Tips for Beginning Furniture Painters

Hey there! Glad to see you back. So today my post is not necessarily going to be a tutorial or have lots of pictures like usual. It is going to be more or less advice and hopefully some useful information for those beginner and intermediate furniture painters.

Over the past few years painting furniture and other home decor items has become all the rage and people everywhere are loving the idea of upcycling, renewing old furniture and bringing new life to outdated or old stuff with just simply painting it. I love this. I am so happy that people are getting into painting their furniture. I’ve told many clients and customers that if your furniture is still is good shape and serves its purpose, but you just aren’t digging the look anymore just paint it. Sometimes that is all it needs to make it look brand new. A coat of paint and some new hardware and you save yourself a ton of money from not having to buy brand new furniture.

The idea for this post came while scrolling through a few of the Facebook groups I am a part of where the main topic is typically furniture painting. These boards offer help, advice, suggestions and inspiration as you can post your recent project, or post pictures with a problem you are facing. All of this being said, there are a few common problems that I seeing that I want to address to hopefully help some of those out who are just starting or fairly new to painting furniture.

What Brand Do I Use?

Do some research on brands that you are considering using. What are the main attributes that you want from the products you want to use? Using a chalk type style of paint is very popular because it is very forgiving and easy to use. Just go to Pinterest and you can see a million pictures of furniture and home decor items painted with some type of chalk based paint.  These days there are a variety of brands in the “chalk” market so the choice can seem overwhelming, but take the time to research the brands and look that their ingredients, colors, available finishes, availability to you, support with the product and price. What features are important to you? Ask around and see what brand or product others have had success with and like.

Mixing Product Lines

Once you find a brand that you want to use it is best to purchase your paint and the finish from the same product line. Why? Because they were created to go together and you can predict the outcome better than buying a variety of different products. For example, I am sure that if you have been reading my blog you will see that I love CeCe Caldwell’s Natural Chalk + Clay Paint. I am no longer a retailer, but I am a loyal user and I continue to use the product because I love the colors, it’s all natural, I like what the company stands for, it’s easy to use, I love all the finishes to select from, and I know the products work well together. Now there are about 30 other things I love about this brand, but these are just a few. I may try other products that offer cool effects that I can do, but my choice of paint will always be CeCe Caldwell’s. I may review another line to see what I think so that I can post about it in an effort to assist you in your selection.

If you are new to all this you will want to get your feet wet and gain some experience with a particular line before you start trying to branch out and mix a bunch of product lines together and not know how the paint works with a commercial line of finish. This is a common question I see on the Facebook groups. Once you gain confidence and do quite a few pieces then you could try branching out. For instance, I feel very confident using CeCe Caldwell’s Paint, but I may want to try out a brand that has interesting enhancements as a way to create new looks with my paint. On the flip side, I could easily go to Wal-Mart or Lowe’s and buy a can of polycrylic finish to put on my paint, but I don’t. Know why? Because I like the Endurance finish by CeCe Caldwell’s. I like how it looks and I know exactly how it will go on my paint because it was meant to go on it. I tend to go with what I know works instead of going out and buying what may be cheap and then it end up screwing up my project because the products clash.

Making Chalk Style Paint

This one is the on that kinda drives me nuts and something I constantly see on Pinterest and in a lot of Facebook groups. The purpose of real, water based chalk style paints and chalk and clay paints is to be easy with no prep or sanding, more natural, more environmentally safe, no smell, water based, and the ability to easily distress. That being said, making chalk type paint with latex or acrylic paint and mixing in Calcium Carbonate or  Plaster of Paris, baking soda, grout and the likes is not my idea of easy or no prep. It isn’t much like real chalk style paint at all. What a mess and what a headache and to top it off it still latex or acrylic paint.  There are some who are die hard fans of this method and hey, more power to you if you like it and it’s working for you. I am just not into mixing a bunch of stuff up and using latex smelly paint.

