Friday, September 6, 2013

Paint and Other Questions Answered

Notice how I kind of suckered you into this post with a pretty photo collage.
This post will not be really that pretty with respect to photos but, will hopefully answer a lot of the questions that have been coming in online and in person about what paint I use, brushes, wax etc.

Let's get started (I am typing on top of photos today, just to be confusing)


What kind of paint do you use for your furniture?

I have to say I am an avid vocal lover of Annie Sloan chalk paint and have almost all of them except the blues. Most of my furniture gets this finish because of the ease of use that you hear everywhere in blogland, no prime, no sand etc. My kind of lack of prep work for an anxious go-getting personality. The exception to this rule however is with white furniture. If you are planning to do any piece of furniture that starts out with paint and/or dark stain, I strongly suggest you prime first (I actually do 2 coats) and then paint. Why?
If you lean to the more full coverage side of things like I do then the priming step will save you a little bit of money on the bottom end. While this paint goes extremely far, it does not seem worth it to me to use the whole can of pure white to get that coverage when a cheaper zinsser could have done the same thing.
If your piece was stained/painted sometime around the 50's or 60's you may also want to consider a good solid coat of shellac. My learning experience with this can be found here 
I will always lean towards the full coverage with mild-moderate distressing rather than the totally chippy beat it up with a sander look. It's just what I like. 

late addition: more on shellac: if you are in Canada, most likely you can't find the handy spray can of shellac because we are all on the eco-friendly kick and have to get a paint can style shellac. Don't use a good paint brush to apply as shellac is sticky and your brush will be garbage.Get a bag of foam brushes from the dollar store and throw them out afterwards.
I generally apply the shellac after the priming step when I notice if any knots or areas are going to bleed through.

When using the ASCP you can add a bit of water to the top of the can and use your brush to lightly swirl it into the paint if it has gotten thicker from temperature. This will allow you to brush it on easier and get more coverage.

Next up is Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint line. I am really starting to love the use of this paint with and without the bonding agent and have used it on quite a few projects. I tend to use milk paint on the really old oak furniture with lots of grooves and less on the incredibly smooth 70's furniture. It is easy to use once you go through the different methods of mixing. My advice(I mean that's what you're here for right,  lol ) is to grab a few spare mason jars, label them for paint only and use them as a paint shaker.
I mix the paint 1:1 with water, shake the crud out of it and then get to work.
Milk paint acts completely different than any other paint. It is watery and quite frankly, looks like hell until you get to the waxing stage. Don't burn your piece until you completely finish it, it will probably look fantastic.
As an added bonus with this paint, the person behind the line Marian Parsons is extremely talented and reachable through her blog Miss Mustard Seed, with plenty of tutorials, inspiration photos (I may or may not be a part of these) and FAQ

Do you use any paint other the chalk paint or have you tried making your own?

I have also used and really enjoy the General Finishes milk paint line from Rockler Hardware in the US and love the colour line they have. 
I have made my own chalk paint and still use this method if someone has their heart set on a certain colour. I use warm water and plaster of paris mixed up and then mixed into the paint colour of choice, working in small batches as if it sits too longs it will develop a grind.
I know many people love their homemade chalk paint and I really do enjoy the versatility of using any colour but having used both, the finish is not the same. You do not acquire the same coverage quart for quart and it doesn't get the same silky feeling at the end of the project. Having said that, if you are only doing 1 piece of furniture and want to try chalk paint out without investing 35+ dollars into a quart of paint, this may be the way to go.  

Why do you make your own colours with the paint instead of just using the paint as is?

Honestly, my nuthead brain cannot just stop when thinking up new projects so mixing any of the paints into new colours helps me get what I want out of them.
Sometimes the grey is too grey for my house and I need it to be a bit warmer or the pure white is really white, you know?
I made my own version of the Annie Sloan workbook to help me keep track of my mixing.
I made a standard page, pure white mixes, old white mixes and pages of colour on colour mixes. I then added onto it with the MMS line and GF line. It is also handy for me if someone needs to see the mix in person where a photo of previous work may not be enough.

