I have always been a DIY home-decorator. I inherited the stubborn “I Can Do It Myself” attitude from my mother who always redecorated our homes by herself with great skill. She wallpapers, paints, and does almost any craft you can imagine (and does it very, very well).
So, it is only natural that I would want to paint my RV. Completely. In any color other than beige. (Oh, how I hate beige.) Maybe EVERY color, other than beige.
However, I have one big problem: I am allergic to traditional paint. Four years ago, I was still able to use latex paint, as long as it was extra super duper NON-toxic. But even that was hard for me because latex primers are not generally available in NON-VOC. (And before you suggest that xyz major paint company has a “good” paint, I am also very picky about the quality of paint, and xyz paint company just was not good enough. Plus, I still had trouble with the primers.)
So, I started researching alternative paints, and I found something called “chalk paint.” It sounded too good to be true: no fumes, no primer, no negatives at all! I got lucky and found a distributor in Asheville, NC, who offers classes for trying out this paint. (We just happened to be in Asheville when I was researching. All distributors of this paint seem to offer the classes.)
Molly and I took the class. I brought a cabinet door from the RV, and she brought a little wood shelf from her bedroom. The paint was indeed as amazing as it sounded! The smell was not offensive, and the process was ridiculously simple. Seriously, this paint dries in less than two hours! I was sold and immediately bought enough paint to do our tiny bathroom.
The magical paint is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Check out their website for workshops and stores near you.
Wrong! It ended up being extremely challenging to paint a 12 square foot room. Further complicated by my wanting to do an ombré painting technique. In spite of all of the obstacles, it was very rewarding.
- I learned that I can be totally enclosed in a tiny space with this paint without any ill effects.
- The paint exceeded my expectations: A tiny bathroom shared by five people for nearly three years, with minimal need for touch-up painting. (see a future blog post)
- You don’t need a primer or any special surface preparation. Really. Nothing. I was dubious, so I lightly sanded the pretend-wood cabinets, and I washed all the walls with vinegar and warm water. A little soap on the walls by the sink … Probably all overkill.
- The paint dries super fast and can be recoated in about two hours! I am generally very nervous with painting living spaces, though, so I wait 12-24 hours between coats. It takes about three coats of paint for even coverage, but when it dries that fast, who cares?? If you slightly water down the paint, it is easier to work with, and it lasts a little longer.
- I painted all materials with the same paint: cheap laminated wood cabinets, door, trim, weird wallpaper walls, metal cabinet hardware, plastic electrical outlet and light switch, cheap metal light fixture, and some metal washers and bolts from our RV remodeling. (structural support for bunk room cabinets) The only surface showing wear after nearly three years is the light switch!
- The best part? You don’t have to worry about brush strokes. In fact, it works best if you are sloppy. Kids are really good at this paint technique. (A little watered down, but not too much or it will dribble down the walls.)
There are some negatives, of course, but they are not deal-breakers.
Finish: it has a chalky matte finish, sort of like a chalk board. (I think you can actually use it as a chalk board, but that is not its intended purpose.) To make the finish more durable, you apply a wax and buff it off a few hours later. Additional coats of wax makes it more shiny and protected. (I did three coats of wax, 12-24 hours apart in my bathroom, knowing my daughters would be splashing the walls with water, toothpaste, and soap. It has survived everything except glitter nail polish.)
The wax is a bit fumey, but it did not trigger any reactions. I wear non-latex gloves to apply it with Tshirt scraps.
Cost: It is more expensive than xyz paint. But if you are painting an RV, you don’t actually need much paint! Plus, I was personally willing to sacrifice in other places in order to paint my home.
Next blog post: Updated Pictures of the Bathroom and Projects 2 and 3!