My first foray into chalk paint on metal was quite a success! I bought this beautiful cast iron antique French bed on eBay a couple of months ago for an absolute steal, but it was in a bit of a sorry state. Much of the dark green paint was chipped, faded or rusted, and it didn’t look like something I’d want my nice sheets brushing up against! It certainly wasn’t welcoming enough to go in our guest room, which is where I intended the bed for. It had potential though, and as Annie Sloan assured me at the Handmade Fair when I took her workshop, chalk paint is suitable for metal, so I decided to have a go.
The guest room is a lovely shade of olive green, with a few pink elements, and most of my guest bedding has pink in it too, so I decided to go with Scandinavian Pink, which looked to be quite a deep salmon colour on the tin.
One of the great benefits of chalk paint is that you don’t need to prime before you use it, which considering how many bars the bed has was a considerable advantage. The alternative I was thinking about was metal spray paint, and not only would that need primer first, but it seemed I would need quite a few cans to get decent coverage, so I thought it might work out a lot more expensive.
The paint arrived really quickly and I wanted to get started straight away, but I hadn’t factored in the Yorkshire weather! Because the bed was so heavy, the best way to paint it was fully assembled, as it would then support itself, but the garden was the only place I had enough room to paint (I wasn’t going to risk our newly painted walls in the guest room) and it has basically been raining forever. Luckily we recently started on our new bathroom though, meaning we had a large empty room which was about to be gutted (no need for dropcloths, hooray) which I turned temporarily into my painting “studio”.
I first gave the entire bed a light sanding. This was not so much to ensure the chalk paint adhered (I am certain it would have done), but more to level the surfaces and remove any lumps of rust and paint flakes. I then wiped the entire bed frame down with a damp cloth and left it to dry. You can see the flecks of old paint that came off with the sanding here:
Starting to paint the bed was so exciting. Right from the first stroke I was delighted with the colour, and I could see that the finish was going to be very smooth. Using chalk paint on metal is as simple as it is on wood. I invested in an Annie Sloan brush for the job and despite it being expensive, it is far and away the best brush I have used, giving great coverage, and most importantly, not giving me blisters and callouses like cheaper brushes I’ve used on previous jobs. It also cleans beautifully under the tap and you would hardly know I’ve already used it now, it looks almost as good as new. If you have only one big item to paint I would still recommend you buy this brush, and if you intend to be doing lots of furniture painting, it’s a must.
It took me about three hours to do the entire first coat of paint. I had to go slowly because I wanted to retain the gilded parts, meaning carefully painting around them with a very fine brush. Even trying to be super careful I still managed to get pink bits on the gold. One end of the bed was dry before I’d even started on the second almost, but I left it overnight to be on the safe side.
The second coat went on just as easily, and the few patches where the dark green showed through disappeared. However, I was a bit sloppier with the second coat and ended up with more pink obscuring the gold. So the next thing was to take a kitchen scouring pad and carefully rub off all the excess pink from the gold areas. I loved the faded antique look of the gold initially, but when I started to rub at it, bits flaked off and it looked a little less lovely, so I got out my No 1 Crafting Accessory – one that everyone into DIY simply must own… my Classic Liquid Leaf gold leaf paint. It goes on so easily and despite being very thin it covered the surface well. When it dried I had a very neat and very lovely looking bed, but the scouring exercise had proved that chalk paint comes off really easily, so I needed to seal it somehow.
Wax is usually recommended to seal chalk paint, but even if I worked it in really well, I felt like it might leave residues on my nice sheets, and would not have quite the right feel to it. I bought some Canbrush Matt Clear spray paint, and gave the bed two coats. This stuff is very strong-smelling so make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. I was a bit giddy when I finished. After two coats, the paint seemed perfectly sealed, smooth and silky to the touch but still with the matt look of paint, which is what I wanted. I think this could also work well if you wanted to paint garden furniture or any metal that would be left outside exposed to the elements, as apparently waxing is not appropriate for such pieces because it is susceptible to water damage.
After leaving the bed frame overnight just to be sure it was dry, we took it apart and re-assembled it in the guest room, putting in the base and topping it with a mattress, feather topper and finally some lovely sheets. I am so happy with how it turned out – and not a moment too soon…last weekend my parents came to see the house for the first time and slept in that very bed!
I would totally recommend using chalk paint to makeover an old cast iron bed or other item of furniture. It was easy, quick and the results are stunning. And actually, even though the can of paint was a big initial outlay, I only used about an eighth of it to cover a double bed, so that is around £2.50 worth of paint! I am now on the lookout for other things to paint this glorious shade of pink!
Doesn’t it look welcoming? Have you ever considered using chalk paint on metal? Are you tempted now?
If you liked this post and want to know more about chalk paint, you can read about a chair I rescued here, my attempt at making my own chalk paint here, and my trial of a different brand of chalk paint here.