Why I Stopped Painting with Chalk Paint on Furniture Projects
Wondering if chalk paint is worth the cost? Here I explain what chalk paint is and show you a cheaper, easier, and more durable alternative!
Chalk paint has been all the rage the last several years, but is it worth all the hype?
Every day I get emails from readers wondering how to fix issues with their latest furniture projects. Most of the time, they ask how to cover or remove chalk paint on wood furniture.
If this occurs and your furniture project is a roadside rescue, you’ve wasted time and some elbow grease. But when the furniture piece is an expensive antique or, even worse, a sentimental family heirloom, that’s another issue entirely!
Don’t risk ruining a valuable furniture piece when an easier and more reliable alternative is readily available at a fraction of the cost.
Many argue chalk paint has fantastic coverage without the hassle of sanding and priming. With these claims, who wouldn’t want to try chalk paint? I certainly did.
When I was Painting Furniture With Chalk Paint…
My emotional outlet was redoing decor in our home. I started refinished old furniture but was discouraged by chalk paint because of the dent it was making in our already-stretched budget. At the time, I shied away from latex paint because I wasn’t sure about the process.
However, it didn’t take much experimenting to find a process that yields a better result with less effort and cost for painting furniture.
☑️ A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint:
Below I discuss the reasons I stopped using chalky paint on furniture. If you want to skip over to some alternative processes, click below:
(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).
Quick Links to Information in this Post
- 1 Why I Stopped Painting with Chalk Paint on Furniture Projects
- 2 A Case Study: Using Chalk Paint on Furniture
- 3 Why I Stopped Using Chalk Paint on Furniture: 7 Claims Debunked
- 4 Cost Comparison: Furniture Painted with Chalk Paint Vs. My Process
- 5 My BEST Tips for Painting Furniture – Free Checklist!
- 6 FAQ’s – Chalk Paint vs Latex for Furniture
- 7 Related Posts: Why I Stopped Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint
- 8 Why I Stopped Using Chalk Paint For Furniture: Final Thoughts & A Disclaimer:
- 9 Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture: Why Use Chalk Paint Vs. Regular Paint (Latex)
What is Chalk Paint? (Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint)
Before we compare chalk paint and other options, it’s important to understand what chalk paint really is. There are many different chalk paints on the market with different formulations, but what they all have in common is a matte finish and thick, chalky consistency that adheres well to furniture and crafts.
What Is Chalk Paint Made Of?
Chalk paint varies from brand to brand. But most chalk based paint is water-based. Chalky paint is made out of a binder that helps it adhere to the surface and then an aggregate that gives it the gritty, sometimes powdery texture. When painting with homemade chalk paint, plaster of paris, baking soda, or unsanded grout is often used as the aggregate. It of course has coloring that gives it the specific shade and usually pretty low on VOCs.
What is Chalk Paint Used For?
Chalk painting furniture has been one of the most popular ways to paint furniture projects and crafts. It helps you to achieve a farmhouse style with painted furniture and shabby chic home decor. However, although something is popular doesn’t mean that other alternatives can’t work as well or better at a much smaller price-point.
What Is The Difference Between Chalk Paint and Regular Paint?
Chalk paint adheres well to surfaces if there is no possibility of a stain bleeding through, if the surface does not have a sheen and if you plan on using a protectant coat on top of the chalk paint. The grit or chalkiness is what helps it adhere to surfaces like raw wood. Unfortunately, although it adheres well, it does not protect well or provide a smooth, flawless finish on your family heirloom.
A Case Study: Using Chalk Paint on Furniture
In March, a reader named Whitney shared her experience with me on Instagram. Here is her comment:
“Thanks to your tutorials and tips I finally completed a dresser that I had been trying to paint, but it [the stain] kept bleeding through. On the third try with the oil-based blocker primer and latex you recommended, I finally had success!
The first attempt was chalk paint and sealer = FAIL
The second attempt was primer, chalk paint, and sealer = FAIL
The third attempt was an oil-based primer, latex paint and that worked BEAUTIFULLY!”
