A Chalk Paint Experiment: Annie Sloan Vs. HomeMade

March 7, 2013 | by Jocie (email) |

Welcome to OPC’s The Better Half. My name is Jocie, and I love to craft and DIY my home into something wonderful as I strive to be both thrifty and fabulous. I hope you enjoy comparison of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint vs Home-made Furniture Paint. If you enjoy this article, check out some other recent crafts and consider subscribing to The Better Half (email or RSS). Also, feel free to share this tutorial on Facebook and give it a +1. All the buttons float along the left side of your screen. Thanks!

I am brand-spanking-new to the world of chalk paint but I’ve heard amazing things. We have a bunch of big furniture painting projects coming up (Lucy’s daybed ASCP makeover and my dining room buffet) and I wanted to preview the materials before using them on something that really mattered. I’m hoping to do a big side-by-side comparison of homemade chalk paint vs. Annie Sloan in the coming future, but for now, I wanted to share my vase experiment with chalk paint!

Chalk Paint: The Quick Skinny

If you’re a chalk paint newbie like me, you might be wondering, what’s so great about chalk paint? First, you can paint furniture (and pretty much anything) without sanding or priming. Obviously, that cuts down the work a great deal! Second, it has a beautiful matte finish that can be easily sanded to look vintage and distressed. Wait, do number one and two discount each other? No. Once given a good coat or two of wax or poly, the chalk paint is super sturdy and can withstand a beating. Need, I say more?

Before: A Plain Ikea Vase

I’ve had this vase in the corner of my dining room for quite some time. I think I spent around $20 – $30 for it at Ikea and have very much enjoyed it. But, with the recent changes, I was hoping to freshen it up with some paint. I’m sure some good ole spray paint could have done the job but its mighty cold outside and was a little fume-shy after my living room frame redesign.

Before Vase - OPC The Better Half

Home Made Furniture Paint

I decided to practice my chalk paint technique prior to some exciting furniture painting coming up. At first, I was planning on using the Annie Sloan Chalk paint I had ordered a few weeks ago, but then changed my mind and decided to mix up my own. My friend, Liz from Naptime Decorator has made her own chalk paint several times and in person the furniture looks great. I found a recipe for furniture paint using Plaster of Paris from Twice Lovely. There is also a recipe using grout, but Liz has used Plaster of Paris, so I was hopeful. Here is my adapted furniture paint recipe:

I used a sample pot of paint from Lowe’s of Valspar – not my favorite paint but I bought a few to have on hand to use for small craft projects. Once I mixed it with flat white paint until I got the color I wanted, I then added the grout already dissolved in hot water. My adapted recipe has less water than the recipe I found online to provide better, thicker coverage.

Homemade Chalk Paint - OPC The Better Half

Plaster of Paris - OPC The Better Half

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I used my new Annie Sloan brush to brush on the newly mixed paint. The brush did a great job of getting in the cracks of the vases and didn’t leave streaks or stroke marks! Not sure if it was worth the $50 but it is a good brush.

Annie Sloan Paint Brush - OPC The Better Half

The down side of the home-made furniture paint was that it took 3 coats! ouch. But it wasn’t that big of a deal considering it was a small project. Next time, I will try using better paint to see if that makes a difference (which I have heard, it does). Also, the color of the vase turned out lighter that the wet paint appeared.

Chalk Paint - OPC The Better Half

OPC The Better Half

Once the vase was dried, I put it on the floor in the dining room and HATED it! Suddenly, it all looked very beachy. #fail

Take 1 Coral  Chalk Paint - OPC The Better Half

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

There’s obviously a lot of hype about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. At $34.95 per quart it is not cheap. But, I will say that it went on a whole lot thicker and covered more fully than the homemade chalk paint. It also appeared smoother and less textured once dry. So is it worth the price? I’m not sure yet. I plan on doing a much more in-depth comparison using different qualities of paint as a base for the chalk paint, but what has been your experience?

After the vase had 2 coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White (one good coat plus one light, touch up coat), I used Annie Sloan Wax to finish it. Boy, does that stuff stink!!!

After the wax had hardened, I distressed it a bit with my medium grit sanding block. I have no clue if I made it better or worse with the distressing. Normally I feel pretty confident with my distressing skills, but not this time.


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Take 2 with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, Pure White - OPC The Better Half

Weigh In: Your Favorite Vase Finish

Now that it’s done, I’m not totally sure which I like best. Definitely not the coral! But I am kinda regretting painting it at all. What do you think?

3 vases - OPC The Better Half

Thanks for following along on my homemade furniture paint versus Annie Sloan Chalk Paint experiment!

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38 Responses
  1. Wendy says:

    I’ve been wanting to try the home made chalk paint. I’m going to stay tuned to see your results with better quality paint. Thanks so much for trying the two paints and sharing what you found! I don’t leave many comments (trying to be better) but I really love following your blog!!!

