DIY & Crafts

Painting Wooden Crates With Chalk Paint Tutorial

Type “Wooden Crates” into Houzz and you will get a thousand and one inspirational pictures of people doing all sorts of funky things with them. Now I like wood just as much as the next person (assuming they too, like wood) but sometimes your décor takes on a life of its own and you end up needing to change something.

In my case, my pine crates didn’t fit in anymore. I decided to paint them white, because, you know, white goes with everything right? Well for anyone else needing to change their wood colour, I have a tutorial! I didn’t take many pictures along the way so this “tutorial” is more a big explanation. My bad.

I had these crates! They are from Knaggligg from IKEA, the smaller ones retail for £5 each and these ones are £9 each. They are a good size (46x31x25cm) I had been looking for a while and this was a good price, in my opinion, please let me know if you have seen this size or larger for cheaper! 🙂

IKEA KNAGGLIG box You can save space by stacking 2 boxes on top of one another.

These particular crates are solid pine which, as you may know, can be painted directly onto with chalk paint without any prior sanding or priming. I am not sure if this is the case for other paint types however so do your research! 🙂

I spent a long time researching and shopping around for the best chalk paint on a budget, and this is what I used:

Don’t let the wording confuse you, as it did me. Annie Sloan has actually trade marked the wording of “Chalk Paint” so no other brand can ever call their chalk paint, chalk paint. Silly huh? This IS chalk paint. 🙂 At £12.99 for 750ml it isn’t the cheapest, but it is good value for money, because it lasts SO long, especially if you water it down, which you can do very easily. I have seen some other cheaper chalk paints, especially on eBay, but I always check reviews first and this one had good ratings, I also occasionally, like to pay a bit extra for what I believe is better quality. You can get smaller tins, and honestly I think they would be fine for this project, however chalk paint is so fun to use, you will always end up buying more anyway. 🙂

I wanted to let the wood grain peep through, so I watered my paint down a little. Being as handy as you know I am 😉 I did not use any measurements, I poured a little water into my paint tray at a time until I felt that the paint was thin enough. After a little trial and error on the underside I got it. If you use the paint without watering it down, it is very thick and will cover the whole thing, no wood grain.

It is very easy to leave brushstrokes in this paint, because it is so thick. I used a really soft brush and even then left strokes in one of my test projects. I would recommend using a foam roller, one of the ones for high density paint. They usually come in packs, one furry and one more like a sponge, get the spongey one. For these crates I used a 4″ roller and it was perfect and left a nice smooth finish. I got my roller and tray set at wilko for a couple of pounds, it doesn’t need to be a high quality roller for this project, I actually bought mine thinking it would be a one time use thing, but i’ve used it a few times now. You can get these all over the place ie: The Range, B&Q, Homebase, Wilko etc.

I did notice when I watered my paint too much it was a bit runny and splattery. To counterbalance this add a tad more paint. If you start painting and the wood grain isn’t showing up, try dunking your brush in water and going over the bit you’ve just done. This worked for me. And don’t be afraid to paint over the same spot several times.


Sorry I know this picture is bad. I have one of those chinese smartphones, what it lacks in megapixels it makes up for in cheapness. :’)

Anyway this is them after they’ve been varnished and settled in. They’re in a slightly darker corner anyway but can you see the wood grain peeping through? It looks wonderful in the light! This paint is also wonderful for shabbying anything up. Which is what I do when I mess up. I did a terrible paint job on a shelf, so I sandpapered it and now it is SO shabby-chic. 😉 :’)

I forgot to mention if you buy these crates, they come flat packed. This will work in your favour however, painting the separate planks is a LOT easier than trying to get into a built box with a paint roller. So yeah, paint first, build later! And if you knock the paint? Just touch it up again, it’s very easy and versatile.

I would highly recommend varnish/ lacquer/ wax or any sealant afterwards because, perhaps not with other paints, this one leaves a powdery yet matte finish. It didn’t appear to rub off onto me but it felt like it could. I also chose to have books in my boxes and a sealant in always recommended when storing books on a wooden surface. The sealant will also protect it, which will be nice when you’re trying to build it.

There are many different sealants, this particular paint has it’s own wax that you can buy separately. I didn’t buy it because there are 100 cheaper alternatives on the market, that are also good quality.

I originally bought a spray lacquer, I thought “spray? easy peasy.” And it was, but it didn’t leave a nice glossy finish, it was more subtle satin. I was actually needing the sealant for a different project at the time, so the varnish I chose went onto the painted and unsealed crate.

I used a clear gloss varnish from wilko. I won’t bother posting a picture or anything because I wouldn’t recommend it. I mean it was cheap and it did the job, but you deserve better! I’d say do your research and don’t go for a cheap brand, like wilko. :’) When I did use this varnish it yellowed the paint a tiny bit, which I did not want. They look good anyway and now all of my treasures are on them you can barely even see the wood-grain, let alone the mistakes and the bad varnish! :’) Sometimes you just have to let go of perfection and enjoy crafting things.

With this project it definitely stands true that; If I can make it, you can make it better.

Lulu x


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