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DIY Chalk Paint Recipe {makes a great primer}


DIY Chalk Paint primer

sofa table diy chalky paint primerI showed you this sofa table makeover last week that I used my homemade primer underneath a latex paint topcoat. I’m not a huge fan of waxing chalk paint, so I’ve been trying different things to keep from having to wax and buff.  My shoulder is feeling so much better, I don’t want to chance injuring it again with a lot of waxing and buffing. This table had a slick finish on the top and the bottom shelf.  I sanded those, but I didn’t want to sand those legs, that is why I chose to make my own chalky paint and use it as a primer. Many people left comments and wrote me emails asking what my recipe is.  I never measure when I cook or when I paint.  I made a point of mixing some paint recently and actually measuring the Plaster of Paris  and the water.

    diy chalky paint with PlasterI always mix my Plaster of Paris with water before I add it to my paint.

diy chalky paint recipeThis is my magic formula for DIY Chalk Paint.

things to remember:

Mix plaster and water till it’s smooth with no lumps.  Pour your mixture into approximately 1 cup of latex paint. This is not brain surgery folks.  If you get your paste too thin, add a little more plaster, too thick? add a little water. Sand your painted piece after the DIY chalky paint dries–before you add your top coat (just as you would with premium chalk paint) Your experience may vary depending on the consistency of the paint YOU are using. I have been known to save leftovers for up to two weeks in a container with a lid.  You may need to add a little water after storing this chalky paint. diy chalky paint projects   I have used this paste in all kinds of paint.  The ONLY paint it didn’t work with is a primer.  It thickened up immediately.  Now, when I say it didn’t work…. I did still use it.  So, it did work, but it was more difficult to paint.  For those of you who dislike prep work on furniture pieces, I recommend trying this.  It’s such a flat paint, which in my opinion makes it a perfect primer. Say you’re painting a piece red, no need to buy a special primer, make your own with the same paint you’ll be using as your topcoat! You can finish it off however you see fit, with wax,  or latex paint. I have even used wipe-on poly to seal this paint.  I heard lots of chatter at Haven about Turtle Wax, MinWax,  and even Johnson’s Floor Wax.  I’m sure it’s all a personal preference that has a lot to do with your budget.   diy-chalky-paint.jpg I spray 99% of my chalky paint primer projects with a HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer for a flawless finish.    DIY Chalk Paint primer

Do you make your own paint?  Do you have a frugal way of sealing your pieces?  Do you have a bunch of Turtle Wax hiding in your stash?

Check out these other projects I’ve done with DIY Chalky paint

sharing here:

   Elizabeth and Co.

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A teacher at heart, Gail relishes the chance not to show off her projects, but to help others find their inner handywoman, step-by-step. Her blog, MyRepurposedLife.com, chronicles her scrap-saving adventures and has been featured on countless DIY magazines and websites, including Women’s Day, Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy. She is a longtime influencer for both Krylon spray paint and Gorrilla Glue. With a tribe of more than 400,000 followers, Gail is inspiring a new generation of DIYers to pick up some tools and get to work.
About gail@myrepurposedlife.com


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Does the paint chip off on any of your projects? I have used my own chalk paint, and I noticed a few chips on the dresser I have painted.

  2. Hi! I was wondering if I can use this primer on laminated wood. Should I sand the wood first or can I use it without the sanding part?

  3. Awesome. I hadn’t thought of chalkboard paint – which I love – as a primer as well! I found you via Pretty Handy Girl Brittany.

  4. i have to prime a subfloor to cover a urine stain from my dog before installing the new outdoor carpet. Will this diy chalk primer work to seal the floor? If not do you have other suggestions of what I might do?

  5. Is chalk paint or real primer like Zinser a better primer?

    • Cathy,

      I suppose it’s a matter of opinion about which is better. The reason I LOVE the DIY made from my own paint, is that it IS the color that I’m using for the topcoat. I don’t have to have primer tinted, or do extra coats. In addition, it’s much more cost effective to use an oops paint to mix the DIY chalky paint primer.


  6. What sheen do you use to mix for chalk paint? I read somewhere to use flat… Thanks!

    • I have used everything. The only thing that didn’t work was full out primer. I generally use Behr paint and primer in one semi-gloss, then use the paint out of the can (semi-gloss) for the top coat, so I don’t have to wax and buff.


