Sunday, October 9, 2011

DIY Chalk Paint vs. ASCP

After reading Korrie's post on DIY Chalk Paint over at Red Hen Home, I decided I just had to mix up a little paint and try it for myself.  If it would work, then WOW what a money saver it could be.  I had just been to Robyn Story Designs that very afternoon to pick up a couple of cans of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) and I walked away with a much lighter wallet although I was excited about the colors that I chose.

I just couldn't stop thinking about the DIY solution, however, and I had come upon this little desk on Saturday for $15 and I really wanted to paint it blue with a walnut finish top. was not one of the ASCP paints I had purchased.

So, I grabbed an old can of Sherwin Williams paint in the color "Rain" which is a pale blue.  I had used it in our guest room on the walls and had about a half gallon left over.

Mr. 1101 was definitely up for the challenge of re-finishing the top with a walnut stain so he got to work right away.

In the mean time, I mixed my paint.  I decided to use baking soda rather than the grout that Korrie had used.  She had said she had to do lots of sanding to get the "grit" out and I thought I'd rather avoid that step.  Sherry over at No Minimalist Here had stated that she used Calcium Carbonate and when I looked that up on the internet, I found a site that said it was a substitute for baking soda. 

So, I decided on baking soda.

The recipe was two parts paint to one part powder.

So, I mixed up my paint (added a tad of water) and stirred and stirred and stirred.

I went right to painting. (No prep on the desk what so ever...but I'll say it really didn't need any prep no matter what type of paint I chose.  The former owner had only stained it.  There was no topcoat on it anyway).

It did dry a bit gritty.  So, I did have to sand it but it was very easy to sand it smooth.

Here are some photos that I'm hoping you can see the difference between the sanded drawer and the untouched drawer:

I was immediately excited about how easily this sanded and how beautifully it distressed. This was, afterall a latex paint and in the past, I've had trouble with peeling paint when I distress using latex which is why I don't use it on furniture.  But dried quickly and distressed nicely.

I did use ASCP dark wax to age it.  I alway have trouble with that and it was no different on this project.

I apologize for the coloring of this photo.  Mr. 1101 and I moved the desk to three different locations (inside and out) trying to get a photo that showed the true color but it just wouldn't come out blue.  Even with the photo tools, it just isn't very attractive.  Most of my photos make it look grey.

Once again, Mr. 1101 did a great job on the top.  I think it is the prettiest part of the desk.

So, here is my opinion if you care...

I loved it as an occassional solution.  It is not something I would use all of the time.
In fact, I would NEVER use this solution on a piece with many details or little grooves.  You would never be able to sand those parts smooth and then when the wax (if you use a wax) touches the unsanded parts, it will just make it look dirty.  I have a few spots like that on this desk.

I would like to try this again and top it with a polyacrylic rather than with a wax.  Even though there are two coats of wax on this desk (clear followed by dark), it still does not have the nice smooth, professional feel of ASCP.

It opens up lots of possibilities on colors that I did not previously have simply because ASCP is so expensive.  And, I expect I will use it often for painting my signs. 

However, there is one more important note that you should be aware of
I stored my left over paint mixture in  a sealed container for future use.  Five days later, I used it to paint a board for a sign.  Unfortunately, the odor was quite foul!  OK.  In better stunk to high heavens!!!  I wonder if, like milk paint, it must be used within a day or two of mixing.  I did paint the sign and functionally, it worked great (I'll show in a future post).  I'm hoping once I add the top coat, it will no longer smell.

I won't stop using ASCP (and other fine professional furniture grade paints that I use) for furniture.    But it is a wonderful tool to have in my little painting tool box.

Thanks, Korri and Sherry (and whoever else has reviewed this) for sharing this idea.

I am so inspired by the many talented people I meet out here in blog land.

Please keep the ideas coming and if you've tried a DIY chalk paint, I'd love to hear your thoughts & feedback in my comments.


Linking up to:


  1. I think it looks great! I've never had any problems with latex paint but acrylics in the can seem to "pull off" as you paint next to an already applied area. Grrrr! This is beautifully aged and it looks aqua on my pc. I especially like the way you left the top with the grain of wood showing. Lovely.

    I found you on Common Ground.


  2. This looks amazing! I havent tried ASCP because of the hefty price tag, so its good to know that there's a decent substitute!

  3. I never thought about baking soda as a substitute. I used plaster of paris and it worked out okay as well. Desk looks gorgeous!

  4. Your desk looks great! I just purchased my first can of ASCP last week, and painted a table for my daughter's room, I liked the finish somewhat, but I can't justify paying that much for a little can of paint. I will have to try your method out, and yes, it does open up a world of possibilities with different colors. Thanks for a great tip.

