Caring For Your Chalk Paint Creations

**Updated with some useful info from a couple of awesome expert readers!**

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of information out there on how to paint furniture with chalk paints and the best methods for waxing and what not, but not a lot on how to care for the piece you just spent hours refinishing. I’m going to show you a few before and after photos of the dresser I revealed yesterday with the same camera angles to show you the difference.

Notice anything peculiar about this image besides my crazy looking hair in the reflection or the damage to the door jamb on the left?

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Now take a look at the dresser in the image below. Notice the difference in the finish? That’s not Photoshop folks!

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I actually refinished this dresser months ago and took all the necessary steps in properly sealing the piece with my coveted clear wax.  However, furniture wax is NOT the same as sealing with polyurethane.  Pieces painted with chalk paint and sealed with wax need to be cleaned properly.

Chalk paint is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It lets me skip so many steps, the finish is incredibly smooth, and a quart lasts through 3 large pieces of furniture.  The downside is that it can sometimes absorb stains (the waxed pieces, not the poly) because the chalk paint is… chalky. In my case peanut butter and jelly minion sized stains, EVERYWHERE!  I was about to take photos when I noticed the little stains all over the place. Completely unacceptable.

Vanessa was in the room at the time and I generally don’t like to use cleaning products (green or not) in front of her. I may just be paranoid, but I fall into that group of better safe than sorry kind of people.  In my desperate MUST.CLEAN.NOW. freak out, I just grabbed a scrubby sponge (not thinking clearly) hoping to wipe away the evidence that I let my kid eat pb&j’s when I don’t feel like cooking.  This is what happened. Streaks everywhere.  ** Something either went haywire the first time I waxed or there was residue on that stinkin sponge.**

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Those streaks are actually spots where the wax was stripped in areas I was scrubbing. Not a good look at all, but it was actually a good thing for me. Stripping away the wax and getting the stains out meant that this piece would be getting a fresh start.  So after I put Vanessa down for her nap, I busted out my wax, wax brush, microfiber cloth and a pair of stockings. Wax on, wax off, & buff when the wax dries (with the stocking).  I don’t know why, but the stocking seems to make a higher sheen.

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Took less than 30 minutes total to do one coat, but I wax a lot of furniture.  It may take first timers a little longer.  Wax also needs to cure just like any other sealer so it’s best to avoid putting anything on freshly waxed pieces.  Also, too much wax = longer drying time, wax possibly never curing, etc. FYI, curing can take days depending on the humidity and temperature.

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So I’m guessing the low down on taking care of your chalk paint furniture is to:
1.  Never use harsh cleaning products to clean it.
2.  Even a sponge with water can strip your wax. *** Read below for an update ***
3.  Use products specifically made for polished furniture.
4.  If you have stains or over all grossness going on that a simple rub down can’t get out, strip and re-wax.

***I’m so fortunate to have amazing readers who specialize in ASCP products.  Something obviously went wrong with my waxing/cleaning process, hence the wacky streaking. If you want to master chalk paint techniques, PLEASE talk to your local ASCP retailer**

Wall Artistry Studio says:
Water will not strip your wax if you are using Annie Sloan wax. Not possible. I always recommend two coats of wax. Wait 24 hours minimum between coats and buff each coat for the most durability. I wash my things all the time because I have messy kids too and have not had to rewax yet. I’d be happy to talk through what other possibilites it could be that you ended up with streakiness. I do a lot of technical support for ASCP as well as decorative plasters and finishes. I’ve been doing decorative finishing for 20 years, have owned my own decorative finishing business since 2000, and have been teaching workshops for 4 years now

Debra is a master and I totally trust what she says, so if you need more info and you’re in the Ohio area, I’d totally contact her at Wall Artistry Studios.

The Vintage Iowan says:I agree with Wallartistry Studio. Normal soap and water wiped off with a soft towel will remove most of what grubby little hands might leave behind. And will rebuff it at same time! Or use a slightly dampened chamois to restore the sheen. Water will not strip off Annie Sloan clear wax. There was either cleanser residue on the sponge or perhaps it wasn’t AS wax? All furniture wax is not the same. Talk to your Annie Sloan Chalk Paint retailer on post refinishing care of your furniture! She/he will have the information you need!

*** Thanks for the advice ladies! Update over and out!***

Hope this helps those of you who are just getting into the whole chalk paint phenomenon.  I’m no expert on the stuff, but I do paint a whole heck of a lot of furniture with it.  So if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.  If there are any experts, I’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic!

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  1. 1

    Wow interesting and very informative post! Thanks for the info!

  2. 2
    Kate @ craftwhatever says:

    You are right- there is not a lot of follow up info for after your furniture is painted and your kids grub it up! Thanks! Found your blog from the blog hop at 36th Avenue!

  3. 3
    Wallartistry Studio says:

    Water will not strip your wax if you are using Annie Sloan wax. Not possible. I always recommend two coats of wax. Wait 24 hours minimum between coats and buff each coat for the most durability. I wash my things all the time because I have messy kids too and have not had to rewax yet. I'd be happy to talk through what other possibilites it could be that you ended up with streakiness. I do a lot of technical support for ASCP as well as decorative plasters and finishes. I've been doing decorative finishing for 20 years, have owned my own decorative finishing business since 2000, and have been teaching workshops for 4 years now.