  7. Gail – do you strain/filter your chalk paint before using it in your paint sprayer?

  8. I’m so glad you share all of your info here. I bought some chalk paint this weekend at the flea market and the lady there told me never to use chalk paint in a sprayer. But I knew that I had seen you talk about using it in yours. I just looked back over you FB page and sure enough found where you do use it without any problems. She also me told I should never use latex on furniture because it would ruin the integrity of the piece. Any thoughts on that? I thought I’m not too worried about the integrity of a piece if I’m painting it anyway.

    • Chris,

      I have put all paints in my sprayer with no problem. The finish is awesome! I have been spraying latex mixed with plaster of paris on furniture for years. I guess I lack integrity. heheheh :)

      I agree with you about it… if you’re painting it, what does it really matter? I suppose people who LOVE chalk paint, think everyone should use it. I on the other hand think everyone should use this DIY version. To me, it really doesn’t get any easier, using semi gloss with Plaster of Paris, as a primer, then using the same semi gloss without plaster of Paris as a topcoat.
      I’m happy you were able to find this post to put your mind at ease.


  9. Of COURSE I’ve made my own chalky paint! And I use Briwax, Liberon Black Bison and Minwax…among others…for waxing.

  10. Have you ever used Briwax…

  11. Is there any prep work you need to do before going over chalk paint with a latex paint? Thanks :)

  12. Does this work for all different sheens of late text paint? If I had a higher gloss paint would I need to add more plaster of Paris? Which sheen do you usually recommend? (Eggshell, satin, semi gloss, etc.)

  13. I have made my own chalk like paint once using both POP and powdered calcium carbonate mixed with acrylic paint and water. It turned out great. I have used both wipe on poly and spray on polycrylic to finish my projects. I found wax tedious and it wasn’t long before I found the polys as a good substitute. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  14. Love this site! My apologies if this has already been asked/answered a hundred times…I will be repainting a cheap old tv stand….one of those shiny, largely pressboard pieces. Seems like this chalk paint primer will be the best choice for a fist coat? And no sanding is necessary beforehand? Thanks for your input!

  15. Hello…I used a recipe that was 1/2 c POP 1/2 c H20 and cup of paint….very chalky when dried…can you help? THanks

    • Jan,

      I would say you used way too much POP, but even using the proper amount of POP the finish will be chalky. Any type of chalk paint, home made or otherwise needs to be sealed with wax, paint, poly or some sort of sealant to protect the very flat finish.

  16. I’m wanting to get a matte finish over my chalk paint (I came up with the same recipe ratio as you, Gail!). I don’t want to use wax because the piece will get too much wear and it needs to hold up, especially the top of the piece. I’m not finding polyacrylic options in a matte finish. The lowest sheen offered is satin – too shiny. Has anyone ever tried adding some POP to the polyacrylic to lower the sheen??

    • I asked around and this is the suggestion I got

      use the Polycrylic first and then the paste wax over that – this provides the protection and look.

      I would try it on a scrap piece first to see if you like the look.

      good luck!


      • Thanks! Never would have thought of that. And trying it on scrap first is definitely a go. Once the wax is on I would have to sand it off if I don’t like it. Had enough sanding!

  17. You can melt clear minwax and add a wood stain to get a darker wax.

  18. Do you water your diy chalk paint any when you use your sprayer or do you use it just like your “recipe” above?
    Mindy :)

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      I dilute the DIY chalk paint when I use it in my sprayer. :) I’d love to give you a ratio, but paint is so different. I always thin mine quite a bit. It goes on better when it’s thin.

      have fun!
      good luck!

  19. Donna Mack says:

    I was wondering if you have found a way to make wax that is dark in color like the expensive annie sloan dark wax. Thank you

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      No, I have not. I do have some of the Minwax dark furniture wax, but haven’t used it yet. I know some have said they used shoe polish, but the kind I have does not work.


  20. got a question on the waxing. if a glass was set on it and you had waxed it would it not leave a “white ring” Just curious.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      I have only used wax a handful of times, and I don’t own any of those pieces. It’s hard to say, but I don’t think there would be a ring.

      However, the piece I did in this post with the semi-gloss paint, I believe a white ring may be left behind.

  21. Patric Mears says:

    Hi Gail, I just found a link to your site on Facebook. I have a question about the “chalk paint”. Could you explain to me what the purpose of it is, and what it looks like when applied? Is it rough textured? Have anything to do with a chalkboard?

    By the way I’m a pretty experienced DIY’er so I ask in the spirit of trying to learn a new technique….

    Thanks for your help!

