DIY Antique Zinc Finish Tutorial


I’m thrilled to welcome a very talented guest blogger today, who will be sharing a tutorial for a gorgeous furniture refinishing project.  After you read it, you’ll feel confident that you can use a specialized painting technique on your next project, too.

ChiChi Studio zinc bar in office open

This is the end result of the tutorial you’ll be reading in a moment.  The hutch is refinished to have the look of antique zinc.  Antique zinc is on the trend watch, right now.  Check out a few other projects I found that are sporting this interesting new/old look:

Freckled Laundry zinc nightstand

Zinc Finish Nightstand | Freckled Laundry

Lovely Crafty Home zinc side table

Faux Zinc End Table | Lovely Crafty Home

Porters Paints liquid zinc walls

Liquid Zinc Wall Treatment | Porter Paints

Restore Interiors zince coffee table top

Faux Zinc Coffee Table | Restore Interiors

DTTD Imagine Design Create zinc frame

Zinc Finish Makeovers | DTTD Imagine Design Create

Now it’s time to check out the zinc-ified transformation of a bar cabinet by our guest blogger.  

Submitted by:  Chi-Chi Studio

Hi! My name is Kristin, from Chi-Chi Studio. I focus mainly on painting furniture, but I also feature crafts, photography, and home design ideas on my blog as well.  I’m thrilled to share my DIY Antique Zinc Finish tutorial with you.

Thanks to Pinterest, most of us have seen several very good takes on the faux antique zinc finish.  The basic idea of all of them is to recreate this look from Restoration Hardware. While I had seen it done many times and really liked the look, I didn’t think I’d ever really try to do it myself until I had a house with lots of furniture I could use to experiment.

Then, lo and behold, I meet a client at C’est Moi. She brings in a Restoration Hardware catalog and points to the piece she’d like to use as inspiration. It’s the zinc finish, of course. I was excited to try a new technique but also quite nervous. This wasn’t my own furniture; I had to experiment on a piece that was going in an attorney’s office. Yikes!

Before I explain how I did it, here’s the bar I stared with:

ChiChi Studio hutch before

ChiChi Studio hutch before inside

And here are my supplies:

Annie Sloan CHALK PAINT™ in Graphite

*Sherwin Williams Faux Impressions Metallic Pearl Finish in DISTANCE SMET (This stands for Distance Metallic. They have a latex color called Distance, so this is the metallic version. The number assigned to it is SWF315.)

Annie Sloan Clear Wax

Annie Sloan medium paint brush

Annie Sloan wax brush

Chip brush


*I used the glaze only. It’s supposed to go over a Sherwin Williams Faux Impressions Base Coat. I used the Graphite Chalk Paint as my base coat.

ChiChi studio supplies

I used this method because

a) I pretty much always use Chalk Paint. It’s just who I am. ;)

b) Mixing four different tiny bottles of acrylic paint to create this look on such a large piece would have been CA-RAZY. And I wouldn’t ever trust acrylic paint on furniture I was painting for someone else. Jami at Freckled Laundry and Amy at The Salvage Collection have both created beautiful faux zinc finishes using acrylic paint in some form or another. I guess I’m just a scaredy cat.

c) While meeting the customer at C’est Moi, Tawnya was nice enough to refer me to a friend of hers who had had success using metallic glazes over Chalk Paint. Lucky for me, she was actually visiting the shop (from North Carolina, I think) so I was able to ask questions and get some valuable advice. It made me more comfortable trying this technique.

Antique Zinc Finish Tutorial

First, I painted the whole thing in Graphite. I painted the inside in Paris Grey (Chalk Paint™), which you can see peeking out a little bit in this photo. I made sure to touch that up with Graphite before moving on to the next step.

ChiChi Studio hutch first coat

This is the glaze I picked up at Sherwin Williams. There are many brands of glazes out there; I think Tawnya’s friend recommended one made by Behr. But I already had bought this one, so Sherwin Williams Faux Impressions it was. I had picked it out because of a swatch at the store. I didn’t want the piece to be too light of a silver tone. Zinc is much darker than that. So I thought I was picking out a much darker tone than the very blue color they showed me after they mixed it. I was scared, especially since it was non-refundable! :/

But thanks to a conversation at C’est Moi, I remembered that metal does have a lot of blue tones in it. The guys at store said if it didn’t work to bring it back and they’d remix the color for me free of charge. So I figured it was worth a shot, especially since a glaze isn’t opaque and would (*fingers crossed*) show enough of the Graphite to tame the blue!

