Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review of Valspar Chalk Paint


I get messages on a semi regular basis asking me how a paint furniture. I always have a two fold response. First of all, what kinda of finish are you going for? Glossy clean looking? Or a more rustic distressed matte look? Then I ask what kind of furniture is it. Is it something that is super shiny and finished already? Or is it something that you found on a curb and it's pretty beat up?

Although I ask these questions, my recommendation is generally the same. To paint furniture, especially for someone who hasn't done it before, I recommend a chalk paint. You are certainly able to use a latex or oil based paint. I've done it many times myself. However, those types of paints are definitely on the fineky side. So unless I have a paint sprayer, time to spend fixing brush or roller marks, and time to sand and prime the surface, I would use chalk paint.

So, why chalk paint? First of all, let's clear up something. This is NOT chalkboard paint. Chalk paint is a paint with calcium carbonate added, which you may guess, is chalk. That addition (plus I'm sure many others) make it so you can paint a surface without sanding or priming. The paint goes on thick (less coats and less paint) and does a fantastic job covering. Now, it's a matte finish and can show brush marks very easily, so you have to be into that look for it to work. You can finish the top of the paint with a wax coat or a poly (although wax is generally recommended). It's pretty durable once it's got a wax layer on, but it distresses easy before then. I painted my bathroom vanity with it and only topped with wax and a year and half later it still looks good.

The "gold" standard with chalk paint is Annie Sloan. I have often blogged about her paint (Check them out here, here and here). I love her paint but at around $50.00 for just a quart, it's spendy. Although, to be fair, that paint stretches super far. I have used just a sample pot (usually priced at $10.00) to paint an entire end table before. It's also only sold through exclusive retailers, so it can be hard to track down.

The chalk paint market has really expanded in the past couple of years as it becomes more and more popular to use the paint. Wal-Mart has two in house brands (usually located near the spray paint in the paint section and near the acrylic paint in the craft section). I have used those and actually don't mind them. They cover fairly well, and the antiquing wax does work well (almost too well). Check out my project with the Wal-Mart paint here.

I have made my own chalk paint using some unsanded grout. It works well for craft projects but is too lumpy (at least how I make it) for a larger display piece. Click here for the post about making your own chalk paint.

Anyways, I give you this background so you know what type of paint I'm talking about and that I've been around the block a couple of times when it comes to painting furniture. I think at last count, I have painted around 150 pieces of furniture in the past 5 years.

Lowe's/Valspar recently came out with their own version of chalk paint. At $30.00 a quart, it's middle of the road price wise. It has about 60 different colors. I needed to repaint an end table that was painted with latex paint a couple of years ago (and bad quality paint at that) and was starting to stain and flake. So I decided this was the perfect project to try out the new Valspar chalk paint.

Since this was an experiment and I didn't mind messing with the end table a bit, I took two different approaches. On the top, I left the old yellow latex paint. I sanded it so the shiny sheen was gone (so very light easy sanding) and then simply wiped it down.

The table looked okay right after I finished it. After a few years it looked nothing like this anymore. 

On the rest of the table, I actually scraped off all the old paint so I was down to the original brown/red finish. I then sanded more heavily and wiped everything down. This way, we can see how the paint performs on top of old light color paint and how it performs on a dark unfinished wood.

The very first "before" picture. The wood has a redish/brown hue.

Like other chalk paints, this one also claims that no sanding or priming is needed. Sanding is usually done to give your paint a rough surface to stick to. Primer is two fold. It gives a rougher finish to paint to stick to, but also prevents bleeding through. You'll see why that distinction is important as I start to paint.

When I opened the paint, I noticed it did have the typical thicker chalky appearance which is good. However, the paint doesn't go on thick. It ran in a couple of different places, which was surprising. Other brands are usually thick enough you don't have to worry about running.

The color is called "Beaded Reticule"

I did one coat on the entire piece and quickly realized that the paint was too thin to cover in just one coat. Annie Sloan has always covered in 1 coat for me apart from one dresser going from red to white which I had to do two coats.

Like other chalk paints, it also shows brush marks very easily. I noticed on my second coat that a regular bristle brush does much better than a foam brush when it comes to running. Good to know for future projects.

The top with the old yellow paint was covered in about 3 coats.

However, this is how my bottom shelf looks after SEVEN coats. Yes. SEVEN. That's terrible terrible coverage. The bottom could have certainly used a primer first to keep the redish wood from bleeding through. I finally gave up after seven and decided since there's a big basket that sits on this shelf, so I wasn't going to get worked up if it showed through. I decided to finish with poly rather than wax because I felt the paint didn't quite feel right to be covered with a top layer of wax. It was too much like latex paint.

Another fun fact, Annie Sloan dries super (super) fast. Sometimes that's almost a problem because I can't get a large surface done before it's started drying. The Valspar paint does not. It took about 2 hours to dry, much like latex paint.

So, over-all, the main reason you pick chalk paint is to: 1) paint without priming or sanding, 2) cover in less coats, 3) finish quickly. The Valspar paint failed at most of these. I do like the finished color and product, but since it worked much like latex paint, I could have used a semi-gloss or matte finish paint, had more color options and paid 1/3 the cost.




Unknown said...

I have used, almost exclusively, the Valspar Chalky paints and find that it takes at least 3 coats in most cases to completely cover a project. I live in Arizona and in an area where this is the most readily available paint for me, which is why I have used it so much. However, because it is so dry here, the paint dried so quickly that I felt it was almost drying on the brush. So much so that I had to add water periodically. Maybe the humidity level in Iowa is higher, therefore, hampering drying time.(?) I painted a large curio cabinet in the Valspar Beaded Reticule and loved the outcome. I look forward to, someday, trying Annie Sloan paint to experience the difference. Thanks for the information!!