  5. Thanks for the comparison. The desk looks great. Have you tried the Pure white from AS yet? I was wondering how different it is from the Old White.

  6. I'm so glad that you shared your experience, Fran! I'm lazy though, so I probably would just buy the chalk paint. In fact, I have a gray ASCP sample pot I think I'm going to try on a little stool. Love the blue you chose and I always seem to have a heavy hand with the dark wax and always wind up coming back in with the clear wax to "clean it up". The stained top looks wonderful. Your hubby did a great job!

  7. Thanks for sharing an honest opinion. Not sure I would try it, but it is a great alternative for sure. Your desk turned out fabulous. Thanks for sharing with the newbie party.

  8. Hello Fran,

    I just joined the Amaze Me Monday link party and had to smile when I found myself right next to a post comparing homemade to Annie Sloan chalk paint.....too funny ;->

    Come visit and you will see why....maybe we were meant to meet???

    I enjoyed your post and you seemed to confirm a few of my thoughts on the subject.

    Have a great week!

    Janet xox

  9. Lovely DIY!!! I haven't tried my hand at DIY's so far, but very much tempted now. The desk looks so so gorgeous and I love the color I see on it as it is :-)

  10. Baking soda? Really? You amaze me! I think the desk looks great, and your review is very valuable! Thank you.

  11. Thanks for the info! Your desk looks great :) It's a nice shade of blue, you must have been in the zone it would have taken me a week to do this restyle! Have a great week!!

  12. The desk looks fantastic. Thanks for the insight on the DIY Chalk Paint. I had seen this posted before and wondered how that would I know!

  13. Fran, what a great transformation! This looks great! I saw your post on Debbiedoo's newbie party. I am a newbie, as well and your newest follower! I hope you will follow back! Blessings to you!!!

  14. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have been wanting to do my own trial of the homemade chalk paint, but it's so nice to hear your out come. I love the color you choose for the desk. Great job :D

  15. I love this idea! thanks for sharing, im your new follower :)

  16. I think your desk turned out great!! Thanks for the heads up on baking soda being same as calcium carbonate...lot easier to find :)
    Have you tried milk paint? I'm starting to hear more about it these days!

  17. Hi Fran! What a great job on that desk! I appreciate you trying out the DIY chalk paint. It's so interesting to hear about the difference experiences everyone posts about mixing/using it. I, too, am still in the learning curve with the dark wax. I am discovering that less is more with it! :)

    xoxo laurie

  18. very cool finish...and you're right about having lots of options.

    found you via boogieboard cottage and clicked on your link b/c your desk looks like a sibling of the dresser i submitted!

    but you got a better deal!!


  19. Hi Fran, your desk turned out great and I loved reading your diy paint mixing. You had me up to the stinky part!

  20. I'm experimenting with gesso, latex/acrylic paint, and whiting...also universal colors or powders mix well with gesso...whiting adds "chalky" texture when a lot of paint is mixed with gesso...gesso (the real thing) is made from rabbit skin glue and whiting...the glue contributes to the "sticking" qualities of the faux ASPC...suspect the real thing is some variation of these products, with interesting to hire a chemist to analyze. yes? Gayle

  21. Sorry,

  22. seriously. this was just an awesome post! Would you pretty please with a cherry on top share this at my first ever Trash to Treasure Tuesday link party over on Kammy's Korner?! I think many readers would benefit from it since everyone's into chalk paint these days!!! :)

  23. I find that if you mix the clear wax and the dark together it works, its easier to use. I actually heat it up in the microwave a bit. I use a foam disc or microfiber cloth. Then I use my buffer that I bought for waxing my car. Works amazing:)

  24. looks great! thanks so much for sharing this. I'm so excited to try it out!! I'd love it if you linked this up to my blog party!

  25. Thanks so much for linking up to Motivational Monday @ :) Hope you come link up again tomorrow!

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  28. Hey Fran, I am the Necie half of Necie Bean,, Since Beth couldn't get anything to post I've placed her email to you below and as you can see I'm trying. Beth had so much fun talking to your Aunt today. We just can't wait to meet her. Sounds as though you are going through the experimentation phase we went through before surrendering and just plain old admitting that ASCP is the best! There is so much to learn and do with it ASCP that it is almost limitless. The price... well we decided that given the amount of sq.ft. coverage, ease of use, and beauty as well as quality of the pieces we had done we were hooked... and so neciebean ASCP addicts and stockist. Necie

    Hi Fran, I am the Bean half of Necie Bean, ASCP stockist in Winston-Salem, NC ( and I just hung up with your Aunt Betty. She called and was bragging on you and asked me to look at the free dining room table post on your blog and lo and behold, I have been to your site several times this year admiring your work. (I am just not smart enough to know how to comment on your blog as I told Betty I would do - ha! -so I am sending an email.) Just wanted to say hello and tell you what a sweet Aunt you have and what beautiful work you are doing.

