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 makeovers.   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…

About 6 years ago,  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 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 the process that yields the best results with less effort and a much lower 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:

A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Painting (Vintage Vanity Makeover)

How to Get the Look of Chalk Paint and Dark Wax with A Better Alternative

 

  why I don't use chalk paint on furniture

(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).  Affiliate links are only used for products I use and love.

 

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 brands of chalk paint 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 (volatile organic compounds).

What is Chalk Paint Used For?

Chalk painting furniture has been one of the most popular ways to paint furniture, small projects and crafts.  It helps you to achieve a farmhouse style with painted furniture and shabby chic home decor and can be applied with several techniques like dry brushing, blending or antiquing furniture.  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 of the paint does not have a lot of 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 wooden furniture.  Unfortunately, although it adheres well, it does not protect well or provide a smooth, flawless finish on your family heirloom.  

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
How To Fix Damaged Furniture Easily

 

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!”

Why I Don’t Chalk Paint Furniture (Chalk Paint Problems)

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 chalk paint requires a coat of clear 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 entire piece to the original wood 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 don't use chalk paint on furniture
A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Painting (Vintage Vanity Reveal)

Why I Stopped Using Chalk Paint on Furniture: 7 Chalk Paint Problems

 

“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 you chalk paint furniture, sanding can sometimes be avoided, 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 prep work like sanding, priming wood knobs or filling in nicks, deep scratches, or small areas of general wear and tear with wood filler. (SEE MY OTHER FURNITURE FLIPS HERE)  Unless your whole 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!  Also, any glossy or slick surface will need to be sanded because the paint won’t adhere to a shiny surface

Can You Paint Furniture Without Sanding?

When most people visualize sanding, they see themselves slaving over a large piece of furniture 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 entire surface of the paint.  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. Then you wipe it down with a clean cloth and warm water.  (Click here for how to sand furniture in less than 5 minutes).

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
How To Sand Furniture in 5 Minutes or Less

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. 

 

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
Tips for Painting Furniture White

“Chalk Paint Does Not Require Priming”

As I mentioned in my post, The Best Type of Paint for Furniture, there is a learning curve to waxing and it can be very time-consuming.   Also, you might have a layer of dark or white wax for decorative purposes after your layer of clear wax dries. When using chalk paint, the time you aren’t spending on sanding and priming will be spent on waxing your piece.  Also, a thin coat of wax takes a full month to cure before a piece is protected enough to use or sell.   My favorite clear coat will be dry in a couple of hours or a little longer if you are working in high humidity.

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 Old White chalk paint on black furniture, it will take several coats of chalk paint 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 you chalk paint furniture, you always have to use a soft 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.  

You have to also be careful to apply wax very evenly.  What happens if you don’t wax chalk paint evenly is that built-up of too much wax can attract dirt.  But a thin layer of wax could allow water to penetrate so be sure to use coasters on pieces that get a lot of use.

In terms of maintenance, chalk painted furniture has to be re-waxed every 3 years, and more often if it is a heavy-use furniture piece.  This is because the wax finish will break down over time.  Once a piece is painted with latex paint, it will never need ongoing maintenance – just an occasional wipe with a clean soft 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

 

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
How to Stencil on Wood (Perfectly Every Time!)

The Cost of Chalk Paint: “Chalk Paint is Expensive But You Only Use A Little Bit”

A lot of people use two coats of paint 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 marks with these brushes: Zibra Brushes (Click here for the current price)

why I don't use chalk paint on furnture
How to Build a Farmhouse Table / Faux Restoration Hardware Finish with Latex Paint  OR How To Get A Restoration Hardware Finish on Furniture with Paint

“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 drying 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 in dry conditions, 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 soapy water as it is water-basedBut 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!

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
See Renovated Faith’s Best Furniture Reveals HERE

“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 High Performance Top Coat in 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.

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
Faux Stain with Latex Paint (6 Shades to Choose From!)

Long-Term Durability of Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint: “Is Chalk Paint Durable?”

In my opinion, this is the worst chalk paint problem and the number one reason why I don’t use chalk paint.  I have a friend who researched the best chalk paints 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 so many cabinet doors so it would be cost-prohibitive.

