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A Better Alternative To Chalk Paint (The Best Type of Paint for Wood Furniture)


A Cheaper, Easier, and More Durable Chalk Paint Alternative

For those of you that want the appearance of chalk paint without the cost and hassle,  I’ve found a process that gives you the same look but without the high cost…  With my better alternative to chalk paint, you can even achieve the aged look of dark wax without the extra time involved and I’ll show you the best type of paint for wood furniture.

Why is this furniture technique better than using chalk paint and wax?

  1.  This product is MUCH less expensive.  I give a full cost break-down in my post Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint, showing the drastic expense of chalk paint versus my favorite paint for furniture.
  2. Not only is it much cheaper, but it is also easier to use.  There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to waxing furniture.  With this technique, you can get the same look of dark wax with much less effort.
  3. This product is also much more durable, providing a long-lasting finish for years to come. 
  4. This paint does not have to be sealed with wax.  Did you know that if chalk paint is not sealed with wax, it will actually re-liquefy if a cold drink is left on it?
  5. As opposed to chalk paint, this process gives you almost unlimited color options.  This allows you to better coordinate existing room details or to match another piece of furniture.
  6. Last, the supplies are much easier to find as opposed to going to a specialty store.

For more benefits to this technique, be sure to click here.

chalk paint dark wax alternative


Want to transform a furniture piece but don’t know where to begin?  Download your FREE step-by-step printable checklist that shows you the exact process I’ve used on dozens of furniture pieces while saving you time and money! And it costs you nothing. #confetti toss  Click here to access your checklist now: FREE Must-Have Painting Checklist

A Better Alternative to Chalk Painting Furniture – Supplies:

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Chalk Paint: Dark Wax Alternative Supplies: 

Valspar Clear Mixing Glaze and a sample pot of Behr Ashwood (both optional).

Best Alternative to Chalk Paint – The Process

1. Lightly Sand Your Furniture Piece

Many readers ask me how to paint wood furniture without sanding.  Unfortunately, if you don’t sand, you risk wasting all of your time and effort because of paint that won’t stick.

Fortunately, sanding, if done correctly, should not take you more than 5 minutes with very little effort on your part because you are barely roughing up the surface of the wood to accept paint.  You are not sanding to take off all of the old paint as I explain in my post How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes. 

After taking off all hardware, sand your piece using a mouse sander (click here for my favorite low-cost sander).  Just gently go over the surface to rough it up some.  You don’t want to try to take off the existing paint or stain, you just want to take off the shine. 

Spend more time on scratches and dents as needed.  Once you are done, wipe it down with a moist rag. See my posts on how to sand furniture with an electric sander and the best sanders for wood furniture here.

2. How to Prime Furniture

For this dresser, I used Zinsser Bullseye 123 in white. This is a water-based tintable primer which means that you can have it tinted just like paint.  This allows your primer coat to not only adhere well but also to help with coverage by tinting it.  This will more than likely save you from an extra coat of paint.  It also settles out really well as it dries meaning that it doesn’t show brush strokes easily.

How to Paint Furniture White

For lighter projects, I just go with a white primer, just as it is in the can.   Also, if you are matching other white furniture, be sure to match it to the white on a paint deck as there are hundreds of shades of white. For a post full of tips, click here: The Best Time-Saving Tips to Paint Furniture White

How to Paint Furniture Black

For black or gray projects, I have a gallon of gray primer on hand.  If I was painting a piece navy, I would get my primer tinted a slightly lighter shade of navy.  Having a tinted primer minimizes the number of coats. (Your primer doesn’t need to match your paint color.  It just needs to be a stepping stone to build upon.) Click here for more tips for painting furniture in dark colors.

Before you start any furniture project, be sure to download my FREE Tips for Painting Furniture for any project.  Don’t start a project without them!


3.  Latex Paint – The Best Alternative to Chalk Paint for Furniture

The primer takes only 30 minutes to dry.  When you’re ready, paint the piece with a roller like THIS one.  It will also save time on your entire project and gives you a much smoother finish than painting with a brush.

best roller to paint furniture

You can also add a product called Floetrol to your paint to minimize brush strokes.  I do this often and love the smooth finish I get every time.  Just read the instructions on the bottle for how much to add and mix it in.

As I mentioned in my post Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture, I counter several claims when many argue why to use chalk paint vs. regular paint.  My experience is with high-end brands of specialty chalk paint.  I didn’t compare chalk paint reviews for the best chalk paint but I feel strongly that any paint with a chalk-based paint component like Valspar chalk paint and even Rustoleum chalk paint will be an inferior product.

