can I paint over my finish?
A. Of course! One of the key features about working with Chalk Paint® decorative paint is it’s easy to change your mind. You can apply another coat or two of Chalk Paint® over your previous finish, and then seal your new paint layers with Annie Sloan Soft Wax.
Q. Can Soft Wax be used on outside projects?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax should be used on interior projects only. It is not suitable for outdoor use.
Q. Now that I have painted a table for our kitchen with Chalk Paint®, I want to put a durable finish on it that I can clean frequently. We have kids and we all tend to be kind of rough on things. What should I use?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax, once hardened and cured, provides a durable finish that is easy to maintain. Apply two or three coats of Soft Wax for protection, allowing each coat to dry 24 hours before applying the next to get the extra durability you need. You can easily maintain your finish by simply wiping the surface with a soft cloth and mild soap and water, and refresh every now and again with a light application of wax as needed. When scratches, stains, and watermarks happen to your wax finish, they are easily fixed with just a bit more wax rubbed into the marked area with a soft cloth.
Q. How long will it take for my new finish to harden and cure?
A. Chalk Paint® decorative paint will take approximately 30 days to harden and cure, a process that takes significantly longer than drying, and Annie Sloan Soft Wax will take about 4 to 6 weeks. All finishes prefer warm, dry conditions during the curing process. Cold temperatures, high humidity, and application thickness will extend drying and curing time substantially. You can use your newly finished piece during the curing process; however, it should be treated gently and with respect. Avoid placing objects that would scratch or otherwise damage the surface. Wipe up any spills immediately and avoid any harsh cleaning.
Q. How do I care for my new finish?
A. Furniture finished with Chalk Paint® decorative paint and Annie Sloan Soft Wax stand up very well to everyday wear and tear. Treat your furniture with respect. Allow your new finish to harden and cure 30 days or longer before placing items that may scratch the surface. Avoid excessive water. Use coasters under water glasses and placemats on dining tables. Clean with a soft cloth and avoid all liquid furniture polishes. To clean marks or stains, use a slightly damp cloth or chamois with a little mild soap. Keep your piece away from extreme temperatures or humidity. Waxes dissolve in alcohol, so using wax on bars is not advisable!
Q. I would like to apply another layer of Soft Wax for additional protection, but will this cause the wax to build up, making the surface sticky?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax builds up only if you fail to remove all of the excess wax after each application. Each time you apply a new coat of wax, the solvents in it dissolve the underlying wax, making one new mixture. When you remove all of the excess wax you will be left with the wax that is stuck on the surface. It’s easy to remove the excess wax by wiping it away with a clean absorbent cloth. You will want to have several cloths on hand and switch to a clean one when your old one becomes clogged with wax.
Q. Can I apply another clear protective material over Soft Wax?
A. Once Annie Sloan Soft Wax is applied, no other protective finish can be applied to your project. Attempting to add another coating, such as Annie Sloan Lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane, over a wax finish is futile.
Q. I placed a water glass on my new finish and it left a mark. How do I repair this?
A. Annie Sloan Soft Wax offers water resistance but it is not waterproof. Spills should be wiped up as soon as possible. If spills remain on the surface, the moisture can penetrate through the wax coating and leave a mark. These marks should disappear as the moisture evaporates, but if not you can use a bit of Soft Wax on a soft cloth to rub it out.
Q. How do I clean my brush after I have used it to apply Soft Wax?
A. Your brushes used to apply Annie Sloan Soft Wax can be easily cleaned with very warm water and a grease cutting soap. This method is good if the wax is still fresh on the brush. If you find the wax has hardened on your brush, soak the bristles in low-odor mineral spirits for approximately 5 minutes to dissolve the wax, and then wash the brush.
Q. My finish feels sticky and leaves fingerprints. What can I do?
A. Don’t worry if this happens. It is easily fixed by simply applying another thin layer of wax. The new layer of wax will soften or “melt” the underlying wax. Work in manageable sections at the time and remove all of the excess wax with clean soft cloths as your go. Have several cloths available and change to a clean one when the old one becomes clogged with wax.
Annie Sloan Lacquer
Q. What is the best way to apply Annie Sloan Lacquer?
A. Apply Annie Sloan Lacquer with a quality sponge roller and/or brush. Pour the Lacquer out into another container and stir well before using. Apply two thin coats for even sheen and greater durability. A small amount of water (up to 10%) can be added to the Lacquer for the first coat. Let the first coat dry one to two hours before recoating, and leave the final coat to dry overnight before walking on it.
Q. Can I seal my outdoor patio with Annie Sloan Lacquer?
A. Annie Sloan Lacquer was designed for use on interior floors only, and it is not recommended for use in areas where there will be a lot of water. It is not suitable for outdoor use.
Annie Sloan Craqueleur
Q. What size cracks can I expect when using Annie Sloan Craqueleur?
A. That’s hard to say because the cracks can vary widely depending on the thickness of application. It is always wise to do a test piece first. Thinner applications will give you smaller cracks whereas thicker applications produce larger cracks, but don’t apply these materials too thick. If you apply two coats of Step 1 you will get a larger crack, but if you feather or overwork Step 2 the crack is likely to be smaller.
Q. My Step 2 has become thick and is difficult to use. Is the product okay?
A. The product is fine. Place the container in a bowl of very hot water where the warmth will thin it out. You can also dip the tip of your brush into very hot water, wiping it off so that the tip is moist (but not wet), to make it easier to paint.
Q. Can I use Craqueleur in a bathroom or kitchen where there is a lot of moisture?
A. It is not advisable. Excessive moisture can cause the cracks to reactivate and the paintwork to become milky in appearance.
Annie Sloan Decoupage Glue and Varnish
Q. Do I have to wait for one coat to dry before applying the next?
A. Yes. Always allow the Decoupage Glue and Varnish to dry well between each coat. The time this takes will vary depending on the temperature of your workspace, the thickness of your decoupage medium, and the thickness of your decoupage paper. You can speed the drying process along with the aid of a hair dryer.
Q. A couple of bubbles have appeared under my decoupage piece and I don’t seem to be able to smooth it out. I don’t want to damage the paper. What can I do?
A. Air bubbles in your decoupage paper can be carefully pricked with a pin to release the air. Gently smooth the bubbled area down with a brush, cloth, or roller, and apply another coat of Decoupage Glue and Varnish.
Q. Should I use sandpaper to smooth my decoupage finish?
A. For a very smooth embedded look where the edges of your paper are no longer visible, first apply several layers of Decoupage Glue and Varnish. Paint each coat in the opposite direction; i.e., one coat horizontally and the next vertically. Smooth, if needed, by gently sanding over the dry finish lightly using very fine wet/dry black sandpaper. Dip the sandpaper in water and sand gently. Then wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth before painting on the next few layers. Repeat, as necessary, until you have achieved your desired look.
Q. How many layers of Decoupage Glue and Varnish are required?
A. This is dependent on the look you wish to achieve, and could range from one layer to as many as it takes for an embedded look. For a finish where the decoupage will be completed with Annie Sloan Craqueleur, a few layers of Decoupage Glue and Varnish will probably be okay. If you wish the paper to look more embedded, give the piece more layers until you can no longer feel the edge of the paper. The advantage of Decoupage Glue and Varnish is that it is thick, so you will need fewer layers to achieve a professional look.
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