How Long Does Chalk Paint Last?

Chalk paint will last a long time 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 dining room furniture.  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 dining room table, be sure to use a couple coats of wax or brush on a great poly finish (a clear liquid oil) like this one: Varathane Waterbased Polyurethane

why i don't use chalk paint on furniture

 

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 chest of drawers, 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!)

 

CLICK HERE FOR MY BETTER PROCESS FOR REFINISHING FURNITURE AND GETTING THE LOOK OF DARK WAX

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 color paint 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

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture
Best Tips for Painting with Dark Colors

 

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?  This is great when you are indecisive like I am and choose a different color at the last minute.  Also, these shades come in a variety of finishes by my favorite is a satin sheen.  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 OptionsHere are the options for another line:  Dixie Belle Paint Colors

The Best Chalk Paint Furniture Sealer

If you want to stick with chalk paint but want to save time on protecting your finish, you can add a protective topcoat with a brush instead of going to the trouble of waxing.  Just brush on your flat topcoat in the direction of the wood grain and your project is protected with a beautiful matte finish.  You can see my favorite clear coat for chalk paint here: Varathane Water-based Topcoat

Antiquing Furniture: 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.  You can also get the white-washed look of soft wax with the same process for antiquing furniture.

My Better Alternative to Chalk Paint: THE PROCESS

why I don't use chalk paint on furniture

 

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)

 

Why I don't use chalk paint on furniture

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

Do You Have to Sand Before Using Chalk Paint?

It’s always best to sand before painting any furniture piece unless you are painting raw wood that you are sure hasn’t been dusted with an oil-based product.    When you sand furniture to prep it for painting, you don’t have to sand off the old finish.  You are just lightly sanding to take the shine off the furniture so the paint or primer adheres.  So, you don’t HAVE to sand before using chalk paint, but if you don’t you might have to completely redo your furniture piece if the paint doesn’t adhere and it peels.  Sanding is always a good insurance policy and you can read how to do it quickly here:  How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes

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, and the Annie Sloan wax brush 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 in terms of durability and ease of you.  I also share 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, coffee table or end tables that are more likely to have cold glasses set on them.  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 surface!  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?

Chalk paint is great for achieving a distressed look on furniture.  Everyone has their preferences but I still 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 spray gun 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.  These paints are formulated specifically for outdoor use as they are more durable and have chemicals to protect against mold.

Sherwin Williams Chalk Paint?

Sherwin Williams is my favorite line of paint.  While they don’t have chalk paint, I love their ProClassic Acrylic Alkyd.  It is a hybrid product which means it settles and protects like an oil-based paint but won’t get brittle over time and has the easy clean-up of water-based.  It is super durable and goes on really smooth so you won’t see any brush strokes in your finish.  Their satin sheen is comparable to the matte finish of most chalk paints.  So, while there isn’t really a Sherwin Williams chalk paint, their ProClassic Acrylic Alkyd paint in a satin sheen will NOT disappoint! 

Can Chalk Paint Be Used Outside?

You can use chalk paint outside as long as you use an exterior oil-based poly topcoat 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 and it also explains the potential downsides.  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?

Chalk Paint can be used on galvanized metal but it’s easier to use spray paint for full coverage in less time.  Here is my favorite spray paint for metal: Rustoleum Universal Metallics

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 chalk paint brands 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.  It’s the closest thing to chalk paint furniture spray and you can see how I used it to paint mason jars here.

Why Use Chalk Paint Vs Regular Paint (Latex):  

I can’t in good conscience recommend chalk-style paints 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. 

One great thing regarding chalk paint vs regular paint is it’s ability to be distressed.  Chalk paint sands off in tiny particles that creates a nice worn effect.

Where to Find Chalk Paint Near Me

If you are looking to find a cheaper alternative to boutique-style chalk paint from a local stockist, many big box stores are now coming out with their own versions of decorative paint:

Chalk paint at Home Depot: Rustoleum Chalked Paint

Chalk paint at Walmart: Kilz Chalk Style Paint

 

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 style 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 Paint and Blue Latex Paint!)

Must-Have Painting Tips to Save You Time & Money!

