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The Mystique of Chalk Paint

I meant to write today’s column sometime last year. I was going to do it after finishing a certain DIY project, and if I had done a good job, I was even going to take pictures. Well, I never accomplished my goal, never even started, but my procrastination should not prevent you from attaining yours. What were my lofty plans?

I have two small pieces of furniture that I want to paint. One is a short, gray file cabinet that I’d like to change to deep, magenta pink. Yes, I really do. And if you saw how it would fit into the design scheme of my home office, you’d understand why. The second piece is a dresser that my parents had antiqued in the 1970s when such a faux finish was a craze.

The file cabinet is made of metal and the dresser is covered with scratches and peeling paint. Therefore, I thought both would need serious surface preparation before they could be painted. Thus, my procrastination.

One day, I came across a product called BB Frösch Paint Transformer. It’s a powder that you mix into any can of paint that will transform it into a chalk-like paint. Before I go on, I should describe chalk paint which should officially be referred to as Chalk Paint® as it was created, registered and trademarked by Annie Sloan in 1990. She was/is a British decorative artist and a busy mother who did not want to bother with stripping, puttying, sanding, and priming furniture before painting it. So, she came up with a formula that allowed her to skip all of those steps. Halleluiah! I don’t know what’s in the secret sauce but it could be something like baking soda, plaster of Paris, or unsanded grout. Something that allows paint to stick to otherwise unstickable surfaces and also leave a smooth finish.

Incredibly, this paint can be used on metal, melamine, tile, fabric, and even glass. Because of its ingredients, it has a matte, or “chalky” finish but it can be waxed if a more glossy or a patina finish is desired. It’s a thick paint where, often times, one coat may do the trick. It’s also water-based so brushes can be easily cleaned with soap and water.

What does Chalk Paint® have to do with BB Frösch? Chalk Paint® is a British product that cannot be purchased in the United State through their website. So much for being our most treasured international ally. But you can find it at the retail store, Favorite Things, in Santa Rosa for around $35 a quart. However, for $10, you can get a quart of BB Frösch and add it to any paint of your choosing. Any brand, any sheen, any color, indoor or out. You can order it online at

You can also purchase imitation chalk paint at Home Depot. I don’t know how its quality or durability compares to the real deal or to BB Frösch. If you try it, let me know.

Now that I’ve written this column, and it’s a new year, my interest in transforming my two pieces of furniture has been reignited. I may even add my patio bench and a couple of stepping stools to my list. How about you?

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