I decided the worn surface of the desk was part of the charm and I love how the orange tone of the wood goes with the antique wedgewood FAT paint.
I decided the worn surface of the desk was part of the charm and I love how the orange tone of the wood goes with the antique wedgewood FAT paint.

What a relief, after being high on paint fumes for the last few weeks, to open a can of FAT paint. This paint is low VOC and emits very little odour. It has excellent coverage and a half pint was more than enough for two coats of paint on my secretaire. And the smell of the wax! Oh my goodness, I just wanted to rub it all over my body (though apparently I can just buy beeswax lotion).

Those attributes being stated, there is a good reason why FAT Paint offers classes. This was my first foray into the world of chalk paint and it was a bit rocky. I have a fat resume of DIY behind me so I figured I could wing it. Not so! Tail between my legs I arrived at FAT paint with one of my drawers for a little lesson in proper sanding and wax application.

And so, as someone who did it wrong, but eventually got it right, lend me your ear while I explain the proper way of going about this process.

Materials: FAT paint, FAT wax, paint brush, fine and medium grit sanding sponge, extra fine finishing pad, a rag made from t-shirt material, patience.

Step 1: Sign up for a workshop if you can!

Step 2: Pick a small portion of your piece to work on. For example, a small drawer, and finish it top to bottom. Go through all the following steps and then do the rest of the piece. It takes patience (which I didn’t have and paid for) but it is better to figure out exactly what you are doing, some trial and error, on a small piece, instead of going over your whole piece multiple times like I did.

Step 3: Read the directions on the paint can! You might not have to spend hours sanding (like I stupidly did). Again, try it out on a small piece but you likely just need to give it a light sand with a medium or fine grit sanding sponge, even if it is quite glossy like mine was.

Step 4: Use a damp cloth to wipe any excess dust off the piece then let dry completely.

Step 5: Use a paint brush (not a foam one) to apply an even coat of FAT paint. Use long, even strokes then let dry.

Step 6: Depending on the finish you want, add one or two more coats of paint, allowing it to dry in between coats. If you want a more shabby chic finish apply two coats. If you don’t want much paint to rub off when you sand later apply a third coat (maybe even a fourth, it’s okay, the paint goes a long way).

Step 7: Lightly sand in circular motions with a fine to medium grit sanding pad. If you are wanting to diminish the appearance of brush strokes you will likely need to use a medium grit first and sand in the opposite direction of your brush strokes (ie. if you painted left to right, sand up and down).

The sanding sponge pictured below works well for getting around the curves of the furniture. If you are aiming for a shabby chic look focus on sanding down the edges of the piece a bit more and other places where a piece of furniture would wear naturally over time.

A good example of distressed edges (not my piece- I didn't take a picture of my edges because I barely distressed it)
A good example of distressed edges (not my piece- I didn’t take a picture of my edges because I barely distressed them)

I found these extra fine finishing pads helpful to rub over the surface after the sand paper is used to even out the finish.

Extra fine finishing wool and sanding sponge
Extra fine finishing wool and sanding sponge bought at Rona

Step 8: Once paint is dry, use a damp cloth to remove dust and allow to dry before proceeding.

Step 9: It’s time to wax. You can buy clothes at the hardware store made out of t-shirt-like material or just grab an old shirt and rip off a piece. Apply a small amount of wax to the cloth (I tried to take a picture of about how much I used for half of a large drawer). It’s hard to tell from a picture so experiment a bit. It is better to apply too little than too much. If you apply too much it can be difficult to get an even finish. If you apply too little, you can always add more. Gently rub wax onto surface with circular motions.

(please note that with some wax products like Annie Sloane, you may find instructions online which say to gob on the wax then wipe off the excess- this does not apply to FAT wax, a little goes a long way.)

Example of amount of wax needed for half of the large drawer.
Example of amount of wax needed for half of the large drawer.

Step 10: Make sure to remove or rub in any extra wax that may get suck in decorative woodwork or intricate surfaces as it looks kind of gross and it is more difficult to remove later.

Step 11: Wait 12 hours then use your rag to buff your piece. Rub cloth in circles to bring out the shine. You can buff earlier but according to FAT paint creators, 12 hours after application is the best time for ultimate shine (by the way I love to rhyme).

Step 12: If you want your piece to be shinier, apply another coat of wax, wait 12 hours, and buff some more.

Step 13: Now that you have figured out what works, finish the rest of your piece and enjoy!

Plan B: So it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted. That’s why you did it on a small surface first! It’s easy to give the wax a light sand, put on another layer of paint, then sort out what way of sanding or waxing works best for you. Try, try again!

Plan C: Take the workshop! It’s an art form and if you have never done any kind of re-finishing before it will be worth it.

My newly refinished vintage secretaire.
My newly refinished vintage secretaire.

Ace product! I’ll definitely use this again next time I am looking to give a piece of furniture a shabby-chic facelift. FYI, I re-finished this piece because I need something with more storage for my kid’s play area. It’s for sale on craigslist: http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/bnc/fuo/4097466799.html

Hope this how-to was helpful and if you have any other tips for using FAT paint I’d love to have you leave a comment!

3 thoughts on “Trial and Error with FAT Paint

  1. Thank you so much for this wealth of information. I am a total novice, but I planning on starting a dresser project in my living room. I imagine that people who do this live in houses and have some type of extra space to work. So, I do not know how feasible my project will be, but I feel much better about it after reading your post. You did such a great job explaining everything so clearly. Thank You!!!

    1. Thanks Dana! I’m sure you’ll be able to do it in your living room as long as you lay a drop sheet down to catch any paint. Though I might suggest doing any light sanding on a sundeck (though it is nothing a vacuum couldn’t clean up inside). FAT paint has pretty much no odour so it shouldn’t even stink up your house! Good luck and have fun!

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