Even though chalky paint is famous for not needing prep work before you start painting, that isn’t 100% the truth.
You may not always need a primer, especially an adhesion primer, but sometimes you still do.
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If a surface is slick like laminate or glass or something that’s had a thick coat of varnish or shellac/polyurethane put on it, your best bet is always going to be to scuff sand it lightly, so that the paint has something to grip to. I always use Dixie Belle Slick Stick for that, because it was created to help the paint stick to slick surfaces.
Other primers, such as blocking primers, still need to be used if you’re painting a piece that may have tannins that will bleed through, because you sanded a little too much. Some woods are notorious for bleeding through, dark wood such as cherry or mahogany are the most common offenders. Also, if you’re wanting to go from really dark to really light on a previously painted piece, this is where I would use Dixie Belle B.O.S.S. (blocks out stains & odors), DIY Salvation Solution, or Zinnser BIN primer, shellac based.
In most instances, those problem solvers are not necessary, but that doesn’t mean you can just buy a piece of furniture at a garage sale, then go home and start painting. You do always need to clean the piece first, even if it isn’t visibly dirty.
My go-to cleaner is always Dixie Belle White Lightning, a TSP-based cleaner that removes any old waxes and polishes, but also deglazes the surface just enough to help the paint adhere. Just mix about a tablespoon of White Lightning, I just pour it in the lid and eyeball it, into a small container of warm water. You can use a spray bottle or a bucket. (Most of the time I use a small bucket.) Also, use a glove because it is a chemical, and a scrubby sponge from the dollar store is perfect for helping you to get the piece ready to paint.
There are other cleaners you can use, of course, I have used Krud Kutter, vinegar, and even Dawn dishwashing liquid. But, the best I have ever found has always been the White Lightning. It is inexpensive, and easy to use, and does the job like no other. You just have to remember to rinse it off afterwards, because it can leave a little bit of residue on the surface.
After your piece is cleaned with White Lightning, if the surface isn’t slick, and you haven’t sanded, and it’s not a dark color or a dark wood, then you can definitely apply your chalk, mineral, or clay-based paint immediately, and have beautiful results.
That’s what makes this furniture painting hobby/business so much fun. It’s not hours of prep, just clean, rinse, and move forward, unless you have a problem that needs to be solved. (slick or dark surface)
Have you ever painted furniture with a chalky finish paint? I would love to see your project!