I certainly feel Whitney’s pain, as I’ve been there! My alternative process to chalk paint does include a primer. (Now that I have said the “p word” please stick with me for just a second so I can explain why this process saves you time!)
But when you use this simple step and a couple of other time-saving tips, you will see how this process will bypass the extra time and effort that Whitney had to invest. (Also, my process does not require a sealant step like wax!)
The only way to know for sure if you need a primer is to see how the piece turns out.
But if you go through the process of using chalk paint on furniture and realize you needed a primer after it’s painted, it’s too late at that point! You now have to strip the furniture piece or sand and repeat the process. It’s so much easier to use a sure-proof process the first time, every time. Ask me how I know!
Why I Stopped Using Chalk Paint on Furniture: 7 Claims Debunked
“Chalk Paint Does Not Require Sanding”
Many have asked me about the best paint for furniture without sanding. However, the reason you should sand a piece of furniture is so you can create enough grit or tooth on the surface for the paint to stick. When chalk painting furniture, you can sometimes get around sanding, because chalk paint is more porous allowing it to have some glue-like properties.
However, I have yet to find an old piece of furniture that did not require at least some sanding because of nicks, scratches, or general wear and tear. (SEE MY OTHER FURNITURE FLIPS HERE) Unless your piece is in pristine condition, there are bound to be areas you want to sand down so it can look its best in your home!
Can You Paint Furniture Without Sanding?
When most people visualize sanding, they see themselves slaving over a piece for hours with a small piece of sandpaper. That doesn’t seem the least bit appealing to me either, which is why I use an electric mouse sander.
When sanding furniture, the goal is not to sand off the old finish. You are simply going over the surface lightly to give it some roughness so the paint adheres.
With an electric sander, sanding consists of flipping a switch and running the sander over the surface of the piece. (Click here for how to sand furniture in less than 5 minutes).
Do You Have To Sand Before Using Chalk Paint?
If you are using chalk paint on wood furniture that is stained, I would sand to make the surface more porous so the paint adheres. You can get away with using chalk paint without sanding on raw wood, but even then, there will probably be splintered edges you’ll want to sand out beforehand.
When it comes to using chalk paint for wood furniture, most furniture pieces have to be sanded, regardless. If you want to get an electric sander a try, here are some budget-friendly options: Best Electric Sanders for Furniture.
“Chalk Paint Does Not Require Priming”
As I mentioned in my post, The Best Paint for Furniture, there is a learning curve to waxing and it can be very time-consuming. When using chalk paint, the time you aren’t spending on sanding and priming will be spent on waxing your piece. Also, wax takes a full month to cure before a piece is protected enough to use or sell.
Even when chalk painting furniture, there are times when you have to use a primer because many dark stains will bleed through chalk paint.
Also, a primer is helpful to provide coverage. For example, if you were to paint white chalk paint on black furniture, it will take several coats to cover, but a primer will minimize the number of coats including your time, energy, and the extra cost of chalk paint.
Should Chalk Paint Be Sealed?
When using chalk paint, you always have to use a wax or protective finish to protect the surface.
Every painted furniture piece needs to be covered in a substance that will stick to the surface and also protect the piece long-term. No one product does both things really well – at least none that are cost-effective. Chalk paint sometimes has the adhesion properties but not the protection you want. Latex paint has the protection, but not the adhesion.
What Happens If You Don’t Wax Chalk Paint?
Do you know what happens to an unwaxed piece of furniture that has a cold drink left on it? The chalk paint actually re-liquifies. That’s right. You can imagine having family over and your sister puts her cold glass of sweet tea right on the entry table you refinished last year. When you clean up that night, there is now a round soggy stain on your beautiful furniture piece.
In terms of maintenance, chalk painted furniture has to be re-waxed every 3 years, and more often if it is a high-use furniture piece. Once a piece is painted with latex paint, it will never need ongoing maintenance – just an occasional wipe with a damp cloth.
Also, sometimes when you chalk paint furniture, dark stains will pull through the chalk paint and show in the final finish, like in Whitney’s case. But using an oil-based primer will prevent this from happening while also helping the paint to adhere.