  4. 4
    The Vintage Iowan says:

    I agree with Wallartistry Studio. Normal soap and water wiped off with a soft towel will remove most of what grubby little hands might leave behind. And will rebuff it at same time! Or use a slightly dampened chamois to restore the sheen. Water will not strip off Annie Sloan clear wax. There was either cleanser residue on the sponge or perhaps it wasn't AS wax? All furniture wax is not the same. Talk to your Annie Sloan Chalk Paint retailer on post refinishing care of your furniture! She/he will have the information you need!

  5. 5
    Maria @ Craft Crazy Mom says:

    Thanks for the info! I'm wondering if possibly the wax didn't cure properly the first time around or maybe there was some residue on the sponge that striped it. I'm going to update this post with a little clip about your expertise!

  6. 6
    Maria @ Craft Crazy Mom says:

    I'm thinking maybe you're right about the sponge having some type of residue on it because this was the first time the wax has every come off on a waxed piece. Or maybe something wacky happened during the curing process? It is AS clear wax…. Updating this post though! Thanks so much!

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    Inspire Me Heather says:

    What a gorgeous looking space and thanks for the advice! I'm now Linky Following you too!

  8. 8
    Sunny Vanilla says:

    Love the chevron stripes in that color!!! found you on the grow your blog hop and liked your fb page. I'd love for you to come check me out too!

    take care,
    jen
    sunnyvanilla.blogspot.com

  9. 9
    Nancy @ Life: Designed says:

    Thanks for the useful post! I can't wait to try this chalk paint! I am bestowing upon you a Liebster Blog Award! Check out my post tomorrow morning!

  10. 10

    I just painted my cabinets with chalk paint–it was my first time using chalk paint, and when I tried to clean a little spilled coffee off of my cabinet the paint came off. Paint. Came. Off. I was really annoyed considering I had just painted my entire kitchen in the chalk paint; not only was it expensive, but the waxing was a little more work than I would have hoped for.

    I love the look of the paint, don’t get me wrong, but the place we bought it from told us to “wax generously” so that was what we did… now even wiping the cabinets with a paper towel seems to take paint off. Is this my imagination? What is going on here?!

    I haven’t been able to find much information aside from your blog post–which I am SUPER thankful for, but any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. I feel like maybe I set my hopes too high for the chalk paint after all the great things I heard about it…..

    • 11

      Hi there! So sorry for taking so long to respond. I’m going to shoot you an email right now!

      • 12

        I literally just had my cabinets painted with chalk paint and the first coat of wax has been applied. I read many reviews saying ASCP and wax is fine for cabinets but this persons experience concerns me. Could you possibly send me whatever info you gave her? I want to make sure I have all pertinant info st the get go to avoid paint coming off. Btw your site offers a wealth of info!

      • 13

        Hi Mary Ann,
        So, I’ve heard some mixed responses in regards to chalk paint and even I have mixed feeling about it. I find that most retailers say that paint should NOT come off with a little elbow grease and non stripping chemicals…. BUT I’ve found that isn’t always the case. Don’t get me wrong, I love chalk paint. The finish is fantastic, but I prefer to use a more heavy duty sealer like Polycrylic (not Polyurethane) on heavy use items. That’s just me personally. The wax works fine for me on dressers and such, but there seems to be a learning curve when using the wax. Basically, painting is easy, waxing is hard. In the whole scheme of things, I honestly think that it’s easier to use primer, oil based paints with penetrol (latex with floetrol) and some poly. Hopefully your wax coat has hardened properly and you won’t have some of the problems other readers and I have had with it. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  11. 14

    If a piece is from the 30s or 40s, you may see some bleed through after the first coat of paint (a yellow or pink stain.) This is because they used a varnish back then that can get reactivated with the Chalk Paint. All you need to do is apply one or two coats of clear shellac with a cloth (I like Zinser clear shellac). It dries within 5 minutes, and you can get on to painting your second coat.

    If you have a piece that smells (smoke, cat pee, and so on) you can apply clear shellac before you begin painting. It seals the bad smells in, so you will have a nice fresh piece when you are all done!

    Also, I clean every piece with Simply Green cleaner and then wipe it down with water before I start painting.

    When I first started using Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax, I freaked out because my piece looked really blotchy. There was so much emphasis on not using too much wax that I actually didn’t use enough! When the wax is applied it deepens the paint, so the spots that didn’t get enough wax looked lighter. Now I know how much wax to use and my pieces come out much more even.

    I hope this helps!

    • 15

      Thank you so much Michelle! I love that so many readers are Chalk Paint experts! I did not know about antiques and reactivating the varnish. I thought I was crazy when the dresser turned blotchy after a round with a sponge. I’ve painted a bunch of furniture (lacquers, latex, spray & chalk paint) and could not figure out why cleaning my dresser with water would strip it down. After reading your post, I’ve come to the conclusion that I:
      a) Sealing it prior was probably a necessity.
      b) Didn’t use enough wax in fear of it not curing, which lead to oil stains from the pb&j

      • 16

        You are welcome, Maria! I’ve learned a lot of things about Chalk Paint® the hard way! I understand your concern for the wax not curing. If you leave too much wax on the piece though, it will not cure completely. The trick is to apply enough wax to absorb into the paint (you should see the color of the paint deepen where the wax is applied) and immediately wipe the excess off. It shouldn’t feel sticky or tacky. If it does, you need to keep wiping because you didn’t get all of the excess off. You don’t need to get carpel tunnel or anything from wiping..just gently wipe until the excess is gone. Just think of waxing furniture like conditioning your hair; it only takes the amount it needs and the excess is wiped off (or rinsed out). Hope this helps!