How Baking Soda Can Change the Way You Paint—in Just 5 Minutes

5 Minutes

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Chalk paint is super trendy (still!) because it quickly gives your surface an aged, matte look that is easily distressed. But, oh boy, can it get super pricey! I've got the perfect 3 ingredient hack for turning any house paint into chalk paint in 5 minutes.
First, you'll need baking soda. This recipe will make a little over 1 cup of paint. For a quart of paint, quadruple the amount, but remember that it dries out quickly.
Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of latex paint. Make sure to mix it well—you’ll need the consistency that my mixture had in the video. Lastly, add a few tbs of cold water.
Mix your ingredient until they create a thin, non-grainy texture. It takes a bit of time to dissolve all the baking soda, but, as you can see in the video, once it’s dissolved it will look just like the chalk paint you buy in stores.
This one cup of paint was more than enough to paint my end table and coffee table. I’m loving how genuinely chalky they look (and how little I spent)!

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  • Greg Scholl
    on May 8, 2020

    So I have been painting furniture for over 35 years, and never really understood the 'Chalk" paint craze. One can achieve the same look and feel with a good flat latex paint, and because it has not been adulterated with fillers (the "chalk', Plaster, Baking soda, Calcium Carbonate), it tends to be more stain resistant, adhere better, cover better, and generally a better paint. It IS MUCH cheaper too, even a high quality paint like Benjamin Moore, Behr Ultra, etc. is WAY cheaper, especially buying sample size jars for just a few dollars that can easily do a piece of average sized furniture. Most of what I've seen over the time I've been painting, distressing, waxing/topcoating painted surfaces on furniture appears to be marketing, with ridiculous pricing....layering, dry brushing and other application techniques, sanding to distress, etc., all work the same or better with a good flat/matte finish paint. Powdered, Casein based Milk paint, that's been around for hundreds of years, excels at that dry, chalky feel as well...but the color range it's available in is usually pretty limited...mostly New England-y, Colonial era type colors because of it's history. General 'Milk' paint is not milk paint at's just a good latex/acrylic paint, and is excellent for furniture, cabinetry, and the like. I also like Black Dog Salvage paints and round brushes. Even the waxes, brushes, and other marketed 'accoutrements', can be found by other well known manufacturers for far less money with just a little searching. There are many ways to accomplish a great finish on your piece, but I just though I'd throw in my 2 cents worth from over 35 years of experience...hope it helps!

    • Greg Scholl
      on May 18, 2020

      Contrary to what a lot of these "Shabby Chic" painters will tell you, chalk paint adheres about as good or less than a modern paint and primer in one paint like Behr Ultra, Benjamin Moore Advance, etc. The additives put in the Chalk paint actually inhibit adhesion, because they interfere with the film of the paint molecules..and the resulting surface does not stand up to stains, kids, and other every day abuse. In fact, one of the touted strengths of Chalk paint is that it's so easy to distress. Well it's easy to distress because it's a very dry, matte finish that does not adhere particularly well. It still needs to be top coated with something to get any durability and stain resistance...and clear coats are much more difficult for the novice to apply well....waxing is fine, but does not offer much in the way of durability at all, and can also be tricky to apply to larger surfaces. Painting with ANY paint over a surface without prepping and cleaning that surface will result in a finish that will not stand up, and will likely fail this idea of painting over any surface without proper prep is pure marketing in my opinion. Having said that, one thing Chalk paint does any other flat or matte paint, is hide imperfections...but as soon as you top coat or wax that paint and change the sheen, the imperfections re-appear. I have seen, and dealt with many a horror story of DIY Chalk painters, as well as many other common internet memes for example "restoring" furniture with Olive oil, Coconut oil, and other cooking oils, pouring liquid wax into paint, pouring latex paint into wax...and on and on. Almost all of these go against a hundred years of proper finishing techniques and basic chemistry, but everyone's seems to have to have a gimmick, and there are many out there that claim to be "experts" when they're clearly not....and they're causing harm. Chalk painting came about as an easy way to avoid having an experienced finisher properly refinish a piece of furniture, which takes time, experience and therefore costs money. When "Shabby Chic" has people slopping Chalk paint over beautiful Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, Quarter sawn Oak, pains me, and I'm not a fan of people creating something that looks like it was just dragged out of a 50 year old barn, covered with dirt,grime, and so called "distress". There's a fine line between artfully distressed, properly painted furnishings, and overdone Shabby crud. To be clear, this is just my opinion as a furniture restorer of more than 35 years. Sorry to run on, but I feel pretty strongly that advocates for proper finishing are being lost in this Shabby craze......and much beautiful wood, that's becoming rare and expensive, is being covered up and otherwise abused.

  • Holly McElhiney
    36 minutes ago

    Thanks so much for the educated perspective! I appreciate hearing anyones opinion, especially when it makes a lot of sense!!

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