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Friday, June 14, 2013

Chalk Paint Wars: Calcium Carbonate vs Unsanded Grout (4 Chalk Paint Recipes)

I have this friend named, Britiany who always has a plethora of DIY tasks from, big to small, going on in her house. The girl in this picture is the Brittiany in question . . .
 One sunshine-y day she approached me and said,
  "Amy,  I think we should paint your chairs using
   different chalk paint recipes so that I can
   decide which recipe I want to use to paint my piano."

I thought it was a splendid idea  and didn't mind experimenting on my chairs one bit; so I agreed. Painting my chairs was something that I had wanted to do, but need the right push to get . . . un-lazy.

We were a bit ambitious at first. I have five chairs and she had four recipes, but we also had three kids to add to the mix {two of them being rather  . . .rambunctious} If the title gives you any indication, we only were able to attempt two recipes:

Calcium Carbonate Chalk Paint Recipe:
2/3 paint 
1/3 calcium carbonate
 a little water
mix water and calcium carbonate first, then add to paint and mix again
* to see coffee table painted using this recipe click here

Unsanded Grout Chalk Paint Recipe
1 cup paint 
1 TBL unsanded grout
 add a tbl water to the grout
 add to the paint
 Add more water if paint is too thick one tablespoon at a time
* it wasn't until after I used this that I read the back label which clearly states that this
 product can cause cancer. After reading this I don't recommend it when their are much safer methods to achieve similar results.

We wanted to attempt {but didn't get to}:

Plaster of Paris Chalk Paint Recipe:
2 latex cups paint 
5T plaster of paris,
 add 1-2tbls water to the plaster of paris,
then add to paint 
mix again

Baking Soda Chalk Paint recipe:
1 cup latex paint
 1/4 cup baking soda
mix baking soda with a  TBL of water before adding to paint, 
then mix in paint
* Note: other helpful tools: Hand mixer (not necessary, but useful), mixing cup, steel wool, sand paper, paint brush, drop cloths, finishing wax.

**Be mindful as you work that the paint dries quickly.

*Update: Britt has since tried the other two recipes and she says the calcium carbonate is here favorite. She got it from a health food store.

Meet the Challengers:

This is what my hand me down chairs looked like before any paint: They were the dining room chairs that my husband and his 9 brothers grew up with. With chalk paint you don't need to sand, that is the whole point of using it, but I think I had previously sanded these chairs down a bit prior to this project.

  This is Britt mixing the paint: She found that adding water the whatever medium you choose to put in to turn your paint into chalk paint works better if you mix it first with a little water, then add it to the paint and mix with a hand blender.

This is one of the three rambunctious children: We had to let them paint so we could paint . . .

As you view the pictures, you"ll notice that they aren't really step by step . . . so let me just sum up briefly: We painted both chairs with the different types of chalk paint. At this time, the unsanded grout was our favorite until we read the health warning. When the chairs were completely dry, we alternated sanding them with sand paper and steel wool. The steel wool was awesome. You don't get all the scuff marks that sand papers leaves behind, AND it added sort of an aged color which worked well since we were distressing. 

 Check out that distressing . . .beating up furniture is a GREAT way to relieve tension!

It was a little frustrating at times to paint around all these grooves.

Then you can use your new chairs to take awesome pictures:
See more if Jayci here:

See more of Kona here:

See blue chair in a lemonade theme photo shoot here:
I hope you found it helpful to have four chalk paint recipes in one easy location. I would love to hear what kind you like best. If you feel so inclined as to leave a comment that is:) Otherwise,

For more: see a dresser I painted with the pink chalk paint here
and a coffee table I painted with the teal chalk paint here.

Happy Crafting!


  1. Thanks for posting your recipes on chalk paint! I'm liking the calcium carbonate one and have plans to do my dining room chairs too - yours turned out beautiful! I've got this linked to my DIY chalk paint post too today, thanks again for posting your tips!

    1. Heather, you are awesome! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment and letting me know about your link! I would love to see how your dining room chairs turn out!

