February 19, 2013

An Easy Black Finish To Try

A project that has been on my "to do" list for over eight years
 is to paint or stain my 1980's armoire in a black finish.

Here's an ad I tore out of a "Southern Accents" magazine
(which is not even in print anymore) several years ago
that shows a black chest with a distressed finish I really like:

The armoire is in my bedroom.  
If you would like to see more about the bedroom click "Striving For Symmetry".

The dresser is painted with Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in "Old White". 
If you would like to see the details of that project click "Old White For A New Look".

The armoire is heavy. It is full of clothes.
I am old. My husband is old. The carpet is old.
For that sucker to get painted, it was gonna have to
stay where it was to get a facelift.  

Painter's tape and newspaper was used to protect the carpet
and walls.  I should have used newspaper on the walls too.
Maybe I can catch up on Auburn's and Alabama's
 new football signees while I paint.

To get a time-worn, been-painted-a-few-times-before look,
I decided to try my homemade chalk paint recipe again in
several colors and layer them on. Then the piece will be 
sanded to reveal glimpses of the underlying colors. 

Initially, I started with these sample latex paints.
They are a bargain at $3 for 8 ounces each.
At Lowe's they have the Valspar samples in several 
seasonal colors already mixed.  I chose the "Rooftop" brown
color to add another darker wood color and the "Almost
Charcoal" for a step closer to the black look.

At Home Depot they mix whatever color you want as
a sample.  The Lowe's samples did not have a really dark
color so I got "Stealth Jet" (one of the darkest colors available)
by Behr.  That paint color name reminds me of "Top Gun".

Sherry at No Minimalist Here blog uses calcium carbonate
and plaster of paris to make her own chalk paint.  When I 
looked at the box of wall texture that I had left over from 
another project, I realized that the main ingredient in it 
was also calcium carbonate.  The wall texture and paint recipe

The "recipe" that has worked for me is:
1 heaping tablespoon of wall texture
(wall texture is only $13 for 15 pounds at home improvement stores)
1 ounce of latex paint
1 tablespoon of water
(add more water if needed to mix well)

Pictured below is actually a double batch of the homemade
 chalk paint.  The armoire is a large piece and more paint
is needed to cover the whole this in this color.

Mix the powder and the paint really well together and then 
add the water and mix again until you don't see any powder. 

The first batch covered half of the armoire.

A second batch of the brown completed a base coat.
The paint stuck on really well with no sanding or prepping 
the piece (except for dusting it off before painting).

If you don't want to do the layering of colors, you 
would need another coat of this homemade chalk paint.

 The "Almost Charcoal" chalk paint layer was not put 
on the whole piece but painted on in blotches. 
Don't worry about putting these accents colors
 in the nooks and crannies and corners unless you 
want them to show after sanding.   

I was really doubting my color choices at this point;
the brown did not look that much darker than the original
finish and now the gray was looking like the "country blue"
look from the 1980's that I was trying to cover up.

Since you can use even craft paints with the wall texture
to make a chalk paint, I dug into my stash and found some
green colors.  The accent color in the bedroom is green so I
would rather green show through than a blue-ish color. 

The brown craft paint was also added after this pic was taken
to make the green color darker. Use same paint/powder ratio.

The green chalk paint was also put on in blotches.
Sorry there is so much reflection from the sunlight bouncing off the newspaper in this
post's pictures.  The room has three windows. For picture taking, it is usually too
bright with the curtains open or too dark if they are closed. 

Each layer dried really quickly.
So, now I am ready for Mr. Stealth Jet to come to my 
rescue and make this armoire more black.

I'm not sure why Mr. Stealth Jet did not turn out looking
as black as he did on the paint chip.  Maybe the white powder
and the water made him weak?  He only got put on in 
blotches too 'cause I could tell he was not "Mr. Right". 

The only black color I had on hand (and I wanted to complete
this project in one day) was a tube of artist acrylic color.
The black got added to another recipe of the Stealth Jet paint 
and powder to make it dark enough.  So actually, the final 
recipe of chalk paint had double the amount of paint as the
batches before.  It also needed a little more water to thin it
out enough to brush on easily.  Adapt the recipe as needed.

This darkest color was also painted in the corners and in 
the details on the top of the armoire with a smaller brush.
The color was getting "close enough".  I decided to go on and
sand the piece and see what came about.  Other colors could
be added on top if needed later.  Guess what happened?
When I started sanding, it looked like a chalkboard!

The combination of the "chalk" in the recipe on top of the 
black color made it hard to see what colors were coming out.
I used a damp rag to wipe off the chalk so I could see if it
needed more or less sanding.  The edges sanded off very
easily to reveal wood tones.  

The flat surfaces did not sand through as easily.  Maybe because
I had to use extra paint to get the dark saturated color?  I did
discover that if I sanded while the paint was a little damp from
being wiped off, that the colors below showed up more. 

I didn't want to sand too much of the darkest color off, however,
since that was the main color I wanted it to be in the end. 

