Hey thanks for visiting my DIY blog! In this post, I will give you all the details I know on using a sprayer to apply Chalk Paint, specifically the brand of Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. Here is my YouTube video if you need a visual! Be sure to subscribe!
I have always reached for my Round Paint Brushes when it came to applying any type of paints. However, I had a customer reaching out to me to refinish her 6 chairs and table. It was a bar height style table and chairs, so they weren't your standard size dining chair.
If you've painted furniture for a while, then you probably understand the tedious work that goes into painting chairs. Especially the ones with lots of round spindles. Luckily, these chairs weren't too "spindly" but they did have lots of small corners and nooks to get paint into. So, I found this as an opportunity to avoid the frustrations of painting chairs with a brush while also learning a new skill!
I reached for our Wagner Opti-Stain Sprayer, it's more of an outdoor sprayer for exteriors and larger objects but it worked great for me. This is the sprayer we had on hand, there are several great sprayers out there; some that are similar in pricing and some that work best but have a heavier price tag on them. So if you're investing in a new sprayer be sure to read all the reviews on which is the best sprayer for your types of projects.
Since this was my first-time spraying, I wanted to see if I even enjoyed spraying compared to brushing so I used what we had on hand.
If you are spraying, you will need a few more tools besides the sprayer. Here's my list of tools I used:
- Paint Sprayer
- Chalk Paint, I used Old White.
- Plastic Drop for Painting
- Painters Tape
- Dust Mask (this is very important)
- Krud Kutter or Dawn Soap/Water for cleaning project.
- Mixing Stick
- Distilled Water
- Cardboard or Scrap wood for testing sprayer on.
- Sanding pad for smoothing any rough edges or distressing.
- Flat Brush for any runs or drips.
- Clear Wax or Lacquer if you are using Chalk Paint.
- Rags for cleanup & Lint Free Towels (waxing towels)
- Different sized brushes for cleaning the sprayer.
- Water Bucket for soaking parts.
First, let’s start off by clearing and cleaning an area just for spraying chalk paint on your furniture. I swept up a bunch of cottonwood seeds and of course some cat hair in the area I was planning to spray the chairs. The sprayer is an air sprayer, meaning it pushes out air which will stir up any loose debris. That's not something you really want to battle while you're trying to refinish your furniture.
I got my area cleaned and plastic drop taped to the wall. To hold the bottom of the plastic drop to the ground, I taped part of it and also used some heavier scrap wood on the bottom for weight then applied my heavy duck canvas to the ground. Even when you think you have all the edges covered, add more. I had lots of over spray, mainly on the sides, so I invested in this Wagner Spray Tent.
Once your spray area is set up, now it is time to clean or prep your furniture before you get to paint it. I typically just clean or degrease my project pieces with Krud Kutter or Dawn/Water mixture. Since Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint does not have a sealer built into it, Chalk Paint adheres to almost any surface and does not require priming, sanding or stripping the existing finish, I get to skip that very tedious or exhausting step! If you are using an "All in One" type of paint, you will need to prime or strip/sand before spraying your furniture to ensure the paint adheres well.
When your furniture is ready to be painted, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the sprayer’s manual. Be sure to read assembly instructions, how to spray/adjust nozzles, cleaning, and troubleshooting tips.
Start by pouring the Chalk Paint into the sprayers cup, I filled the cup about 1/2 way with Chalk Paint then started mixing distilled water into the paint cup. Pouring a small amount of water at a time helps when you're mixing. Chalk Paint is a thicker paint, so the thicker part tends to stay at the bottom of the cup and the water at the top. Plus, if you add too much water, now you're having to mix more paint back into the sprayer cup. Doing a little bit at a time works best!
The ratio I mixed was about 30% water to paint or a 1:3 ratio. You can also test your paint with the Wagner Test Scoop. Timing how long it takes for the paint to drain out. I liked this method the best, I felt it was more accurate. I tried to keep the paint around 45 seconds drained.
On Annie Sloan's video tutorial, they suggest when pulling the mixing stick out of the paint/water mixture to let the paint stream off of the stick and see if the paint trailing stands too long on top of the paint "leaving a worm looking trail". That means the paint is still too heavy and needs to have more water mixed in. I also used this tip when checking the ratio mixture!
After you get the Chalk Paint watered down to the right consistency, you will attach the sprayer back together. A big tip here is to make sure the suction straw of the sprayer is tilted in the right direction before you reattach the top trigger/nozzle. If you plan to be spraying in a downward position then point the suction straw to the front of the cup, point it towards the back of the cup if you're spraying in an upward position.
