Chalk Paint Recipe

As promised… Here is my favorite DIY chalk paint recipe.

I know I have already gone on and on about how much I love chalk paint, but I figure I will tell all of you lovely people again. Chalk paint is fabulous. Period. What I love most about it, is that I get to completely skip all of the prep work that normally comes along with furniture refinishing when I use it. You heard correctly – No sanding, stripping, or any otherwise tedious preparation chore. The one drawback to chalk paint has always been the obscene cost – well, not anymore!!  Since discovering this recipe I can just mix the chalk paint and go. Hallelujah! Cheap and easy chalk paint makes for one happy girl.

There have been multiple recipes for chalk paint floating around on numerous blogs for quite a long time, almost all using nonsanded grout or Plaster of Paris as chalk-i-fy-ing ingredient. I have not tried the nonsanded grout version, because I tried the Plaster of Paris version first, and was so enamored I just haven’t felt the need to try anything else. Especially since the large package of Plaster of Paris I have will surely last me a year. But, among the Plaster of Paris recipes, there is great variation when it comes to the proportion of water, plaster and paint. The ratio I have found to work best is 3:1:1. That is: 3 parts paint, one part water and one part Plaster of Paris. For an average piece of furniture I usually mix 1 1/2 cups paint, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup Plaster of Paris. For a small furniture piece I use less, and for an extra large piece I use more – just common sense.

Here’s the walk through. Gather materials: Water, Plaster of Paris, Regular Latex Paint, plus a small container for mixing. Measure ingredients out being sure to keep the ratio at  3:1:1 (Paint: water: Plaster.) Mix water and Plaster of Paris together being sure to work all of the lumps out to a very smooth consistency. This mixture will be quite runny.

Pour plaster and water mixture and paint into large container and mix thoroughly until fully incorporated together. In this picture I mixed a cream and grey together to get a custom color, so I apologize for the lack of color differentiation between the plaster/water mixture and most of the paint.

This is my absolute favorite recipe and it never, ever fails me. There is still one other version of DIY chalk paint I am dying to try, and that is using pure calcium carbonate (yes, chalk) instead of Plaster of Paris. When I find calcium carbonate and try it, I will be sure to keep you all posted!! I hope this paint recipe helps you with all of your refinishing projects as much as it has helped me.

Happy refinishing!!

44 thoughts on “Chalk Paint Recipe

  1. Just fyi. Be sure to wear a mask when mixing Plaster of Paris.… Plaster of Paris powder is extremely light and fine, thus easily dispersed through air. Caution should be taken to avoid getting the powder to the eyes and nose. Wearing a dust mask is highly recommended.Never mix Plaster of Paris with your bare hands. If you must make your own Chalk paint try Calcium carbonate or Unsanded grout (still need to wear a mask until it is mixed.) Paint safe 🙂

    • Hi there! You are absolutely correct… always follow manufacturers instruction on handling any material you are working with. That includes wearing a dust mask. As I mentioned in this post, non-sanded grout is also an excellent choice for making chalk paint, however it is not necessarily safer. Here are the Material Safety Data Sheets for both Plaster of Paris and Non-Sanded Grout. Calcium Carbonate really is an excellent choice as well, if you are lucky enough to find it!! I was not, so I had to make do. Thanks so much for making sure all of us DIYers are safe Shab 2 Fab!! I really appreciate your input. 🙂

      • Kara, I’m kind of on a mission to tell anyone that might not know. A friend got burned because her hands were wet when she was mixing. Could have been much worse but Kind of feel like I have to share..would hate for someone to get hurt worse like the kid at school that lost her finger 🙁 Love your site ~sha

        • I understand Shab2Fab. I welcome all discussion on this site. The more informed we all are – the better!

    • Not silly at all! You can get paint and Plaster of Paris at any home improvement store such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc. I hope this helps.

  2. I am new to these blogs….I must ask a silly question! When you talk about “chalk paint”, it seems you are NOT referring to the paint used for chalkboard decor or crafts??? Is this anything like the old fashion “milk paint”?

    • Hi there!! I apologize for the tardiness of this response. No, this is not the same kind of paint used for chalkboards etc. It is not like old fashioned milk paint. It does however give a finish that is easily distressed, and it takes the prep work out of refinishing because it will stick to anything!! I love chalk paint… and it is absolutely worth a try if you have never worked with it before.

    • OMG… I am sorry my response is so late. Just mix the Plaster of Paris and water mixture with whatever color of paint you want. You can make any color paint you have, or any color paint you get into chalk pain. That is the beauty of this recipe!!

  3. Hi, Just tried the recipe but got one blobby mess when the POP started to go off so I added another 1/2 C water. It still didn’t seem to be smooth when I started painting, it was a definite no no to use a roller. D you think POP is made different in other countries, I live in NZ.

