How to Sand Chalk Paint Indoors

by Patricia
5 Materials
1 Hour

If you've ever sanded Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan then you know what a mess it creates and is only suited to working outdoors. However, the good news is that if you have a project that must be completed indoors there are options for sanding that will still give you the look you are after.

I purchased this china hutch just before the winter temperatures plunged to near zero degrees (Fahrenheit). And the forecast was for the bitter cold to hang around for a few weeks.

Luckily the hutch disassembles into two pieces. So I was able to create a work space in my kitchen. I put the top of the hutch on a table for cleaning and then painting.

After painting the top I moved it to a storage area and then began working on the bottom cabinet. I removed the doors so I could work on those separately. I painted the hutch in Graphite and the interior of the top in Country Grey (click on the link at the end of my post for more photos of the project). I left the bottom interior natural wood.

I wanted to smooth out the painted finish and add some light distressing to the edges. I used the very lightest touch with 220-grit sandpaper and swiped it over the edge. But as you can see in the photo below, even a minimal touch with sandpaper will create sanding dust. And once you really get going with the sanding it will create a dust cloud of epic proportions!

I much prefer dry sanding because of the control it gives. However, there are other options if you want to avoid the mess all together. For this project I chose to use the wet distressing method with a softback foam sanding sponge (affiliate link to the actual product I purchased). You will need a sanding sponge, sandpaper, shop towel, and some water. It's also helpful to have on hand some tack cloths (optional).

First dip the sanding sponge in water. Next squeeze out the excess water. You'll want it damp but not dripping.

Then lay the sanding sponge flat and sand the paint smooth. Vary the amount of pressure depending on how much distressing you want to achieve. You should not notice any stray sanding dust at all!

Instead the sanding dust is trapped inside the sanding sponge. As it begins to fill up with the sanding dust you will need to rinse the sponge out with water. Then squeeze out the excess water again, and repeat. Use a shop towel and/or tack cloth to wipe away any residue left behind from sanding.

For crisp distressing on the edges, I moistened the area with a damp shop towel and the gently swiped 220-grit sandpaper over the edge. The above photo shows a side-by-side comparison of dry vs wet sanding.

Here's the final finish of the china hutch along with additional close up photo of the sanded finish.

I think this post includes enough information to get you started, but I do have more detailed photos and instructions on my blog, The Black Sheep Shoppe, if you need additional assistance.

The cost and time estimates that I provided are for this project are for the sanding portion only. I had to guess on the cost because I used products that I already had on hand, but the cost is minimal and will depend on what you already have on hand, too.

Suggested materials:
  • 3M flexible foam sanding pad
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Blue shop towels
See all materials
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Michelle Michelle on Apr 02, 2019

    Gorgeous piece!! Love the colours used too. Did you have two layers of different paint? Having the option of wet sanding is great for the cold or wet days we are stuck indoors. Thanks for sharing, will be sure to go look at your blog for more photos of your gorgeous China hutch.

    I have an Ercol one, I bought from a charity shop (UK) years ago. It didn't have the top to it and cost me £20. It's solid and I've left it for years as is as love the deep patina of the varnish and wood. I have finally found a top for it but the finish on it isn't quite so good, so I'm toying with the idea of painting just the top, or doing both, and doing a dual colour scheme, perhaps with some sanding too. Thanks for inspiring me!

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