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I have used about 5 tins of this stuff - yes it is more expensive than single malt per litre, but if you want ease of application and a lovely finish, you can't do better than Annie's paint. Main benefit is that you can literally just paint it onto the surface you are painting, no need to rub down so long as the surface is clean and has no lose bits. It also seems to paint well on a multitude of surfaces such as wood, melamine, stone, and even some plastics giving the same finish. This is great if you have a mish-mash of furniture and want it all to look very similar in the end. One word of warning, make sure you seal it with wax afterwards (preferably Annie Sloan). If you don't the surface is easily scratched or chipped and while this initially may add to a "distressed" look, you don't want to reveal too much of your old MFI wood print chipboard underneath as this does spoil the effect a bit!!
Way back in my dim, distant and decidedly poverty stricken past, my house was almost entirely furnished with second hand bits and pieces either picked up in sale rooms or donated by family and to give them a rather more co-ordinated look, I used to paint them all the same colour, usually an antique white. Although originally I did this through lack of money, I discovered that I rather liked the shabby chic look and have stuck with it ever since. Initially I discovered that painting furniture wasn't exactly a piece of cake as the item of furniture needed to be prepped first and also gloss or even silk vinyl paint tends to be quite thin and runs very easily often spoiling my handiwork. Over the years, I've become slightly better at painting but I'd still only count myself a rank amateur and most of my furniture doesn't bear close inspection. However, since being introduced to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, my furniture painting has been taken to an entirely different level. Who is Annie Sloan? Annie Sloan is an Australian by birth though she now lives in Oxford from where she runs her interior design business. She originally began her career as an artist but moved into interior design where she developed her interest in the French country style generally known in the UK as shabby chic. What's so special about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint? Quite simply it's foolproof and more to the point, this paint is for those who are impatient and want to see (almost) immediate results. You just slap this stuff on, using the same technique as you would with any gloss or eggshell paint and allow the paint to dry, which it does very rapidly, usually in about an hour and without producing any of those sneaky drips that seem to appear out of nowhere when using gloss paints. Once you've achieved the coverage you require, the paint is sealed with a coat of wax. The paint blends with the wax and, again, dries in roughly an hour's time to give a lovely soft sheen after the waxed surface has been buffed. The more you buff, the higher the sheen will be. Price and availability This paint isn't cheap, currently retailing at £16.50 for a litre and you may also want to purchase the wax which retails at £7.45, though these prices may depend on the stockist you use. A full list of stockists is given on Annie Sloan's website (details at the bottom of this review) but it's safe to say that there is a stockist in practically every English county as well as a couple of outlets in Scotland and Northern Ireland. My opinion This paint is an absolute godsend to anybody who wants to see the results of their labours immediately. The consistency of the paint is similar in many ways to a gesso or the powder paints children use in primary school. With its ease of application coupled with incredibly short drying times for both the paint and the wax, it's possible to transform a piece of furniture in only a few hours. What's even better is that unless the surface of the piece of furniture is very glossy, you won't need to do any preparation before beginning to paint. This paint adheres to wood, MDF and probably other surfaces, too. Although I like the shabby chic look, I'm not very keen on the distressed look for furniture. When my children were growing up, they were perfectly capable of distressing my furniture without any effort! This paint has great coverage and most pieces of furniture only require one coat or two at the most. The paint dries to a very matt and chalky finish, which I guess is why it's called Chalk Paint. Once the paint is dry, the second stage of the process is to apply the wax. This is done using a good quality brush or a lint free cloth and, again, this needs to be left to dry which takes just about an hour. (Annie Sloan stockists usually sell her wax brush but at £29.50 you might find this a tad expensive.) Once the wax has hardened, it's just a case of buffing up with a dry cloth and your piece of furniture is done. It isn't absolutely necessary to use wax and I have often applied a coat of clear varnish to seal the paint instead which gives a much harder and glossier finish. Cleaning up after using the chalk paint is very simple and washing out the brushes is even easier than after using emulsion paint. Simply rinse under the tap, working the water through the bristles and leave to dry. I've always cleaned the brushes as soon as I've finished painting so it might be slightly more difficult to remove from bristles if the paint has been allowed to dry and harden. Although the range of paints isn't huge with currently just 24 shades, these colours can be mixed together easily to hugely increase the colour range and there are a couple of white and off white shades also. As the range includes the primary shades of red, blue, green and yellow, the palette available to the user of this paint is almost infinite and makes it very simple to match your furniture to existing decor. The paint and wax method is very versatile and its uses aren't confined solely to furniture but can be used in art projects, too, and even on floors and walls though I haven't had any experience of this. I think many people are put off having a go at painting furniture because of all the laborious preparation beforehand and using this paint completely eliminates that process. At £16.50 plus the wax, it isn't cheap to buy but a little bit goes a long way and allows people to produce their own unique pieces of furniture. It perfectly lends itself to use in creating not only the French country look but also the Scandinavian Folk look and of course, the ubiquitous shabby chic look. I guarantee you'll find the pieces you create are extremely chic and not at all shabby! And for those people who feel that they need some training before trying this technique, there are several courses being run in various parts of the country though these are currently fairly restricted but details are available on the Annie Sloan website. Painting your furniture is an incredibly addictive pastime so this review comes with a huge word of warning. Once you starting painting furniture with Annie Sloan paint you just can't stop! Annie Sloan Interiors 33 Cowley Road Oxford OX4 1HP http://www.anniesloan.com/