This is the first instalment of the DIY Chalk Paint Distress Tutorial. I will elaborate on the before & prep in this post, and more on the “how-to” in the second post to follow.

The project: DIY Chalk Paint & Distressing my new Baby Change Table f0r the studio (changing station addition will take place behind the scenes with no tutorial).

To start, you need to gather all your supplies, and of course the item you plan on embellishing. I scouted out my local classifieds and thrift shops until I found my desired piece of furniture. My item of choice? An old office desk to be converted into a baby change table, with mini storage for extra diaper changing supplies. Thanks NRCC for the hidden treasure :)

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Since I had to take this lovely desk apart to fit in my car, this is the only “before” photo that shows the table in its entirely before the upcycle began. Excuse the image quality.

Next, you will need to gather your supplies. I purchased all the supplies at my local Canadian Tire for just under 60$. Not pictured but will be used is a bowl or old tupperware or yogourt container to mix the DIY chalk paint, measuring cups (my advice is to line them with saran wrap if using food ones, or buy some at dollar store as “craft supplies”), some stir sticks, rags, perhaps a drop cloth if doing this inside, and a piece of cheesecloth to apply the furniture wax. Oh, and some tap water too :)

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Supplies Needed: Plaster of Paris, Paste Finishing Wax, Wood Stain, Sand Paper, Paint Thinner, Latex Gloves, Paint Brush, Sponge or Stain Brush, Latex Paint, Rags

For this project in particular, I am using Minwax Wood Stain in “Ebony”and eggshell style paint from Benjamin Moore in “Ginger Ale” (colour-matched for the CIL paint tester can):

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Minwax Wood Stain in Ebony

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CIL paint tester colour in Ginger Ale from Benjamin Moore’s Options collection.

Grab your sandpaper and go to town anywhere on your piece of furniture that you will want to have the wood stain colour pop through. This removes any previous paint, stain or dirt. [side note: if removing old paint, I recommend using a mask because some paints contain lead, which is crazy toxic.] For myself, I am going with the table-top and the leg corners (for our distress tutorial later in Part 2).

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Latex Gloves (any kind works) and Sandpaper. For sanding down your piece of furniture initially, you should use a heavier grit like 60-80. The 120 grit is for the distressing.

Make sure you wipe it down afterwards with a damp cloth to remove the dust (a quick vacuum helps too). Then, grab your latex gloves, sponge, rag, and stain of choice and follow the instructions on the can to achieve your desired colour. Let dry thoroughly. Multiple coats may be required. Have your paint cleaner on hand for any splashes or drips, and to clean your sponge/foam brush afterwards and in between coats.

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LOW ODOUR paint thinner. The Varsol brand still contains mineral spirits so is still very toxic, but this type in particular has less chemicals that cause the strong scent. Caution should still be excersized: to be used in well ventilated areas (despite the claim for “enclosed areas”) and you should take a break and go for a quick walk outside and open windows if feeling dizzy or light headed.

Once your stained pieces have dried completely (dry to the touch and not sticky at all–usually after 24 hours), you may proceed.

[“before & after” sanding & staining images to come]

Next step is to transform your latex paint into chalk style paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint!). Ideally, you can skip these steps and use real chalk paint.. If you have purchased chalk paint, continue to the next steps. If you’re like me and want the full experience versus convenience in this case, keep following. [side note, the pretty well only main difference from DIY versions to the original chalk paint is that it is not as toxic (original uses calcium carbonate rather than plaster of paris) and is more ideal if using for surfaces that babies and children will come into direct contact (cribs, high chairs, bench, toys, etc.) than it’s DIY counterpart. That being said, if you don’t mind spending the 12$ on the 1 cup of food-grade calcium powder instead of 5$ for 2lbs of plaster of paris, go for it! There’s also the non-food-grade version of CC (aka ground up rocks) that is much harder to get, but cheaper..ish (1$/lb but you have to buy a 50lbs bag!).]

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Plaster of Paris – Dry Powder

Grab your container of choice, measuring cups and stir sticks and let’s make some chalky paint! Ideally it would be a resealable container so it doesn’t solidify and dry out between coats. You will however want to rinse your brush between coats to protect the bristles. Don’t forget your gloves because the powder is an irritant.. I also recommend doing this outdoors, or if that’s not possible to do so in an extremely well-vented area (free of other people, especially children for at least 24 hours) and using a mask. 

to Part 2..