How to use Grand Illusions chalk paint

How to use...

For the best results, ensure the surface is clean and dry. Stir or shake the can well before use. Apply two coats (some light colours and white may need an additional coat), with a paint brush or roller. Do not overspread the paint, you are aiming for a fairly thick and even application. On walls keep a wet-edge going at all times.

Being a chalk paint you can also achieve all kinds of paint effects with such simple things as sandpaper and kitchen scourer. For furniture or wood accessories, you will need to finish with one or two coats of the matt varnish ‘Simply Varnish’ or the toluene-free ‘Simply Wax’, as preferred. Clean brushes in water.

To get a professional result...a little preparation goes a long way

To paint on waxed surfaces, we strongly recommend you remove the wax with a sugar soap or methylated spirits and then apply a couple of coats of ‘Simply Shellac’ to seal, prior to painting. This is to prevent oil spots or bubbles appearing on the surface.

Similarly, on old wood or bare wood furniture, we strongly recommend, keying the surface with sandpaper, then sealing with ‘Simply Shellac’ (2 coats) prior to painting. This prevents wood knots and old stains pulling through to the surface. Shellac is an oil based product and brushes should be cleaned with methelayted spirits.

On already painted furniture, roughly key the surface with sandpaper (we like grade 80 paper), wipe off the dust and then paint. This will give you maximum durability. ‘Simpy Varnish’ is best for pieces that are going to get a lot of surface use, ‘Simply Wax’ when you want a soft sheen that highlights the pigments in the paint.

Applying the paint...

Use a size of paint brush that matches the size of the piece you are working on. So a smaller brush for a smaller piece and a larger brush for a larger piece. A non loss brush is the best type to use.

Dip the brush in the paint to three quarter of the way up the bristles, wipe the paint off one side and apply the paint in a long straight lines in the same direction as the wood grain. You are aiming for a fairly thick application and try not to overwork the paint. Watch out for dribbles, its easier to wipe them off when they are wet, than trying to sand them off when dry. Try to put the same amount of paint on the brush with each dip into the pot, this will help you to get an even coat on.

Allow to dry fully before applying the next coat. Drying times can vary greatly and is very dependant on atmospheric temperature and humidity. A warm sunny day with a slight breeze are the best conditions, paint dries in about 30 mins. On a cold wet day it will take much longer. In simple terms the paint is dry when it no longer looks wet and has a matt chalky finish to it, when you touch is it will have a dry velvet feeling to it.

Most of the time you will always need 2 coats of paint to get good coverage, the first coat can look quite patchy. Lighter colour, especially the Sel de Mer white, can take up to 4 coats depending on the underlying wood colour. 

Ageing and distressing...

The wonder of a chalk based paint is that it allows you to achieve and aged and distressed look to your work. The chalk in the paint means that it can be sanded off to reveal the underlying surface (this cannot be acheived with normal emulsion). This can be a subtle effect with only the edges sanded, or you can go a little further and work on any areas where natural wearing would of occurred over time.

I prefer to use a grade 80 sandpaper and start with a light pressure, its better to go over the same spots fairly lightly multiple times, than to be too heavy handed and don't sand in a swirly motion, you won't get a nice effect. Also, if you apply too much pressure the paint can rip off and you can sand off too much too quickly leading to disappointment if this is not what you wanted to achieve.

This process does create a lot of dust, but it is heavy dust, so it can be wiped of with a dustpan and brush, or one of my students used a hand held hoover. Try not to blow it off, it goes everywhere. 

When you 'age' something where you have applied only one paint colour, this is known as one colour ageing. Projects can get interesting when using two different paint colours, a base colour and a top colour. When you sand back the top colour to reveal the base colour, this is known as 2 colour ageing.

When sanding/ageing a 2 colour project be very careful with the pressure you apply. Ideally you only want to reveal the base colour and not go all the way through to your original finish. A handy almost fail safe method is to apply a coat of varnish between the two paint colours - this puts a resistance layer between them, making it harder, when you start sanding, for you to go through to the wood. This resistance technique can only be applied to edges if you want, as these are always particularly vulnerable.

And finally...

You can leave your piece in its lovely soft chalky finish,  or you could achieve a lovely sheen using a kitchen scourer. Bear in mind though that a chalk paint is very porous and will mark and scratch easily. We only recommend this finish if your piece is not going to be touched or used very much.

If you want a wipeable hardwearing finish, then i recommend the 'Simply Varnish'. It is a matt varnish, and it does dry completely matt (it brushes on milky but goes clear as it dries). It can be painted on with a brush, make sure you apply it in long straight lines in the direction as the grain, try not to overlap each stroke too much and try not to go back and forth. Brushes can be washed with water and 1 coat is generally enough. It dries in about 30 mins or so, but it needs 3 to 4 hours to harden off completely. Please be aware that altough the varnish is much more harder wearing than the wax I would still not leave a cup, glass or pot on a surface without a putting something under it. A spill can be wiped off easily and in most cases will dry off and not leave a mark.

If you like a soft sheen, and a more tonal deep colour intensified look, then wax is the finish you want. From a beauty perspective wax is the way I always prefer to go. It keeps the lighter colours more pure to their painted finish and the dark colours seem to intensify. Wax can be applied with a cloth or brush and should be applied not too thickly and your aiming for an even coat (no lighter patches). Before buffing (we love to use an old flannel or towel), leave the piece for a least 30 mins or preferably overnight - this will make your job easier. Please be aware that wax does mark easily and is not resistant to standing water - put something under a cup or plant pot!