One of my favorite attributes of a REAL water based chalk type paint like CeCe Caldwell’s is its ability to distress so easily. I love to wet distress. Love, Love, Love, Love to distress with baby wipes. This is so much easier than using sand paper to distress and you don’t have to break out the broom or vacuum cleaner afterwards. It can be frustrating when you are new to this and trying to figure out exactly how much pressure to use when sanding to get that beautiful distressed look. I show you how to wet distress in this tutorial on how I transformed a beat up old chair. The texture was amazing on the original chair and knew it would look great painted and distressed. You can see how in this post.

When I first started out I know I was frustrated with this. I would end up sanding not only though my paint but the original paint or stain and see raw wood. I don’t really care so much for that look, but that is just a personal preference. When you use a real water based chalk based paint you can use baby wipes or a wet cloth to distress and it’s less intimidating. Just rub where you want the paint to come off and you will not have to worry about ruining the original finish. In another post I do more into detail about wet distressing and how you can even do this with multiple layers of paint and my favorite finish called Endurance.

When you make your own chalk style paint you can’t wet distress because it’s latex or acrylic and that pretty much ruins the ability to wet distress. I love this type of distressing so much that I am not going to risk not getting the results I want just to save a few dollars and make my own. If you are relatively new to painting furniture, I suggest purchasing the real chalk type paint which will make life easier for you. You will enjoy the process of painting your projects much more if all you have to do is shake a can of paint, pop the lid and start painting instead of mixing up a bunch of stuff.

In addition, when you purchase a real water based chalk style paint it typically comes from a specialty store or boutique and has either a retailer or stockist. They are your support and who you go to for help, product questions, suggestions and they specialize in that particular line of paint. If you are mixing your own don’t think you are going to get help and support from Larry at Lowe’s when you go in and ask him about what you just concocted in your garage and now you want to know what sealer you should use.  If you are new to this, having a retailer to go to makes you feel so much better and more confident. Most retailers have a Facebook, Instagram, or email and you can message them and you will get a response back fairly quickly. The retailers enjoy helping you and want you to be successful with the product.

There are Alternatives to Waxing

I will be quite honest with you and tell you that I am not a big waxer. Why? I kinda got sick of it. When I first started out painting furniture I used a brand that only had wax as the option to seal. While I had no problems with the paint or the line itself I just kinda got tired of waxing and wanted to see what else was out there. Additionally, I had trouble getting the layered paint look I wanted and it prompted me to look around at other lines. That is when I discovered CeCe Caldwell’s and since then I haven’t looked back. When I found CeCe Caldwell’s I got a couple sample paints and the finish called Endurance. The retailer explained to me how to use it and off I went to play with my new paint. Let’s just say angels sang that day when I finally got the results I wanted with this Endurance product. Not only was it my sealer, but it was my barrier between my 2 colors for wet distressing. You can see more about this technique in my post about paint layering. 


In addition, there are a lot more choices for finishes with CeCe Caldwell’s like Satin Finish, Flat Matte, Wax, Waxing Cream, and enhancements such as  Again Cream, metallic waxes and glaze. The line also has stains as well that have Endurance built in. WHAT!!???? Amazing I know. Why would I need to look any place else.

Many other product lines offer other options to waxing as well. You just have to look into the line and see what finishes they offer. This is one of the reasons why people started looking to commercial lines to find liquid sealers as an alternative to waxing. Waxing can be tiresome and more strenuous so many lines started creating liquid finishes to go along with the paint. You can read more about Endurance in another post I discussed my 5 Reasons I Love Endurance.


So as you can see there are many benefits to using a real line of chalk based paint regardless of whether you are a beginner or a seasoned painter. Yes, I recommend and love CeCe Caldwell’s Natural Chalk + Clay Paint, but there are other options out there. Just search in Pinterest and you will see a ton of different brands that you can research and see which brand has the options and components you want and that are important to you. I am not trying to discredit other brands of paint or discourage use of them. I am encouraging you to find one that you like and feel successful with and like the results. I am successful and achieve the results I want with CeCe Caldwell’s and enjoy showing you how to use them and how you can achieve similar results even if you use another brand.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

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