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Chalk paint is still one of my favorite mediums for a few reasons: it usually doesn’t require any sanding or priming, it dries fast, is easy to distress for a desirable rustic look, and it’s quick to clean up. Recently I was testing paint swatches in my guest bedroom and ended up with a couple of extra sample jars. That led me to wonder… Can I use a flat latex paint as a base for chalk paint? Keep reading to see the results of my experiment!
The original piece
Well, looks like I forgot to take a before picture of the end-tables I was going to paint, but here’s the matching coffee table so you can get the idea. The piece has painted, dark green legs and a natural stained wood top, with some stenciled filigrees and flowers on the top. My goal was to put down a tan base, white chalk paint on top, then distress it so the tan peaks through.
The base paint
My left-over sample was Behr Premium Plus, Flat, in Mesa Taupe. I applied it to my end-tables using my favorite Wooster “Shortcut” Brush. Since my piece was already painted/stained, I did not start with any primer or sanding and went straight in with the Behr paint. It applied well and I achieved an even base in about 2 coats.
The chalk paint
For the top layer of paint, I used the Americana Chalky Finish Paint in Everlasting. This took 2 coats to get an even look. I used my New Renaissance Chalk Paint Brush, which applies the paint nicely but you will get brush strokes. I like seeing brush strokes in my pieces – I think they add character and are an expression of the artist!
My first jar of Americana Chalky Finish Paint was sitting in storage for a few months and the texture of the paint became thick and difficult to work with. I realized too late that I needed to thin out the paint with water. Unfortunately, the first end-table has unpleasant streaking and I might have to repaint it at some point. So, watch out for consistency changes in your chalk paint and thin the product with water if needed.
After the chalk paint dried, I began distressing the piece with 220 grit sandpaper and ran into some trouble. In some areas the chalk paint and base sanded away too easily. In some instances, what I saw below was the natural wood color (no big deal), but I really didn’t like to see the green peaking through! Bummer. My assumption is the base did not adhere well enough to the surface. I think a light overall sanding before applying the first coat of paint would have helped. I applied clear wax to the table and decided to paint the second piece a little differently.
For my second end-table, I decided to sand the edges so hopefully we see the natural wood color instead of the green if the base color sands away.
After wiping away the dust, I applied the flat base the same way as I did with the first table. I started with the thinned out older chalk paint for the first white coat, and the second coat was applied from a brand-new jar. The second end-table has a much smoother finish than the first.
When distressing, I used a lighter hand and went in one-way strokes along the edges. I sanded with more vigor on the flat areas, while still carefully watching that the base coat wasn’t sanding away. The results the second time around were much better! Only in a couple of areas did the base sand away, but the finished look doesn’t bother me at all. I covered the piece with clear wax and called it a success.
Can you use flat latex paint under chalk paint? Absolutely! But you may want to consider sanding your original piece before hand to help with adhesion of the latex paint. Be mindful of the texture of your chalk paint and thin with water if it has become too thick. When distressing the chalk layer, use a light hand and one-way standing strokes. I really like the look of the second end-table I painted! I may eventually redo the first one using the information I learned during this experiment.
If you have used chalk paint over latex paint, let me know how it went in the comments.