  2. mom2kaelyn says:

    Awesome. I definitely like the second option better. What other colors do you have in that room? Or what room is closeby that you could grab a color from there to use? If not painting on a furniture item do you still use minwax or will poly spray work? I have a few items that could use a little TLC.

    • Jocie says:

      so far, just mint, white, and some coral. I really do like the coral, but going to try to incorporate with a darker shade so it looks less beachy. πŸ™‚

      You can totally use a poly liquid or spray with success. The big pro of wax is that it doesn’t yellow over time, like poly.

  3. I use homemade chalk paint. But…with unsanded tile grout instead of plaster of paris. I wonder if it makes a difference?? Love the ASP finish…it looks great!

  4. trebor says:

    I like the finished look of the home made one…just not the color. But I think that’s a better (and cheaper!) option than the Anne Sloan one. Or maybe I just don’t like the distressed look, haha.

    Oh–and fancy brush!!

    • Pam says:

      I too like the look of the homemade one and dislike anything distressed… just looks “dirty” to me.
      I’m so excited for the homemade recipe though….I never thought to try this, then again I don’t really chalk things……thank you so much for this!!!

  5. naomipsalm77 says:

    I love it Jocie! I think you did a great job! Agreed that the coral was yucky… but the distressed white with coral and grey peeking through is really beautiful. When you compare the original gray picture to the full white picture (showing lots of the grass), I definitely think the new vase “pops” more! The gray was dull and dark… blending in with the grass… just my thoughts. Good job and worth it, even though I’m sure it took longer than you liked! On a different note, I would love to do some coral objects in my bathroom… so if you want to get rid of any of the coral paint, let me know!

  6. Megan says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Jocie. I like the white.

  7. poiboybf says:

    Hmm I had never even heard about chalk paint until about 5 minutes ago. Interesting. I agree with a previous commenter that I like the finished look of the coral, but it’s not my favorite color for a year-round piece.

  8. Gwen says:

    Nope. Don’t regret it. The white is stunning. And I have to say that after actually using real chalk paint, I see now why is so $$$. It’s totally worth it!

    • Jocie says:

      Thanks Gwen. I could totally tell the difference between the ASCP and homemade. I’m anxious to try with more expensive flat paint to see if that makes a difference. πŸ™‚

  9. Hmmmm… I think I like the white better. So glad you posted this. I tried homemade chalk paint once and my piece did not turn out quite like I had hoped. It is chipping right now (probably because I got lazy and skipped the wax step!!). I just received some Annie Sloan chalk paint that I am doing a review on. I’m planning on painting a bookcase so we’ll see how it turns out.

  10. Jacque says:

    Girl I think it looks great! I love love love ASCP!!!

  11. sandra says:

    Thanks for all the trial and error. I will be trying this myself. I do like the second attempt at it better. Great job!

  12. sandy says:

    I like either painted vase.. nicer than the grey.. IMO. I made my own chalk paint awhile ago…. 1 c plaster of paris, 2 cups paint, and a little water to thin, I was real happy with the way it turned out. I did one coat… lightly sanded.. used baby wipes to clean the dust.. then applied the 2nd coat.. lightly sanded.. and waxed using a clear non yellowing paste wax. My daughter in law placed a baby bottle on the top of the dresser that had left a milk ring, and with one wipe, it cleaned up nicely.
    I just can’t see paying for Annie Sloan, when I can make my own.
    But a good brush is a must.
    Looking forward to hearing more of your

  13. April says:

    I use the same homemade chalk paint recipe,, but I use Glidden latex paint that has primer, and it works awesome! I painted a 7 ft. tall armoire with less than a cup of paint! Great post, and great blogβ™₯

  14. JustME says:

    I’ve not used purchased or home made chalk paint yet and not sure I will since I prefer either stained furniture or fine painted. I know the distressed look is so popular now, but I really don’t care for it that much. I don’t hate it…. just not my preference. Call me old if you will, but if I work hared to renew a piece of furniture I want it to look new. πŸ˜€
    As for the ASCP I have friends that have tried it and weren’t overly impressed. One of them said they’d like to take the classes to learn the technique better, but after paying for the paint and supplies they can’t afford it so they won’t buy the paint again because they weren’t happy with the results they got.

  15. Michelle says:

    I tried that recipe too an found that it was too thin. I found that 4 Tbsp Plaster of Paris, 2 Tbls water & 1 c paint worked great! It was much thicker and u can always add water as u go if it gets too thick & it doesn’t affect the color.

  16. I have also been eyeing the chalk paint. Can’t wait to see your side by side comparison on some furniture. I am not sure if I dig the distressed look, but I think the lighter color really does make the vase stand out more against the color of your walls. I think its definitely an improvement over the dark, original color.