General Finishes Milk Paint Review

The Best Podcasts for Christian Women

Apply Paint That Looks Like Stain (Barnwood Stain with Latex!)

The Easiest Way to Paint Laminate Furniture

 

Related Posts on Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint:

How to Chalk Paint Furniture

How to Use Chalk Paint on Crafts

Best Chalk Paint for Furniture

 

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 style paints.  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.  Hopefully, in sharing the pros and cons of chalk paint, your furniture piece will not only stand the test of time, but you will also have fun refinishing it!  Happy Painting!

 

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why I don't use chalk paint on furniture

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Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture: Why Use Chalk Paint Vs. Regular Paint (Latex)

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89 Comments

  1. I wish you’d written this when I did Katies dresser!

    Another myth: “I’ll just make my own chalk paint and save money.”

    But most latex paints have primer mixed in and it turns into a mess!

  2. Hi Karin,
    I do agree with some of your post but as a retailer of a different chalk paint I feel that you have been misinformed by your Annie Sloan paint supplier. I would NEVER recommend using wax to seal kitchen cabinets EVER or anything that gets alot of wear and tear like a kitchen table etc..! You can use regular clear coat sealers( I use varathane diamond coat) over chalk paint. I painted my own kitchen a year ago and used varathane…they look amazing and are holding up 100% and did not require priming or sanding.

    1. Thanks for your input Annie! So glad to hear your kitchen cabinets turned out so well! The point of my post is just to inform DIY’ers on a budget that there are alternatives out there to chalk paint. Thank you again!

  3. A lot of your information regarding is incorrect. It doesn’t take chalk paint 30+ days to cure, it is totally dry in a couple hours. The wax takes longer to cure, I have been told 10 days up to 30. But you can still use the piece and even put stuff on it. I agree that regular latex paint is more cost effective if you are doing a single piece, but that doesn’t change that the facts you gave about chalk paint are wrong.

    1. Hi Jami, Thank you for your comment. Chalk painting with wax (not just chalk paint alone) takes 30 days to cure. They are dry within a couple days but there greatest durability isn’t reached until it has cured. Some sources say the durability for soft wax is 4 to 6 weeks even.

  4. I have my paint store tint my primer the color I want. It self levels with no brush marks. It has a super smooth look and feel. Seal with a top coat. I don’t use paint. Every piece of furniture and my cabinets are done this way.. No chips or water rings. Works great for me.

        1. I do all the proper prep work with this method. I do sand to give the primer something to grip to and clean with deglosser. I won’t ever waste my time painting a piece with no prep.

          1. Couldn’t agree more. The potential time you could save isn’t risk the amount of time it could take to completely redo a piece.

  5. Interesting article, I have refinished literally dozens of different pieces in a variety of ways. Like many professional refinished I have my favorite methods… Chalk has its place, I have always made my own chalk paint, it works beautifully with a high quality latex and is never a mess, I never protect with wax, polyacrylic diamond finish only, wax is used as a last topcoat to highlight detail only. Latex paint on furniture is great, however on furniture getting any kind of use it does need protection, again, water based polyacrylic, it will not stand up to long term wear and tear without… Just my two cents

  6. I started chalk painting a few years ago and still love it, however, through trial and error I found that I never seal a heavy use table with wax. I did MY coffee table and the heat from my kids’ feet melted the wax and would bubble. I now use wax only on parts of the piece that has little use. Like legs or the sides. I use a non whitening poly on heavy use surfaces. I find making my own chalk paint a lot cheaper than buying AS and I have any color made. I pick the sample paint and mix the color I want and add calcium carbonate to it when I’m ready. My cost is around $4. I will be considering Kerry’s method as soon as I’m out of calcium carbonate. Thank you for your tips. It’s always nice to read a new perspective.

  7. I usually use Kilz 2 and minwax polycrylic. I’m not good with wax. I do use glazes. I have found some paint stores don’t want or say it can’t be done but my local ace and Sherwin Williams are great

      1. I have done both. Mostly furniture but I have done my cabinets more times than I like to admit. Lol. This last time with kilz, glaze and poly I’ve had no chips scratches etc. Wipes up clean. And grandkids bumping their toys into them. My dining table takes the same beating.. Kilz has come out with a chalk paint. I wonder if it just might be the same formula. I do find if you want to distress with the kilz primer its difficult because it adheres so well.