The best containers for my chalk paint mixes are washed out oxi clean containers with their screw on lid and perfect hand held size. Some of the mixes like my greige mix are reused time and time again so, I make a larger batch and with the tight lid they stay good for as long as I need them

and this pretty photo is watermarked in case you were thinking of stealing it.

Where are you painting all of this furniture?

Well my friends, I have a wonderful husband who let me have half of his man space garage and he even built me my own workbench this spring (mostly because he kept finding paint brushes and frog tape all over his). We each have our own workbench (his looks quite different than mine, covered in motorcycle parts and oil, mine paint splattered and garden tools) We had an Ikea kitchen cart from our old house that I use for painting end tables and chairs etc. This cart is at the perfect height for painting without bending over, so if you paint a lot it may be worth an investment of 60 dollars. Trevor built the workbench so that the cart could roll right under one end and my factory cart could roll underneath the bench when not in use (it hasn't been under there in awhile honestly)

All of my brushes, scissors, paint, waxes have a place and they go right back where they were so I don't have to spend time looking for things. One of my pet peeves, although the damn scissors are always on the fritz.

Frogtape, HUGE necessity of any furniture painter big or small. Nothing peeves me off more than to see someone painting furniture, slapping a huge price tag on it, opening the drawers and seeing the slob factor along the dovetails. You must take pride in your work for yourself or for others. If you don't, why should someone else.

My in service factory cart. Allows pieces to be mobile and higher off the ground. (Also keeps paint marks off the garage floor, saving my marriage)

 Snuck some more pretty photos in, to keep you enticed.


Everyone's favourite part. I have seen so many posts in blogs of people complaining about the waxing step, they don't get it or see the necessity or Poly instead.
Now that we got that out of the way.
I have used a few different waxes on the market just to test them out and see which ones I like the best. There are few I am not a fan of but will not publicly bash them here. I have liked the Fiddes and Sons wax but living in Canada a lot of products are still hard to get. I really favour the Annie Sloan soft wax for ASCP and the MMS furniture wax for MMS milk paint. Screwy huh? The waxes seem like they were made to go with their paint. The Annie Sloan wax can be buffed to a high sheen (horrors) or a matte finish but leaves the furniture with a silky smooth texture. I use a wax brush in a circular motion and shoptowels for buffing working in small sections.(ie. 1 drawer at a time or a max 1 sq ft area) I am not a fan of using socks or old t-shirts as they leave a light lint that I can see in the wax and it drives my nuts.  
The MMS furniture wax is lovely (smells great) and is a more flat soft finish that works perfectly with milk paints.  The only thing not going for this wax is the container size/price ratio compared to the AS soft wax, especially when working in high quantity.

Hands down, the MMS antiquing wax is my favourite in the dark category. It looks like dirt. It goes on looking like the piece was dug out of a barn and cleaned up, exactly what you want when trying to achieve age. The AS dark wax needs working in and must have clear wax first to keep the colour integrity of the paint. I tend to apply dark waxes with the shoptowels instead of a brush allowing for more control of the application.

What kind of brushes are you using?

When I first started with the furniture painting, I was using the brushes we had at home for trimming walls. I wasn't overly impressed using them but didn't have any other option at the time. They splattered and didn't get into crannys like I needed.
I invested in 1 small Annie Sloan paint brush just to try and see if there was a difference. 
The difference is huge and it makes sense. You aren't painting walls, so why would you use the same brush. The Annie Sloan paint brushes, hold the paint differently and allow for minimal brush lines, and can be jammed into small spaces with the round heads.

Left to Right, my brush selection
Annie Sloan medium paint brush (I generally only use this guy for big cupboards to go quicker)
Annie Sloan small paint brush (my brush of choice and I now own multiples so I can work on a few pieces at a time.)
Waxwell wax brush (this one is dark wax only)
Annie Sloan medium/lrg wax brush (clear wax only)
Purdy angle brush (inside drawer detail areas)

I don't clean my wax brushes after every use as it isn't really necessary. I just smoosh them around or bang them on my workbench and they are good to go. Once they get too caked I rub them around on my palm with warm water and dawn dishsoap. Lye soap is the proper method but that isn't just sold at the grocery store.
If you are only painting once per 6 months, I would clean it after every use.