    Patric Mears

  22. Susan Sinclair says:

    Hi, I have a lot of questions, I’m a first time painter, I’ve used semi gloss paint on most of my items with good results, however, I’ve never sealed anything, what is the best cost effective wax or sealer to use? Most items will be for out door wood chair planters but other items are for indoors. Help?

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      If things are going to be outdoors, they must be sealed. I don’t do outdoor stuff because in my opinion, it just doesn’t last unless you seal with marine varnish. Minwax has a version, and it’s for outdoors. It does yellow a little on white.
      I don’t believe that wax is meant for outdoor use because it melts in the sun.

      I once painted a bench with outdoor paint and didn’t seal it- the bench only lasted a couple of years before the paint started peeling, then after that, the wood started becoming damaged from the weather.

      I can give you a lot of pointers for indoors, most of which are in this article. My favorite is to use Behr paint with Plaster of Paris as a primer, then use Behr paint as is for a topcoat. If you’d like to seal I recommend Polycrylic from Minwax.

  23. Bobbi Girone says:

    I just love the idea of home made chalk paint! Can you tell me what you have used to apply it? I know the store-bought brands recommend a foam roller but I imagine you have used other things given the fact that you are painting legs and such. Do you still get a smooth, writable finish using other tools to apply it? Thanks for all your awesome ideas!
    Bobbi :-)

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      I rarely use this formula for actual chalkboard paint. I primarily use it as chalk paint-which is very flat and will stick to almost any surface with very little prep and sanding.
      I apply it with a chip brush or my paint sprayer. I recommend a light sanding between coats for paint or chalkboard use. :)

      Happy you found My Repurposed Life


  24. Just clarifying. One can use the chalk paint and then seal it with turtle wax and t will stay?

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      I myself have not tried turtle wax to seal DIY chalk paint. I have heard others talk about using it exclusively. I use the DIY chalk paint in a semi-gloss paint and then use the semi-gloss paint without Plaster of Paris as a top coat. Works great!


  25. Hi, I just happened to come across this as I was looking up a cheap way to mix my own primer. I am painting my front door red. I was going to go have some primer tinted a pink and then paint over with a semi gloss. Now I am thinking of using the paint I am going to paint the door and mixing with the POP and the water. I have made the chalk paint before and it has worked fine for me.

    I am not much a semi gloss painter. I feel with a semi gloss you have to paint “perfect.” I distress everything I paint to hide my imperfections. However, I do not want to distress the front door, so I am trying to get this right.

    Thanks for any input. Bookmarking this site.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      You don’t say whether it’s a metal door or a wooden door. I think a wooden door is a little more forgiving as far as brush strokes go. I think the key will be to use at least two light coats of POP primer (red) and maybe 3 light coats of red semigloss. You will need to do a very light sanding between every coat to get the best (smooth) surface. Be sure to wipe away all of the dust in between coats. I would recommend using a Purdy paint brush to minimize brush strokes. If it is a paneled door, there are tutorials online as to how to paint — which panel first etc.
      good luck, happy you stopped by and took the time to leave a comment.


      • Thanks for the help. It is a wood door. I will go ahead and splurge on a decent brush you are right I love the Purdy brushes. I usually end up buying cheap cheap brushes and then being too lazy to clean them and tossing them.

        Love the site, going to spend the next hour watching Nashville and browsing the site. Thanks again

  26. So sometimes you use just the primer (no top coat of regular ol’ latex) and seal it?

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      I finish it off in all kinds of ways…
      top coat of:
      wipe-on poly

      The paint is so flat that it can’t be your final coat. You have to seal it with something… but they choices are endless. :)

  27. DairyGodmother says:

    Thanks for posting this. I found this blog when I was specifically searching for anyone who used homemade chalk paint as a primer. I just got into painting recently, mostly as a way to use up all the sample containers I had leftover from choosing wall-color! I know the paint is not as good, but I figured what a great way to try out some recipes with little investment. My first chalk paint recipe used 1.5 cups of paint, half cup hot water and half cup Plaster of Paris. It worked fine, but was thin, and now that I see you recipe it makes sense. It also may be thin because my sample paint is incomplete. But I dont care, it’s fun and got me over the nerves of trying something new.

    I purchased some polycrylic to use as a top coat, but now I”m curious about wax too. Though I also have carpal tunnel from pregnancy like another poster, so maybe we will wait for wax rubbing! Thanks again.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      Happy you found My Repurposed Life!

