I've seen so much hype about this product and I understand what the excitement is all about.
However, as a seasoned cabinet finisher, I must share a few details about why I will avoid using it ever again, if possible. Before I go into why I will avoid the product, here's an excerpt from the Annie Sloan website, about why you should love it.
'What is Chalk Paint®?
Chalk Paint® is very easy to work with. It very rarely requires any preparation, such as sanding or priming, and can be used indoors or outside, on just about any surface - from wood to metal, and matt plastic to terracotta. It can revitalise old furniture, walls, ceilings and floors with ease. It's easy, fun and makes amazing results accessible to everyone.
With a colour palette inspired by 18th and 20th Century decor and design, you can easily mix the colours together to extend the range. Chalk Paint® is eco-friendly too. It contains extremely low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and has no odor.
Add a little water to it to make it smooth, thicken it up by leaving the lid off, make it into a wash by adding even more water. Use flat brushes for a smooth look or bristle brushes for a more textured aged look. Gorgeous results have never been so simple and straightforward."
To learn more: www.anniesloan.com
It's all true by the way...
Its ease of use, minimal prep requirements and eco-friendliness all point to a remarkable product, but there are a few essential items that you need to be aware of:
The Durability: If you've ever been on blackboard eraser cleaning duty at school, you'll know how powdery and dusty the chalk is. Chalk dust can find it's way into even the tightest of fabrics and textures, which is why chalk based paint boasts such remarkable bonding properties. It's true that little or no sanding/priming is required, for the product to adhere, but its durability leaves quite a bit to be desired. Leaning on your experience once again with chalk — do you remember how easily it would shatter if you dropped it on the classroom floor? The chalk based paint doesn't quite shatter in the same way because its powdery properties have been fused with a liquid carrier for paintability. However, once the product dries, it takes on more of an adobe or plaster feel. With almost no effort, you can dig your fingernail into the dried and cured surface and chip away the finish. In case you're wondering, the wax sealant doesn't help.
The Wax: This is the magic step that will make any novice feel like a pro. It's also the mess that will make professional furniture finishers cringe with disgust. The product instructions tell us to seal the painted surface with a clear wax, followed by a dark wax. The clear wax is supposed to afford easier color control when adding the dark wax. Perhaps it helps, but as you can see in the video above, I had to use a cloth, dampened with mineral spirits to soften and even the tone. The product salesman offered me a quick verbal tutorial, in which he explained "if the dark wax gets too heavy, just reapply the clear wax to soften it up and make it workable again." To be sure, if I wanted my cabinets to feel like candles and I had an extra two hours to manipulate the color, I'd be delighted to add more wax. I inquired; "Mineral Spirits is the solvent for this wax, no?" He affirmed and I signed the receipt with a smile through clinched teeth.
The Price: One quart of Annie Sloan paint and two quarts of wax: $99.12. Enough said...
You're very welcome indeed, Annie...
In summary of this experience, I will never use Annie Sloan products again, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. I do this for a living and it's not equitable for me to pay a premium for a product that is tedious to apply and severely lacking in durability. The reason you might like the Annie Sloan experience is because you get to experience all the joy of creative process, without all the added steps that come with building a real, lasting furniture grade finish.
Annie Sloan Paint is a niche product, that might fair well next to the Martha Stewart section at your local arts and crafts store, but it doesn't belong in the professional market. That said, even the most inept painter can create something very rewarding. I would suggest using this product with your children, on the weekend, for a fun and rewarding project where quality time is more important than a quality finish.