DIY Paint Best Practices for Best Results

DIY Paint ™ is hands down the best artisan clay & chalk finish furniture and home decor paint in the industry. DIY Finishes enhance the beauty of the paint with its waxes, topcoats and patinas.

 Why DIY Paint

It is important to read Why DIY Paint (linked above) and information under DIY Paint Tips located in the Main Menu. This will help you select the best DIY Paint product for your needs and includes any disclaimers. 


  1. Drop Cloth to protect area (especially if paint in your home).
  2. DIY Paint
  3. Brush(es)
  4. Paper plate
  5. Spray bottle (Fine Misting bottle preferred).
  6. Paper towels or baby wipes (optional)
  7. Sanding block, paper bag or craft paper (optional)

Brushes - DIY Paint works best with synthetic brushes because you will see less brush strokes than with a natural bristle brush. A quality brush is a sound investment; it is a tool used to create like a Pro and saves you time because it is doing the demanding work for you (less mistakes and frustration).  I have worked with inexpensive and expensive brushes and know there is a difference, but why pay more when you do not have to.  Morning Dewdrops found just the right brushes at moderate prices in comparison to higher priced brands with the Artisan Enhancement brushes.

Preparation – DIY Paint is a minimal prep paint, but you need to prep your piece first.

  1. Cleaning your piece is crucial. You can clean your piece with Dawn dishwashing liquid or Borax (follow instructions) and other safe cleaners.  Dawn and Borax are inexpensive, easy to use and do not harm the environment. Dawn and Borax can kill fungus and strip away dirt and grease on porous surfaces such as wood or cement. 
  2. Clean surface with cleaner and water. Scrub with rag to make sure you get off the grime and build up.
  3. Then take clean water and rag and rinse well. Do not leave out this step no matter what cleaner you use.  Residue from a cleaner can hinder painting any surface.
  4. Does your piece require any repairs? If so, make those repairs.
  5. Is the wood dark, like mahogany or cherry? The tannins in dark wood could bleed through the paint color. See “bleed through” below.
  6. Is the surface of the piece super shiny, if so, you may need to scuff it up a bit with a “very light” sanding. You are not really sanding, you are just scuffing up the surface, not really sanding away any of the surface. I sometimes take a paper bag or craft paper and rub over shiny surfaces to scuff them up.

Sample Boards Will Save You Time.

When I am trying out a new technique or new color combo, I experiment with sample boards until I get the desired effect I want.  You learn this way in little time; I have made horrible mistakes on sample boards, but I have also created beautiful “mistakes” that turned out to not be mistakes at all.  You can use any scrap of wood or even cardboard as a sample board for practice.

What is “bleed through” and how is it prevented when painting on wood?

Darker woods like cherry and mahogany naturally contain darker tannins. “Bleed through” refers to the tannins in the wood coming through when you paint; therefore, do a test in a small area before painting darker woods. You have “bleed through” if you see a brownish or reddish tint appear once the paint has dried which means the tannins blead through the paint. Some people do not care if the tannins bleed through and often the tannins do not considerably change the paint color. However, we recommend and have a solution and that is DIY Paint Salvation Solution. Applying Salvation Solution first solves the “bleed through” problem. DIY Paint Salvation Solution is available in clear and white. Use the clear Salvation Solution when painting with darker colors and use the white when painting with lighter colors.

TIP:  Let’s say you are painting a piece in DIY Paint Aviary (a farmhouse, olive green). You can add a small amount of grey paint to the white Salvation Solution to make it easier when painting with the Aviary because it is easier to cover over a light grey than a white. (Of course, you would not do this is you were painting your piece in a lighter color such as DIY Paint Vintage Linen (one of our whites with creamy beige undertones). FYI – Clear Salvation Solution contains no color pigments, so do not add paint color to it; its purpose is to remain clear.

Test for Bleed Through

It is imperative to check for tannins that might bleed through before you paint if you are working with a dark wood (cherry or mahogany, etc.). If you are unsure, testing for bleed through will still be beneficial especially if using a lighter color.   Apply a batch of paint to a piece in an obscure area, like in the lower side corner of a piece and let that dry.  You make apply a second coat.  While painting on a second coat, do you notice the paint taking on a brownish or reddish tint? Or when the paint is dry, do you notice a brownish or reddish tint?  If so, then it is Salvation Solution to the rescue in either white or clear.

