Have you ever wondered which chalk paint to use for your furniture, cabinets and other projects? Yeah, me too. I’ve been painting furniture since 2013 and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally decided on one chalk paint line for my business. Why did it take me so long? I’m not sure exactly, but I wanted to try various types of paint to see which one I liked the best. I’ve tried Annie Sloan, Dixie Bell, Waverly, Folk Art, you name it… I’ve tried it.
I have to be honest, one of the major reasons I decided to choose just one paint brand was because my storage display was looking haphazard with various types of cans and bottles (nothing matching) and my OCD was driving me a bit crazy lol! Now I know that probably won’t be a problem for you.
But… you are probably wondering what type of chalk paint is the safest or maybe you’re wondering which chalk paint has the best adhesion? Instead, maybe you’re wondering what type of chalk paint is safest to use with my children’s furniture or which chalk paint is VOC free? Which chalk paint has the best coverage or is the best quality? Again, these are all great questions, and I hope to answer them in this post below
But before I start, it’s important to understand that whatever chalk paint you use won’t stick to the surface unless you clean it really well. That’s why I did another post with video on how to prep and clean your furniture the right way for the best chalk paint results. Be sure to check out this post so that you have the best results with your project.
*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. “
OK, now on to the good stuff. Here I’ll talk about chalk paint adhesion, coverage, smell, safety and environmental impact. After doing lots of research and trial and error over the years, I hope will help you make the best decision for your next project.
Top 5 Factors To Consider
Paint Safety: Let start with safety for you and the environment. Being in the up-cycling industry, this is a super important factor for me. I don’t want to use anything that would harm either a human or the earth. Did you know that most chalk-based paints, especially those with latex or acrylic elements, have VOC’s or even methanol (that’s the same stuff in that’s in gasoline, guys!) I hate to say it, but one of the most popular brands out there, Annie Sloan, has methanol? (Gasp!) Did you know that you can look up the ingredients of all of the paint companies on something called a safety data sheet? Yep, you can, and I have included them for the following paint companies:
Safety Data Sheets:
- General Finishes: SDS General Finishes
- Behr: SDS Behr Chalk Paint
- Magnolia home: SDS Magnolia Home Chalk Paint SDS
- Folk Art: SDS Folk Art Home Decor
- American Decor: SDS American Decor Chalk Paint
- Amy Howard at home: SDS AHAH
- Annie Sloan: SDS-Chalk-Paint-Annie Sloan
- Rustoleum: SDS Rustoleum
So… in case you don’t want to read all the sheets, I’ll break it down for you. The winner for safest paint goes to…Amy Howard at Home! Her paint is VOC free and doesn’t include any harsh chemicals. It is a true chalk paint and only includes pigments and minerals with the exception of levelers which I will talk about in a following section.
2) Smell: So, I’m sure you’ve seen the movie “Christmas Story” and remember when they triple dog-dared the boy to stick his tongue to the flag pole? Well, I have a dare for you myself, but I promise if won’t hurt. Ok ready? I double dog dare you to do a smell test. Especially if you have chalk style paint from a craft store. That stuff smells the worst! Why does it smell bad? Because their calcium carbonate is taken from oyster shells that are treated with chemicals and that stuff stinks to high heaven. If you don’t have some, you’ll just have to trust me, but you will thank me lol.
Depending on the brand, you’ll get a different variety of the same smell – some more, some less. However, there is one paint company that adds vanilla essential oil to their paint and it smells like heaven. It’s very subtle, but yet when the paint dries you can sense a very slight aroma from your furniture for months to come. Now if you’re like me and you love the smell of vanilla, this is great! If, however, you don’t like vanilla or you’re sensitive to smells, this might be an issue. I have a solution for that as well, though just hold tight. So, you probably guessed by now which paint I’m going to recommend.
Yes, you guessed it, Amy Howard at Home’s One Step Paint. She has two formulas – the old and the new. The old does NOT have levelers and no added scent. The new formula has both levelers and vanilla essential oil. Both formulas are available in all 101 colors so if you want to order the old formula with a new color or vice versa, just mention that in the comments section of your order and they’ll custom it for you.
I cant tell you how wonderful it is to walk down the stairs into my “babe cave” and have the sweet aroma of vanilla greet me as I enter my studio each day. It’s little things like this that make me love the paint even more!