  17. Nancy says:

    Umm, what’s wrong with the Valspar? I have been painting furniture and walls for years, using different brands and finally found the one I love. Valspar w/primer. Not cheap. It usually goes on in one coat and drys to a rubber like protective finish.
    I have never used the ASP but have been reading a lot about it. I love the distressed finish but can’t see spending that much on a quart. :/ I will be checking back to see your comparison. I have a cabinet that I would like to paint and distress and would like to use a technique/have a finish I’ve never used/gotten before. I’m always up for a new improved way of doing things. πŸ™‚

  18. Marcia says:

    Love ASCP… I painted an entire bedroom set with less than a quart of paint. I found it cheaper than buying, primer, sanding and good quality latex.

  19. Allyson says:

    omg, lol. This whole post had me cracking up!

  20. Cathy says:

    The thing with chalk paint is to use a darker wax to give the distressed look. Also with the Annie Sloan paint you can use a damp cheese cloth rag to distress where you want, no need to sand it off. That is what all the hype about her paint is, the lack of steps needed to distress a piece. I have made my own as well as used Annie Sloan paint. My version I can’t wipe it off with a wet rag but can get the same effects. I also make my own darker paste wax.

  21. I like this idea, just not the colors! I just think another color might make all the difference!

  22. Cindy says:

    I have been reading blogs, comparisons, side by sides all afternoon. So glad to have found yours! IMO the white turned out best. I can’t and won’t justify $$$ for Annie an therefore will be trying my own. MOST of what I read today leaned toward the plaster of Paris recipe mixed with water before adding paint. Valsper paint was NOT RECOMMANED in any article I read. Ditto for 2-1 primers. Wax or poly was useful in giving a finished look. As someone mentioned above they did not like the distressed look, that is also optional. Many people were happy the way the paint went on and like when finished. Hopefully this info will help others! πŸ˜‰

  23. Annette says:

    Hmmm… I think that $50 Annie Sloan brush you are using to paint is for waxing not painting or so I was told when purchasing….but good to know that it works well for both, thanks! Enjoyed the post!

  24. starla says:

    I realize that you posted about your homemade chalk paint, almost a year ago. I just wanted to comment that as I was buying the samples of Valspar, the clerk told me that they are only for testing a color, but not for something permanent.
    II was told that if you used them on furniture or the like, they would only be durable if you also use varnish.
    Also, if you ask them (at Lowe’s), you can buy a ‘true’ sample for less money. And it is the same as their regular paint.
    I tried painting over paneling and used the Valspar that contains the primer. It did a great job! But I also did a second coat since it was in my kitchen.
    Thanks for reading πŸ™‚ (and no I don’t own stock in Valspar, lol)

  25. Kaye says:

    Try calcium carbonate powder for making your homemade chalk paint. It is, after all, chalk. Mix two part latex to one part calcium carbonate powder. And, why’d you wait for the wax to harden before distressing? It’s less messy, I give you that. But, it’s so much easier to do before you wax the piece. And, invest in an air compressor. Being able to blow that chalk dust off after sanding is a huge time saver. And being able to blow a piece that’s been stored for a period of time is awesome. I have one that blows 175 psi’s. It’ll literally remove old, chipped paint from the to-be-painted piece. Have fun!!

  26. Nancy says:

    I definitely like the ASCP but I have also made my own in both work just as well. I like the second vase better. I don’t think you should distress the vase though. I think you should paint it solid.

  27. JJ says:

    I have used plaster and baking soda, I actually like the baking soda, yes I have to do a very light sanding with very fine sandpaper before waxing but that’s ok. I also have used many sample paints from Lowes and Stines bot work just fine. Stines puts their samples on sale for 99 cents very often so I stock up on colors. I also check out the ops section of every store that sells paint. I have painted furiture large and small, metal, glass and many many picture frames of all material. Dining table and chairs. Oh and don’t for get the fabric. Huge King oak water bed is next. You can make the paint thicker by adding more plaster, soda etc. I would have painted the light over the dark and stressed it a tad then sealed. Yes it is easier to distress before sealing, or just dry brush your stress look on. I have some distressed and many not.

  28. Sandra says:

    I have made my own cp with plaster, worked great. Can’t see spending on ascorbic.

  29. Victoria says:

    I like the homemade chalk paint look. Maybe you would too in a color same as Annie Sloan version.

  30. Usmcgirl98 says:

    Without reading others comments I say just paint it til you love it. Best thing about paint is your just one coat away from happiness and you can apply as many as it takes. Could use it as an experiment vase to experiment with different chalk recipes and color combinations. Dixie bell has a patina collection I’m excited to try that produces amazing results and would be perfect for your vase.

  31. Cathy Kelley says:

    Question. I recently saw a small ball table done with what looked like a red paint, then a dark brown paint. Then distressed. I’m not sure this is what was fine, but it sure looked like it. Do you have any experience with doing darker things and if so, what is the process?
    Thank you.

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