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How to Paint Over Chalk Painted Furniture That Has Been Waxed

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In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to paint over chalk-painted furniture that has been waxed, so you get new gorgeous and durable paint finish!


Can you repaint chalk paint after waxing? Yes, you can! There is a little prep work involved in removing the wax sealant, but this post will help you avoid the mistakes most people make.

When painting over chalk-painted furniture, the chalk paint isn’t the problem.  The waxed surface prevents a new coat of paint from sticking to the chalk or milk paint.  But no worries! 

The good news is I’m going to show you an easy way to remove that wax build-up so you can apply an updated paint finish to give your furniture piece new life.

This process will not only help you repaint your chalk-painted furniture piece, but I’ll give the best paint options for chalk-painted pieces so you can get the absolute best results and have a beautiful smooth finish that will last you a long time. 

RELATED: Easy DIY Scroll Wall Decor

Whether this is your first time painting or you’re an old pro, I’ll show you the quickest way to remove the wax and apply a brand-new finish.

What if my chalk-painted furniture piece does not have wax?

If you are sure that your furniture piece does not have a wax layer, you can easily paint over it with latex paint, spray paint or chalk paint.  Just follow this tutorial here:  The Ultimate Guide to DIY Furniture Refinishing

In preparing for this tutorial, I actually painted my stained console table with Annie sloan chalk paint and applied clear wax with a wax brush.  Since I couldn’t truly verify that the chalk painted pieces I saw in thrift stores were waxed with Annie Sloan clear wax, I decided to chalk paint and wax a piece myself.

After painting dozens of furniture pieces, this is the first time I have even redone a furniture piece solely for the purpose of refinishing it again!

Painting Over Chalk Paint – Process Overview

  1. Remove the Wax with Mineral Spirits
  2. Clean the Surface
  3. Lightly Sand (This won’t take more than 5 minutes!)
  4. Apply a Primer
  5. Apply a High-Quality Paint

Yes, this process is a little more involved than painting latex-painted furniture pieces BUT, I promise you it’s easy! This is the fastest way to remove the wax without skimping on the durability of the final finish.  I’ve got your back, so let’s get started!

How Do You Know If There Is Wax On Your Chalk Painted Furniture?

Because chalk paint provides such a poor protective finish, the vast majority of chalk- and milk-painted furniture pieces will have a layer of clear or dark wax. Dark wax is easier to spot because the piece will have an antiqued look, and you will see dark wax collected in grooves, inside corners, and other small sections.

Spotting clear wax is a little harder.  That’s why if I piece has been chalk painted, I just go ahead and assume it has furniture wax on it.  You can try to scrape the surface and see if some clear wax comes off on your fingernail but it’s best to just assume it has wax to be on the same side.

What Happens If You Don’t Remove The Wax From Chalk Painted Furniture?

Unlike conventional clear coats, even a small amount of wax acts as a barrier that NOTHING can adhere to. So that’s why we have to remove the wax and can’t just go over with with a bonding primer or paint.

So let’s get started!

How to Paint Over Chalk-Painted Furniture That Has Been Waxed – Supplies:

For the items with an asterick, click here to see my favorite DIY products and where to buy them.

Scotch Brite Sponges – The brand I got are non-scratching but you can also get the yellow and dark green ones.

Mineral Spirits – I much prefer Odorless Mineral Spirits by Klean Strip*

Latex Gloves

Krud Kutter Prepaint Cleaner *

Primer – I used Cover Stain Bullseye 123 for this and had it hinted in a dark gray to give me better coverage than white primer.

Paint – My favorite paint is Benjamin Moore Advance but if you have a small piece, you can get one of the Sherwin Williams sample containers at Lowe’s.

Electric Sander or Sanding Block *My Favorite Sander for Furniture

Sanding Pads *

Drop Cloth

Free Must-Have Furniture Painting Tips (Click Here to for this FREE Printable!)

How to Paint Over Chalk Painted Furniture That Has Been Waxed

Step 1 – How to Remove Wax from Chalk-Painted Furniture:

Mineral spirits are a sure-fire way to remove soft wax from furniture.  As someone who never strips furniture, I don’t use a lot of furniture strippers, but I do like the Odorless Mineral Spirit from Klean Strip because there have less fumes. 

