How To Achieve a Painted Factory Finish With Chalk Paint by Unique Junktique

I was commissioned to paint a little chicken coop cubby shelf unit last week for a little girls room. And thought I would share a little problem I came across using chalk paint on big box store furniture. No matter how many pieces I paint, I always learn little tips, tricks, and lessons along the way. Each piece has its own personality, and this piece put up a fight. Here are some painting tips for creating a factory finish on big box store pieces.

Box Store Chicken Coop Cubby

Here is a before shot of the shelf. Looks like a nice vintage styled chicken coop cubby shelving unit made out of wood. Or is it?  Typically I work with real wood vintage furniture. Big Box decor companies often produce vintage inspired pieces that look and feel like real wood with real vintage finishes. This one is made by Pier One.

I wasn’t sure of the type paint that was used on this piece originally it felt like a type of lacquer or oil based, I went with my gut feelings and decided to give the piece a fine sanding to create a tooth for the chalk paint to stick to just in case… who knows what type of stuff they use in China.

Chicken Coop Cubby With One Coat

The Chalk Type Paint companies all say that Chalk Paint requires no sanding or priming, that their paint sticks to anything, wood, metal, glass, even fabrics. Well this is not always the case when it comes to big box company furniture. At least with this piece. For the first time using chalk paint I ran into problems.

I came across areas where the paint was fighting me and not wanting to stick inside the cubbies. Maybe they were little spots that I missed with the sandpaper? I was pretty sure I sanded it very well, maybe the piece was subjected to some kind of gook at one time? No I cleaned the piece properly beforehand.  Hmmm

Wet Sanding the chicken coop cubby

I have used Country Chic Paint brand before and never came across any problems with adhesion. Bright Tropical Cocktail and Vanilla frosting were the colors of choice. Two base coats of blue were needed for coverage, and a whopping Five coats to cover the blue totally. Normally you don’t need full coverage for heavy distressing, but the undistressed parts she wanted pristine white.

I also gave the piece a wet sanding between coats with 400 grit sandpaper for adhesion,  the client wanted a smooth finish to the piece without brushstrokes. I couldn’t see setting up my sprayer and a spray booth for just one little piece.


Edge detail of the chicken coop cubby

The client wanted this piece heavily distressed with lots of blue peeping through all over the piece, showing wear inside the chicken coop cubby shelves as well.

Now some Chalk paint brands you can distress ridiculously easily with a wet cloth which makes removing the top color effortless. Country Chic is more like the Annie Sloan line which when completely dry, requires sanding with a sanding sponge or fine sandpaper to distress.

While sanding the paint was starting to peel before I even got to the blue under layer, can you see the dark spots inside the cubby with no blue peeping through?

detailed finish shot of the chicken coop cubby

I found I needed to apply a very light hand to try to get the blue to pop through, without sanding down to the base color on the edges and on the inside shelves. Or sand down to far to make the paint peel off.

Finished it off with a wet sand to smooth everything down like butter, the client wanted an all over poly top coat for durability. Tripled that coat….

detailed finish shot 2 of the chicken coop cubby

The top I wanted to have large worn areas, but was afraid of getting down to the base color to much. I was also wary that this piece may be made of an MDF or another material.

Upon inspecting the underside of the piece, the edges didn’t have the look of real wood, yet they didn’t appear to be pressed wood with laminate either. It was hard to tell because it was thoroughly painted on every surface.


chicken coop cubby close up

If had the chance to start over and redo this piece again, I was not about to attempt to strip this one~I would not only pre sand but use a base coat primer as well.

Chalk paint or no, when redoing big box store furniture pieces, I’ll go with the full pre paint prep. For that ultra smooth store like finish I’ll use a poly top coat…… and spray it FOR sure… all that extra wet sanding is for the birds baby!

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Painting Tips: How To Achieve A Factory Finish by Unique Junktique

 Tips On Painting Big Box Furniture For A Factory Finish

  • Its all in the prep work
  • Sand your piece
  • Use a paint sprayer
  • Spray on the primer
  • Spray on the paint
  • Wet sand between coats
  • Use Poly as your top coat