$3 Chalk Paint Tutorial

With Pinterest and other home decor and crafting sites continuing to gain momentum, I wanted to show everyone a cheaper way to restore furniture pieces. Whether it’s an old piece that’s already sitting in your house or a golden find from your local thrift store, chalk paint is a great way to turn your trash into treasure without having to do any pesky sanding.

While there are many brands of pre-made chalk paints, they usually come in small quantities for a high price and the color selection isn’t very wide. Thanks to my mom’s allstar crafting skills, I learned a cheap and easy way to make my own chalk paint with any color imaginable.

Yes, the title says it’ll cost you 3 bucks. This is 95% true, as there is one upfront cost, but once you make it, you’ll be able to do dozens of projects at the $3 price. That upfront cost is non-sanded grout, which you can find at Home Depot or other home improvement stores for under $10. So while it is an upfront cost, it still won’t break the bank.

Here’s what you need to create your own chalk paint:

  1. Non-Sanded Grout
  2. A tintable test size paint; any color
  3. A paintbrush
  4. An old tupperware container

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These Glidden Tintable Testers are $3 at Home Depot. You simply choose whatever color you want from the paint center and ask for a sample. Simple as that. No having to choose from the fifty shades of tan that pre-made chalk paints come in; your options are endless.

Now that you have the four things you need, and hopefully a piece of furniture to paint, let’s get started:

STEP ONE: Prepare your piece

How to protect your floor really just depends on where you’re working. You can use a dropcloth, some foil, or nothing at all. That’s up to you. While no sanding is required, which is the beauty of chalk paint, you might want to give your surface a quick wipe down or dusting depending on where it’s been sitting. This tutorial is going to show how I painted an $8 end table from Goodwill in a funky green color to match another table my mom had refinished for us.


STEP TWO: Mix your paint

Take your old plastic container and mix 2 Tbs of your non-sanded grout with 1 Tbs of water. Stir until you have a thick paste. After you have your paste, dump in your sample size paint. If you are using paint from a larger container instead of a sampler, use about 1 cup of paint. Now stir it up again. You will see a lot of white streaks at first, but keep stirring. When you think you’ve stirred enough, stir for another 30 seconds just to be sure 🙂

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STEP THREE: Apply your first coat

When applying your first coat, try to remember that you do not have to cover every inch of the surface. Give it a nice thin coat, as shown below.


STEP FOUR: Apply second coat

It is important when using chalk paint to move quickly. Because of the grout, it dries faster than normal paint would, so as soon as the first coat is dry, go ahead and start on the second. This coat is when you want to make sure you’re getting paint in every nook and cranny. Depending on the piece and the color you chose, this may be all that’s necessary. If you think you need another coat, begin applying as soon as the second coat is dry. This particular end table only required two.


STEP FIVE (optional): Distress your piece

This is completely optional and depends on what look you are trying to achieve with your particular piece. If you do, however, choose to go with the distressed look, you should wait about 24 hours after completing the painting to do so. With the chalk paint, you really want to give it time to harden onto the surface of your furniture. To distress, just take a small piece of sandpaper and run it along the part you wish to distress until you achieve the look you want. There’s really no way to explain how to do this.

STEP SIX (optional): Wax the surface

Depending on how you plan to use your piece, this is not always necessary. If you chalk paint a statement piece, a frame, or a cabinet that won’t really be touched heavily, this definitely isn’t a necessity. If you are painting something like a table, I would consider waxing. All you’ll need for this is some finishing wax and cheesecloth. I will work on a tutorial on how to do this soon.

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STEP NEXT: Display your new creation


A few days after finishing the project, I found a funky knob at Hobby Lobby and swapped with the boring wooden one. This piece really tied our living room together and goes perfectly with the table we already had.

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(Sorry for the terrible cell phone pics here)

Check out some pictures of other great chalk paint projects:

Teal entry table; distressed

Off white china cabinet; distressed

Red sewing table top; not distressed

Blue cabinet; distressed

Small end table and frame; both distressed

Well, there you go. All these pieces were finished for around $3, but look like a million bucks. Have any fun projects in mind for your own home? I’d love to see your before and after pics!


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