How I Paint with DIY Paint

  1. Do not use too much paint.
  2. Use long brush strokes and do not overwork the paint by brushing over the wet paint.
  3. Your first coat may not have full coverage. That’s okay.
  4. Since the paint is highly pigmented, I like to wait two hours before applying my second coat. Sometimes it requires overnight to dry, but that is usually when I have applied a thick layer with a darker color that has more pigmentation vs a lighter color. Weather conditions, especially humidity, also effect drying time and I live in the South (very humid).  Any clay-based paint is going to reactivate if moistened with water, paint or any finishes. 
  5. On your second coat, use a light stroke. Do not press hard and keep paint on our brush. Do not keep going over the same area.  You can spritz your brush with water and then dip it in the paint especially if you notice your brush starting to drag across the painted area.


  1. DIY Paint is so thick; it hardly ever separates. I like to stir the paint rather than shake it.  I use a painters stick or large popsicle stick.
  2. I do not paint from the paint container. I use paper plates or paper cups to hold my paint to avoid contaminating the paint especially when using assorted colors.
  3. Optional (if needed after final coat of paint has dried) - To produce an even smoother surface on the top of a piece and further minimize brush strokes, I sometimes apply what I call the “Color Wash Effect.” Since adding water to the paint does not compromise the paint color, I create a color wash by taking a small amount of paint on my brush tips and dipping my brush into a cup of water (small amount no need to measure) and swirl it around.
    1. Dip your brush into the color wash and off-load the excess onto a paper towel or rag. You want your brush saturated, but not with excessive dripping.
    2. Brush your color wash over the top of the piece in long strokes across the top of your piece in the same direction. Let dry. 

You will see while it is drying that the color wash has reactivated some of the painted surface and the additional water will further smooth out any irregularities in thickness and minimize brush strokes even more.  The “Color Water Effect” is doable because DIY Pain has no binders or sealers to get in the way. So easy to reactivate.

Why is DIY Paint a lighter color when dry?

DIY Paint will appear lighter when it is dry compared to when it is wet. This is natural. The rich paint color will return once the piece is sealed with a wax or topcoat.

Does DIY Paint need to be sealed?

Yes, DIY Paint needs sealing with a wax or topcoat because it is a natural clay-based and chalk-based paint with no VOCs, harmful binders or acrylics.

Blending Paint Colors

No. 1 Customer Praise – Easy Blendability

Customers find DIY Paint the best for artisans, beginners and experienced, because the paint is a chameleon for furniture or other surfaces because of its blendability.  Remember there are no binders or sealers to get in the way when blending. The clay creates highs and lows, so when blending, your whole piece has continuity without having to worry even when adding water.

  • Want fewer brush strokes? Blend with water. 
  • Want a century-old patina? Paint it on thick or use a palette knife or scraper to push/pull the paint to create the look of shutters in the French Quarter.
  • Want to burnish? Just like burnishing clay pottery. 
  • Want to see layers? Wet distress before sealing.
  • Want easy blending? The clay creates the highs and lows for you without having to worry about matchy-matchy when blending colors.

When blending, feather with a light stroke and a little paint.  Keep the paints wet and I like to blend in sections.  I work from a palette (usually a paper plate) and have the colors I am going to use for blending.  Two to three colors work best for blending.  Keeping the spray misting bottle handy works best when blending colors.

Wet Distressing

Wet distressing is an impressive attribute with DIY Paint! DIY Paint contains no latex or acrylic, binders, or sealers, so you can rub the paint back with a wet, lint-free cloth or a wet sanding block. I prefer using a wet, lint-free cloth (old t-shirts).

Sandpaper is good for some projects, but over-sanding can leave a furniture piece looking like you tied it behind a pickup truck and drug it down a gravel road. On the other hand, wet sanding allows you to create a look of paint worn down over time.

Sanding is time consuming and leaves a dusty mess. Rubbing paint off is much faster and dust free.

Sanding can damage wood especially ornate or carved areas. Wet distressing is the perfect alternative and a beautiful way to highlight those curves and scrolls.

TIP:  Since DIY Paint is reactivated with water, wet distressing can easily take off some of the paint down to the wood color.  This is usually the effect people want.  However, if you are only wanting to wet distress down to the first color you applied, you can always seal the bottom layer of paint and when you wet distress, the distressing will only distress to the first layer of paint. 

What is the best practice when applying clear wax or colored waxes?

DIY Paint Clear Wax - Put a small amount of wax on your brush or use a rag to apply the clear wax. Only the tip of your brush should have wax on it. Using a premium brush specifically made for applying wax is ideal. Offload your brush onto a piece of cardboard to allow the wax to evenly distribute on the brush. Apply the wax with the brush first going over the piece in sections and when you have completed one section (side or top), take your wax brush and brush with long strokes in one direction (without adding additional wax) to ensure an even coat of wax in all areas.

I like to apply two coats of wax and wait about thirty minutes to an hour to allow the first coat of wax to absorb into the paint. 

