My better alternative to chalk paint is easier, faster and much cheaper plus I’ll show you the best latex paint for furniture. Many argue chalk paint has fantastic coverage without the hassle of sanding and priming. With these claims, who wouldn’t want to use it? However, it didn’t take much experimenting to find a process that yields a better result with less effort and MUCH less cost for painting furniture. Here I share why I don’t use chalk paint and a better alternative to chalk painting furniture.
Below I lay out why I don’t use chalk paint but if you want to skip ahead to my process, click here.
Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture
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It wasn’t that long ago that my daughter had a rare autoimmune disease and we were overloaded with medical bills. (She’s in full remission now – Read her story HERE!) My emotional outlet was making things around our home beautiful! I wanted to redo some old but was discouraged by chalk paint because of the price. I also shied away from latex paint because I wasn’t sure about the process.
Fortunately, I’ve found a process that is easier than chalk painting furniture at only a fraction of the cost.
First, let’s set the record straight by confronting some claims about chalk paint:
Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint Anymore:
“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 usually so that you can create enough grit or tooth on the surface for the paint to stick. Chalk painters can sometimes get around sanding because chalk paint is more porous which allows it to have glue-like properties.
However, I have yet to find an old piece of furniture that did not require at least some sanding. (SEE MY OTHER FURNITURE FLIPS HERE) Unless your piece is in pristine condition, there are bound to be some nicks and scratches that you want to sand out before putting 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. With an electric sander, sanding consists of flipping a switch and running the sander over the surface of the piece. (I show you how to sand furniture with an electric sander in this post). It maybe takes 5 minutes, not to mention my first sander cost less than $15. Even if you are chalk painting furniture, most furniture pieces have to be sanded, regardless. CLICK HERE for the best sanders for wood furniture.
“Chalk Paint Does Not Require Priming”
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 has the adhesion properties but not the protection you want. Latex has the protection, but not the adhesion. That is why chalk paint requires waxing. What most people don’t tell you is that there is a learning curve to waxing and that it can be very time consuming. The time you aren’t spending on sanding and priming you will definitely spend on waxing your piece. Also, waxing 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 on dark pieces because many stains will bleed through 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. 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. A good latex paint will not need a wax or topcoat because it will have it’s 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 less of these additives, which make them less durable in the long-term.
As far as the best latex paint for furniture, I prefer Behr Premium Plus from Home Depot. According to Consumer Reports, it consistently beats out even more high-end brands like Sherwin Williams. (It’s much more difficult to find chalk paint reviews since it is a specialized product). See my post here to see my better alternative process to chalk painting furniture using latex paint.
“Chalk Paint Dries Faster”
Another reason why I don’t use chalk paint is that it may dry faster but 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 it’s 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.
“Chalk Paint is Easier to Clean Up”
Chalk paint can be removed from clothing and hands with soap and water. But do you really want to use a 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”
You can achieve the same matte texture by brushing THIS on with a sponge brush. Just brush it over your piece and throw away the brush when you are done! Otherwise 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 below.
How to Paint Furniture without Brush Marks:
This is the number one reason why I don’t use chalk paint. I have a friend researched the best chalk paint for kitchen cabinets and painted them 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-chic sort of way.
Did you know what happens to an unwaxed piece of furniture that has a cold drink left on it? The chalk paint actually re-liquifies. You can imagine how this would result in a number of chalk paint problems with waxing painted wood.
In terms of maintenance, chalk painted furniture has to be be re-waxed every 3 years, and more often if it is in a high-traffic area. Once a piece is painted with latex paint, it will never need ongoing maintenance.
Latex is very durable on it’s 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.
Here is a break-down of the cost and process for chalk painting furniture and also my process…
Typical Process for Chalk Painting Furniture:
- COAT 1 – chalk paint
- COAT 2 – chalk paint
- waxing process (at least 30 minutes)
- Cure Time – 4 weeks at least
Cost Breakdown: Brush($10.00) + Quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ($34.95) + Annie Sloan Wax ($24.95) = $69.95
My Process for Painting a Dresser
- 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 Latex ($15.98) = $28.52
Even with buying a sander for less than $17.00, my process using latex paint above still comes out way ahead of your typical process with cost 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 the THIS sander at Amazon.com and it’s great!)
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 actually $99.80.
Also, 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.
Unlimited Color Options with Latex:
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)
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.
FAQ’s – Chalk Paint vs Wax 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. After your latex paint, you can add a glaze and clear coat of just the coat of latex 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 Behr Premium Plus Ultra latex as it gives a smooth finish, covers well and is very cost-effective. If you want a product that covers even better you can use Behr Marque on furniture but the cost is a little higher per gallon.
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 like 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.
What is the best alternative to Antique Wax for Painted Furniture?
The process I use here provides a fabulous alternative to 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.
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 sprayer for furniture?
I personally 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 latex paint for outdoor furniture?
A couple readers have asked me about the best latex paint for outdoor furniture to which I still agree that Behr 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.
Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Kitchen Cabinets
Here is a very interesting video on why chalk paint is not a good option for kitchen cabinetry.
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.
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 it’s greatest potential. We all have different styles that often require different mediums. In this post I share about the pros and cons of chalk paint for anyone that wants to redo a piece of furniture while also staying on budget.
Table of Contents
- Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture
- Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint Anymore:
- “Chalk Paint Does Not Require Sanding”
- “Chalk Paint Does Not Require Priming”
- “Chalk Paint is Expensive But You Only Use A Little”
- “Chalk Paint Dries Faster”
- “Chalk Paint is Easier to Clean Up”
- “Chalk Paint Has a Better Finish”
- Long-Term Durability
- Here is a break-down of the cost and process for chalk painting furniture and also my process…
- Typical Process for Chalk Painting Furniture:
- My Process for Painting a Dresser
- CLICK HERE FOR MY BETTER PROCESS FOR REFINISHING FURNITURE
- Unlimited Color Options with Latex:
- My Better Alternative to Chalk Paint: THE PROCESS
- FAQ’s – Chalk Paint vs Wax for Furniture
- What is the best paint for unfinished furniture?
- What is the best latex paint for furniture?
- Can you use wax over poly?
- What is the best alternative to Antique Wax for Painted Furniture?
- What is the best paint for farmhouse furniture?
- What is the best latex paint sprayer for furniture?
- What is the best latex paint for outdoor furniture?
- Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Kitchen Cabinets
- Free Scripture Printables
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- Related Posts: Refinishing Furniture without Chalk Paint:
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- FAQ’s – Chalk Paint vs Wax for Furniture
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Related Posts: Refinishing Furniture without Chalk Paint:
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