Art For Your Walls, Decor For Your Home: Chalk Paint and Gesso

I was telling you in the post “Craigslist Dining Table: Before & After” that I will come back with more about using Gesso as a substitute for chalk paint.

How did it start? I wanted the chalky appearance for some furniture pieces I wanted to refinish( one of them as you already know is the Craigslist dining table find).

I looked “chalk paint” on the Internet and I found Anne Sloane chalk paint. Because of the price, shipping etc, I didn’t want to try it.

My next step: do more research about DIY chalk paint recipes and find out how can I get the same look but at a cheaper price? So here’s what I found out:

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here uses a mix of latex paint with either Calcium Carbonate, plaster of Paris or whiting powder; you can see the post here.

Liz Marie @ Liz Marie Blog uses un-sanded grout and flat paint in her homemade chalk paint.

First thought was that chalk is a main ingredient in chalk paint( dah!), but also in the gesso I use as a primer on my acrylic paintings.

Some definitions:

  • – original gesso( gesso in Italian means “chalk”)is a mix of animal glue, powdered chalk or plaster and a pigment( usually white).
  • – modern gesso( the one you can buy in art supply stores) it’s a water-based mix of calcium carbonate, an acrylic polymer medium and a pigment( usually white).
  • So I decided to use only gesso, a blob of black acrylic paint( to get the grey color) and a little bit of water. I chose Stevenson gesso( bought at Opus store) because it has a bit more “tooth” to it.


    What I liked:

  • – it dries quickly, with a nice, chalky finish.
  • – I didn’t need to sand or prime my table before painting it with gesso.
  • – the stain I used on top of the gesso ( to get the grey-brown look I wanted) sticked with no problems.
  • – in my case, I didn’t wax it, because I knew the table will be heavily used every day; I went for “Circa 1850 – Antique Paste Varnish” for the final coat. This paste has a hand-rubbed look and a soft sheen; it protects against heat and spills.
  • So far, I’m more than happy with my choice of using gesso as a chalk paint to refinish furniture!

    If you want to read more about pros and cons of using ASCP, you should head to “Altar’d Designs” blog where Mandie wrote this post: “The 411 on Chalk Paint”.

    What do you use as chalk paint?