Some people after waxing kind of freak out (LOL!). We call this the freak-out factor because your piece might look patchy.  This is common because the wax absorbs into the paint over time.  This is when you will also see the color deepen into a rich color (like from the container). 

Allow 24 hours for the wax to absorb into the wood, then buff with a clean, lint-free rag. Buffing enhances the highs and lows of the beautiful artisan clay.  The more you buff the more the piece will shine.

You can use your piece after seven days (i.e., putting items in drawers), but the full curing time is 30 days. We do not put anything on the surface of our pieces until after the wax has fully cured.

Tip: It helps to spoon out a small amount of wax onto a piece of cardboard or paper plate to use when getting ready to apply your wax, so the wax in the container does not get contaminated. Lastly, use a different wax brush to apply the colored waxes.

DIY Paint Colored Waxes are heavily pigmented, so apply the colored wax sparingly and always offload onto a piece of cardboard before applying.

We always apply clear wax before applying colored wax (i.e., dark, black, etc.). Applying the clear wax first acts like an eraser should you need to remove any of the colored wax. In addition, waiting about twenty minutes for the clear wax to penetrate the paint before applying the colored wax will insure the colored wax will stay its true color.

Can I layer sealers and waxes? Topcoats and Sealers can also be used as a clear-barrier layer BEFORE applying tinted and colored waxes. Apply 1 thin coat of clear topcoat or sealer BEFORE applying waxes. Allow clear topcoat or sealer to dry for minimum of 24 hours before applying waxes. (DIY FINISHES)

We do not typically recommend applying clear topcoats or sealers OVER waxed finishes. With waxed surfaces there are a lot of variables – thickness of wax, type of wax, solvents used in wax formula, number of layers of wax, dry time between layers, how much the wax was buffed, and cure time of wax. These variables make layering another product over wax potentially problematic. For most wax products, an additional sealer is not required over the layer of wax. In most circumstances, if using wax to seal, wax should be the final layer to seal chalk painted surfaces.

Sealing Your Piece with DIY Big Top Topcoat

Big Top is a water-based topcoat and is non yellowing with high durability and a satin sheen.  For best results, we like to wait 24 hours before applying Big Top. Weather conditions play a big part as to when to apply Big Top and we have high humidity, so we wait 24 hours to apply our topcoat. There is less chance of the paint lifting off just in case we applied thick coats; darker pigments tend to take longer to dry.

You can use a roller or a brush to apply Big Top.  We like to use the oval brush by Artisan Enhancements because this brush is made for applying topcoats and leaves minimal brush strokes.  Another tip is to apply Big Top in thin layers. You only need to get the tip of your brush into the Big Top. You can spoon Big Top onto a paper plate to avoid the possibility of contamination. We wait at least two hours before applying a thin second coat.

Try not overwork when applying Big Top by going over the same areas.

We sometimes notice when applying the Big Top that a few tiny pieces appear and do not seem to brush away.  This is okay; it is because of the natural ingredients and these tiny pieces will absorb as Big Top dries.

Do not freak out if you see batches of irregularities when Big Top is drying.  We call this the Freak Out Factor LOL! This is the topcoat absorbing into the paint and it dries and some areas dry quicker than others.  

As stated above, the paint color will be richer after applying wax or a topcoat. Big Top creates a subtle sheen that enhances the highs and lows of the clay-based paint; it is so naturally appealing to see these nuances within the overall look of the piece.

What is the curing time for DIY Paints and Finishes?

It takes about 30 days for your piece to fully cure. After seven days, the paint and/or finishes will be cured to the touch and can be used gently; however, this depends on weather conditions, temperature and humidity. For example, if you have a dresser, you can place items in the drawers, put do not put anything on top of the dresser for 30 days.

Gold and Cooper Liquid Patinas

You do not have to seal the gold or cooper DIY Liquid Patinas. The liquid patinas have a sealer mixed into the liquid patina. 

However, you need to apply the gold or copper liquid patina before you apply the wax if you are sealing your overall piece with wax. Let the patina dry preferably over night before applying the wax.

If sealing your overall piece with Big Top, then apply the gold or cooper liquid patina after applying the two coats of Big Top.  Wait at least two hours before applying the gold or cooper liquid patina after applying your second coat of Big Top.  The gold or copper patina will lose its lustre if you apply Big Top over the gold or copper patina.

Morning Dewdrops Disclaimer - We offer DIY Paint and Finishes and Artisan Enhancements products.  We provide tips or answers to questions about these products when working in conjunction with each other. 

We do not provide these tops or answer these questions pertaining to any other brands of paint topcoats, sealers, waxes or other finishing products.


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Stay Creative, Terri