February 05, 2018 4 min read

Lara Roberts owns a successful online vintage frame shop known as Roberts Vintage Frames. Her products are exceptional and extremely beautiful to boot. She prides herself on ‘breathing life’ into old furniture, ornate frames and other home décor pieces. Here, she will be sharing some expert tips on how to chalk paint a picture frame in a simple and easily do-able way!

What do you need?

In order to start any DIY project, there are always a bunch of things you need. Here’s a list of all the things you’ll be needing to get this show on the road:

  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey
  • French Linen and Old White
  • Round-head Paint Brushes
  • Round-head Waxing Brush
  • Baby Wipes
  • Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax
  • Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax Sponge
  • Microfiber Cloth

How to get started: knowing how to use chalk paint!

First off, you’ll need to get your hands on a vintage frame. When you start this project, you’ll have to remove the canvas from the frame, and if there is none, then all the better. You’ll have to balance your frame on two slats of wood on your working table. Working with paint at a table height saves the body a lot of aches. Similarly, putting your frame on the wooden slats would give you a good vantage point and save you from accidentally smearing paint on your table-top surface.

 chalk painting picture frames

Now that you’re done setting up your workshop, let’s break out the chalk paint. This particular frames would be painted a soft Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey, but you can select any other color that you want. After opening your paint, take a round-head brush and get started. Note that a quality round-head brush can make a lot of difference between a fine and mediocre finished product. It has to sink the paint between all the small details on the frame to ensure total coverage, so be very careful about the quality of your brushes.

You should also note that it takes a while to do a single full-coat, especially if it features ornate carvings like this one. So if you feel like you’re going too slowly, then that’s actually a good thing.

painted picture frames

After two coats of dried paint, your frame would look something like this:

how to paint picture frame

To go for a grainy, textured finish, you can add another light coat of paint. But here’s the twist; you’ll have to do a dab instead of a stroke. Since Paris Grey paint usually covers even the most intricately carved frames in a single coat, but to do the dabbing, you’ll also need to go for two coats of paint beforehand.

You’re going to ‘dry brush’ in French Linen, next. Dry brushing is dabbing your surface with a small amount of paint on your brush, you can do this by dipping your round-head brush in paint, then vigorously brushing off the paint on a dry scrap of paper. This will leave the tip of the brush with an almost dry amount of paint that you’ll lightly brush over the frame. This will leave a high-quality texture on the details of your frame.

how to paint a picture frame

After that, you should dry brush in Old White in order to make the details of your frame stand out even more.

chalk paint picture frames

The next step is distressing. You will need baby wipes to distress your frame. Just take a baby wipe and rub an area that you want to be gold. Note that the wipes only take off the paint, without disturbing the gold. Try to be careful if you’ve dry brushed; knocking mutually exclusive areas can blend the two effects.

For this particular frame, only the border is distressed to highlight the beautiful shape.

how to paint a frame

Now, it’s time for waxing. You can use a sponge to apply the wax. It’s very easy to work with and you’ll only have to apply a small amount of wax on your sponge. All you have to do is rub the wax over the paint.

After that, it’s time for the dark wax. It can seem a little difficult, especially if you’re a rookie. But you’ll start to understand how it works as you go. You’ll need a wax brush for this one. So, take a waxing brush and apply dark wax to every nook and cranny of the frame. You’ll need to be quick and strenuous with your motions to get all the details.

The finish after the dark wax might look like a total disaster, but it’s really not. You’re going to use the clean wax to remove most of the dark wax away. Use a sponge to apply the clean wax, but don’t clear it from the details and carvings; the dark wax makes them more dimension. Note that you’ll need a lot of sponges to take of the dark wax, so be prepared.

painting picture frames

In the end, you’ll get a shaded, two-toned effect that will look absolutely brilliant.

For the last step, it’s time for a buffing. You can buff your frame with a microfiber cloth to give it a beautiful shine.

chalk paint picture frame

This was just one way you can play with all these materials. Depending on how much you distressed or what color of paint you use, or how much dark wax you choose to apply, you can come up with an innumerable amount of creative effects of your very own!