Dragonfly by Stephie McCarthy

Paint a Stone Wall with Chalk Paint

(we underpainted with a warm gold)
© Stephie McCarthy

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Dragonfly by Stephie McCarthy

Chalk Paint a Stone Wall

To make this stone wall more beautiful with paint,
we broke a lot of rules:

White wash a stone wall DIY

• no power washing
• no etching with acid
• no primer
• no expensive paints or brushes
• we didn't go for complete coverage  … just a light touch of chalk paint to make this wall look rustic, but more elegant.
• and, most importantly, we underpainted with a warm gold first to improve the look of the white, after trial and error …

We used only an amazing 6 ounces of paint for about
120 square feet! But let's set the scene.
There were good reasons for breaking those painting rules.

Check out this close up of that dreadful mortar repair on our stone wall.

Chalk painting a stone wall by Stephie McCarthy

This stone wall is around 200 years old, made
of quarried granite with a few odds and ends like
bricks included. Long ago, part of the wall was reinforced
with some very sloppy patches of "sort-of" mortar.
Mostly we wanted to fix our mortar and leave a
lot of the natural stone surface showing.
Did they use motor oil instead of water? Yikes!

Refresh stones with chalk paint

It was a messy, slap-dash job! But we loved the quarry
stones and believed we could hide the sloppy
mortar without having to chip it out.

We figured that a light wash of a white chalk paint
would cover a multitude of sins while keeping the overall
look rustic and fresh. The mortar would get most
of the white wash, the stones would get a lesser amount.

You can get the same refreshing effect on modern masonry.

Chalk paint on stone

We brought an old cell phone to the job site, with a Photoshop sketch
of how we thought the stone porch could look with whitewash.

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Our first try:

A test of off white chalk paint brought out
a lavender-blue tone in the stones and mortar
making a cold and depressing effect.
Not at all what we had in mind!

Plaid brush for painting stone

Take two! We underpainted
the bad patches with a muted gold-brown, then
added white highlights and a soft brown for
low lights using very little paint and plenty of water.
Three colors! And success!

Before and after, chalk painting a stone wall

White washing can disguise ugly stones or mortar,
beautify an entire stone wall that has too much contrast
or is too dingy or depressingly ugly.

Here are the three colors we used
to get the desired effec

HomeDecor Chalk Paint from Amazon,
1) Yellow Crochet
2) Cottage White
3) Java
• Alternatively, Waverly Inspirations,
1) Maize,
2) White Plaster, and
3) Truffle


Buy Chalk Paints through our Supplies Page

buy chalk paint


You'll want the yellow shade to be muted.
Mix brown and white into it in advance, if it needs toning down.

Chalk paint stone

The wooden palette we made from a scrap of wood
shows the three basic colors. We mixed the yellow in a separate
cup with the brown and white to get this muted gold.

Easy preps:

Sweep away any loose debris, lay down a drop cloth and
set up a ladder if necessary. Have a small tub of water
for dipping your brush.

Prepping to chalk paint a stone wall

We also had baby wipes
and a spray bottle of 50/50 water and white vinegar.
Plain spray water works fine too, but the vinegar
will boss the paint around a little more.

Vinegar and Water spray for decorative painting

Our 'bossy' water and vinegar spray.

Check out the video on our HomeTalk page:

Brushwork techniques for decorative whitewashing

Watch the actual brush work of this decorative whitewashing.

Work Rough!

Some people describe this kind of painting as
"dry brushing" but we call it "rough brushing."
Dip brush into very little paint
(and maybe a dollop of water) and
roughly under-paint the areas that look the worst.
No need for complete or even coverage.
In our case we aimed for that horrible patching.
You can overlap the edges of the stone too.

Underpainting chalk paint decor

Rough painting mostly on the ugly mortar patches.

Neatness is NOT recommend. We scrubbed on the paint
roughly. We went for low coverage and let the
natural variations in the stone remain.

White washing a stone wall

We dashed the white paint over the gold using lots of
diagonal strokes and feathering.
We sprayed and wiped the paint now and then
to help it blend.

Brown detail white washing stone wall

Because we wanted the porch to look larger and this white
wall made it look a bit smaller, we used our brown
paint here and there to create recesses which draw
the eye and at the same time create a bit of depth.
This made the porch look a bit larger and deeper.

Plaid Chip Brush Set

Our favorite faux painting brushes -- they are stiffer bristled

Here's the actual brush we used. It's a very basic and stiff chip
brush from a set of Plaid — the 3" brush. Not meant for fine art,
this brush held up fantastically even after hours of
scrubbing paint into stone without losing
a single bristle. Highly recommended!

Wipe and blend paint with baby wipes

If you should get too much paint on a stone, just
rub it back with a baby-wipe. It takes a while for
paint to cure, so you'll have time to wipe off goofs.
You'll be amazed at how much paint you can remove with
a baby wipe.

DIY chalk painted stone wall

We've now upgrade the window shown at the bottom of the photo, to a beautiful leaded glass effect using metal tape! See that story here.

How to make a leaded glass style window with metal tape

To seal or not to seal?

Paint is very durable outdoors, and
there are special sealers for painted masonry work,
but our wall is sheltered so we skipped that step.

Check the availability of CoverSeal here.

Stone sealer

Any good sealer will work, if CoverSeal is unavailable.

We recommend letting the finish cure and take some weather,
and see how it does before adding a sealant … but
as you know … we love to break rules!

Before and AFter white washing stone wall

Why chalk paint (and not latex)?

• It makes dingy mortar look like fresh Portland cement
• It sticks well to stone, cement, and concrete
• Cement repairs can be done right on top of chalk paint
whereas oil based paint will repel it
• It looks natural because it's mineral-based, just like the stones
• It's not super smelly, or noxious

This really is an advanced painting technique because it
takes a lot of standing back and assessing the overall
look, wiping some paint away, adding more here
and there, and by far, not over doing it.
All these things take practice, but in then end
looks nice, is less work and uses
fewer materials than painting by the rules!

See How We Added DIY Gingerbread to the Porch


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