Often one of the main criteria for the quality of paint is whether it has additives like calcium carbonate (the main ingredient of many chalk paints and homemade chalk paint recipes).  The more of these additives the less durability the product will have long-term.

furniture painting tips

4.  A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint Wax

Now, say you want to achieve the same look of dark wax without the cost and hassle.  After your coat of latex paint is dry, mix together a 50/50 mix of the Valspar Clear Glazing Mix and your sample container of paint.

My sample color is Behr Ashwood (Home Depot) which is the same color as Valspar Beige Shadow(Lowe’s,) depending on the paint on the store you are at.

Once it is mixed, paint it on your dresser.  See how I obviously missed areas – that’s ok!  It will spread out when we go to wipe – this process is fail-proof!  (The gray I’m using is Behr Cosmic Quest.)

Many readers have asked me where to buy chalk paint but the nice thing about this process is that all the products are easy to find at your local home improvement store.

chalk paint dark wax alternative

Once I painted on the streaks and covered the majority of the piece I took a baby wipe and started wiping it off. (Pamper’s seem to work well for some reason). This is a really easy process as the glazing medium allows the paint to stay wet giving you plenty of time to work with it.

You just keep wiping with your baby wipes in long strokes in the direction of your piece to get the look you want to achieve.   

You cannot mess this up – just keep wiping until you get the look you want.  I love how it gives it that vintage look and it will work with any base color – you might just have to wipe more or less depending on the look you want. (Although I’m using a glazing medium, this process is actually called “color washing”.)

wiping the glaze off a dresser

Should You Add a Clear Coat on Painted Furniture?

For furniture that undergoes a LOT of wear and tear like our coffee table or my daughter’s desk, I added a couple of coats of General Finishes Flat Out Flat clear coat (check the current price here) for extra durability.  To see a video of how to apply it, click here: Best Chalk Paint Top Coat.

What I love about this clear coat is that it will give you the same sheen as chalk paint. Just paint on the topcoat with a foam brush like this one.  These brushes are so cheap that you can just throw them away when you are done.


The Best Type of Paint for Wood Furniture

If I didn’t use this process, the alternative would have been to wax with clear wax and then wax with dark wax to get that look.   Both of those steps take a lot of time and there is a definite learning curve with waxing. 

As I mentioned in my post Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint, waxed furniture has to be maintained by re-waxing every so often.  With this better alternative to chalk paint, your piece will look fabulous for decades to come with no maintenance!

More Furniture Makeovers

I used the same process on these furniture makeovers and have had amazing results.  All of these furniture pieces have sentimental value so using this process guarantees they will have a beautiful finish for years to come.  You can see my best furniture reveals here: 25 Stunning Painted Furniture Before and Afters

Easy DIY Farmhouse Coffee Table With Turned Legs

How to Faux Stain Furniture (6 Shades to Choose From!)

FAQ’s: The Best Alternative to Chalk Paint

What is the most durable paint for furniture?

Latex is one of the most durable paints for furniture.  There are oil-based paints that dry harder but they are much messier and the fumes are an issue.

Latex paint does well with protecting furniture from moisture and also has some elasticity that prevents cracking of the paint if the furniture warms over time.  Chalk Paint, in my opinion, is not as durable as it is easy to sand off versus latex paint with primer.  Also, as I mentioned in depth here, chalk paint will re-liquefy if a drink is set on it and it is not waxed properly.

What is the best brand of paint for wood furniture?

My favorite furniture paint is Sherwin Williams ProClassic.  It’s a high-performance latex that provides a sprayed-on finish with a roller and self-levels really well.  I’ve also been impressed with its coverage and durability as I mentioned in my post on furniture paint reviews.  They also have hundreds, if not thousands, of colors to choose from which is another advantage of using latex paint compared to chalk paint.

Should I use a brush or roller to paint furniture?

I get this question quite a bit and my answer is BOTH!  For the vast majority of your paintable surface, I recommend using a roller.  Not all roller are created equal as some don’t provide a very smooth finish.  The best paint roller for furniture is the Behr 6″ Best Roller with 3/8″ nap. 

alternative to chalk paint

For more detailed aspects of your furniture piece such as the edges of drawers, feet, and molding, use a brush.  I like this set of brushes because they are inexpensive while providing a smooth finish and I don’t have to worry about loose bristles getting into my paint finish.

What is the best type of paint for outdoor wood furniture?

Every type of latex paint has an exterior counterpart.  Sherwin Williams also has a new house and fence paint that is extremely durable.  If you use a glaze on outdoor furniture, I would go over it with an outdoor clear coat like this one to ensure the elements don’t wash or damage the finish.

