the review room
Vintage Country Trading Chalk Blend
Upcycling seems to be becoming more popular by the day and to support the craft, new decorating materials are coming to the market giving amateur and professional furniture refurbishers alike an enormous product choice. Most people who are not experienced restorers begin by using chalk paint, indeed some people find it works so well for them it remains their paint of choice. If you fall into this creative camp, then this product might be for you.
Vintage Country Trading is an online emporium of upcycled and vintage furniture - dressing tables to wardrobes, coffee tables to dressers, based in Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire. They are gradually building up a UK-wide network of stockists of Chalk Blend so you will soon, if not already, be able to pop down to the shops and pick up your supply with your groceries! Vintage Country Trading was officially launched in January 2015 and is going from strength to strength. VCT is owned by Andrea and Garth Imison who between them have a wealth of experience in upcycling and furniture restoration. Andrea has been retailing paint, furniture and vintage items since 2008 and Garth has over thirty years’ experience of manufacturing and global distribution, so a formidable team!
Chalk Blend is an additive that you combine with water before adding to emulsion to create a version of chalk paint (chalk paint is actually a registered trade mark of Annie Sloan paint but I'm sure you will know what I mean when I refer to it by this name). It comes with a handy booklet which provides clear instructions on how to mix it as well as a technical guide describing how to apply and finish your furniture painting project.
Unlike some other additives on the market, once mixed the thick consistency of the paint produced is very similar to that of Annie Sloan chalk paint. The coverage was good but I did have to water it down several times to get the smooth finish I required, in exactly the same as you are advised to when using AS chalk paint. My first project using Vintage Country Trading Chalk Blend was a small circular table. I chose a mid-teal coloured emulsion and wanted to achieve a flat finish with no distressing. Vintage Country Trading claim there is no need to sand or prime so with no preparation other than a good clean, I began to paint. The adhesion was great and when it came to waxing the painted table, there was no loss of paint on the edges which is always a very good sign. It took the wax well, as you would expect of chalk paint but required two good coats of wax to get an even finish.
I had recently taken a commission where the client specified that she wanted me to use a chalk paint so this was a great opportunity to use Chalk Blend again. This time the emulsion was an off-white colour, which my client had chosen based on the encouraging results shown on the test piece I had previously prepared. Unfortunately once I used the Chalk Blend on the commission pieces, the outcome was not at all as expected. The furniture was dark wood and so I primed it and as before, the coverage was excellent. However when I sanded it back between coats tiny black grit particles appeared that were deeply embedded and almost impossible to remove by sanding alone. In the end I had to remove them by scratching them out with a scalpel and regardless of how many coats I painted on, the particles continued to appear. In the end I had to resort to a different paint to overcome the problem.
As a professional painter and furniture restorer I am familiar with how to overcome most difficulties that may arise but this situation left me feeling very frustrated and took time to rectify which I had not anticipated and therefore not allowed for when costing the price of the commission. When furniture painting is your livelihood, timescale is factored into the price of every project and so using a paint which I can rely upon to give great results every time without time or quality impediment is mandatory. All the other products I used on the furniture are ones I am very familiar with and use regularly which led me to the conclusion that it could only be the Chalk Blend additive which was the culprit.
Would I recommend Chalk Blend? As a product to use in a professional capacity then no I don't think it would be stand up to my rigorous requirements for a commission but for the beginner, not looking for a high end finish, its a much cheaper option than the more expensive ready mixed chalk paints and because you can use emulsion paint that you would otherwise have disposed of, there is a very positive environmental benefit to using Chalk Blend.
Chalk Blend is available via the Vintage Country Trading website or registered stockists - email VCT direct for details of your nearest retailer. Pots cost around £9 for enough additive to convert 2 litres of emulsion to a chalk paint-style product. Click here to be redirected to the Vintage Country Trading website.