    Happy painting!

  29. Hey! I tried the baking soda route too and found that it worked for me. I have some that's been sitting for a week or two and it doesn't smell at all...wonder if the paint mixed in makes a difference?

    Great, informative post and I'd have to agree that using it on an ornate piece would be difficult. Still not ready to buy the real stuff ... maybe when all my leftover paint is gone, I'll take the plunge ;)

  30. Just as an FYI Sodium Bicarbonate is the active ingredient in Baking Soda. Calcium Carbonate is what chalk is made out of. Not sure if using Calcium Carbonate would make a huge difference or not. I sooo want to try this but I always get cold feet on because I am afraid to mess up. I'll let you know my results if I ever stop being such a weiney!

  31. You can also use a couple of tablespoons of drywall joint compound powder. You can also use this to make a chalkboard in any color.

  32. Thanks for this great post and all the comments! My question is about the wax: where do I get this famous clear wax and dark wax? I've searched and searched online and am still not clear on whether I have to order the Annie Sloan brand online, or can find something local at Lowe's or Home Depot. Can anyone advise?


    1. I saw on No Minimalist here blog that she uses Briwax, you can get a lowes.

  33. I find if you use too much of the plaster of paris or baking soda or grout, the paint is too gritty.
    I experimented on many different pieces and found the mix that is right for me--1 heaping tablespoon of plaster of paris mixed with 2 teaspoons of water until VERY smooth. You may need to add a little more water, but it should be very smooth and slightly thick. Add that to a 7.5 fluid ounce paint sample of Behr paint and primer in 1. Stir and then cover and shake.
    I do sand lightly between coats (and only put on 2 coats) with a fine sanding sponge. It comes out very smooth and the paint stores well without a problem.
    It does take more elbow grease to sand down for the distressed look, but I still love it. I end with the Minwax finishing paste and it is smooth as silk.
    I paid $6 for the plaster of paris and it will last for a really long time, $3 for the paint sample which should be good for 2-3 projects depending on their size and $11 for the finishing paste which will also last for a really long time too. It is the same size as Annie Sloan wax and you use much less than what you need for that wax. And the finishing paste is much more user friendly that even though I spend more time sanding down for the distressed look, I save it by not having to buff the wax so much. The paint also dries really fast. Not as fast as ASCP, but you can still finish a project in 1 night.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome info with us, Susan. I will have to try this on a future project.

  34. I used the baking soda recipe and my problem is that when you add the soda to the paint it gets really runny. Do you think it is due to the paint brand? The paint seemed nice and thick till I added the soda. I used 2/3 paint to 1/3 soda.

  35. Hi there, its been so long that you posted this, I don't know if this is relevant for you now, BUT.... here is another chalk paint alternative: NO SANDING. ONE COAT. MAKES PAINT GO FARTHER. I love love love this stuff. here's the email I sent another blogger-- share away if you want to.

    corn starch. The stuff is awesome. I put in "some" (a teaspoon?? tablespoon? I never measure) into some paint- enough to do 2 flat lazy susans. It ended up foaming up a bit in a weird puffy texture. Interestingly, it made MORE paint- (yaaay!). It took one coat, dried fast, didn't need sanding, felt smooth. What was left over actually thickened more the next day. I ended up having enough to do those things plus a small set of drawers, a foot rest, 2 baskets and a shoe box. I hadn't even used 1/4 to 1/3 of the little pint.

    I admit to haphazardly painting the things, tho, it gives that "dark wax" look without having to do the wax, but it still went way farther than I thought it would.

    I can't find anything that I don't like about it. Its just gorgeous. It even makes any other paint matte, too, even the super glossy. I've used all the stuff you find at Lowe's in the "discard" pile for $2.50-$5.00.

    Just sharing something fun and easy.

    1. I've used corn starch, even though you don't hear much about it. The coverage was great and it stores well. I didn't experience any smell or change that a good shaking didn't take care of.

  36. Hi, I have read so much about latex paint. Unfortunately I do not know what that is. Where I live (Africa) are available: oil paint and water paint.
    Is latex paint possibly one of these two, just been called differently?
    Thanks for your help.. :-)


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