First things first –  be sure to apply this product in a well-ventilated area and use latex gloves.

Add mineral spirits to your Scotch Brite sponge and work on a small area at a time, scrubbing in circles.  This step takes a little elbow grease, but it’s the most effective way to remove all the wax.  Scrub in circles over the entire piece. 

If your piece has dark wax, it will be more obvious that the excess wax has been removed.

How Do I Know If I’ve Removed All The Wax From My Furniture Piece?

To ensure you’ve removed all the way, simply scratch the surface with your finger nail.  If clear wax is under your fingernail, go over it again with the Scotch Brite scrubber and mineral spirits as you did before. 

This shouldn’t happen because mineral spirits usually melts the wax surface well. Also, your furniture piece will have a more matte finish after the wax has been removed. Clear wax on the surface of a furniture piece has a slight sheen to it.

Step 2 – Clean Your Chalk Painted Furniture Piece Before Painting

Because there might still be some residual clear wax, wet a rag with Krud Kutter Prep-Paint Cleaner and go over the entire surface.  This is a great cleaner because it removes grease and dirt from wood furniture quickly and easily, all in one step.

Wipe off any residual cleaner with a rag dipped in warm water. You can see that a little bit of the paint is coming off and that’s fine.

Step 3 – Sand Your Chalk Painted Furniture Piece:

It is possible to paint furniture without sanding, but since our furniture piece had a slick wax surface, we want to continue our furniture prep by sanding it to scuff up the surface.

RELATED: How to Paint a Table Without Sanding (Coming Soon)

Remember, we are not sanding to remove the chalk paint. We are just roughing it up a little so the new paint sticks.  This is especially important with glossy paint surfaces.

Chalk paint is notorious for leaving brush strokes, so sanding levels out the brush marks with one simple pass, giving you a smooth finish and better overall results. 

RELATEDWhy I Don’t Use Chalk Paint On Furniture | A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint and Wax

If you have a power sander, go over the entire surface with a 220 sanding pad and then wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.  The good thing about sanding is that it doesn’t have to take long – How to Sand Furniture in 5 Minutes

Wipe off any sanding dust with a lint-free cloth.

Step 4 – Prime Your Piece of Furniture:

The next step is to brush or roll on a coat of primer.

Even if your furniture piece doesn’t have an application of wax, it’s always a good idea to use a primer.  This makes the new paint job stick to the surface so much better.

I like to use my roller on flat surfaces and then brush the primer into small areas that are hard to reach with the roller. For a small furniture piece like this one, I just opted to use a brush on the whole thing.

You will need one coat of primer.  This seems like an added step, but primer replaces one of our coats of paint. So it doesn’t take any extra time and you can argue that it’s cheaper since primer is less expensive than paint.

Be sure to check for any drips right after you finish priming.

PRO TIP: Since I’m painting my console table black, I had my primer tinted a dark gray in the store to give me better coverage when it was time to paint!

Step 5 – How to Paint Over Chalk Paint That Has Been Waxed:

Wondering what paint to use over chalk paint?  I blind-tested over 24 brands of different types of paint to find the best option for painting furniture, including chalk paints, mineral paints, latex paints, and professional products to find that Benjamin Moore Advance was the best option:  Results for The Best Paint for Furniture.

The type of paint product you pick makes all the difference in the final result, and better paint has better coverage, which means fewer coats of paint overall, no matter the color.

Use your roller or brush to paint the first coat in the direction of the grain. Don’t try to get full coverage for this first coat—we are just trying to get an initial thin layer of paint on the finish. 

For Benjamin Moore Advance, the recoat time is 16 hours so I usually just let the first coat dry overnight before adding the second coat.

The top of my console table was painted in a faux stain I created, and you can see the full tutorial here: Easy Faux Pottery Barn Seadrift Finish on Furniture.

Step 6 – Adding a Clear Coat to Your Furniture Piece (Optional)

The final step is to use a clear coat. If you use good-quality paint or your piece doesn’t get a lot of use, you don’t need a top coat.

