In pursuit of the ideal paint: 5 tips from paint expert Annie Sloan

I’ve always wanted to create a bespoke desk in my home office. So, I recently bought two old iron Singer sewing machine table bases and painted them in a black Hammerite paint to disguise the rust. But that’s where I got stuck. You see, I’d been looking for the perfect shade of grey to paint the two-metre worktop that would be my desktop. I searched high and low but my hunt was in vain. That was however until I discovered Annie Sloan’s newest paint collection.

Annie Sloane has been painting for over 40 years. She originally studied fine art but soon turned to decorative painting after graduating from university. She went on to write 'The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques' and has now written over 20 books on traditional paints, colours and techniques.

Unable to find the paints that she wanted to work with herself, she turned her knowledge of colour, paint, pigments and art history into developing her own Chalk Paint range back in 1990. Since then her paint collection has gone from strength to strength and today there are 29 beautiful colours to choose from. She also has a range of vintage inspired fabrics, which are equally eye catching.

The newest paint collection ‘Antoinette’ is so pretty. It features a soft ‘Plaster’ pink – one of this season’s hottest colours. There’s also Original – a warm, slightly creamy soft white - and French Linen - a cool neutral khaki grey. And there you have it. My perfect grey!

From my experience the paint is really easy to apply and dries much quicker than conventional paint. A litre tin will cover around 13 square metres, which means I can now paint my kitchen table and French Armoire as the desk turned out so well!

As soon as I discovered this shade of grey, I got in touch with Annie Sloan herself to find out more about her range and pick up a few painting tips along the way. Here she shares her top tips on how to get the best from your paint:

1. Make sure you use the right paint for the job. The paint needs to be responsive to allow you to work in a practical flexible way. Our Chalk Paints can be used in a variety of ways – for example, as a wash, with or without texture, or applied thickly. For the most part, with Annie Sloan paint you only need to apply one coat, but where two coats are necessary, apply the first one with a large brush.

2. Working with a good palette of colours is important, as is being able mix them. I use a palette of ready mixed neutrals with stronger colours, working on the premise that you can lighten strong colours but cannot make a light colour strong. Our colours can be lightened with Old White or you can use Country Grey to give a colour a little complexity. Waxes can change a colour as well, so you need to take this into consideration when you are applying your chosen paint.

3. Find a good brush. I find that working with a brush that is a mix of synthetic and bristle is the best. The hairs should be fairly long and flexible with a little bounce to allow you to be expressive with your work.

4. Wax on, wax off! I wax more or less everything I paint to get the right finish for my furniture and walls. I find it makes my projects strong and practical and gives them a beautiful workable finish. I recommend you use a wax that is soft and can easily be applied with a small brush. If you want to get the job done quickly and are feeling confident, you can use a larger brush. After adding a layer of clear wax you can choose to apply a dark wax to change the colour, or add paint to the clear wax to alter the finish.

5. Think about the finish and texture. For a distressed look you need to be able to sand the waxed surface to reveal the wood or another coat of paint – use a selection of fine, medium and coarse grade sandpapers for this purpose. Have a good supply of cloths to hand so you can wipe brushes, polish wax, apply and wipe off paint, and generally use them to clean.

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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor

View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor