Sharing My Chalk Paint and Brush Secrets (Shh…)

My winter painting projects (french country shelf, porch ladder, and kitchen step stool) required a trip to our nearest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint retailer.

I replenished a few color samples and discovered a new paint brush on a display shelf that I hadn’t noticed on previous visits.  It’s a smaller brush (1 inch) and a cheaper solution at $14.

Annie Sloan Paint Brush

The large Annie Sloan brushes are $35 and are too heavy and bulky for my somewhat arthritic hands.  This one is small, nimble and light weight.

The price is a little of a stretch since you can buy good quality 2″ brushes at home improvement stores for around $14.  I considered it worth the test, though, and I’ve enjoyed using this size brush.

For my supply of paint colors, I keep basics like Pure White, Graphite, and Arles in the quart size.

I buy mostly primary colors in the sample size.  This old color chart is very helpful, but they have a newer one now with some additional colors.

ASCP Paint Color Chart

Did you know you can mix colors together to achieve others on their shelf?  For example, I would never buy Duck Egg Blue, since I can mix my own.  Annie Sloan has written entire books about the color-mixing process.  This is a good one available at Amazon*.

When I needed Old White for the new light-switch plate in our kitchen, I mixed a little Arles with Pure White.  Our trim is softer than a stark white, so Old White worked much better.  Simple enough.

Creating Paint Tones

For waxing, I was using soft cloths for application.  Annie Sloan demonstrates loading a lot of wax on your piece with her large brush, working it in, then wiping most of it off.  Her way seemed so wasteful, but my cloth solution didn’t work perfectly, either.

I noticed this brush in the project studio and decided to give it a try.  Remember this picture from the post about my step stool?  This looks like a huge amount of wax, but just a small dab on the brush tips went a long way.

Applying Dark Wax

I was amazed at how far the wax spread…farther than with a cloth.  And the stiff bristles push the wax into the surface very well.

You can find this brush at Hobby Lobby on the stencil aisle.  Notice the price – $2.99 – right up my alley!  (Annie Sloan wax brushes are around $35.)

Hobby Lobby Brush for Wax

The brush works well for stenciling, too.  The first time I used it was for my Monogrammed Shower Curtain, which was with regular craft paint, not chalk paint.

When cleaning up from my stool project, I was a little concerned about the wax that was deep into the bristles.  You may have discovered this already, but in case you didn’t know, Murphy’s Oil Soap is wonderful for cleaning brushes.  (Also, warm water is key.)

Brush Cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap

It works great on the wax brushes, too!

Do you have paint and brush recommendations to share?  How about cleaning tips…anything new the rest of us should know about?


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I’m whispering  my secrets at Metamorphosis Monday.



  1. Sheryll & Critters. says

    I never knew about the oil soap to clean the brushes. Thanks and I don’t have any tips. Except that I buy my smaller brushes at Dollar Tree and so far I am happy with those… for easy paint jobs anyway.

  2. Janet says

    Thanks for these tips. I just purchased some chalk paint to try on small projects. My first attempt with them and these tips will be very helpful.

  3. says

    Success is all about your equipment! Nothing better than a good brush and one that is easily managed. I use a similar brush to your new one, even on large pieces because I like control. Great tip on the wax brush, they AS ones are pricey! I do have one for clear wax and one for dark wax so the brushes don’t get contaminated. Smart girl to mix your own Old White! I need to get some pure white and experiment with mixing and see the different variations of colors you can create by mixing in the different whites~ I’ve heard that Murphy’s oil soap is great for brushes, been meaning to try that. Mineral spirits gets the wax right out of brushes. Fun talking shop with you today Kim 🙂
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    • says

      I plan to use the smaller brush for large pieces, too, Jenna. I wasn’t sure I’d get into chalk paint this much when I first started. It may have been worth getting the pricey brushes in the beginning, but I still can’t bring myself to shell out the cash for them. When I grow up, I want to be a pro painter and have big girl wax brushes – like you. 😉