ChiChi Studio blue paint

This is what it looked like on the chip brush. Can you see my hands shaking?  Yeah, they totally were. I was holding my breath on this one. My only comfort was that my client was one of the nicest people I had ever had a conversation with and was also not on a tight deadline. If it looked disastrous, all I had to do was slap a little Graphite on there again. Right? (Nods head, rubs own arm to comfort self)

Still, for some reason, I felt like I was taking an exam I hadn’t studied for. Actually, I was a total nerd in high school and college. I never took an exam without studying, but I can now imagine what it would feel like!

ChiChi Studio brush

I finally got up the courage to start painting. Or glazing. Whatever you want to call it. Because it’s so transparent, I laid it on pretty thick…

ChiChi Studio brush technique

So when I finished brushing it on it looked like this.

ChiChi Studio brush technique 2

But then I used cheesecloth to wipe off the excess and remove the brush strokes. See the brush stroke to the right of the cloth? You want that to disappear. This glaze (and I’m assuming most or all of them) dry very quickly. I worked in one small area at a time.

ChiChi Studio cheesecloth

As it dried I saw that plenty of the Graphite was showing through. It wasn’t turning blue! Yay!

I even saw that I was taking a little too much off with the cheesecloth than I wanted. I went back and added a second coat in the first two areas I glazed, since I had been so light handed. I also noticed that if I kept working the glaze in with my brush (going back and forth between vertical and horizontal strokes) the brush strokes disappeared. The glaze became a little more pasty, for a lack of a better word. When I did that, I didn’t have to use the cheesecloth nearly as much.

You can see it drying on the front. I worked from right to left, for some reason. You can see how much bluer the left is than the right, where the glaze had already started to dry.

ChiChi Studio glaze during

I added clear wax the day after the glaze had dried, to add some extra protection. Here she is, finished:

ChiChi studio hutch finished in garage

And this is how she looks in her new home, the attorney’s office:

Zinc Bar 2

Zinc Bar 3

Zinc Bar 4

Wow, Kristin!  The finished product is simply stunning!  Thanks so much for sharing your painting techniques with us, today.  I think I’m going to have to pull out my painting pants, now.  

If this Antique Zinc Finish Tutorial has sparked your interest in furniture refinishing, then you might enjoy reading reviews on other specialized painting and refinishing products that we’ve shared here at Remodelaholic.  Take a look:

Remodelaholic Collage

CeCe Caldwell’s Paint Review | Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Review | Old Fashioned Milk Paint Review

Meet the Author: Remodelaholic

Check back soon to learn more about this author. Read More


  1. Rachel says

    This is great! I’ve been looking for a great faux zinc tutorial to use on some chicken wire baskets I bought at World Market (all I could find was recommendations to use galvanized spray paint…ick!). And the timing on this is perfect…finishing up my boys’ vintage comic book room this week, and the baskets are one of the final details. Thanks for sharing Kristin and Cassity!

    • says

      Crystal, I think it is a matter of preference I have some great features from Cassie at Primitive and Proper where she talks about different paints and why she likes them.

    • says

      Chalk Paint requires no priming and takes much, much less time to dry than latex. That’s primarily why I use it (and it’s much less stinky, too!) Also, it can be used in numerous ways (washes, colored waxes, etc.) that create many different finishes. Cassie’s right–Cassie does have good posts about paints. You can also try googling Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to learn more. There’s a lot of information out there!

  2. Suzanne B says

    Interesting. For my house I don’t think I could do but a frame or two and maybe a table top. I think a little would go a long way in my place.

  3. Kristin says

    Do you have to sand the furniture first? I have some older, Ethan Allen solid wood furniture but the top has like a laminate top. Just on the top. Do you think that would still work on it?

  4. Ellie LaJuett says

    Wow, great look and so refreshing after seeing everything painted boring old white. Great tutorial and definitely will be trying this!

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