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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Latex Lowdown

You know how I'm always yammering on about not painting over latex, 
even if you're using chalk-type paint?  

Here's another example of why I'm a big advocate of removing the latex, 
or at least priming over it 
(if it was a high quality latex, done properly)

Our dining table was painted in white latex
by a well-meaning seller

The next owner decided to paint over the latex with chalk-type paint and wax
(I don't know which brand)

It looked really pretty
and the blue was actually similar to 
the blue on our walls...
and on the floor...
basically, it was a whole lot of BLUE!

I decided I'd try to remove the wax and the chalk-type paint
while hopefully leaving the white latex intact

We will be stripping it back to wood in the relatively near future
but you know how that goes!
Between Etsy, the studio, and now preparing the new shop, it could be a while!

I wasn't really sure how to go about this, so I started with the least complicated method
I could think of
And it worked...really, really well

The magic concoction that removed the wax and paint?

Hot soapy water and the scrubby side of a sponge!!!

Yes, I scrubbed...
but really, no harder than I would have scrubbed to get dried spaghetti sauce off!
(imagine if this was a client table and she was scrubbing it clean when OFF came the paint!)

 It should NOT be this easy, y'all! 

Why was it so easy?  
Because stuff just doesn't bond well to latex paint
 (and this table was painted pretty well...notice the latex isn't

Had the chalk-type paint been painted over wood, 
I'd have given up this task an hour ago...
the paint wouldn't hardly budge!

Why is the latex intact?  
Because it's painted over wood that was primed first.

Latex isn't the bad guy here, nor are chalk-type paints

Latex can work if you get the best products
and prep and prime your surface properly

and chalk-type paints can be much more durable than this
when applied to a properly prepared surface

No Prep No Prime is OFTEN the case
with chalk-type paints,
but not always the best practice!

If the latex is peeling, you need to strip it off!
If the latex seems durable and isn't peeling or bubbling,
 and you can't scratch it with your fingernail, 
use a good quality bonding primer
before applying your chosen paint over the surface

When in doubt,
 take a few extra steps to ensure you're confident in the durability of your finish!

Yes, it sucks. We hate doing it, too.

Kenny and Michele


  1. UGH! Just finished (almost) bedroom dresser and chest with chalk paint... primed 1 piece, primed BOTH Formica tops. They were the original finish (probably from the late 50's-60's). Looks beautiful, hope there is no future problem (I did prep both with a liquid sand paper and found I had to prime the gold detail paint). Thanks for the inspiration~

    1. sounds like you did a great job prepping before painting! Laminate is another beast...if it's that super smooth, shiny laminate you should DEF scuff it and prime it!

      When I first started playing with chalk paints, I was told I never needed to prime. Kenny said "no way, you need to prime that!" but I was sold on the idea of not needing to! Then, all the paint scratched right off a laminate vanity top I had just painted! Hard lesson to learn, but thankfully I learned it early on in the process :0)

  2. Great advice- great post - I know a lot of people don't think of prep work all that much!
    I use TPS to was everything down with also!

    1. OH yes, definitely a great way to make sure all the gunk is gone! Chalk-type paints have certainly cut WAY down on prep time, but it's not a miracle...some surfaces still need love first!

  3. I want to strongly suggest you try Citristrip if you do decide to strip this table -- or anything. I have pictures of latex paint coming off in SHEETS. It actually, really, makes stripping fun. Hmmm. Did that come out right?
    Anyway, no safety equipment, no gloves, goggles, anything. You can do it inside. Just put it on and leave it alone. As much as 24 hours! I would do ads for this stuff for free if they'd let me!!!

    I'm with you about painting over latex. If you don't do it just right, you have a big ol' mess on your hands.

    1. Thanks Christine! We are big fans of Soy Gel stripper; I prefer it to Citristrip :0) I'm actually in the middle of stripping this table right now! Here's the link the FB pic in progress!

  4. Great information to know. Thanks for sharing. I'll never look at chalk type paint finishes the same way again.