Reuse: Make your own tinted chalk paint.

Not buying anything new has been easy, for the most part… except when it comes to cool things to make cool things with. My commitment to not visiting my beloved hardware store (I know, I know) has been the hardest one this year, and not just because of the Sunday morning coffee with the bonus of an indoor playground… but because I have a passion for turning old stuff into cool new stuff. I think it’s excellent for the environment and it’s extremely therapeutic for my soul. One of my happiest places is in the dead of night with a sander in my hand, dust all over my skin and paint in my hair… creating something beautiful. Which is how I work for the most part. In the early hours of the morning… where there are no little hands to put fingerprints on a fresh paint job.

I digress.

So I’ve had a few projects going on in the past few weeks and my commitment to not buying any new paint was one that was challenging me. How was I supposed to finish these projects with no new paint? The rubbish tip. The rubbish tip shop was the answer. People discard perfectly good half cans of paint all the time. I exhausted my options locally first, asking on local buy and sell pages to see whether or not anyone had some cans laying around they didn’t want any more. I didn’t strike gold. So when in the city I visited the rubbish tip…. and there I struck gold. I picked up two cans of paint for about $2. They were both about 75% full and both colours that are common and that I could work with, shades of white/light grey.

But the thing about second hand garbage paint is that you have no control over colour or texture. So I started doing some research… could I tint my own paint? Could I change its texture? Would it work?

Yes. Yes. and Yes… it does work. It’s pretty clever. Want to turn an old can of paint in your house into new paint that is pretty excellent on furniture?.. Just follow these really simple steps to make your own tinted DIY chalk paint.


Tint your own DIY Chalk Paint.


1 cup of good quality wall paint (a water based semi gloss acrylic is what I used with excellent results)
2 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp water
Food dye, mixed into the colour you want to use… remember the colour will then mix with the base paint colour and end up a lot lighter.


Mix the water and the cornflour in a can/jar until it thickens (if it turns into a crazy putty consistency add more water… or let your toldder play with it and start again). Pour the mixture into your cup of paint and mix further. Start adding your food colouring. I used green with this lot but have done it with about ten different colour combinations with great success. Having a white base is really the way to go but it takes a lot of food colouring to really get a strong colour. For the lovely pastel green tones that I used for this project it took about half a bottle of food green dye.

The cornflour makes the paint an awesome texture and makes it really, really easy to work with. Once you’ve got the tint you are happy with you are ready to paint. Just paint as usual and store any excess in a jar with a lid until next time you want to use it.

This is an easy cheap alternative to buying shitloads of different colours of paints for different projects… it’s also really environmentally friendly as you are taking crap out of landfill and using it to it’s full potential… which is pretty cool. Right?

Note: I have no idea how this tinting process will hold up over time. I’ve read that it will potentially fade considerably over time in full sunlight… so do keep that in mind. 




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  • February 20, 2014 - 5:14 am

    Zanni Louise - Brilliant! Thank you for this. I have ben looking at buying chalk paint but it’s so expensive. This will be perfect for what I am planning. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 20, 2014 - 6:58 am

    Lilybett - Great idea. Just wondering if the colour would run if it got wet or if the base paint would be enough to ‘hold’ it…hmmm experiment time.ReplyCancel

    • February 20, 2014 - 9:43 am

      Sash - I would probably suggest using a sealant over the top… I just can’t buy any and haven’t been able to source something second hand or DIY one yet. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • March 3, 2014 - 6:22 am

    It’s no longer only about buying nothing new | Postcards without stamps - […] how much she pushes herself to live by her rules. Just recently, for example, she has posted an article about making her own paint. I’ve been painting a lot recently… stroking our kitchen walls layer after layer. Not for a […]ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2014 - 5:02 am

    Recycle: A no-footprint dollhouse makeover » Inked in Colour - […] pine mini bench off the side of the road and gave it some new life with a good sand and a lick of home made chalk paint… tinted by Bo […]ReplyCancel

  • May 5, 2015 - 5:23 am

    Gay Kennedy - do you mean cornstarch when you say corn flourReplyCancel

    • May 8, 2015 - 7:39 am

      Sash - Yes 🙂 Same-same.ReplyCancel

  • May 10, 2015 - 11:22 am

    Michelle W - Hi there, thanks so much for your recipe. I want to paint several items beginning with a coffee table.

    I hope this isn’t a dumb question, however is it necessary to seal the items with a coat of polyurethane?

    Many thanks,

  • July 6, 2015 - 8:16 am

    Gabi - I too have fallen in love with chalk paint, but am finding it very expensive. I myself just tried putting a droplet of blue food colouring to my cream chalk paint sample, then thought “perhaps someone else has tried this” and stumbled onto your page. THANK-YOU for your recipe. I am so trying this.

    Can I ask how the paint has held up a year later?

    Thanks again,

    • July 6, 2015 - 7:18 pm

      Sash - Hey Gabi! It’s still going strong… have always kept it out of the sunlight and it hasn’t faded! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • August 6, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Nancy Banks - Can you use regular food coloring that comes in the 4 pack? Don’t know if this is the same as food dye.ReplyCancel

    • August 7, 2015 - 9:00 am

      Sash - yep same stuff 🙂ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2016 - 3:50 pm

    Trudi - Hi! Does the food colouring not fade over time and perhaps in the sun? Is there any other type of colouring that could be added instead? What about acrylic craft paint? They come in bright colours and you might have to use only a little to tint your chalk paint?ReplyCancel

    • June 27, 2016 - 3:44 pm

      Sash - Hi trudi, yes it does fade in the sun. You could use a powdered acrylic paint which would work well 🙂ReplyCancel

  • August 23, 2017 - 4:23 pm

    Marie - Thought I was the only mad person around. I’ve just tinted chalk paint with afew drops of the emulsion I used on the living room walls. Got a great ombré look on some accessories using different amounts of emulsion.ReplyCancel

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