DIY Chalk Style Paint

I’m sure many of you have tried making your own chalk-style paint, but I’ve been doing a little experimenting with some and found a “recipe” that I’m really happy with.  There are several things I love about chalk-style paint, but the main things are the matte finish, how quickly it dries, and that you can wet distress it, rather than using sandpaper, so those were the important things I wanted to get from a homemade version.  The other important thing was how well the paint would store on the shelf after being mixed up.

I decided to experiment with this turquoise color, because I’ve sold lots of coat racks created on antique wood that I got from a demolished courthouse.   While I still have some of it left, I’ve used all the pieces that had chippy turquoise paint on them, so I wanted to paint some pieces in a similar color with homemade chalk paint on the remaining wood.  This coat rack I painted, wet distressed, then used walnut wood stain on.

This piece I painted, wet distressed just a little, and waxed, but didn’t stain.  The color is less “loud” in real life than it looks in this photo though.

 This sign shows the paint unwaxed on the left and waxed on the right.  Waxing really deepens the color and makes the distressed areas show up well.

Here’s the sign when it was finished.

This recipe for chalk-style paint met my criteria of having a beautiful matte finish, it dries much quicker than traditional paint and it wet distresses really well.  The previous recipe I tried with unsanded grout I wasn’t thrilled with.  It was hard to get the paint mixed smoothly and when stored, it thickened up a lot, so you had to add a lot more water and really mix it well again, and ended up with dried up pieces getting in the paint.

With the new batch, I didn’t measure anything exactly.  I just mixed about a heaping tablespoon of plaster of paris in a container and mixed in a little bit of water until it was smooth, then added about 1-2 cups of FLAT paint (the cheap stuff – $12 a gallon) and mixed it all well.  It’s very forgiving, so just do a little of this and a little of that, until you get the consistency you want.  It is storing really well, without thickening at all.  I’ve had it in a sealed container for over a week and it looks and works like I just mixed it up – no thickening or lumps.  The real key is to buy FLAT paint – especially if you plan to wet distress, because flat paint isn’t a durable/washable paint, so it distresses well, whereas semi-gloss paint is created to be a washable and durable paint, so it’s so difficult to get a nice distressed look with it.  Also, mix the plaster of paris with water first, until smooth, then mix that with the paint.   You’ll have a nice smooth paint and finish if you do that first.

So, I paid $3 for 3 pounds of Plaster of Paris (which will make many, many batches) and $12 for a gallon of paint (I bought Olympic Latex Flat paint from Lowes).  I am thrilled to have found such an inexpensive version that gave me exactly the results I wanted.  I bought one more “ingredient” that I plan to experiment with soon, so I’ll let you know how it works and compares with this recipe when I do.



UPDATE – Plaster of Paris does contain harmful chemicals which can be dangerous to your health.  PLEASE wear a respirator mask and gloves when using it and use caution!

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  1. Thanks for sharing, Angie! Looks wonderful…I need to try it!

  2. I too have used the plaster in the paint as well. I have been very happy with the outcome.
    Your turquoise shelf is awesome. Love the color. 🙂

  3. I like the way all the projects turned out. It’s amazing how cheap it is to make your owm paint compared to the purchased chalk paint. Does your recipe “harden” though as it sits? Or does it just get thicker? I am really curious about that factor. I know the chalk paint doesn’t get the “scum” or whatever it is on top of it and doesn’t harden on the brushes like regular paint does. xo Diana

  4. Thanks, Angie. I went in the opposite direction for my weekend painting. I bought (yes, actually paid full price!) a milk paint I used back in the 1980’s. I was surprised at the escalated price, but decided to see if I still liked it as much as my homemade recipe. We will see the results next week. I love the way your pieces turned out, but I think I would love anything you did in turquoise!

  5. I love using the plaster of paris for chalk paint too. Love your sign! Such a great color.

  6. I just have to try this. Love the color of blue.

  7. Love your sign, stunning color and your chalk paint recipe gave a great finish:)


  8. Love this! Would you share the color of your paint? TYA Frani

  9. I love DIY chalk paint. I made my own batch a few months ago, also with the Plaster of Paris,and love it.

  10. same recipe I use….works well..
    thanks for sharing. love the turquoise..

  11. Chalk painting for dummies anywhere? Is wet distressing just rubbing off some of the paint before it dries?

  12. Yes, wet distressing means I dampen a rag and wipe off some of the paint. Good question!

  13. Angie, thanks for this good information. I had tried Plaster of Paris, but it got too thick. Maybe used too much POP or did not use the Flat paint. I will try it again.
    Blessings for a Happy Easter.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  14. Hi Angie,
    Love the color you used and how your sign turned out. I have used the POP very successfully, too, but I have never used the wet method of distressing. Will give it a try the next time I paint something!

  15. All my experimenting with various chalkpaint recipes, I’ve come to almost the exact same recipe as you! It works great, no lumps and lasts on the shelf for quite awhile. It’s also great that you can wet distress and not have the huge mess. Can’t wait to hear what your “new” ingredient is?!!

  16. Total newbie, I am going to start my first project, what kind of wax did you use? Clear or dark? :/ looks great!!! Hope I get a color close to yours as I don’t see the name…

  17. AMAZING! THANK YOU FOR SHARING! I will be trying this mix this coming weekend! xo

  18. I am featuring you as a co-host for Ginger Snap Crafts Wow Me Wednesday Link party. I love what you did!

    Emily @

  19. I’ve made my own chalk paint before too and used POP….the best way. You can also use acrylic paint to color the paint especially if you want a smaller amount. The advantage to buying the paint, for those of us who sell furniture, is that it can be re-sealed so there’s no need to remix paint and you get the exact same color each time. I roll my furniture sale $$ back into supplies (no real profits yet) so I can afford the convenience of manufactured paint. But,for the regular person who wants to do some projects? This is a definite way to save money and get the look you like! Good to share!!

  20. Is the finish as durable as the purchased chalk paints? Also is the wax you used the same wax that is sold with the purchased chalk paints? I love your turquoise color!

  21. I have been wanting to try chalk paint but have been hesitant because it seems so complicated, but your recipe seems like something I could manage. What kind of wax do you use? I love all your projects and I wish you could come over and get me started, but I guess I will have to be brave and just go for it! You seem like such a nice person and I really enjoy your blog.

  22. Also what color turquoise did you use?

  23. Have you ever painted an entire wall with your chalk paint.

  24. It looks very pretty! where you get these interesting ideas to making all these pretty things….???? 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  25. I love your signs. Homemade chalk paint is the best!

  26. Just found your blog…#absolutebliss. I’ve searched all around your blog to see if you ever posted about that “new ingredient” you mentioned but didn’t see anything. Any luck with it? I’m headed to buy more wax and supplies now so just making sure I don’t miss anything. Thank you for your kindness in sharing your secrets with us DIYers ;). God bless friend

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