My favorite water-based primer is Zinnser Bullseye 123 (click here for the current price) and my favorite oil-based primer is Zinnser Cover Stain (click here for the current price). Here are some tips that might help: 7 Tips For Paint Furniture In Dark Colors
The Cost of Chalk Paint: “Chalk Paint is Expensive But You Only Use A Little”
Most chalk painters use two coats on a piece, especially if it is a darker color. My process below entails one coat of tinted primer and one coat of paint as the tinting helps to provide better coverage.
Although you have to sand with this process, you are not having to go through the time-consuming process of waxing your piece. And remember, you are not sanding off the old finish. You are simply spending a couple of minutes roughing up the old paint or stain. Good latex paint will not need a wax or topcoat because it will have its own protective finish for years to come.
Recently a reader asked me where to buy chalk paint and I could only think of specialty stores, which makes using latex more convenient. There is always a big box store close-by that sells good latex paint.
Some hardware stores sell Rustoleum chalk paint but as with homemade chalk paint, the more calcium carbonate or other additives in paint, the more it degrades the product. Higher-end latex paints are known to be the ones with fewer of these additives, which makes them less durable in the long-term.
As far as the best latex paint for furniture, I prefer Sherwin Williams ProClassic (Acrylic Alkyd) as my first choice and Behr Marquee as a close second. See my post here to see my better alternative process to chalk painting furniture using latex paint.
Also, I recently came to realize that chalk paint brushes can provide really good coverage. And I wonder if that contributes to people feeling it’s the paint that covers so well. I can get really good coverage and no brush strokes with these brushes: Zibra Brushes (Click here for the current price)
“Chalk Paint Dries Faster”
Another reason why I don’t use chalk paint is that while it driers faster it takes longer to cure. You actually want the opposite – a longer dry time and a short cure time.
Your dry time is the time it takes a piece of furniture before you can touch it with light use, but the cure time is when your furniture paint has reached its maximum durability and hardness. It’s worth it for your paint to take an hour or two longer to dry so that the brush strokes settle out. For chalk paint, the cure time is a month or longer, but for Behr latex, it is only 2 weeks.
Renovated Faith: What’s in a Name?
God never leaves a project half-done…He continually works on each one of us, as a lavish expression of His amazing love and grace. So many of my DIY projects remind me of how God renovates our hearts. If you are a work-in-progress, just like I am, check out these DIY tutorials that have a Renovate Your Faith Devotional at the bottom of each. Click here to get a weekly reminder of new posts by email.
“Chalk Paint is Easier to Clean Up”
Chalk paint can be removed from clothing and hands with soap and water as it is water-based. But do you really want to use paint on furniture that can be removed with just soap and water? I have found that if I wash latex out of my clothing within about 30 minutes of application, I can still get it out. If it has been longer, I have good luck with THIS on my hands and clothes. Otherwise, that’s what my painting apron is for!
“Chalk Paint Has a Better Finish”
If you want the flat sheen of chalk paint, simply ask for a matte sheen of latex at your paint counter. If you want a protective finish for maximum durability, you can achieve the same matte texture by brushing General Finishes Flat Out Flat (click here for the current price) on with a foam brush.
Just brush it over your piece and throw away the brush when you are done as they are super cheap (click here for foam brushes)! Most of the time I just use latex paint with a satin finish as it is not very glossy at all.
To get a beautiful finish, with very little time, effort or hassle, sign up for my weekly newsletter and get my best tips for painting furniture by filling out the form at the bottom of this post. To read about other wax alternatives, check out the cold glass experiment I did here: Best Clear Coats for Furniture
Should Chalk Paint Be Streaky?
Chalk paint can be streaky if it is not mixed well but so can latex paint. Be sure to stir your paint enough before applying it to a surface. Also, chalk paint is known for showing brush strokes. This can be a good thing if you like more of a rustic look or a bad thing if you want a more professional finish.
Long-Term Durability of Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint: “Is Chalk Paint Durable?”
