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Frequently Asked Questions

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How much can you get out of 1tin of Annie Sloan? This is how much I managed to get out of 1 tin of Old White… in 1 day. A little tip to make your paint stretch farther is to add a little water to it, the ladders in the picture were given just one watered down coat, everything else had 2 coats. Technically speaking you can get about 13sq meters out of a tin – but in real life this is what it looks like!

Is it normal to get irregularities in the finish? We like to work freely allowing the brush marks to show.  Some brush strokes showing in the finish are part of the “look.”  A smooth look is more appropriate for a retro or contemporary look rather than a vintage look.  A totally smooth finish is best achieved by diluting the paint a little and applying it with a flat ended brush in a virtually horizontal manner.

Is there only one way to use the paint? No there’s lot’s of ways – you can add water when needed for a smoother application, or you can allow the paint to thicken for more texture. If diluted more or rubbed with a damp sponge when dry, it can be applied as a coloured stain.

My finished piece looks too contrived?  Don’t over distress – many finishes are best when just a little bit of paint is evenly rubbed away all over.   Distressing should not be an arduous chore.

How durable is the finish?  A piece of furniture finished with Chalk Paint and then waxed will stand up to “normal wear and tear.”  We advise you to treat your piece as you would a fine antique.  Allow the finish to cure.  Avoid excessive water and scratchy objects.  Use coasters under water glasses and place mats on dining tables. Clean with a soft cloth and avoid all liquid furniture polishes.

Is Chalk Paint a ‘cure all’?  Chalk Paint was specifically designed for furniture, but it can be used on walls and other surfaces. Please remember it is a decorative paint, not a “cure all” for every surface and needs to be applied intelligently. Making a test area before starting is a good idea to iron out any potential problems before it’s too late.

I have some fluids on top of the paint when opening the can. Is this normal?  “Product separation” is typical for all paint products.  We advise you not to pour off the fluids on top; simply stir to mix the fluids back in.  Turn the can over a couple of hours before using (the good stuff does settle on the bottom), and then shake it by hand to mix.

I’ve accidentally left the lid off the can of paint. Will it be OK?  A skin can form on the top of the paint when it is exposed to air for a long period of time.  However – the skin can be mixed back into the paint and the thickened paint can be thinned with a small amount of water, if necessary.   If  preparing Chalk Paint for an impasto technique, it is best to pour out the paint to be thickened into a separate container.  You may want to stir it occasionally while thickening to prevent a skin from forming.

Discolouration on a new paint layer?  There may be times when a yellow or pink stain will bleed through the paint, particularly when using a lighter colour.  This is known as “bleed through.”  There are a couple of reasons this happens:  The piece of furniture was previously stained with a bleeding stain (typically found on pieces from the 1930s and 1940s), or you are painting over an open grain wood where its tannins are stored in the wood grain (oak is notorious for this).  To remedy this apply one or two coats of clear shellac, clear knotting solution or try Zinsser B-i-n Primer & Sealer available from Amazon (Rustins and Ronseal are two good brands) by cloth of brush to block the staining effect.  If you have already applied a coat of Chalk Paint, there is no need to remove the layer of paint; just apply the shellac directly on top.

Is the paint safe for use on cots etc?  Yes, the paint itself is safe to use on furniture destined for baby and child use. However the wax should be applied and then left for several days to completely cure allowing all the spirit to evaporate before use. Expectant mothers should not apply the wax themselves but find someone else to help!

Help -the paint is not sticking! Not knowing exactly what has been used previously can be a problem sometimes. We advise to clean the surface well and, if necessary, apply one or two coats of clear shellac by cloth or brush if they experience bleed through.  Although prep work is not usually necessary sometimes a little more care is demanded.

Remove any old greasy, waxy or oily residues with a soft cloth moistened with white spirit. Clean surfaces or parts that will be painted with soap and water (Use a Scotch Brite pad to lightly scrub the surface.)  A soft brush can be used to work into open grain and intricate carvings. Avoid saturating the surface Rinse with a clean rag and warm water and let the piece dry completely

It’s always good to test the paint first in an inconspicuous area to make sure of its bonding capabilities and also to ensure that the piece was not previously stained with a colour bleeding stain.  If the test patch shows any of the underlying stain colour bleeding through, it will be necessary to first apply one or two coats of shellac/knotting solution (see above).

Try brushing in all directions, dabbing to create a textured finish (we paint most of our furniture this way to help give an aged character).

Annie says ‘Work quickly and use as big a brush as you can handle’.

For a smoother finish don’t use repetitive brush strokes. Longer, fluid strokes are best. Two lighter coats will work better for a flatter finish.

The paint dries in less than an hour in normal conditions – a little longer in the cold, damp.

Leave the top off the pot to thicken it up or add water for a smoother finish or to help create a wash effect. You can add water/dry out several times.

If in any doubt – always try a little test area first!

Use cling film or plastic bags to store brushes if you need to leave a job halfway through.

One or two coats will generally cover most jobs, we’ve found a dark colour over a dark wood normally only needs one.

To minimise any messy chalk dust – distress your furniture after waxing – although you will need to re-wax areas you’ve rubbed away. You can distress before you wax – this choice is down to you.

