I paint a LOT of furniture and I get so many questions about the different specialty paints I use — how I decide which one is right for a project, how easy they are to work with, and how they hold up over time.
These paints are more expensive than something you’d pick up in a home improvement store — where $25 can get you a huge gallon. But you also need less of these paints because they’re thicker and designed to go a long way, so it never feels like I’m overspending on them.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about my top four furniture/accessory paints, including what I like about each one and why you might choose one over the other . . .
Where you can buy it in Nova Scotia: The Painted Attic (Hammonds Plains), Knackered Vintage to Modern Decor (Porter’s Lake), Oceanview Home and Garden (Chester), The Wooden Path Rustic & Chic Decor (Windsor), Regained Relics Antiques and Collectibles (Shubenacadie), Phillips & Chestnut (Truro), Delaney Antiques & Stuff (Liverpool), Forbes New To You (New Glasgow), Buds to Blossoms Floral Boutique and Gifts (Amherst), The Red Door Furniture Rescue (Sydney). The website has an up-to-date list here.
What to use it for: It’s awesome for painting anything quickly — frames, furniture, lamps, you name it — especially if you don’t want to bother waxing or sealing.
I’d choose Fusion Mineral Paint first if I was . . . In a rush. It’s the fastest of the four because of the built-in top coat.
Prep work: The official word is to clean your piece and scuff it up with sandpaper, but I don’t think I’ve ever done that and I haven’t had an issue.
Paint prep: Give the jar a shake before opening.
Application: A nice thick paint that’s self-levelling to hide brush strokes. Do not roll it on, or it will be too thin. I use a regular ol’ paint brush, even if I’m doing something large like a vanity.
Top-coat required? Nope. Fusion is an interesting one because it goes on with the same texture as Annie Sloan and Fat, but it doesn’t dry to a chalky matte finish. It has a built-in topcoat so it doesn’t require waxing or buffing. You can, however, brush on Tough Coat if you want an extremely durable finish. (I’ve only done this on cabinets and our kitchen table. Nothing else felt like it needed it.)
My favourite shades: Ash, Casement, Midnight Blue
My final word: Fusion’s been my go-to furniture paint because it’s (A) sold in my town, (B) has amazing coverage, and (C) has that handy built-in top coat. I also like that it comes in plastic jars with screw-off tops so you can really see the colours when you’re deciding which one to get.
Where you can buy it in Nova Scotia: Rusty Hinges (Halifax), Absolutely Fabulous at Home (New Minas).
What to use it for: I love it for furniture, and they even sell larger sizes of wall paint.
I’d choose Annie Sloan Chalk Paint first if I was … Wanting to distress a piece and wax/buff it for a classic look.
Prep work: A light sand is all most pieces should need.
Paint prep: Just give it a stir.
Application: It goes on creamy and has great coverage.
Top-coat required? Yes, unless you want a chalky feel. Rub in one coat of wax, and THEN you can distress it with sandpaper if desired. (This is one of the main differences with Annie’s.) Now’s the time to distress the edges and any special details, if you’d like. Dust it off and rub wax into the piece (using a wax brush or lint-free cloth) in sections, like you’re rubbing in hand lotion. Wait five minutes and buff it, then buff again after at least six hours.
Heather’s favourite shades: Paris Grey, Duck Egg Blue, Scandinavian Pink
Heather’s final word: I love that Annie Sloan isn’t afraid of the pinks, purples and reds, so there are plenty of pretty options. Their palette is sophisticated and includes interesting of neutrals that aren’t just varying shades of white.
Where you can buy it in Nova Scotia: The Painted Attic (Hammonds Plains), Mom’s Buy & Sell (Lunenburg), Phillips & Chestnut (Truro),
What to use it for: It’s amazing on raw wood! You can even add more water for a thinner consistency and it will soak into the grain like a stain. It’s NOT as great for anything veneered or glossy — still works, but it just takes a bit more effort.
I’d choose Miss Mustard Seed first if I was … Painting raw food. If you paint raw wood with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, it will NEVER flake or chip — pretty impressive.
Prep work: If you’re working on raw wood, just sand it smooth and then you’re ready to paint. If you’re painting over a flat surface (latex or acrylic paint, or just a really old piece of dull painted furniture), you can usually start without sanding. Glossy surfaces need to be scratched up with sandpaper (just five minutes or so) so the milk paint has something to grip. If the finish is heavily lacquered (or glass or metal), add Milk Paint Bonding Agent to the paint to help it adhere.
Paint prep: You have to mix the powdered pigment with water and whisk it to get the desired consistency — coffee cream. You also have to stir it regularly as you use it.
Application: Goes on thinner and runnier than the others — sometimes with tiny bubbles.
Top-coat required? Yes, or it will feel dry and chalky to the touch. Once the paint dries, sand it lightly to smooth off any gritty bits. Rub their delicious-smelling beeswax finish into the piece and buff it with a soft cloth to make it silky smooth, or brush on one of their other finishing products (like hemp oil or Tough Coat). If you’re painting something that will be in a high-traffic area or get a lot of use, Tough Coat is basically a “natural polyurethane” that dries to a matte finish.
Heather’s favourite shades: Farmhouse White, Artissimo, Mustard Seed Yellow
Heather’s final word: Milk paint may take more work than the others, but there’s nothing like the buttery smoothness of furniture that’s been milk-painted, waxed and buffed. It feels like something that was painted a hundred years ago, and you just want to keep running your fingers over it.
Where you can buy it in Nova Scotia: Angela’s Attic Antiques (New Glasgow), The Painted Attic (Hammonds Plains), Hue Design Studio (Halifax), Brad’s Decor Center/Benjamin Moore (Kentville), Mom’s Buy & Sell (Lunenburg), Out of The Attic (Sydney.
What to use it for: Furniture! But be prepared to give your arms a workout if you want to buff it to a nice sheen — it takes real muscle.
I’d choose FAT Paint first if I was … Wanting a fun, bright colour!
Prep work: A light sand is all most pieces should need. FAT Paint adheres really well and needs few coats.
Paint prep: Just give it a quick stir.
Application: Couldn’t be easier. Rich and smooth.
Top-coat required? Yes, unless you want a chalky feel. Once the paint dries, smooth it with medium/fine grit sandpaper. Now’s the time to distress the edges and any special details, if you’d like. Dust it off and rub wax into the piece (using a wax brush or lint-free cloth) in sections, like you’re rubbing in hand lotion. Wait five minutes and buff it, then buff again after at least six hours.
Heather’s favourite shades: Mountain Haze, Juno, Shop Door
Heather’s final word: I love FAT Paint’s colours. There are so many gorgeous, bright, modern hues and they have the most diverse palette of the four. They’re not afraid to be loud and daring, so they’re the perfect pick if you want a piece that makes a bold statement.