    • Hi Helen. It is quite possible that POP is formulated differently in different countries, I’m not really sure though. The trick, I have found, is to mix the POP with water and then adding that mixture to the paint. The POP and water mix should be VERY liquid… very- It should almost look like milk. Really, not much thicker than the water was to begin with. And the mixture should be smooth, no chunkiness at all. If you just mix the water and paint and POP together without mixing the water and POP first, it is more likely to end up chunky, and you won’t be able to get any of the chunks out, no matter how hard you try. If your POP and water mixture is too thick, just add more water to thin it out until you get the right consistency. Just remember, water and POP first. Good Luck and let me know how it works out!!

    • Great to know!! Thanks for letting us all know where to get some cheap calcium carbonate. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment I hope you make a habit of it 😉

    • Hi there! Thanks for commenting 🙂 This holds up really well. I have painted numerous pieces and they are all still going strong with virtually no signs of wear! Good Luck on your project!! Let me know how it goes on the cabinets…

  4. I have used and shared your formula 3-1-1 and have had very pleasing results. If I could figure out how to add pictures I would! I also used SC Johnson paste wax after to finish the piece, but will try Min Wax next time. SC Johnson has a strong smell until it dries. Can’t use it in the house! Whew.

  5. This made one huge mess. I have no idea how you can paint with this. It took all day to make it, I mixed it and then I finally put it in my blender. It came out really nice and thick, but when it sat in the container for a few minutes, it separated again. YUCK!!!

  6. How many coats of this paint do you need compared to store bought chalk paint? I’ve heard store bought paint goes on in one coat but the homemade versions take up to 3 to give the same coverage 🙂

  7. Hi! I have a couple of questions.
    1: After you paint the project, do you then put a sealer or wax on it? (I’ve noticed that the chalk paint displays also have jars of finishing product, tool
    2: Can you use acrylic paint, like from the craft store?


  8. You MUST use a Latex paint. Please clarify that to others that keep getting a muddy consistency. No Acrylic-Latex ONLY!

  9. Did you put any type of sealer after painting? I used the 3:1:1 ratio and it seems that the paint will scratch off very easily. Is it suppose to scratch off easily? Thanks!

  10. I have a question for any body I would like to make a small chalk board for my grands but the can of chalkboard paint was to much can I use this to make chalkboard paint recipe for that

  11. I have bought calcium carbonate from the local garden center where it is much cheaper than online. The recipe I used was 2 parts paint to one part calcium carbonate. It was quite chalky and it may be better to mix with water then add paint. Do you know about calcium carbonate recipes?

  12. I to use the plaster of Paris with paint mix. Although I was thrilled with the cost the ease of painting without sanding and other preparation I am somewhat disappointed that there are little grits or grains of the plaster of Paris on the table I painted. Tried to mix it very very well. I used Annie Sloan clear wax but you can still feel those little grains on the table. Any idea if this is supposed to be this way or what I could have done “wrong”.

  13. Can this solution be used in a sprayer…We do so much furniture that we have gotten spoiled to a sprayer!

  14. Calcium carbonate can be found at hirsch feed store in the powder form for less than $5.00 for a 50 lb bag. Sharon

  15. I have mixed my plaster until it is smooth, but I can still feel grit in it. I have mixed and mixed. There are no lumps at all, but I can still feel and see the grit when I try to paint with it. HELP!

  16. I also used the POP, mixing it with water first. The page went on wonderfully however there are tiny pieces of grit i.e. plaster of Paris now on the table I painted. Waxing did not help that situation. I want to paint another piece of furniture, but do not want the gritty texture. Help! Any idea what I am doing wrong?

  17. I love finish that comes with chalk paint. I want black. Will this recipe give me grey or will it remain a true black?

  18. Hi! Just another FYI on calcium carbonate. I’m a potter, so I’m used to mixing my own glaze recipes. I use calcium carbonate all the time. If you know of or live near a ceramic supply store you can purchase it by the pound…very inexpensive!

  19. Hi Kara,
    I came across your chalk paint recipe months ago. It was my first time ever painting with chalk paint…I’ve always stuck to painting it old school! I LOVED your recipe! So easy to make and so fun to paint with.
    I now have started a blog of my own recently and have shared your recipe, with a link back to you…I’m new at all this so let me know if I’m not following proper protocols! I think it’s fantastic you shared such a simple recipe that saves people tons of money, thank you!

  20. I’ve made your recipe at least a half dozen times and it worked like a charm!
    A couple of days ago, I attempted to mix another batch using the same recipe and ingredients as before but for some reason it turned into a curdled paste….. I tried 3 times, once trying to mix the paint into the plaster mix…..same result each time…… I’m pretty confused!
    Any suggestions?????

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