Nesting Gone Awry: DIY Chalk Paint with Diatomaceous Earth

The best thing about Craigslist is finding treasures for cheap. The worst thing: cheap treasures often need a good helping of TLC. Take this incredible changing table, for example.

White, but peeling and scuffed, and at some point in the past touched up with a shade of white not quite the same as the original. The solution? Fresh paint! And since I love the creamy look of chalk paint and hoped to match the other antique furniture in the nursery, my choice was easy. 

Next step, look up recipes online and realize I don't have the slightest idea where to buy calcium carbonate locally, and don't want to wait for shipping, don't like the idea of plaster of Paris dust around the kids, and I just happened to have this in my garage:

Again, easy answer. 50lbs of diatomaceous earth (bought for chicken keeping) would be more than enough (as in waaaaaay more than enough). My recipe: 1/4 Cup DE, 1/2 Cup paint, 2 Tbsp water.

First scoop your DE and add the water. Then whisk until smooth-ish.

Whisk some more after adding the paint. I used a basic Valspar white.

Here it is after the first coat:

You can see how nice and thick it is, though it clearly needs a second coat.

Ah, better. It dried very quickly. Like ten minutes. I then took it inside and distressed with all the typical tools of the trade.

Oh, but do let the paint cure a bit before distressing or you might end up rubbing off the paint in big chunks. Since the white was so very WHITE and stark, I added a bit of patina by making a paint-water wash and applying carefully around the edges. Be warned: chalk paint devours color and it's very easy to over-distress a piece by doing this! Steel wool too tends to leave a gray coloration over the finished product.

One could finish with wax or a coat of varnish of choice: poly, minwax polycrylic (my pick), shellac. See below the drawer post-distressing.

Almost finished chalk-paint using diatomaceous earth

Almost finished chalk-paint using diatomaceous earth

Remember that thing I said about over-distressing? Yes, I did that. Above is just the drawer. I really went to town on it after that. I felt the piece looked more shabby than chic, so much that I didn't even take pictures. After some tears and profanity I decided to go a different route. Decoupage! Fun! That lesson is coming soon.