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A Step by Step Guide on How to Chalk Paint Furniture

Find out how to chalk paint furniture with this easy tutorial and give your thrift store, outdated, or family heirloom furniture new life!

The great thing about chalk painting furniture is there is no need to sand or prime your furniture first. Chalk paint adheres to just about anything beautifully even laminate.

This is a great product for first-time painters using chalk paint, to achieve a beautiful professional finish and had the flexibility to fit any style with different finishes.

A graphic for how to paint with chalk paint on furniture showing a grey coffee table makeover.
How to Paint with Chalk Paint on Furniture

First things first, what is chalk paint?

You may be wondering what the difference between chalk paint and regular latex paint is. Chalk paint gets its name from the matte, chalky appearance that comes from the plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate in the chalk paint whereas latex does not have that ingredient.

It has also made a name for itself as it is easier to apply than latex paint because you do not have to sand or prime the surface before using it.

A grey chalk painted coffee table with white tray, books, aloe plant and a pair of carmel barrel chairs near by.
Chalk Painted Coffee Table in Our Okinawa Rental

Why chalk-paint furniture?

Besides not having to prepare your furniture for chalk paint with priming or sanding, you can apply the paint to almost any surface indoors or outdoors, and chalk paint dries quickly to the touch. Try it on walls, furniture, glass, metal, plaster, wood, or concrete.

It is especially great for intricate furniture with its ease of application and ease of distress or giving an aged appearance. Likewise, you can get also get a smooth clean finish!

How do you chalk paint furniture step by step?

  1. Remove any hardware from your furniture.
  2. Wipe down with a damp cloth to clean any dust or grime.
  3. Stir the chalk paint with a stir stick or anything else you have on hand.
  4. Use a soft bristle brush, dip it into the paint can, wipe away excess paint on the edge of the can, and paint directly onto the furniture.
  5. Once the first coat is dry to the touch, apply a second coat as needed.
  6. Seal with a coat of wax or other furniture sealants. Wait up to two weeks for the seal to completely cure.

How to chalk paint furniture distressed

  • Remove any hardware from your furniture.
  • Wipe down with a damp cloth to clean any dust or grime.
  • Stir the chalk paint with a stir stick or anything else you have on hand.
  • Use a soft bristle brush, dip it into the paint can, wipe away excess paint on the edge of the can, and paint directly onto the furniture. Use a base coat paint color.
  • Once the first coat is dry to the touch, apply a second coat of paint in a contrasting color all over or dry brush to highlight raised areas.
  • Apply a layer of paste wax with a clean cloth or brush.
  • Once the wax is dry to the touch, start sanding where you want to destress the piece of furniture to reveal the first coat of color. Try sanding where you would see natural wear and tear for the best results.
  • Seal with one more coat of wax and let completely cure, about two weeks, before heavy use.

What to seal chalk-painted furniture with

The best option to protect chalk-painted furniture is paste wax.

Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint

  • The pros of chalk paint are that it does not require any prep work like priming or sanding and it can be used on just about any surface or material. It also has durability while still being a water-based paint for easy clean up and use.
  • The cons of chalk paint are that it can be expensive and you it can require an additional step of wax or other protective seals on chalk-painted furniture. Both of these are addressed below!

What happens if you don’t wax it?

Chalk paint on furniture can get marked by water and scuffs. Protect it with wax or a coat of polyurethane or polyacrylic. Furniture wax is the most popular finish for chalk-painted furniture.

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

To make your own chalk paint, mix 1/3 cup of cool water and 1/3 cup of plaster of pairs into 1 cup of latex paint. Stir until smooth.

What kind of chalk paint should I use?

I’ve only added chalk paint powder to paint with a brand that is no longer around so I’ve rounded up the most popular ones my blogging friends use and you can find a really cool guide for 11 different chalk paint brands from this blogger!

  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • Rustoleum Chalked Paint
  • Country Chic Chalk Paint
  • FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint

My Chalk Paint Furniture Before and After

I’m excited to share my first chalk paint furniture project I did 9 years ago! A beautiful federal-style mahogany table at Habitat for Humanity coffee table my husband and I rescued. It turned out to be one of my favorite furniture makeovers.

It was in pretty rough shape with pieces of molding missing, most of the stain was gone on top of the table, and it had loose hardware. But the brass lion head pulls, brass feet, and side extensions were fabulous features that I knew had potential.

How to use chalk paint on wood showing a solid wood coffee table ready to be painted.
Solid Wood Coffee Table

When it first came home and was cleaned up, two white lacquered trays from Pier One (RIP) were placed on top to hide all of its scratches and worn areas.  The trays fit beautifully and the solution worked for a while.

A piece of old furniture needing a makeover.
Coffee Table Before Chalk Paint Makeover

But then, I had the chance to try a new product, chalk powder, and took the opportunity for a makeover. I picked a channel color gray with a flat finish and turned it into chalk paint with the paint powder.  

The chalk paint goes on like a dream. I painted two coats within an hour and my coffee table was completely covered.  (It took less than a cup of paint!)

A chalk painted coffee table in grey sits on a gray rug with a grey sofa.
Grey Chalk Painted Coffee Table
A close up of furniture painted with chalk paint and two white trays on top.
Great Details on the Chalk Painted Table

The chalky, flat finish was the look I wanted for this coffee table and the brass lion head pulls and feet stood out so much more.  It really showcased the beautiful details in this table. 

The white trays still looked gorgeous on top and the chalk painted furniture made our living room look fresher and light.

The side view of a chalk painted coffee table in grey paint with two white treys on top.  It sits on a grey and white rug and a baby grand piano is in the background.
More Intricate Details Brought Out by the Chalk Paint

Now, four houses, later, it sits in my sister’s master bedroom’s seating area still looking gorgeous!

Do you have an old furniture piece that could use a makeover? I hope you try this amazing product!

Chalk Paint Furniture Projects and DIYs

Easy chalk-painted furniture projects and other chalk-paint DIYs you can do in under an hour.

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    1. Thanks Amber!! It was so easy to do. Paint projects like that make me wonder why I don’t paint more often. It was too easy. 🙂

  1. What an interesting product! I just moved into my first apartment and I really want to make all of my thrown together thrift store furniture pieces work together, so paint is the obvious solution! This powder seems like exactly what I need, it should work on laminate right?

    1. Yes, it adheres to laminate, rock, glass, wood, metal, and clay. It’s super easy to work with. 🙂

    1. My husband spotted it outside and it looked awful. Really dirty and green corrosion allover the brass and a leaf was loose. When I spotted the lion heads, I knew I had to have it. She turned out so pretty! Good luck with your thrifty searches!

    1. Thanks Reginia! I’ve been slowly working around our “rental limitations” (including the paint color). We really love the space now!

  2. I absolutely love the color and the room is beautiful! We have a Habitat place near our home that I’d love to go check out. Great job!

    1. Thanks so much for the sweet words Artney! I think the coffee table is the coolest thing we have found at Habitat. It’s a great place to look for building supplies.

    1. Thank you Lynn. Usually, I seal painted furniture with a furniture wax but bc of the chalk finish I didn’t with the coffee table. It has done beautifully.

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