I hope some of this helps and answers most of the questions.Now onto...
What kind of dog is Milo?

Miss Milly is our 15 year old baby Jack Russell Terrier 

Where did you get the mirror in your dining room?

The mirror in the dining room is the Mansard Mirror from Restoration Hardware

What is your favourite food?

Well since you asked, pizza, pizza and yup pizza, although we are a bit of foodies over here more so in the fall and winter so in the event pizza is not on the menu, I am a savoury person so pasta or mexican. 

Do you sleep?

Ha. Sometimes. In all seriousness, lately not a lot. Between work, family, the etsy shop, this blog, checking instagram obsessively, exercise and getting ready the show on October 5I could definitely use some more zzz's. I am willing to sacrifice some of my sleep right now though knowing it WILL be worth it in the end and I will have 1 job I love to go to and get up in the morning for.  

How often do you change your decor?

Well, I am always tweaking something here or there. It's a compulsive thing at this point. I don't really decorate for holidays except Christmas. Christmas is my jam!!!!
I am more of a seasonal decorator. I have a 2 day rip down, put up around every change of season, so I guess the answer would be 4 times a year.  

Have a great weekend everyone,


  1. Hi Meg. Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I have just begun painting some old pieces that we have purchased for our little getaway place, and am really enjoying using Annie Sloan. I just recently started reading your blog, which I think I discovered through Pinterest. Thanks for your time and hard work in putting this post together! Sue

    1. thanks for visiting sue and good luck with your projects. ah the wonderful world of pinterest........

  2. Great tips and they will come in handy all in one post like this. I bought the wax brush when I bought my first ASCP and AS wax recently but I may hold out to paint it until I can get back for the small brush. I just bought a replacement can of Zinnsser cover stain so that tip was timely too. Still hoping I can make your show too.

  3. Hi Meg, that's a ton of great information...thanks. Re: scissors, have you tried the set of Chinese scissors from Lee Valley? My dad who is an avid woodworker and gardener uses them exclusively and is still using the first set he ever bought. I have a set too and love them.

    1. i haven't andrea but i have heard of them so may look into that. my problem is leaving them random places. i think i need a beeping tracker or something.

  4. Hi, Meg: wondering where you are located in Ontario as we are finding chalk paint isn't available

    1. i am in the niagara region and purchase mine from the purple painted lady in macon, ny and have it shipped to niagara falls, ny. there is however a store in st.thomas,on called diamonds and toads and another in hamilton,on called the painted bench. i am sure if you aren't local enough to drive they may ship to you. there is another but their customer service is terrible so i won't even mention their name.

  5. Hi, great post! You were talking about pink bleeding through...I've had that happen a couple times lately on older pieces, what on earth is that?? Do you use Shellac on everthing or just bleed throughs? I use Kilz and it usually works but not always. Do you ever use poly, why oy why not? Boy, I'm full of questions this morning....hope you have time to answer! Thanks :) P. S. Love your blog, just recently found it!!

    1. i try to answer most questions as best as i can and love painting questions so here we go. i do not shellac everything mostly out of pure laziness. if i am painting a piece white, i always do minimum 2 coats of primer and then my white chalk paint. if for some reason after the priming step i notice the bleed through or the piece has knots, i use a foam brush and apply the shellac to those areas twice (just to be safe). shellac is sticky so do not use a good brush to apply, it will be garbage after.
      i really only use poly on pieces going outdoors as there really isn't any better alternative and waxed pieces will melt outside. i do not favour poly first on white furniture because it yellows and because it does not give the hard wearing smooth antiquey looking finish as wax. wax is much more work to apply but the results are hands down much more fabulous.
      hope this helps.

    2. Thanks for your help! Have you ever used spray shellac and do you like zinnzer better than kilz? Thanks again!!

    3. no joann i haven't used the spray shellac as i can't get it here but will pick some up next time i am in the states. i can imagine it is quite a bit more convenient and neater than the can type. i haven't found there to be a big difference with the kilz or zinsser but tend to buy zinsser. maybe the label is prettier lol.

  6. would you be willing to give us your recipe for AS griege? I need a nice warm gray.

  7. This is great -- thank you so much. Going to bookmark this one!


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