3) Adhesion: OK let’s jump in period let’s first talk about adhesion. Adhesion is probably the most important factor when deciding what chalk paint to use. The last thing you want is to paint a piece only to have it scrape off or flake off with a small bump or scratch. 1) Cleaning the piece really well with the right product and what type of paint you use. As I mentioned before regardless of what paint type you use, if your surface isn’t clean nothing will stick. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you use “Clean Slate” to remove any wax buildup, dirt or grime from your piece.
Once it’s clean you want to choose a paint with the best adhesion qualities. Adhesion in chalk paint comes from the calcium carbonate and other minerals that are put in the paint, hence why it’s called “chalk paint”. Now it’s important to note that some chalk paints aren’t true chalk paints. They are latex paint or acrylic paint with chalk ingredients added. This causes some problems down the road with peeling, chipping and the environment.
The amounts of calcium carbonate or minerals in chalk paint will also affect its adhesion. Some paints that aim to have a longer open time put less chalk in their paints and one’s that aim to have a stronger bond will put more. I’ll tell you right now though, please, I beg you, do not buy latex or acrylic paint and add your own plaster of Paris or other “chalk”. You will get horrible results and the longer durability of your paint will be poor.
OK, now that I’ve given you my fair warning, let’s talk about which paint has the best adhesion properties out there. Drumroll please… it’s Amy Howard at Home’s One Step Paint. Her paint was determined by an independent lab to have the best adhesion of any chalk paint on the market. Period. The only problem that you will run into is if you are trying to do a lot of blending with your paint and you need a longer open time. If it dries too quickly you won’t be able to blend well. To overcome that I just have a spray bottle mister near me and make sure that I spray it often to keep it wet. The other fabulous thing about this paint adhesion is that it doesn’t need a sealer. After it cures for seven days. It will be good to go… even outside!
4) Consistency & Coverage: The next thing I want to talk about is coverage and thickness. Now this is a personal preference, but I like my chalk paint to go on with a smooth medium consistency rather than it being too thick and gloppy. Is that even a word? It is now! So particularly I think about Annie Sloan and how thick and grainy her paint is. When using it I always had to add water which diluted the color to get the smoothness that I wanted. I would also have to sand when I was done to get it to the consistency that I liked.
So, when it comes to consistency and coverage, my two choices are Dixie Belle and Amy Howard at Home. Given the choice between the two, your desire for the amount of open time will determine which one you choose. The other paints ended up being too thin and runny for my taste or had some other factor I didn’t like.
Related to this is the topic of brush strokes. Now unless you wanna get a sprayer, Painting anything with a brush will leave you with some brush strokes. If you want to minimize them, I suggest doing two things – use a microfiber synthetic brush and buy paint with levelers in it. Before I chose a paint for my business, I would add Floetrol to my chalk paint which help, however it would dilute the paint and mess with its formula and color.
Thankfully, Amy Howard at Home’s new formula has levelers in it! This combined with her synthetic brush will give you as close to a flawless finish as possible without a sprayer.
5) Environmental Impact: Finally, it’s important to note that Amy Howard at Home’s paints is a true chalk style paint. It is not acrylic or latex paint with added minerals. It is their proprietary formulation of calcium carbonate, pigments, essential oils, and another minerals. It is 100% water based and eco-friendly. Again, I’ll state this – I really hope that you don’t use acrylic or latex paint. It’s super bad for the environment because they contain plastics and it does not decompose very well.
OK to recap, I hope you’ll consider purchasing Amy Howard at Home’s One Step Paint for your next project. It’s my favorite paint for it’s safety, smell, adhesion, leveling properties and true ‘chalk paint” nature which is safe for the environment. You can buy project size cans in both 16 and 32 oz sizes. If you want a sample or are doing a craft project, you can also get the same paint in a 2 oz size over at her sister company, A Makers Studio.
Get yours here: One Step Paint https://bit.ly/AHAHOSP and A Maker Studio Paint: https://bit.ly/AMSPaint
Anyway, I hope this was helpful for you. If you have any question or problems free to reach out to me at revivebyheidigmail.com and you should also consider joining the Amy Howard at Home Before an After group on Facebook. It’s a fabulous community of DIY ‘ers and source of inspiration and help for all.