For outside jobs – paint and leave to harden at least overnight before exposing to rain. Do not wax as the waxes are not designed to work outside. Avoid painting teak as it’s just too oily.

Use any dark colour for a ‘blackboard’, we apply 4 coats and allow to dry thoroughly between coats, clean with a slightly damp cloth. We love using Aubusson for this.

Use clear knotting solution or clear shellac on any stubborn marks or ‘bleed through’ showing through the paint. Or Zinsser B-I-N Primer works well

Any drips or blobs can be easily removed with some fine sandpaper when the paint dries.

Don’t paint radiators or cast iron baths as when they heat up the paint will crack.

Problems Using Annie Sloan Soft Wax?

We generally wax all of our painted pieces, both to protect and for the great effects you can achieve (Don’t use Wax for outside projects).

Apply wax in thin coats, – too thick may cause yellowing on some paler colours where only the outer skin of wax has dried. Wipe off any excess.

We like to use a shorter bristled, stubbier brush to apply the wax, to get into nooks and crannies but you can use a cloth as well.

Use some pressure when putting on the wax, a bit like you would when applying skin balm to help work it into the surface.

We always use the Dark Wax in tandem with the Clear Wax, this allows you to control how ‘dark’ you want your finish.

Apply Dark Wax to the Clear Wax while it is still tacky, for a big item – do a section at a time.

We use a separate brush or cloth for our Dark Wax, it keeps our Clear Brush clean! 

Too much Dark Wax? put some Clear Wax on a rag and rub to remove or dilute the darker areas.

The dark wax is great for bringing out any texture and to highlight detailed areas.

We leave waxed pieces overnight before buffing, it allows a lot of the wax to soak in and makes it easier to buff.

For high traffic areas, ie a kitchen table top we suggest 2-3 coats for a tougher finish, apply one coat a day.

The wax will ‘go off’ after a day but will not reach it’s full strength for a few weeks – you can still use your piece, just be careful for the first few weeks, ie. don’t use it as a writing pad.

You can also mix Clear Wax with Dark to make a mid-tone wax or mix the Clear Wax with paint to make coloured wax!

When cleaning your brush, use an old rag with some white spirit to squeeze off as much wax as you can before using soapy hot water.

For a super smooth finish, use fine sandpaper after the wax is dry and then add another thin coat of wax and buff again next day to finish off.

The number one problem we see is when users have applied too much Soft Wax.  Common complaints are the wax remains tacky or sticky, it shows fingerprints, or it looks streaky. All due to too much Wax.

Use the wax sparingly!

We advise you to always apply the Soft Wax in thin layers.  The wax needs to be “spread and massaged” into the underlying paint using a cloth or brush so that it absorbs into the paint (just like hand cream!).  You should always remove any and all excess wax.  It is important to work in small sections at a time and to change to a clean rag frequently as an old one can become clogged with wax and become ineffective.

As a last resort, you may need to remove the excess wax by wiping over the surface with a cloth dampened with low odour white spirit.  Most likely you will need to reapply a thin coat of wax.

Not applying enough wax.  You need to apply enough wax to completely cover the surface.  Skipped parts can result in an uneven or patchy look.  When in doubt apply a second coat of wax, particularly in areas where you have removed some wax during the sanding process.

There is no sheen.  We advise you to apply thin layers of wax – the classic rule of thumb is the thinner the coat of wax the more sheen in the finish.  You can also allow the wax to dry overnight before buffing.  You will likely find the job will be much easier if you can wait till the following day.

The result is a dark streaky or patchy look.  The Dark Soft Wax contains pigments that will “stain” the paint, making the colour difficult to remove.  We advise you that in almost all cases it is best to apply a layer of clear wax first.  Failure to remove all of the excess dark wax after application can also result in a dark streaky or patch look.  Remember – you can always use a small amount of clear wax as a “magic eraser.”  You can also mix dark wax and clear wax together for a lighter colour, or thin the dark wax with a small amount of low-odour white spirit for a thinner application.

Problems Using Other Products

Applying Annie Sloan Lacquer over a dark Chalk Paint colour has left a milky coloration.  Annie Sloan Lacquer is a matte varnish.  This means that it contains flattening agents to give it that low lustre.  If the Lacquer is applied thickly over a dark surface, those flattening agents will appear, creating a “frosted” or “milky” look to the finish.  There is no easy fix for this problem and you will have to reapply a coat of Chalk Paint.  It’s best to apply the Lacquer in two thin coats. Always stir the lacquer well so as not to pick up the residue at the bottom.

The top coat of Annie Sloan Crackle Varnish (Step 2) is too thick.  Place the container in a bowl of very hot water to warm it and make it more workable.  You can also moisten your brush with water, wipe it off and then proceed – a little water will help the Step 2 product to spread more easily.

A small amount of  Crackle varnish has peeled off.  The Crackle Varnish product is sensitive to heat and moisture and if the surface it is applied to has any moisture in it or comes in contact with extreme heat it is likely that it will continue to crack and possibly lift.  A room that gets steamy, such as a bathroom, is not the best choice for a Crackle Varnish finish.

The cracks haven’t appeared. This usually happens when the top coat is allowed to dry before the heat is applied to force the cracking. Remember heat (a hair dryer is great) must be applied immediately after applying step 2 in order for the cracks to form.

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