The Best DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

best diy chalk paint

I’ll be perfectly honest with you – there is no comparison here.  One of these “recipes” outperforms the other in all areas, at least in my opinion.  I’ve found the best DIY chalk paint recipe!

I went about this little experiment thinking I would find pros to both recipes, but it just didn’t end up being the case.  I even went out of my way to set up a controlled experiment (my fellow science teachers would be proud of me) by using the same brush, the same brand and sheen of paint, and painting the same surface.

Truly, though, one of these DIY chalk paint recipes is just simply the best.  And the winner is…

chalk paint with calcium carbonatecalcium carbonate chalk paint!

The texture is super smooth while the Plaster of Paris paint is thick, a little too thick for most projects.  The Plaster of Paris paint dries extremely quickly, almost too quickly.  I found my brush dragging almost right after I started painting.  Even the outside of my brush started crusting up in the middle of my project, making it quite difficult to clean.

plaster of paris chalk paint

I’ve always used Plaster of Paris for my DIY chalk paint, but I’ll be making the switch, now!  The only time I might whip up a batch of it again would be to do a layered, dry brush effect with multiple layers of paint.  I’ve found the thicker the paint for that type of look, the better.

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Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I just bought my calcium carbonate on Amazon, but I know health food stores carry it as well.  Of course, I still am glad to have my Plaster of Paris on hand for thicker chalk paint.

Here’s the little piece that I tested these recipes out on.  It’s not done yet, as it still needs one more coat of paint, some chicken wire in the doors, and wax to finish it off, but you get the picture.

diy chalk paint


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37 thoughts on “The Best DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

  1. Thanks for this. I used the calcium with a satin paint and it didn’t adhere. I hope the flat will make the difference. Most recipes don’t tell you a paint type.

    1. Yeah, I could see that it might not adhere well, but I’ve never tried it with satin before. I’ve used flat and eggshell with success, but I prefer flat paint. I hope it works out for you!

      1. Hi Jenny, I use the calcium carbonate as well but find the mixture leaves little tiny dots of powder. U don’t notice them until the paint is dry. This causes it to have a rough finish. Help Nancy
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        1. Hi Nancy. Thanks so much for letting me know. Another reader said something similar, and my only suggestion was to make sure it was thoroughly mixed in the water before adding it to the paint. I’m actually going to whip up a batch with a dark color this weekend and see what I can observe. Can some brands of Calcium Carbonate be more chunky than others, I wonder? Sounds a little crazy to me though.

  2. Thanks for your blog. I used your prep tips and recommended chalk paint recipe to revive a $20 dresser from a resale shop. So far so good–just need new knobs.

    1. Thanks for your questions, Becky. If I use Plaster of Paris I use the same ratio as the calcium carbonate. I have used it with satin finish paints, but you just won’t get quite as much of a flat sheen as chalk paint usually gives. As for acrylic paint, I’ve actually never tried it. I’ve only used latex for it. I hope this helps!

    1. Yes, you can double, triple, whatever you’d like and still achieve the same results. I usually just use a different flat paint color and it will change the color your chalk paint once you add the calcium carbonate/plaster.

  3. I’ going to try the calcium carbonate recipe on an old coffee table and a credenza. You can buy the calcium carbonate 8 oz. size in Walmart. Thanks for the tips.

    1. I tried making chalk paint out of my dental tech brother’s hydro-cal, which he said was like Plaster of Paris, but it was too grainy, then tried the baking soda recipe, but that was still too grainy. After returning to the regular eggshell paint for the projects, I discovered that the kitchen cleanser, Bon Ami, is mostly calcium carbonate when I used it on my sink. It also has baking soda in. So it may be the cheapest way to buy calcium carbonate
      Will try it for my next project.

    1. Hi Karen. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I have used furniture wax as a topcoat (specialty paint companies have their own types, but they also sell it at the hardware store), but recently I prefer to use a matte or flat acrylic topcoat. I find it to have less upkeep than wax. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Sarah. The nice thing about making your own is that you can make a small batch with a custom paint color in a sample size (usually around $3). Of course, you’ll also need to buy the calcium carbonate too. In that case I find it to be cheaper. However, if I need a quart, or it’s a color that I’ll use over and over, I just buy the chalk paint that is already made. When I wrote this post, they didn’t offer chalk paint in the hardware stores at the prices they do, and the only option was the more expensive name brand ones. Obviously, things have changed and there are so many more options for chalk paint. Hopefully this was helpful!

    1. I’ve used eggshell, too, but haven’t tried a higher sheen than that. I think it would still work, it just won’t be as similar to that matte finish as chalk paint.

  4. Thank you for experimenting. I have been wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets but the cost of chalk paint was too costly for the 41 doors and drawers that I have to do. I will probably sand a bit and will apply a poly top coat. After all this I will not want to do them again because I didn’t top coat. Thanks for the info of buying the calcium carbonate at Walmart.

    1. Hi Kris. I think sanding a bit beforehand and making your own chalk paint should work well. Like you said, you’ll definitely want to apply at least two coats of a polyacrylic topcoat so the finish lasts. Best of luck!

  5. I use the Calcium Carbonate as well. However, I’m finding that I have tiny little white spots. Not a good look. I’m not sure why that is happening.
    Any thoughts on that?

    1. You’re right; definitely not a good look. Did you mix the calcium carbonate in water first really well before adding the paint? That’s the only thing I can think of. I’ve made this DIY paint in a slate gray/blue color, so fairly dark, and didn’t get the white spots, so I’m not totally sure. Sorry I’m not of much help!

  6. Would this work best with flat paint like the recipe says, or latex paint like you mentioned in your other article? I’m going to use it to repaint an old dresser.

    1. Hi Erica. Thanks for the question. Latex paint comes in a variety of sheens (flat, matte, eggshell, satin, gloss, semi-gloss), so you’ll want to get a latex paint in either flat or matte sheen to make the chalk paint. I’ll make sure to clarify that in my post, because they do sound contradictory right now. Thanks for reading!

  7. Jenny. I was reading to see what I had done wrong in making chalk paint with calcium carbonate and flat paint. I also was getting little chunky white specks. In reading this I learned what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t mixing the cal. Carbonate with water before adding the paint.
    Thank you all for helping solve my problem.

    1. Hi Wanda. I’m so glad you commented here, because I have been meaning to make a batch of it and see if I could replicate the problem some people were encountering. So I think the trick might be to really whisk together the calcium carbonate in the water before ever mixing it into the paint. Thanks for the tip!

  8. I have made my own chalk paint before numerous times but now I find myself living in SE Asia where plaster of paris is difficult to find (maybe impossible). I stumbled across this blog in my quest for alternatives, and have just one concern/question. My understanding was that the beauty of chalk paint was that you were not required to do any (or very minimal) prep to the surface before beginning, eliminating time and money spent on priming and sanding. I thought that you could do this because the POP contributed a significant adhesion factor that enabled the paint (regardless of the sheen you chose) to stick to already smooth and finished surfaces. Does the calcium carbonate recipe compare in terms of adhesive durability? The POP recipes I used to use would be easy to scratch off with the fingernail test within the first 24 hours or so but after they cured completely were super hard.

    1. Thanks for the question. Yes, Calcium Carbonate gives it that improved adhesion similar to Plaster of Paris. I always lightly sand my surfaces, even when I’m painting with the best of the best chalk paints, but that’s just personal preference. As for the comparison to durability, I have never tried to scratch it after it cured to test. I usually finish mine with wax, which adds that protective layer, but I honestly don’t know how hard the finish becomes with the CC without a topcoat. I hope that helps at least a little. Thanks!

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