      I love diy chalk paint. I use it all the time. I buy oops paint for $7 a gallon, and mix up the paint as I go along. Love it! I too have a difficult time with waxing and buffing (bad shoulder) I generally use wipe on poly, but have started trying waxing ever so often.

      good luck, and have fun! experimenting is half the fun… figuring out something new


  28. I think I probably make mine the same way. I forget to add it to water first. So I take the long way around and stir, stir, stir…like it’s BUTTA!
    I especially like the primer aspect of it. Was happy to see that it sticks to silicone caulk too!
    Great stuff.

  29. I don’t have my own budget friendly paint recipe that I can use or share, but I do like your chalk paint recipe. I have some old chests that could use some fixing up and this looks like a great way to re purpose them. Thanks!

  30. I am gonna try your recipe 😉 I have used my version and find it’s always gritty. Probably because I never measure and use too much Plaster of Paris. I always just sand off the grit. It sure does stick like glue 😉 thanks for sharing!

  31. I also missed the camo desk! I have read that with some colors of stain there is bleed through with even the “store bought” chalk paint. The person asking the blogger for help had used Annie Sloan chalk paint over a reddish/orange mahogany color stain. She was not intending to use a different top coat. Interesting that one commenter here was having a similar problem with orangish colored stain.

  32. how did the test go with spray painting your chalk paint? I’m buying the plaster of paris tomorrow.

  33. Love that PoP!!!!!!!!!!

  34. I recently started painting my husband’s childhood furniture (it is solid oak, in a dark/orangish stained wood finish) with chalk paint that I purchased (Maison Blanche is the brand, I think?). I’ve done two coats, and I’m already through one quart of the $40 chalk paint! After two coats, there is still a lot of wood staining coming through the white paint, and the thought of putting another two (or more?) coats of chalk paint on – then waxing it all – is killing me. I’m 8 months pregnant with horrible carpal tunnel, so I’m seriously considering spraying over the chalk paint with a latex satin enamel that I just used on my kitchen cabinets (using my new Wagner sprayer, which has awesome coverage, a smooth finish and is SO fast and easy to use!)

    I’m wondering if spraying latex over 2 coats of chalk paint will hold up well? I didn’t sand or de-gloss this furniture at all before starting with the chalk paint. Since this is going to be our new baby’s furniture, it’s going to see a lot of wear and tear over the next few years. Would you recommend this chalk paint as primer method for bedroom furniture – will it hold up fairly well?
    Thanks in advance for your reply!

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:


      Ohh so awful about the bleed…. I’m really of no help there, but I can certainly feel your pain for all the coats AND the cost. I think if the latex paint you’re thinking about spraying is a light color, you may still get some bleed. I would recommend speaking to a dealer of the paint to see what they suggest. You’ve already put so much time and effort into your sweet project…. it needs to work out quickly!

      As far as this chalkpaint as a primer…. it’s basically to get your latex paint to stick well. The final topcoat or finish will determine how well it will hold up. If I want a piece to be durable, (like my toy box I made recently) I use a Polycrylic sealer. It’s water based, low odor, and has a very durable finish.

      I hope some of this helps. good luck to you on the project and with your new little bundle of joy!

  35. I may have to give the homemade chalk paint another try…it was an epic fail for me the first time around!

  36. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says:

    Well you know I’m a big fan of homemade chalk paint! And I’m on a quest to find the best top coat!

  37. Hi Gail,
    Last week was my first attempt at making my own chalk paint and I used the same recipe that you are sharing. I have had good luck with it and I also wondered about using latex on top.. I finished one cabinet and then found our that the handles would be $70 since the spacing of the holes were at an odd distance. I cam straight home and filled in all the holes but was thinking about repainting the entire cabinet and wondered about just painting it without the chalk paint…too funny! Thanks for sharing.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      Handles/hardware are so incredibly expensive. I had handles, and switched to knobs by filling in one hole on each door. :) I love that this recipe is a great primer…. green under green… black under black. (instead of gray) I think it’s a no-brainer.

      good luck with finishing that huge job of painting cabinets!

  38. I’ve never tried mixing my own. I mix paint colors all the time but not my own chalk paint. Someday I will try this and follow your recipe . I wax with Annie Sloan wax….have yet to try any other. When I add poly I generally use wipe on or spray on.

  39. Thanks, Gail! I’m going to give this a try! How in the world did I miss the camo desk ?!?!? It is awesome! (As are all your pieces).


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!