The sanding step took longer than any step before that.
The sandpaper I used was 150 and 100 grit.
After sanding, a coat of paste wax was rubbed on with a rag. 

I loved the finish that the paint had immediately after the wax 
was put on but it seemed like the chalky paint absorbed the
wax. The wax I used is just from the grocery store and it did give
it a somewhat finished look but I might try a real finishing wax
from the home improvement store to give more shine later.

I did finish the armoire in one day (8 hours).  If you don't want
all those layers of colors, I think you could do it much quicker.

I call this an easy paint finish because all you do is paint
different colors on in blotches, do some sanding 
(if you want a distressed look), and wax it. 
Really, no skills are involved. 

In the end, I was happy with the way the armoire turned out,
even with the blue-ish gray that came through. 
Here are some close-up pictures of the finish:

The crowns are on top of the armoire to add some visual
height to the piece.  The ceiling in the bedroom is 9 feet...  
 standard is 8 feet. Most furniture is made to fit the standard 
ceilings so it makes this piece look kind of short in the room.  

I'm sharing this post over at
Furniture Friday @ Miss Mustard Seed


  1. I LOVE it - the black really is stunning! I also loved how you taped around it, absolutely brilliant! I totally get your sense of symmetry and the crown collection - LOVE!
    My son has the same color furniture in his bedroom, you have just totally convinced me to paint it black, thanks!
    Tami @ Curb Alert!

  2. Wow! That turned out great. It really looks wonderful and you did a good job using your technique. GREAT job! xo Diana

  3. You did an awesome job on this piece! It looks terrific. Being an avid painter and crafter, who is so often spontaneous in my methods,I got a little tickled while reading the painting process. I had to share that it reminds me of so many painting projects I've done in the past.I would think to myself later that it would be impossible for me to replicate the look. I would never be able to mix it exactly again. You probably never have such thoughts. Again, a beautiful outcome!!

  4. What a beautiful, burnished sort of black finish you so ably achieved through the layers of paint you used--it looks vintage and really lovely!

  5. Beautifully done! I love it's new look and I love your crown collection too!!

  6. I have two cabinets that are getting a black paint treatment this week so perfect timing on this post. I always play around with dobbing different paint colours for the undercoat and craft paints rock for that! Your cabinet looks fabulous!

  7. Fabulous tutorial and I love the different layers. This looks amazing. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  8. What a gorgeous piece of furniture you created! Love all the different layers - talk about Tall Dark and Handsome!

  9. turned out great! Little Bit from www.DecorateWithaLittleBit.com

  10. I am definitely going to try this my friend. This is a new one on me. Wall texture!! Hmmm...

  11. Gayle, The armoire turned out wonderful and I love the paint treatment. Thanks for the mention and for sharing your project at the Open House party.
    xx, Sherry

  12. Your armoire turned out great. Since I am new to your blog I don't know if this is one of many projects but you do sound knowledgeable or know what you like and want. Love your crown collection.

  13. Hi, I am a new follower to your lovely blog (Via GFC)and it really feel pleasure meeting new awesome bloggers like you, Found you through the inky party "Whatever You Want Wednesday".

    my blog: www.wilsontom.blogspot.com

  14. You are an artist and thank you so much for explaining the steps and colors you used. It looks fantastic. A very smart paper and tape job as well!

  15. I am just a new follower but wanted to say what an AWESOME job you did with your step by step tutorial of a simply MAGNIFICENT makeover!! You are so kind to show details as well as the fantastic photos of your masterpiece!! LOVE LOVE LOVE all the sharing and LOVE the beautiful finished results! You are to be commended along with all of you other ladies who generously share your ideas with others looking for inspiration, instruction, AND the confidence to tackle a project! THANK YOU !!

  16. Congratulations being featured two times recently on TTT.

  17. Wow, what a gorgeous finish!! I *love* black and this is just beautiful. What a lot of work, though, but totally worth it. I loved Southern Accents and saved a couple issues with inspiration. It was kind of like a southern version of "Veranda."

  18. Visiting from MMS......and I'm glad I made the "trip" over. I've seen so much black furniture distressed and have tried to mimic the weathered look without much success. Your tutorial will really help next time.

    Love the way this piece turned out - well worth the 8 hours. Imagine if you had stripped and sanded it down first the old fashioned way?

  19. This turned out great! I love to layer paint and play around with it until it looks just right. Great job!

  20. Interesting way of painting furniture! It turned out great :) Thanks for sharing!!!

  21. I'm very impressed with the way your armoire turned out. I am a big fan of Stealth Jet by Behr, and using several colors underneath to show through when distressed. Instead of sanding, have you tried water distressing with a scrubbie sponge? It doesn't leave zig-zaggy marks and scratches.


  22. What a fantastic outcome! The step by step is so helpful.. You are my hero for having the nerve to paint it in place on light carpet!

  23. Beautiful outcome, but I would say NOT EASY for someone to recreate at home.

  24. great job! I love your "crown" collection! Where did you find your crowns?


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