Experienced chalk paint users: question about shellac

dab07September 21, 2012

Hi, I bought a tiny work table to practice using chalk paint on. (I bought a few cheap things, all very different styles, to experiment on. I'm excited!) Anyway, this rough little table is very well used, like an old work/farm table. I want to paint the base with a color, but use just a wash on the top. I want the wood to show through on the top. Problem: there's a big, dark stain on the top. I assume if I apply a wash, it'll show through. BUt if I use shellac, will that block everything so that no wood will show through at all?

This table top is sort of the way I want mine to look

Thanks for your help!

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That table in your link doesn't appear to have any finish on it. Are you talking about shellacking the top of your table before you put the 'wash' on it? Any shellac I have used is clear or had an orange base, both of which allow the wood to show through, as they just seal and protect it.

Do you think the stain would come off with sanding? I fear it may show through your 'wash'. By 'wash' do you mean that you will thin the chalk paint with water and then brush it on?

Here is a link that might be useful: link includes making a wash from chalk paint

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Thanks my3dogs. Yes, using shellac before 'washing' it is what I meant, by thinning the paint. I did try sanding, and it came off well, so that problem is solved. I'm still curious, though, about whether sealing with shellac lets the wood show through without the stain. I'll have to experiment.

The link below is closer to the kind of thing I have in mind. Notice the faint cross grain paint strokes near the front corner of the table? I wonder if that was achieved by drybrushing...?

Here is a link that might be useful: Better example of effect I'd like

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Yes, sealing with shellac would let the wood show through, although any sealer will change the color slightly and darken it, even if it's clear. Are you really using shellac, or is it poly?

I saw the crosshatch in the front corner of the table, and that isn't a paint effect. The wood was rough cut, and not smoothly planed, and that is what is giving the effect there.

Do you have any pics of your table that you can show us? With playing with the paint, you can surely crosshatch, but it would be difficult, unless you are a faux painting expert, to get that exact look. :-)

You may want to read this link below, about a way to 'age' wood. I think it may give you more of the look you want.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Quickly Get the Look of Aged Wood

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:36AM
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I'm with my3dogs, shellac is either clear or it's a transparent honey color so the wood will show through, including the grain, marks, stains etc.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:32AM
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I have no experience with chalk paint but I can tell you about the table in the last link. I just competed a table with this finish on the base and legs. Since you want a lot of the wood to show thru apply one coat of water based paint. Let it dry but not a long time, not overnight or days. I'd say about 3 hours at the most. Then take small pieces of cheese cloth and dip in Denatured Alcohol and start rubbing. Rub till you get the effect you want. You can also use steel wool but I find cheese cloth works the best. It will take several pieces of cheese cloth because they will get gummed up with the paint. Also.. not to worry if it doesn't look like you want the first time, You can always rub all the paint off and start all over. It might help to work on a piece of scrap lumber to get the hang of it. On the table I did, I first put two coats of Minwax Kona stain, it's a very dark stain. Then two coats of a mustard yellow. Once it was dried I went back with a paint scraper. These finished are called the "chippy" look. If you google chippy look furniture you will find all sorts of blogs. Good luck.. these are fun projects.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:48AM
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My3dogs and trance, I was going to use real shellac.

3dogs, thank you for the wood aging information. I wanted to tell you that I bought a few pieces of cheap furniture to try chalk painting on, including a nice pair of cane chairs. Once I got them home I realized the upholstery smells (and it's ugly!), SOOO, of course I have to learn how to reupholster now! I didn't understand how the fabric was attached, but I couldn't wait, so I took a flat screwdriver to the back pad and started prying it off immediately! Interesting to discover what's inside things! I'll teach myself by watching videos, as you said you did.

Dbfirewife, interesting. This is all new to me, so I have everything to learn.

I'll post some pics once the little thing I'm working on is done, IF I'm happy with the results! I have to wait to get the paint colors first.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:12AM
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"My3dogs and trance, I was going to use real shellac. "

yes that's what I thought, the clear or honey color depends on the type of shellac you use but shellac is transparent. It can be used as a stain blocker if you are going to put a solid coat of paint over it, but it just stops stains from bleeding or coming through top coats of paint, I think what you are trying to do (unless I've got it wrong) is by doing a painted finish like dbwife described.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Im interested in why you want to put shellac on first before painting. Is it because of bleedthrough you think will occur if you don't? You can certainly get this look with Chalk Paint� by thinning the paint slightly with water, and then sand back after it is dry. You will get the grain to pop through and then you can wax it or use the Annie Sloan water based lacquer, thinned down.

Here is a link that might be useful: 3 Oaks Studio

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:52PM
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I want the table top to look like the green table in the blog you linked. (Yours?) It looks just like it now, in fact, which makes me wonder why I'd put a finish on it at all. But since it's just a practice piece, and I know that green table does have a wash on it, I want to try. My table's top, however, had a big stained area, which I didn't want to show through. I wondered whether shellac would somehow block the stain, but still let the rest of the wood show through. I can't imagine that it would work. I ended up sanding it and luckily the stain came right out.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:30PM
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e&d, I'd leave the shellac off if you like the look of that last table top. The shellac will darken the wood, and it will prevent any thinned paint from sinking into the grain.

I'm guessing that dbfirewife didn't have a protective finish on her piece as rubbing with denatured alcohol would probably dissolve your shellac and you'd have a mess on your hands.

Now that we clearly see that you want the light aged finish, I'd probably rub a small amount of your thinned paint into the table top with a rag, If you get too much of the paint look, you could then lightly sand it off in areas.

You might also try 'liming wax', which might be just the ticket for the look you want. I've linked some Google images below, and behind each one, if you click you'll likely see a blog or website that tells you how they achieved the look. It allows the grain to show through and also protects the top. Painting is easier, and with chalk paint you don't have to sand first, but it isn't always the way to get the 'look', as much as I like working with it!

Here is a link that might be useful: liming wax images

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:46AM
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Thanks 3 dogs, I'd never heard of liming wax before. It's not the look I'm going for though, in fact, most of the washes I've seen are also a little less subtle than I have in mind. But I think you're right that if it's too heavy I can sand it lightly to control the amount of effect it has.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 6:19PM
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