Grab your dust mask! It's important to wear your mask when spraying, your lungs can inhale those tiny dust particles and cause some serious health problems.
Once everything is assembled and you're ready to start spraying, try doing some test sprays to make sure the paint is the correct consistency and the direction of the nozzle is how you'd like it. It will take practice getting used to the proper way to spray; left to right and right to left, release at the end of each stroke and overlap your spray row about 1/2 way. I practiced on a scrap piece of wood each time I mixed more paint, or switched to a new chair. I also practiced spraying Chalk Paint on my daughter’s wooden cradle before spraying the chairs. It has tons of little dowel spindles so I thought it was a perfect piece to get my spraying technique precise.
The best way to spray the chairs, was starting on all the horizontal pieces of the chair. Then adjusting the nozzle and moving to the vertical pieces. I turned the nozzle each time I needed to switch from horizontal to vertical. At first, I tilted the sprayer to adjust the spray direction but it caused runs and honestly got me confused on which way the spray nozzle was set to, so I made it a point to adjust each time and it worked much better.
I held the sprayer about 8-10 inches from the surface, this also took practice and my arm muscles were sore the next day! lol It is nothing like spray paint cans, you really need a steady spray.
In between coats, I allowed the Chalk Paint to dry 2+ hours. If I wasn't able to spray within a couple of hours or the next morning then I cleaned the sprayer and dumped the excess paint back into the paint can. This was one drawback I didn't enjoy about spraying, if I didn't get the opportunity to spray the next coat then I needed to clean the sprayer. Compared to if I used a brush, I would just wrap the brush in a wet paper towel and a baggie then sit aside for the next day or so.
The coverage was great on my second coat, the only reason I applied a third coat was for touch up areas. White is so tricky on dark surfaces, when I am brushing, I always have to apply 3 coats or do a base coat of Country Grey or Old Ochre to add some pigmentation and coverage but, you're basically applying 3 coats still.
Time invested in spraying was around 11 hours, don't gasp- that was learning time for me. Initially the first few chairs took me around 25-30 minutes each coat to spray but I got my second coat down to around 18 minutes each chair. So, after I learned my technique and found the best method to spray it went really smoothly! I was actually impressed, if I had brushed the first coat on it would've typically taken anywhere from 30-45 minutes each coat per chair.
Clean up took around 10 minutes, I let the remaining paint drip back into the paint can while I scrubbed the nozzle parts. This is where you need smaller bottle type brushed for cleaning all those little parts. Soaking in a water bucket helps too. I let the parts air dry separately then assembled them back together once dried.
I used my fine to medium grit sanding pads when I distressed the edges of the chair. After I distressed, I applied Clear Chalk Paint Wax to seal the Chalk Paint. I love the satin finish that Clear Wax gives when sealing furniture. Plus, it is really forgiving, any flaws in the finish won't show like they would on glossy lacquer or poly finishes.
Waxing is pretty easy, especially when you're doing it outside in the heat. Like warm butter on bread! This step took me around 18 minutes each chair.
In conclusion... I'll let you know my likes and dislikes on using a sprayer to apply Chalk Paint compared to using my handy round brush.
- Way quicker than brushing on. Saved me time and my customer money.
- Easy to use and will reach for my sprayer on bigger more time-consuming furniture projects!
- Made annoyingly tedious spindles and tight corners a breeze to paint.
- Smoother finish look.
- Stopping while spraying is harder, you can't step away easily if you're forced to stop. Since I have two small kiddos, this troubles me because I am always getting pulled away while I'm in the middle of a project.
- Wearing a mask, blah..it's bulky and hot but it's a must when spraying or sanding. This also means the kids could not be around me when I sprayed, so I needed someone to watch them while I sprayed.
- Cleaning in between coats, if you can't spray around 2-8 hours after first coat.
- Getting the correct paint consistency right, but this can also become an issue when brushing on too.
Let me know what you think about spraying Chalk Paint on your furniture projects. Have you done it? If so, feel free to share your tips in the comments below or what you have found works better for you!
Thank you for sticking with me this far, if you want more DIY and furniture flipping, be sure to check out our DIY social media accounts @flippinglemons. We have so many different projects saved to our highlights on Instagram.
Here's the highlight link for the Faux Wood Finish I created on this table!
Looking for the video tutorial to this blog? Here ya go!