This is the number one reason why I don’t use chalk paint. I have a friend who researched the best chalk paint for kitchen cabinets and painted them in chalk paint all over the course of a week. After six months, she found herself repainting all of the cabinets in latex because the surface of the wax attracted dirt making her entire kitchen look dingy – and not in a farmhouse shabby chic sort of way.
How Durable is Chalk Paint on Kitchen Cabinets?
Chalk paint is not meant for kitchen cabinets because it is not durable enough. It would need to be waxed which is very time-consuming or a topcoat should be applied. Also, it would take a lot of chalk paint to cover kitchen cabinets so it would be cost-prohibitive.
How Long Does Chalk Paint Last?
Chalk paint will last long-term if the right primer is used and a protective top-coat is applied. If the topcoat is wax, it will need to be rewaxed every 3 years or more depending on how much the piece is used.
How Durable is Chalk Paint on Kitchen Tables or other High-use Furniture?
I wouldn’t recommend chalk paint and wax on kitchen tables. It’s only a matter of time before they get scratched or have problems with water stains. If you do want to use chalk paint on your kitchen table, be sure to use a little extra wax or brush on a great clear coat like this one: Varathane Waterbased Polyurethane
Cost Comparison: Furniture Painted with Chalk Paint Vs. My Process
Regular latex paint is very durable on its own but for pieces of furniture that will have LOTS exposure to water from wiping or constant drink condensation, I recommend using THIS which also gives the furniture piece an amazing matte finish. One quart is enough for dozens of furniture pieces.
How Much Does Chalk Paint Cost?
Here is a break-down of the cost and process for chalk painting furniture and also my process…
Typical Process for Using Chalk Paint for Furniture
COAT 1 – chalk paint
COAT 2 – chalk paint
waxing process (at least 30 minutes)
Cure Time – 4 weeks at least
Cost Breakdown: Chalk Paint Brush($10.00) + Quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ($34.95) + Annie Sloan Wax ($24.95) = $69.95
My Process for Painting a Furniture with my Favorite Furniture Paint
Lightly sand and wipe (5-10 minutes)
COAT 1 – Prime with Tinted Primer
COAT 2 – Latex Paint
Cure Time – 2 weeks at most
Cost Breakdown: Brush($5) + Quart of Primer ($7.54) + Quart of Behr Ultra Premium Latex ($15.98) = $28.52
Even with buying a sander for less than $27.00, my process using regular latex paint above still comes out way ahead of your typical process with chalk paint!
To paint a dresser, it will cost you approximately $73.77 if you use chalk paint but will cost you about $28.52 with my latex process. (By the way, I use THIS sander at Amazon.com and it’s great!)
Here’s my full method with extra tips on refinishing furniture so it lasts for years to come: A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Painting
In most cases, you will not need to buy a new can of primer for each process as one quart will last you for several pieces of furniture. For lighter projects, I keep white on hand. For black or gray projects, I keep tinted gray primer on hand.
Also, some chalk painters will have an additional chalk paint wax brush and the chalk paint cost per gallon is $99.80.
Coat 1 and 2 can take even less time with my process because you can use a roller, whereas you can’t with chalk paint. This roller will give you a flawless finish every time: Best Roller for Furniture
Unlimited Color Options with Regular Latex Furniture Paint:
Did I mention latex paint comes in UNLIMITED color options and you can get $2.50 sample sizes for smaller projects? You can see just a few of the Behr paint colors here. (CHECK OUT MY OTHER FURNITURE FLIPS HERE)
Chalk Paint Colors
What colors does chalk paint come in? Chalk paint comes in multiple different colors and paints can be mixed to try to match specific shades. You can see some of those colors here: Chalk Paint Color Options
How to Get the Look of Dark Wax With Latex Paint
But what about the fun look of dark wax over a chalk painted piece of furniture for an aged look? You can find my detailed process of how to paint furniture here AND I include details on how to get the same look of dark wax.
My BEST Tips for Painting Furniture – Free Checklist!
Get the password for the library with the free furniture painting checklist – everything you need to know to get a smooth, durable finish every time! Fill out the form below!
Want To See More Furniture Reveals?
