Learn how to correct chalk paint problems.
People always talk about how easy chalk paint is to use, but I haven’t always found that to be the case.
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How to Fix Chalk Paint Problems
Many problems can occur when using chalk paint improperly. Every time that I’ve made one of these mistakes, I worried that I had ruined my furniture makeover.
Luckily, all of these chalk paint mistakes can be fixed.
Chalk Paint Bleed Through
Cause: The Wood Tannins Bled Through the Paint
Despite being marketed as “no-prep”, some pieces do in fact need prep.
Some woods will bleed through white and light-colored paint. If your furniture is red like mahogany or if it’s pine, it will bleed through.
How to Fix It: You have to seal the wood first with shellac. Do not sand these parts or the seal will break.
Pay special attention to corners where two pieces of wood meet. These areas bleed worse and may need more than one coat.
When it’s dry, apply another coat of chalk paint.
Cause: Furniture Was Dirty
Sometimes, a spot will show up if you didn’t properly clean the furniture first.
How to Fix It: A quick coat of shellac will fix this too. When it’s dry, apply another coat of paint.
Click to read a more in-depth look at painting furniture white.
Brush Strokes in Chalk Paint
Brushstrokes show up for a few different reasons.
Cause: The Paint is Too Thick.
Some brands are thicker than others.
How to Fix It: You can combat this a bit by dipping the paintbrush in water before dipping the brush into the paint.
You can also avoid that brand in the future. (Nicer brands are less likely to show brush strokes!)
Cause: Paint Needs to Be Stirred
How to Fix It: Some paints just need to be stirred better.
Make sure that you’re stirring the thick paint at the bottom of the can! It helps to shake the paint as well. Stir as you go for the best results.
Cause: Using the Wrong Paint Brush. I’ve been given a wax brush to use with chalk paint and it causes massive brush strokes.
How to Fix It: Your paintbrush needs to have soft, flexible bristles. I prefer brushes with thin bristles to avoid brush strokes.
Click to read about the best paintbrush for chalk paint.
Chalk Paint Isn’t Sticking
Cause: Slick Surface
Is the wood laminate or melamine?
How to Fix It: Some surfaces require a special primer to make the paint stick.
Cause: Dirty Furniture
Was the furniture cleaned well before painting? Furniture that has had years of furniture polish needs to be cleaned very well before painting because the oils prevent paint from sticking.
How to Fix It: Lightly sand the furniture and prime the whole piece to seal in any furniture polish. Then repaint.
Click to read about how to properly clean furniture before painting.
Chalk Paint Cracking
Cause: Dirty Furniture
Chalk paint cracks when the furniture wasn’t cleaned well before painting. Dust and furniture polish can stop paint from sticking to the surface.
How to Fix It: If the cracks are deep, you may need to sand the piece. Then seal it with shellac, let it dry and then paint another coat of chalk paint.
Cause: Painting in Extreme Temperatures or Humidity
Sometimes paint can crack if the environment is too hot, cold, or humid.
How to Fix: If possible, try to paint in a temperature-controlled environment.
Don’t paint in direct sunlight on hot days. Don’t paint when it’s too cold. Try to keep your paint in warmer areas.
Sand lightly and seal it with shellac before applying another coat of paint.
Cause: Paint is Applied Too Thick
Sometimes cracking can occur when the paint is too thick. Try dipping your paintbrush in water before painting to thin it down a bit. Apply thin, even coats.
How to Fix It: Sand it lightly, seal the area with shellac, and repaint when it’s dry.
Chalk Paint Looks Streaky
Cause: You Need More Coats of Paint
Despite being marketed as one coat paint, I’ve never found that to be true with any paint. You need at least 2 coats. Light colors over dark wood will need even more coats.
How to Fix It: Apply more coats of paint, letting each coat dry thoroughly between coats.
Continue until you have full coverage. It helps to look at it in daylight, especially when you paint light colors.
Cause: Uneven Wax Application.
You need more wax than you think to get even coverage.
I find that using a brush distributes the wax evenly. Be sure to buff well.
Cause: Dark wax can also look streaky when applied unevenly.
How to Fix It: You can minimize it with a coat of clear wax.
Then wipe it with mineral spirits to blend the clear wax with the dark wax. This is also a great way to make the wax more subtle if you overdid it.
Click to read about how to use black wax on furniture.
Wax Still Feels Sticky
Cause: Did you buff the wax after applying it?
How to Fix It: Wipe it with mineral spirits and buff well.
Cause: You may have used too much wax. (I normally use too little.) Luckily this is an easy problem to fix.
How to Fix It: Add more wax and buff it better to remove more wax.
After you buff, the surface should feel buttery smooth. If it’s still tacky, buff some more. Click here to read a tutorial on how to apply wax correctly.
Wax is Too Difficult to Use
If you’re concerned about using wax, you don’t have to!
I prefer polycrylic for most applications! It’s easy to use and results in a hard, durable finish.
My other suggestion if you’re set on using wax is to apply it with a wax brush.
Wax goes on so much easier with a brush than a rag. Be sure to buff it well.
Touch it as you go. It should feel smooth, not sticky.
Click to read my tips for using polycrylic as a top coat.
Hopefully, now you’ll have fewer chalk paint failures.
What was your worst chalk paint mistake?
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