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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


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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!


Did you like this post? Be sure to share it with others. As always feel free to download my complimentary Scripture printables HERE.  You have dozens of verses to choose from.  Have a wonderful week!


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. My favorite part of this post is the scriptures. Thank you for giving the Glory to God for He deserves it all.
    Bless you and your work. Mariea

  2. Hi, what color matches with the name brand paints have you found are the closest to ASCP “Old White”?

  3. I thought I’d give you another inexpensive tool for your tool box, as far as clear coats is concerned.
    Pick up some of the paint base for the darkest colors. Black, navy, whatever. With BM it’s a 4 or 5, which I prefer. (SW dries a little milky. )

    Anyway, get Exterior, Latex, Flat, dark paint base. It has all of the UV protection and waterproofing elements of latex paint, without any pigment. It goes on a shocking white, but dries so invisibly you cannot prove it’s even on the piece. Unless you put water on it and it beads up!

    It’s excellent for raw wood looks, or even chippy finishes that need sealing, but you don’t want to have any shine or discoloration polys give. It’s so flat I’ve had paint store people tell me it wasn’t there — when they tested it on the paint stick. (No one believes me.)

    For a chippy finish, it dries so well, you can’t tell they’re sealed. You cannot pick the chips off with your fingernails, yet there’s no gummy look like polys leave.

    This is SO much less expensive than beautiful General Finishes products. It’s also readily available. I’d test the other brands, but I do love the BM results.

    I hope this gives you another option for less money. It did me!

  4. Hi Karin,
    Just wondering about your paint suggestions. Why use the Zinsser Primer under the Marquee or Valsper products that are one coat paint + primer?

  5. Hi Karin! What is your suggestion for a nice Sherwin Williams gray, on the lighter side but not too light, I’d like some depth?
    This is for a dresser and nightstands.
    Thank you!

  6. In August 2019 you told Janis to use the latex sheen she liked (matte or satin) for the painted furniture surface. However if you are using a Varathane satin topcoat won’t it supercede the latex sheen that was applied to the furniture?
    My thought is if you used a matte latex paint, the final sheen of the furniture becomes the sheen of the topcoat, eg matte, satin, or gloss. Do you agree?

  7. Hello,
    Question – how I achieve a black mist look on top of the gray paint that I used. I am trying to get the dresser I’m painting to match my daughters crib, which is “antique gray mist”. It almost looks like there are drips of black paint on it. Definitely doesn’t appear that it was painted on with a brush.

  8. Can you still distress latex painted furniture? I want to paint an oak electric fireplace to give it a French country look. Would you do a sealant over this project if there won’t be much handling of the furniture after it’s done? Also, it has lots of intricate details in the carving-would you attempt a spray primer and spray paint for this project or use a brush? I don’t love the look of brush strokes that I have seen when I have chalk painted other furniture.

    1. Anything that is not too large and that is very detailed is a good candidate for spray paint. I wouldn’t worry about a sealant if you spray paint it. Thanks Susan!

  9. Just found your web site today. I have a beat up chest that I have just decided how I want to finish it. There’s an open cubby that I want antiqued turquoise blue, the outside an antiqued cream and the top a dark wood stain. Your instructions are perfect for the painted wood, but what would you recommend for the stain? I know I have a lot of sanding to do because someone attempted badly a painted finish.

      1. Have you used Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel? I’ve started using it instead of the Pro Classic. I love it. trim, doors, furniture.

  10. I love this post. But I have a different problem. I have some Annie Sloan chalk paint already. Bought it a few years ago. Surprisingly, it is still usable. Did plastic Easter eggs with my grands this weekend. I don’t like painted furniture. I love the natural look of wood. But I paid a nice chunk of change for this paint and the wax an am wondering if you have some small project ideas so I can use it up. My eggs came out great but I only need so many eggs. Any ideas for non furniture, non mirror, non lamp uses? If the projects are kid friendly so much the better. My grands love to do projects with me.

    Thanks so much

  11. You should try heirloom traditions paint, it’s amazing! It has a top coat in it! It’s durable for indoor or outdoor and practically any surface! I painted my kitchen island and a coffee cart a few months ago and am now working on my kitchen cabinets. I love diy stuff! Check them out on Facebook, you can even get a free sample, you just pay shipping.

  12. Hi Karin. Great article with so much inspiration. I myself feel the same way about chalk paint! So I was excited to see that you have had success with latex paint. I have one question though. Is it possible to just buy a paint with primer already in it? Will it work as good?


    1. Hi Amber! Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’d say it depends a lot on the type of latex paint you use. Some that claim to have a primer included don’t seem that different to me that just latex paint. I’ve had better luck with painting on the primer separately even though it is an extra step! Thank you and have a great day.

  13. Does this only work for solid wood? I have a bookcase that is made of “wood, MDF and veneer”. Will this process work? Also, I want to distress it a bit and have the original wood stain look show through. Is it possible to do that with this process?

  14. Hi! Was wondering what color SW paint you used? I’m searching up and down the blog and can’t find it. Thanks so much! 😍

  15. Hi! I’ve already painted some pieces with chalk paint before reading this post. Can I use the alternative to waxing over the chalk paint?

  16. Complete novice here. I have a set of highly polished table, chairs and china cabinet I want to repaint and have a matte look, but super smooth finish, at the end. Can i sand, prime and paint and then just put a clear sealer on top? Is there any other step I need to do? Also, it would be very helpful if you had a list of all the materials needed together in one spot instead of posting links to them 🙂 Thanks a ton, so excited to have found this site!!

  17. I found you by searching for ways to make chalk painted furniture more durable. I noticed scratches on a coat rack that I haven’t even hung yet! Can I just paint over the chalk paint with latex? Should I prime over the chalk paint first? I had not applied any wax but had mixed a matte finish varnish with the top coat of chalk. It scuffs sooo easily. Thanks!!

    1. Great question Taylor. I would use Sherwin Williams ProClassic as my first choice or Behr Marquee as my second. I will be paining my kitchen cabinets in the Spring so expect a FULL tutorial then. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

      1. Hello! I can’t figure out how to comment on my own so I had to hijack this one lol, if I am painting in gray tones, should I still use a beige sample to mix with my glaze for the final step?

        1. Great question! It all depends on the final look you are going for. If you want a more gray antiqued look, then go with a charcoal gray wash in the final step. You can always play around with what looks best on a board before you apply the final step to your piece. Let me know if you have any other questions Leslie!

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