How to Use Chalk Paint on Furniture


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images + Provided

Shabby chic, farmhouse-style furniture is a really popular decor choice in many homes right now. It blends a love for antiques with a flair for the more contemporary, with nothing more than a quick coat or two of chalk paint.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is latex paint mixed with Plaster of Paris, baking soda or calcium carbonate and water. Not to be confused with chalkboard paint—which allows you to write on the walls with chalk and erase it like a chalkboard—chalk paint results in a rustic, matte finish to furniture that can be distressed as little or as much as you'd like to achieve a vintage, worn look.

Using chalk paint is an easy way to breathe new life into old furniture that has scratches and dings because its thick, chalky finish will hide all those imperfections. It also requires no sanding, priming or stripping. Due to its ability to adhere to a variety of surfaces, all you need to do is wipe down the furniture and let it dry before you start to paint.

DIY Chalk Paint

You can buy chalk paint from the hardware store, but it can be expensive. Did you know you can make your own for a lot cheaper? Read all about it in the article DIY Chalk Paint.

How to Paint Furniture with Chalk Paint

Step 1: Clean + Dry Furniture

Give the furniture a thorough wipe-down with a soft cloth and soap and water. Make sure to let it dry completely before you begin to paint.

Step 2: Sand (If Needed)

The beauty of chalk paint is that you can skip sanding in most cases. However, if there are rough surfaces, deep scratches, or peeling or chipping paint, it's a good idea to sand those surfaces to make them smooth. It will help the chalk paint adhere better. Be sure to wipe all the dust off the furniture after sanding.

Step 3: Make DIY Chalk Paint or Stir Store-Bought Paint

Either make your own chalk paint or shake/stir the store-bought paint before you begin.

Brush Types

You can use a traditional flat brush (above, center) like you'd use for latex paint. This will result in a cleaner, smoother more modern finish. A chalk paint brush (above, left) will give you a more textured finish for a vintage look. A high-density roller will give you a smooth finish without any brushstrokes.

Step 4: Paint

This is the fun part! Apply two coats to the furniture, allowing the first coat to dry before adding the second coat.

Step 5: Distress

Once the paint is dry, you can choose to distress it with medium-grit sandpaper for a more vintage look. Work on places where paint would naturally rub off, such as corners, raised/decorative details, the top, etc. This will create a lot of dust, so be sure to wipe down the furniture when you're finished sanding.

Step 6: Choose Your Protective Finish

Once you've distressed your furniture and are pleased with the look, you'll need to seal the paint to protect it from rubbing off. There are several options for finishing your chalk paint project:

  1. Polyurethane – A clear, liquid, oil-based topcoat that is sprayed or painted on. This is the most durable finish
  2. Polycrylic – A clear, liquid, water-based topcoat that is sprayed or painted on.
  3. Wax – Furniture wax or paste is a semi-solid product that can be applied with a rag or a brush to achieve a soft, matte finish. It comes in a variety of colors to create a custom vintage look.

Now that you know how to use chalk paint, it's time to start your DIY project!

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