All of my furniture projects are painted with latex. To see my best furniture reveals click here: 15 Stunning Painted Furniture (Before and After Reveals)
Check out how to do a faux stain with regular latex paint by clicking here. There are six shades to choose from!
FAQ’s – Chalk Paint vs Latex for Furniture
What is the best paint for unfinished furniture?
If you are wondering about the best paint for unfinished furniture, latex paint is your best option hands down! The nice thing about unfinished furniture is that in most cases you can skip the sanding AND priming. With unfinished wood, the pores of the wood will provide a great finish for the latex paint to grip onto.
What Is The Best Furniture Paint Overall?
In this post, I did side-by-side comparisons of chalk paint, milk paint, and latex paint: Milk Paint Vs. Chalk Paint Vs. Latex on Furniture to find the best furniture paint. I prefer latex paint for furniture but not all latex paints are equal as shown in the comparison post above. I also did a post here reviewing General Finishes Milk Paint
Is There Such A Thing As Chalk Paint That Doesn’t Need Wax? (Is Chalk Paint Durable on It’s Own?)
Chalk paint is not durable on it’s own and need some kind of protective finish. Chalk paint has a much easier alternative to wax if you are looking for a good protective clear coat for furniture. With wax there is a learning curve, the process takes a while, it requires a special wax brush and the wax is pretty expensive. But over any chalk paint, there are other great alternatives to wax. In my post, the Best Clear Coat for Furniture, I discuss the best clear coats and which give you the look of wax without the cost and hassle. There you will find the perfect clear coat for your furniture project.
Is Chalk Paint Durable Enough For Kitchen Tables?
I personally wouldn’t recommend chalk paint for a kitchen table. For one thing, there are cheaper paints that are much more durable. Kitchen tables are subject to more wear and tear than any other furniture in your home and for the reasons described above, chalk paint doesn’t adhere well enough to withstand scratches and it dries to a soft finish so it won’t hole up well to bumps and dents. Instead, I’d recommend this process for a kitchen table: A Better Alternative to Chalk Paint
What Is the Best Latex Paint for Furniture?
This is not a sponsored post, but when it comes to the best brand of latex for furniture, I like to use Sherwin Williams Pro Classic as my first choice and Behr Marquee as a close second. Both are great at providing good adhesion and great coverage. My favorite aspect of each is how well they self-level for a super smooth finish! You can read more about how I picked my favorite latex paints here: Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint vs. Latex
Can You Use Wax Over Poly?
You can certainly use wax over poly (polyurethane) or any other clear coat but it’s much more cost-effective and just easier to use a glaze as I describe in this process here. One usually uses a clear coat over their chalk paint if they want the wax to have a subtle look. Not using a clear coat between the wax and chalk paint will give a much darker, antiqued look. However, latex does not absorb wax or glaze as much as chalk paint does, so by using the above process, you do not have to use a clear coat between your paint and antiquing finish. To read about the best chalk paint topcoat, click here: Reviews of the Best Clear Coats for Furniture.
What is the Best Alternative to Antique Wax for Painted Furniture?
The process I use here provides a fabulous alternative to the look of antique wax for Painted Furniture. The process allows you to give an antique look with any shade, whether you want more of a charcoal color or espresso shade to give your furniture piece an antique look. For a better alternative to clear wax for furniture, click here: Best Chalk Paint Top Coat.
What is the Best Paint for Farmhouse Furniture?
Everyone has their preferences but I believe the best paint for farmhouse furniture is latex. Latex allows you to distress and you can even achieve a very matte finish without waxing with this flat clear coat (check the current price here).
What is the Best Latex Paint Spray for Furniture?
I like to use a roller but a paint sprayer will give you an even smoother finish and even uses less paint! Time and time again this paint sprayer (check the current price here) has proven to be the best latex paint sprayer for furniture by many furniture refinishers! It’s hard to believe you can get such a great paint sprayer at that price point.
What is the Best Paint for Outdoor Furniture?
A couple of readers have asked me about the best latex paint for outdoor furniture to which I still agree that latex paints are the best. Be sure to select the exterior version of your latex paint when you go to check out at your home improvement store.