  2. Thanks so much for these recipes. I'm going to be painting some furniture with my sister very soon and would love to try the Calcium carbonate one. I found the link to this post and visited today through "Inspire Me Heather". Thank you Amy!

    1. Thank you so much Tanya! I hope you have fun painting with your sisters! I know Brittiany and I had a great time! Thank you for letting me know you were here! I took a trip to your site as well!

  3. So do you hire out??? I have 4 chairs that need desperate help! I did my table back in Nov and my chairs are still in my garage... I tried doing them black and didn't like them, so I added red and then black and roughed them up to see the red but they are really a mess! I will pay you to fix them up for me :) let me know if you're interested....

  4. Awesome- I'll be your first customer :) Just let me know when you're ready, I have 4 chairs ready to go!!!! Call me when you want me to bring them over - you may want to come see my table and see what would look best with it! I'm so excited :) These have been such a headache for me, I guess I'll just stick with pianos, tables and cabinets :)

    1. I will let you know! It will be fun! I'll come and look at what you have and we will talk color schemes. I would think that pianos and cabinets would be way more daunting than chairs:) Your piano looks awesome!

  5. Thank you for this. I have not tried the baking soda or calcium bicarbonate, but I love love love the unsanded grout, me and that plaster of Paris have a lot of talking to do... It could be me:-) the unsanded grout that I use is poly-blend....I love it. It seems so easy to use... I have painted two tables with it..next stop.....baking soda

    1. "Causes cancer" has steered me from this one. I almost always sand.

  6. Thanks so much. a friend who has been doing this for a while and often uses Annie Sloan paint , gave me plaster of paris and it worked well.
    I just purchased calcium carbonate in the swiiming pool section at the hardware store is that the same thing??

  7. Hi! Just learning how to use chalk paint and would like to make my own. Can anyone tell me where to buy calcium carbonate? I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and cannot seem to find it. Thanks!! :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Brittiany got the calcium carbonate at a health food store. G-ma Deb, who commented right above you said she got some in the swimming pool section at her hardware store. I bet you could even do a search on line to buy some. Good luck!

  8. Which product can cause cancer? The un-sanded grout or the calcium carbonate?

    1. Maria, the un-sanded grout. read the label. it gives a warning.

  9. Lovely work. Side note on Plaster of Paris - it can cause SEVERE burns on skin if left on (this is why they no longer use it to make casts), also when you sand it - the dust can be inhaled and burn lungs and nasal passages. (these were safety warnings right from the package). Whiting (not food grade CC) also contains a silicate ingredient which can be carcinogenic. Baking Soda is reported to be safe and leave a slight gritty texture after it dries (easily removed by light sanding), but it will thicken after an hour or so leaving you with a thick blob! LOL Comparatively, it is difficult to detect a difference between BS and CC DIY chalk paint. :D

    1. Thanks Sandy! It is so important to be safe while being creative!!!

  10. did you ever try on the fabric? I want to make a mix for fabric painting. Washable and re-useable... But I really dont have any idea which is the best result? please help...

  11. Hey, Erchan! Tulip makes a fabric spray paint. You can look them up on line. I have also purchased a textile medium at the craft store. You can add it to any paint and it allows you to be able to use it on fabric. It is my favorite stuff because it seems to be the softest after you wash it.
    I have one tutorial here: http://amyscraftbucket.blogspot.com/2014/07/diy-painted-shirts.html
    and another here: http://amyscraftbucket.blogspot.com/2014/01/diy-conversation-shirt.html
    hope that helps at least a little!

  12. would this technique be ok for paper? Fran a crafter

    1. I have no idea, Fran!! Let me know what you find out!

  13. Where do you buy calcium carbonate?

  14. what beautiful children, much nicer than the chairs, don't you think?

    1. If I had to choose between the chairs and the kiddos, I choose the kiddos!

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  16. This is such nice and useful information for us. I really appreciate this blog to have this kind of knowledge. Also explore Calcium Carbonate Suppliers

  17. Tile saws with water pumps are usually larger and have a more powerful motor also sanded vs unsanded grout, ranging from a single to three or four horsepower.