My Best Tips for Spray Painting Hardware

For my favorite tips and tricks on getting  a flawless finish every time with spray paint, click here for your free checklist:  Best Tips & Tricks for Spray Painting Anything

Painting Wood Furniture: Ideas and Tips

Now you have a furniture piece that has the farmhouse look of chalk paint without the extra hassle and expense, not to mention it will have a durable finish for years to come!  For more inspiration, be sure to look at this gallery of painted furniture or check out the rest of my furniture flips.

alternative to chalk paint

☑️ My All-Time Best Furniture Painting Tips & Tricks (FREE PRINTABLE)

Don’t forget to download the FREE step-by-step printable checklist that shows you the exact process I’ve used on dozens of furniture pieces while saving you time and money!


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Related Posts on Furniture Painting


Final Thoughts Chalk Paint vs. Regular Paint

There’s a reason that latex paint has been around for so long.  It has consistently provided a durable finish with unlimited color options.  With the technique I outline above, you can have the same look of chalk paint without the expense and hassle of waxing.  Now, it’s time for the only hard part – picking out the right paint color!

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Refinish furniture with less cost, time and hassle while achieving a more durable finish with my better alternative to chalk paint. I'll even show you how to get the aged look of dark wax without the extra time involved.. #alternativetochalkpaint #chalkpaint #waxfurniture #agedlook #renovatedfaith www.renovatedfaith.com


Refinish furniture with less cost, time and hassle while achieving a more durable finish with my better alternative to chalk paint. I'll even show you how to get the aged look of dark wax without the extra time involved.. #alternativetochalkpaint #chalkpaint #waxfurniture #agedlook #renovatedfaith www.renovatedfaith.com





best latex paint for furniture

What are your thoughts?   If you have any questions about your furniture projects, I’d love to answer them in the comment section below!



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A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint – Painting Technique


  1. You stated that you have provided a cost comparison on using “your process” versus using chalk paint but it’s no where to be found in your article….

    1. What finish of paint do you use for this when using latex paint instead of chalk paint? I may have missed it in the article, but didn’t see it noted anywhere.

  2. This is so great! I feel all I can find about painting my cabinets is chalk paint this and chalk paint that, but I’ve never loved the idea of using chalk paint. I will definitely be taking a deeper look at this alternative when I’m ready to start project.

  3. I may be missing something – but your pieces don’t look chalky – they look matte, but beautifully new and smooth. I like the ideas of ease and durability that you describe, but I am also looking for that old, almost dusty look that chalk paint is supposed to provide. Is there a way to make the latex paint look like that?

      1. Hi Karen, after reading your blog, I did use latex paint (DULUX) on furniture. But can I apply clear and dark wax (annie solan ) over it. As I want a darker look. And here in India I am unable to find the solution you gave. Please guide

  4. I have an unfinished pine corner china hutch I want to paint white, but thinking of first staining the edges a dark gray brown then randomly sanding through the paint to reveal the dark stain. I painted my kitchen cabinets with Benjamin Moore Advance and LOVED the results and durability. It’s so tough though that I don’t think I’d be able to sand through it though. It’s also really pricey (around $100 a gallon and I don’t think it’s available in quarts) and it’s not a quality piece. (Corner cabinets are SO hard to find so I am resigned to settle for this!) I used the Benjamin Moore Advance PRIMER under the topcoat for my cabinets and when sanded it has that buttery smooth feel and low sheen similar to the look and feel of chalk paint. I actually used it over top of stain to achieve the same effect on a smaller craft project (a turned wood candle pillar), then applied a topcoat of satin polyurethane. I have plenty of the primer left from painting my cabinets and I’m tempted to use the same process for the china hutch. Do you think the polyeurathane topcoat alone (two coats for sure!) would be enough to protect it? Pine is a very soft wood, but I’m not as concerned about it as I would be as say a table or desk.

  5. Thank you for these tips. I am considering painting my bedroom furniture gray.
    Do you have a recommendation on a light, medium or dark gray?
    It has a ocean type of theme if that helps. Walls are a blue gray (more blue than gray)

  6. Hi Karin
    For the laytex paint isn’t there water and oil based? If so do I ask for oil based or water based laytex?

    1. Hey Lisa, This is a great question. Latex is usually water-based and most will know it as such. There’s no oil-based latex paints but Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore sell hybrid products that are water-based but have the good characteristics of oil-based paints. If you want one of these, you can ask for the “hybrid” product but plain latex is always water-based. Let me know if you have any other questions! – Blessings, Karin

      1. Thank you. I’m trying your steps. I have sanded then cleaned and have put a coat of the primer you suggested. I bought behr marquee so question is do I need more than one coat of primer and two do I need to sand again after I primed or can I just paint?