Can Chalk Paint Be Used Outside?
You can use chalk paint outside as long as you use an exterior oil-based top coat instead of wax. My favorite clear coat for exterior use is this one: Spar Urethane
Should Chalk Paint Be Used on Kitchen Cabinets?
Here is a very interesting video on why chalk paint is not a good option for kitchen cabinetry. It answers the question “do chalk painted cabinets hold up?”
Can Chalk Paint Be Used On Glass?
I’ve never used chalk paint on glass personally because spray paint is such an easy option. Here are some options for getting the look of chalk paint on glass without brush strokes: Best Spray Paints for Glass
Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Walls?
Chalk paint is not meant for walls. There are many more inexpensive options for painting walls than chalk paint. Also, they will adhere better, not run and brush strokes won’t show.
Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Fabric?
I found a more permanent alternative to chalk paint on fabric. You simply mix fabric medium and any acrylic paint. You can see the full tutorial here: How to Turn Acrylic Paint Into Fabric Paint
What is Chalkboard Paint?
Chalkboard paint is often confused with chalk paint but is not the same. Chalkboard paint can be used on a substance to turn it into a chalkboard so it can be written on with chalk. You can get your own here: My Favorite Chalkboard Paint
Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Metal?
Can Chalk Paint Be Used on Plastic?
Chalk Paint isn’t the best option for plastic because it doesn’t adhere well. However, there is a spray paint line that does well on plastic: Rustoleum Ultra Cover Spray Paint
What About Cheap Chalk Paint Sold In Stores?
More less-expensive options are coming on the market for “cheap chalk paint”. They have the same look and feel of chalk paint but not the higher price. It’s hard to make a general statement about these but if you like the look of chalk paint they are definitely worth the try. I love the Rustoleum Chalked Spray Paint and used it to paint mason jars here.
Why Use Chalk Paint Vs Regular Paint (Latex):
I can’t with good conscience recommend chalk paint because latex paint is so much cheaper and more durable. But one upside to chalk paint is the amount of brush strokes and inconsistent finish if you are wanting that for a farmhouse or shabby-chic look. You will always have more brushstrokes in chalk paint because of it’s thickness.
Where to Find Chalk Paint Near Me
If you are looking to find a cheaper alternative to boutique-style chalk paint, many big box stores are now coming out with their own versions:
Best Recipe for Homemade Chalk Paint
Homemade chalk paint is a much cheaper alternative to store-bought chalk-based paint. My friend Kim over at Salvaged Living has a great recipe to make your own chalk paint: How to Make Chalk Paint
If you are going to use chalk paint, this is the route I would go!
Free Scripture Printables
You might have noticed the framed printable on top of the dresser with one of my favorite verses. As always feel free to download my complimentary Scripture printables HERE. You have dozens of verses to choose from.
Related Posts: Why I Stopped Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint
The Best Alternative to Wax for Furniture
My Best Spray Painting Tips for a Flawless Finish Every Time
My Best DIY Furniture Flips – No Chalk Paint Required
China Cabinet Makeover (Using White and Blue Latex Paint!)
Must-Have Painting Tips to Save You Time & Money!
General Finishes Milk Paint Review
Related Posts on Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint:
Why I Stopped Using Chalk Paint For Furniture: Final Thoughts & A Disclaimer:
My intent is certainly not to bash those who use and love chalk paint. I’m sure that there are several furniture painters out there much more talented than I, who use chalk paint to its greatest potential. We all have different styles that often require different mediums. In this post, I share the pros and cons of chalk paint for anyone that wants to redo a piece of furniture while also staying on budget.
I love to hear your thoughts and questions! Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️
Be sure to follow the fun here!
Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture: Why Use Chalk Paint Vs. Regular Paint (Latex)
Welcome to Renovated Faith, where I share about DIY projects, my faith and everything in between! When I’m not spending time with my family, you will find me redoing furniture in the garage or watering plants in my greenhouse. This blog is about transformation. Anyone can renovate a house but only God can transform our hearts!