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Paint Everything White (quickly)

Well, with the start of a new year there is a tendency to want to make changes. We tire of what we have and think something new will give us a new spark! Yes, I agree, but I believe if you repurpose then you will be happier on even more levels. It will be ‘new’ to you and you can feel good about diminishing waste! My resolution has been to try (yes, make an attempt) at finally getting to some of the collection of things that are just waiting to get out of the dungeon of the basement and live a new life in the spotlight. The answer: just paint everything WHITE!

There was a time when ‘black’ was the colour to paint everything. (Or if you are old enough; hunter green, but I don’t want to go there…) Now, I just love love love the serenity of WHITE.

You will remember my ‘Mid-Century Living Room’ with the white chairs, it is still so tranquil and ‘sunny’!

This tutorial is a whopper, as I have painted so many things white and hope to provide my tricks and tips. I don’t believe there is one answer for all problems… follow along

The Paint:

I use acrylic or latex paint. To decide which paint depends on the object and how much there is to paint. It is also sometimes about what I have on hand.

For small objects like furniture and frames I love Acrylic Enamel (gloss is great for some sheen) or other indoor/outdoor acrylic enamel. The outdoor quality means it has even more staying power against the elements.

If I have painted an entire house of doors and trim (crazy I know, but I’ve done that 2x already) I That case I use a primer first since it is more economical. (However, I have been known to just use latex paint if that is what I have.) My purpose is to get as much opaque and durable coverage as I can. The final coat can provide the sheen of choice.

The Additive:

I don’t want to spend my ‘entire life’ painting coat after coat to achieve an opaque white so I use an additive to give more coverage and hardness; Calcium Carbonate! I just love adding this into the paint. It is the pulverized version of what chalk used to be made of. Egg shells and sea shells are pretty hard aren’t they?! Yes, it is now ‘chalk paint’ but I am using it in a different way.

To source Calcium Carbonate you can find it at the drug store as a supplement but I prefer buying it at the wine-making supply stores as it is in powder form and I can order as much as I like. Calcium carbonate is used in the deacidification of wine. You can also find it at the pigment/paint supply stores, however there usually is a wine-making place in each city.

The Brushes:

My choice of brushes may not be what professionals use. Perhaps it’s the artist in me that prefers more control of the paint. I like the flat brushes that are not that thick. They tend not to become huge mops full of globby paint which I find leaves less drips. They also can give a nice thin clean edge line. They are usually quite inexpensive and available at craft/hobby/art supply stores.

The Procedure:


Depending on the object and what finish you would like, mix the calcium carbonate into your choice of paint. And yes, there are many whites out there, another decision to make. (Benjamin Moore; Simply White is nice) I don’t use an exact recipe as the consistency of paints varies. When I want a ‘fast’ coverage I use as much as 1 part calcium carbonate to 2 parts paint. The hardest part is getting it mixed in without any lumps. I use a brush to mix as it acts somewhat like a whisk. If you have a large amount you could use a paint mixer. It will be quite thick as I usually don’t water it down. Water equals thinning which means less coverage which means more coats… If needed I will add water if it will not spread with a brush.

Paint everything White:

This ‘ancient’ chair was not glossy so it did not need any surface prep.  See how quickly the opaque white covers! Cheap thin paints don’t cover.

The chalk additive seems to also make the paint go a long way. This only used about 3/4 cup of paint.

Since the acrylic enamel was a gloss the finish was not completely flat. I don’t like the shabby-chic/flat look but wanted a bit of sheen so I gave it a quick thin top coat of just the gloss paint. This will also give it a bit of a more ‘washable’ skin against elements. I can always tell a lot from cleanup time. I can see how well it sticks when it’s super hard to get off my hands and the brush.

Well doesn’t that look so much more modern and fresh?! (Wait for the upholstery coming soon)

Modernize all those ornate frames…

One, maybe 2 coat coverage.

Details like these need the use of smaller brushes. A top coat of gloss…

When taking on larger scale furniture you may want to prep the surface more. If the piece has a glossy finish you should give it a scuff sanding (fine grit followed by good cleaning). I hate dust so I like to use Liquid Sandpaper as well! Calcium carbonate is mixed into the primer and a sponge roller is used. It may need to be thinned slightly with water to work with the roller.

These used pieces got a new life. It is better of they are a good quality of wood if you are going to invest the time.

It came together quite nicely for such minimal cost.

When I paint tables or dressers I know the surface will get a lot of wear. For this reason I like to give the top surfaces a coat of a hard clear finish. I have the Nano Defence Floor Finish on hand but I also love the other Rustoleum Diamond Wood Finish. Both provide a VERY hard clear finish (I love satin) to protect against spills etc. These pieces of furniture have held up well.

You will remember these awesome tables in the living room

I smile every time I look at them.

Simplicity at it’s best.

Trim and Doors:

Oh, now for the ‘other’ painting… Arghhh! Yes, an entire house needed to be updated with white trim. Most will just rip it out and replace. Yes, it’s much faster, but it just seems wrong. The original is a nice hard REAL wood, not sawdust MDF. Soooo, here goes…

Oh, yes, update the doors as well… Add some trim and paint paint paint…

Getting there, slowly but surely. Think of it like therapy. ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’

Ah, accomplishment! (Don’t mind the masking tape on the floor.) I’m happy and so is the house.

I found this great steamer trunk in the ‘dungeon’ as well…


It will join the chair in the new guest room (tutorial coming soon I promise)

So, there you go. You can paint ‘everything’ white and make it look like you have a new place. Trust me, it’s easier than breaking your back and hauling it into the car and driving it to the donation place (where incidentally there are piles of cast-offs right now)

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

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