Here it is. It has been a long time coming. Chalk Paint Pros and Cons. I get asked almost EVERY DAY if I use chalk paint and/or wax. The answer is a resounding no. In no way is it meant to be taken as a knock on anyone that uses it and loves it but here are my personal reasons for NOT using it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy from people that use chalk paint…it is just why we don’t use it.
**Disclaimer- I will say this now, so please hear me! Waxed pieces can be lovely. A waxed piece done RIGHT can last quite a while before it needs to be waxed again, especially if it isn’t heavily used. If you are doing it yourself, you obviously know that. If you are doing it for a customer, please tell them that!
If you love chalk paint, more power to you. I personally feel that I can match chalk paint colors and achieve any look my customers would want without using it. I choose to use a paint I feel is more durable and a sealer that I know is the MOST durable for longevity of my pieces. Not everyone will agree with my feelings on the subject and that is okay. We all use different products and different methods and honestly application is more important. If you cut corners, it will never matter how good of a product you have.**
Now to my issues…
First, Durability. I have an engineering background. I go through MSDS and tech sheets like a crazy person. If the info I want isn’t there I call the company’s lab. I can tell you by looking at specs if a clear coat, paint, or primer will be better or worst than another. We test it to back it up but it is all in the science folks. With that said, chalk paint and wax aren’t what we are looking for when it comes to durability. Here me out!
Chalk paint is porous and is meant to bond to wax. What that means is, when you apply the wax it absorbs into and bonds with the paint. Sounds great, right? Well….kind of. If it is a piece that will hang on a wall or sit in the corner or not be heavily used…like something your tv sits on, a display piece or china cabinet that just the adults are getting into…fine. But, if it is a piece that your keys get thrown on every day…..it will wear off quickly. When it does, don’t spill a glass of red wine…that paint will soak it up. Chalk paint more or less HAS to be sealed. If you seal it with a regular sealer than I really don’t have a problem with it. It’s not so much the paint that is a problem but the wax….let me explain!
**Alert-Tangent** I will say though, the no prep business is a myth for any paint, anywhere. If you aren’t prepping, you aren’t doing it right. Sorry, but I am not sorry for saying that. Chalk paint, more often than not, needs to be shellacked before being painted. For whatever reason, it tends to draw more crap out of the wood than other paints.
Second, Sealer. Okay. Wax. Kind of goes hand in hand with chalk paint. You HAVE to know what you are doing when you use it. If not, you will get a fingerprinty mess OR you wont have enough on OR it will just look weird. Did you know some wax manufacturers and retailers will outright say to not use it on certain colors? They also will point blank say to not use it in kitchens because GREASE can penetrate wax. For the love, do not set anything greasy on a waxed anything! Oh, it can also melt and it doesn’t need a whole lot of heat to do so. It IS wax after all. I just want to say, I appreciate their honesty.
Chalk paint manufacturers say to not use it around high water use areas and some even say high use areas. If it is not good enough under certain conditions for the maker, it isn’t good enough for me. This isn’t to say there isn’t a time and place that chalk paint pieces will do just fine. I would rather use the products that can withstand these conditions though for any piece that has our name on it. Does that mean it is impossible that fluke things can’t happen? Of course not. It is all paint. But we want to do what we can to prevent those things.
One more thing- I kind of hate having to strip and sand wax off of furniture…which you have to do to repaint or fix it. There are more fun things in the world.
Some people swear by chalk paint and wax durability. To each their own. Maybe they haven’t tested it under the conditions we have, maybe they are lucky, maybe they have never had a problem. I don’t know, but I can tell you that the number one type of cabinets and furniture we get called to “fix” for people, are chalk painted ones. In my opinion this is for 2 reasons: It wasn’t applied correctly (no prep) or it was applied to a surface that its intended use/purpose probably needed something a little better than wax. Application makes a difference and my chalk painter friends that are amazing KNOW when to use a different sealer and when not to use chalk paint. Knowledge is power!
Here is my main point.
My buffet in my house is very very lightly used but how do I know my customer won’t buy one and use it as their changing table? It needs the strongest most durable sealer it can have because you just don’t know. Wax won’t always cut it….it also can cut it. Having someone that does amazing work and goes the extra mile will make a difference.
Third, the make your own paint world. This isn’t exclusive to chalk paint either. Making your own paint isn’t super safe. Also, and highly irritatingly is the world of people making and marketing their own paint with NO msds sheets, NO safety testing, nothing. They are putting something that has coloring in it and calling it paint and telling you it is safe but you have no proof. The ingredients aren’t even on the jar. First of all, I am fairly certain that this isn’t legal. Also, there are a ton of manufacturers working their way up and going through all the hoops to have a paint business that are being undercut by people that refuse to do it the right way. NOT COOL.
So my moral of my little rant here is if you buy a piece that is vintage or antique and solid wood and it is SUPER cheap….like cheap enough you could justify re-doing it the day you bring it home….there is probably a reason why. Either it isn’t sealed, the paint was slapped on, definitely not broken down and structurally fixed and no quality control. Pay the extra money for a piece done right and know that depending on use it may need some love down the road. We spend the extra time and money on products that are water proof, indoor/outdoor, and scratch resistant to get you further down that road and every piece gets its own touch up kit so if something does happen with a move or something like that, you can simply touch it up.
We sell paint and sealer. We don’t make a living off it. We sell it because we use it. We aren’t a paint store. If we ever find products that test better than what we use now, we will stop using our brands and switch. It is that simple.