Paint guru said...

Have you been before I had to use one light coat and then I'll touch up coat for areas I missed with my brush. I really don't see how it could take seven coats? The product is very thick and creamy and goes on really nice.

Resident said...

I tried Valspar Chaulky paint once and promptly returned the quart for a $30 refund at Lowes. The Chauky paint, unlike other Valspar products was not as advertised and I think Valspar needs to fix their formulation for Chauky paint.

Adam said...

I just tried the Valspar chalky finish paint and sealing wax on a dresser. I was very disappointed with both products. I had selected Valspar because Lowes mixed it to any colour I wanted and I wanted a creamy colour that worked with the existing colours in my room. Firstly, I had issues with tiny bubbles forming in the paint when I was applying it. I had stripped the former finish off the dresser, but had used some filler. It took 5 coats before you (mostly) couldn't see the filler through the paint. But the wax was the WORST. I followed instructions exactly as noted thin coat, wipe off. It completely yellowed my dresser... and not just a bit - like destroyed the finish yellowing. I may have expected that from an antiquing wax, but not a sealant wax. Really hoping now that I don't have to totally refinish the whole project

Unknown said...

I make my own chalk paint with plaster of paris and its wonderful. I have bought Ann Sloan paint in the past and my DIY is just as good. I seal with miniwax.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had seen this site before trying Valspar chalky paint. I have just finished applying a third coat to a table, and it's still barely covering. I have used a couple of brands of chalk paint for small projects, and the results were great. Since this is a larger project, I thought I'd try Valspar as a primer before putting on a top coat of high gloss paint. I'm worried it won't even hold as a primer. First and last purchase of this paint.

Woodgirl said...

That's odd, to the people saying they need multiple coats. My reddish brown dresser was completely covered in 2 coats.

Anonymous said...

You said "This is too much like latex paint". Well read the label: It IS latex paint which is why it reacted differently than a true chalk paint.

I've used this brand too (Valspar) and was highly disappointed.

So if you want a chalk painted piece, use DIY chalk paint or buy chalk paint...not some super matte finish latex paint that Valspar's is.

Just sayin'........

Bonjour Decor said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have used AS, my own DIY chalk paint and Rustoleum and love all of those and was about to try the Valspar chalky finish paints. I will not waste my time or money on Valspar! Thank you so very much for your interesting post!
Kind regards,

Mariella Z. said...

I wonder what the feedback of the Valspar Chalk Paint would be today (2019) - I see the comments are from 2017 mostly. I have used the Valspar Chalk Paint for my very first project of an old 80's oak wood table and 4 chairs and I really like it. Maybe they have changed their formulation since 2017. I used it in black and I did not sand the surfaces, just clean it with mineral spirits and in 2 coats everything is well covered. Used a good quality polyester brush - Purdy, my favorite - and there are no marks of brushing. The last step will be the wax. I have not done that yet so I have no feedback at this point in time. If the wax quality is like the paint's, I believe I will be satisfied. I came across this post looking for drying time of the was before starting to use the piece. I did not find that info but hank you for this post!

Unknown said...

this week end, I used Valspat Trousseau Blue on s chest that was painted a dark red and sealed with polyurethane. It took 2 coats with no problem. It dried within a hour and. Immediately put on the second coat. Total time actually painting was about 90 minutes. No runs or drips.

Today, I applied the first coat of clear wax.

I have never done chalk paint only traditional stripping , staining and sealing. This is so easy! The paint works for this old cedar chest and hopefully the wax can s very matte as advertised.

Unknown said...

I always make my own chalk paint. I use Calcium carbonate...3 tablespoon with 1 tablespoon water to 8 ounces paint...any latex paint. I like to get the Valspar paint sample, mixed to the color of my choice. It is exactly 8 ounces and very handy!! If you mix the calcium and water first and then add to paint, you get a super creamy (just like Annie) paint that covers very well. And the price is right. Calcium carbonate is very inexpensive and is found on Amazon.

Pieter said...

May 2020 and the Valspar Chalky paint is great. I sprayed it on bare wood. Was too thick for the finish sprayer and had to use the high volume sprayer. I was afraid that would be a fail, but it wasn't. I had to work fast, but the paint went on in two coats--one right after the other. I sprayed the cabinet, then started at the beginning and sprayed it again. Done and looks better than any furniture grade paint job I've ever done. The paint is drying as I'm typing this--I need to spray on a coat of poly today and wondered how fast the stuff dries, which is how I ended up here. It's been one hour and it looks like it will be dry enough this afternoon--already dry to the touch over about 80%.

Unknown said...

I have used Valspar Chalky paint twice in the last year (2020-2021)and really like it. I recently purchased a small mahogany bookshelf and wanted to paint it to match other pieces I painted using the Annie Sloan Old White (yellow tone) that I can no longer get. Lowes color matched for me and tinted the Chalky paint to a perfect match. Since I worried about bleed through, I lightly sanded the shelf and brushed on a coat of Minwax Polycrylic (water based), then lightly sanded that. I used only two coats of Chalky paint on top of the polycrylic, and it covered great. It also allowed me to distress the wood without the worry of exposing white primer. I will probably never go back to Annie Sloan paint because Chalky paint is nearly half the cost, it goes on smoother, dries fast, distresses easily, and covers well. I never had to add water to the paint, like I constantly have to do with Annie Sloan paint. Hope this helps someone out there!

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