If you repaint your piece with chalk paint, you will need a top coat, but don’t use any wax finishes! Also, if your furniture piece gets a lot of daily use, like a kitchen table or coffee table, I like to add a top coat for extra protection.

After testing clear coats, I like to use Varathane Water-based Polyurethane as it goes on super smooth, doesn’t streak, and never yellows over time.

RELATED:  The Best Clear Coats for Furniture

Wipe down your furniture piece with a lint-free cloth and use a foam brush to apply the first coat of clear coat in long strokes in the direction of the grain. Don’t pick up the foam brush from one end to the other of the surface for the best results. 

I like to do 2 or 3 clear coat layers with a 30 minute dry time in between.  The manufacturer’s instructions say to sand between the first and second coat, but don’t do it because you risk scratching the paint finish.

Renovate Your Faith: How to Be Still And Know That He Is God

Soon after hanging the sign, I walked through the entryway into our dining room with dozens of anxious thoughts swirling through my head, all concerning my daughter’s dyslexia and the horrible school year we’ve had.  It was right then that my daughter noticed the sign for the first time and read aloud “Be Still and Know that I am God”. 

My intention was to sit in the dining room with the sun streaming through the windows to work on the outline for this very post.  But her sweet voice reminded me that what I needed most was to bask in the message of the words on the sign itself.

Read the rest of this devotional by clicking here. 

Related Posts on Painting Chalk-Painted Furniture

How To Make Scroll Wall Decor (No Cricut Required!)

How to Get the Look of Dark Wax With Paint and Glaze

The Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

A Great Way to Build a Coffee Table (Beginner Guide)

Easy Turned Leg Dining Table Tutorial

How to Refinish Furniture with Gel Stain

The Best Top Coats for High-Use Pieces of Furniture

How to Get a Distressed Look with Paint (COMING SOON)

Why I Don’t Recommend Chalk Painting Furniture

FAQs – How to Paint Over Chalk Painted Furniture That Has Been Waxed Before

Can I Paint Over a Waxed Piece of Furniture?

Furniture wax must be removed before a piece can be repainted since it prevents the new paint from adhering to its surface.  The easiest tried-and-true method for removing chalk paint wax is by applying a scotch brite scrubber soaked in Odorless Mineral Spirits.  Wear gloves and work in a circular motion over the whole furniture piece’s surface.  Then, use Krud Kutter Pre-Paint Cleaner to remove furniture wax residue and dirt.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Chalk Paint?

You can paint over chalk paint with chalk paint as long as no wax has been applied. Before applying any paint, the wax must be removed by scrubbing with a Scotch Brite scrubber and odorless mineral spirits in a circular motion.

Plenty of paints are better choices than chalk paint. But if you want to add chalk paint again, I suggest you use Varathane’s water-based polyurethane instead of wax to get a much more protective finish that can easily be painted over in the future.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint Without Sanding?

You can paint over chalk paint without sanding, but you have to make sure you remove every little bit of wax before you do.  I like to sand to ensure the finish is scuffed up and ready to accept paint.  But if you don’t want to sand, use Krud Kutter’s Gloss Off instead of your sanding step.

Will Zinsser Paint Over Wax?

Traditional primers like Zinsser Bullseye or Cover Stain will not adhere to wax.  That’s kind of unbelievable because they adhere well to anything else, including laminate.  You have to remove the chalk paint wax layer with a Scotch Brite sponge and mineral spirits first before applying your primer.  Just work in circular motions over the whole, please, and follow with Krud Kutter Pre-Paint to remove any wax residue and to thoroughly clean the piece!

Final Thoughts on Refinishing Chalk Painted Furniture

Refinishing a chalk-painted furniture piece does require a little more prep work, but it is worthwhile, and this easy tutorial will help you avoid common mistakes. If you don’t deal with the wax, there is a good chance that your new paint finish will peel off soon after it dries.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to deal with the wax and several great paint products to refinish your piece.

Good luck, and be sure to ask me any questions below in the comment section. I’ll get back to you soon!

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much. I have been trying to find an answer to the wax problem for so long. Finally a solution. I have been following you for years now and can’t thank you enough for all of your tips & tricks to refinishing furniture and the best paint products. You are priceless.