        1. Hey Lisa, I think one coat of primer is good. You can sand again after the primer has dried for a really smooth finish but you certainly don’t have to! Please let me know if you have any other questions Lisa! – Blessings, Karin

  7. Hello, I looked through some posts and comments, but may have missed it. Could you comment on or direct me to a link on distressing wood projects with this method. Just wondering how it works compared to chalk paint also. Thanks!

  8. Hi Karen,

    Love your projects, and they way they turned out. I really could use your advise. I have an antique dinning room set that I would like to update. I too am a big fan of Behr paint, and use it on all of my projects. I never used chalk paint before. My question to you is when you use the Behr paint, do you use the chalk paint recipe or do you use it straight out of the can so to speak. Would love to get your input on my next project, please

  9. Have you tried using Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel yet for furniture projects?
    It’s a hybrid product similar to their Proclassic Acrylic-Alkyd, but can be tinted to the darker colors that the Proclassic lines can’t. I love the Satin and Semi-Gloss finish and have used it on a lot more surfaces including Terra cotta pots!

  10. With this method, how would you get the glazed, or antique looking finish? I’m referring to the crevices being a darker color to give depth. Would you rub on an oil-based stain then rub it off, or is there a better way to do it?

    1. Hey Debra, Great question! This same technique will work to provide a more antiqued look but this piece of furniture doesn’t have any crevices. For a piece with lots of detail, I think it would work really well. You might want to go over the more detailed part with the glaze a second time if you want it darker. Hope this helps! – Blessings,

  11. Thank you for this post. I’ve always liked the idea of chalk paint but not waxing and re-waxing annually …

    The top coat you recommended here says not to use this on white or light colors due to yellowing. I’m planning to paint a small buffet white, what have you used and recommend for white/light colors?

  12. Hi Karen,

    I have a bar piece that has flowers carved into the front. Similar to your Blue Tall Boy Dresser. How do you handle the sanding on those details? Do you sand by hand or recommend a tool for that?

    Thank you!

    1. Hey DeeDee, You can use a mouse sander or sand by hand. If you use a mouse sander just go over it lightly. They don’t sand enough deeply enough to remove the details. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  13. Hi, Karin. I’m almost ready to try your method for painting the top of my maple dining room table. I understand your directions for sanding, wiping down, priming, painting with latex. After that, I’m not clear. If I roll or brush the latex on, do I need to then dilute the latex with glaze and wipe with a baby wipe? Or, is that only for dark colors? I’m using a cream colored latex on the tabletop & want it to look like chalk paint, but I’m not sure how to get that look.. or, is the latex enough on its own & do I just put the top coat on next? Thank you very much.

    1. Hey Darlene, Great questions! Do you want it to look like it has been chalk painted and then dark waxed? That’s kind of an aged look. If you want the aged/dark wax look, you mix up the glaze with the dark brown latex paint and brush it on. Then immediately wipe it off with baby wipes along the grain of the wood. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂 – Karin

  14. I just followed your directions & used the same products you suggested on a hutch. Turned out really nice, except if the paint gets nicked, it will just peel right off, I could even scrape it off with my fingernail! Any suggestions?

  15. I have a dresser that is white that has been splatter painted with the primary colors that I want to redo. I was thinking of stripping it first as I am not sure if lead paint was used. Should I sand it after I strip it? If so, what grit of sand paper should I use? This is my first DIY. Thanks for your help 🙂

  16. Hello!

    I have an old table (vintage at least) that needs some love. Thrift 30 years ago…anyway, I’d like to paint the top black and leave the legs their current color, medium oak. What’s the best method for this?

  17. Hi, I am late to this party but I was wondering why no one has mentioned using a paint/primer combo, eliminating the need to buy two cans of anything? This is my usual method for anything I’ll paint and uber common for latexes (almost the new normal I’d bet). I’m about to paint my first piece of furniture and want it to be perfect and durable and chalk paint is not appealing to me since I don’t like distressed furniture and it’s really pricey. I want an enameled, semi-flat (satin is pretty perfect) modern look for this piece and it will be a dark color. Any tips towards that would be appreciated. I don’t plan on making this a hobby and want to spend the least amount to get the results I want.

    1. Misty, great question! Yes, you are exactly right that most latexes say “paint and primer in one” but my understanding is the “primer” that is added is usually chemically similar to the actual paint. Why they do this – I don’t know. One way to save money on paint is to use a primer as the Zinsswer Bullseye primer is cheaper than paint. You can get a quart and a lot of times I will just buy a sample container or two of paint if the furniture piece is not very large. You can ask at the counter about the price comparison. What color are you thinking?

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