  8. This is very interesting to me since I just started a chalk painting project for the first time. Spent $60 on a nice old dresser and a LOT more on all the chalk paint and brushes, etc. I’ve found that I like the Purdy brushes better, the chalk paint doesn’t cover well (took 4 coats for white ), it’s every difficult if not impossible to get a smooth finish with no brush strokes with chalk (even when diluting with water), and the waxing process is a pain in the butt! And I haven’t even got to the dark waxing yet. Almost 40 years ago I redid 2 old dressers with the regular process of sanding, primin, painting, and antiquing and it was so much easier and cheaper and so much less work. And it lasted forever! I’m sorry I’ve started this chalk painting and wonder if I could just sand it a littl and put regular paint on it?!
    Laurie

    1. UGH…Laurie. I’m so sorry. I feel your pain. When you go to sand it, see how easy the chalk paint is coming off. If it is coming off easily, I’d say sand it all off, which shouldn’t take that long. If it is already adhered pretty well, I’d say sand over it some, prime and then paint as normal. So sorry for your experience. That has been mine too with chalk paint and yes, Purdy brushes are fabulous!

      1. If you waxed it already don’t put latex over it….. trust me….. I even sanded the wax and sprayed a degreaser spray on it and sanded again , the latex will peel off

    2. Laurie, part of the beauty of the chalk paint is the texture. You can sand it with a fine grit paper, like 220, and you will find the brush strokes gone. Then wax it using a lint-free cloth. (I use an old white t-shirt of mu husband’s). Make sure you are using a soft paste-wax, not a liquid. The soft past-wax (I use Annie Sloane) goes on easily and a little goes a long way. I have done my kitchen, all three bathroom vanities, multiple dressers, and a cabinet. With your current situation, Tatia is correct, if you waxed it, don’t latex over it. You will need to sand it to use latex, and most likely a primer. But, I am willing to bet that if you sand it and rewax it, you will be pleased. It is frustrating, I know, so sometimes we need to just step away and come back to it with new energy! I hope it comes out well!

  9. I have read your article and couldn’t agree more. I have been painting furniture for 15 years for my Shabby Chic business. FYI however, I found that Rustoleum makes a chalk paint that it half the price of Annie Sloan and application is like a dream. It only comes in white, gray and black, however so if you want another color Benjamin Moore is my go to paint for sure. And they make a wonderful Stay Clear top coat that I have used for years. No yellowing.

    Keep painting!

  10. I agree with you 100%. I have spent about $500 on chalk paint, wax and brushes. Metal with any erosion at all must be primed before using chalk paint or you will get rust colored bleed-through. Certain woods, such as cherry and mahogany, must be primed or you will get pink bleed-through with chalk paint. So I bought Zimmer 123 water-based primer and chalk painted some more pieces (since I had two quarts of AS chalk paint left). All I kept thinking as I primed, painted x2 and waxed was, “there must be a cheaper, quicker way to achieve better results!” Then I did a google search and found your article. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    1. I think it all depends on the end result you are looking for. I personally prefer ASCP (and I have tried latex as well as other brands of CP) due to how durable it is and how little is needed to cover an item. I never use just one color nor do I have straight “taped” off lines between the colors, thus, the preference. It is nice to have options but if you go to some of the Pinterest sites and look at the incredibly artsy pieces of furniture, they are created with the chalk paint.

  11. I’m so glad I found this comprehensive comparison before delving into chalk paint. I agree with you. while I still love the look of chalk paint with wax on top, I’ll save it for my small projects like picture frames.
    Thanks

    1. Agreed. Chalk paint definitely has it’s place but I’ll save it for smaller projects also. There’s a reason latex has been around forever. Thanks for stopping by Holly!

  12. I, too, have tried many methods. When using chalk, I always make my own with a latex flat paint and plaster of Paris. I like using valspar’s dark wax, as it always turns out great. If I am not looking for an antique or aged look, then I prefer to not use clear wax, but go with a clear coat option.

  13. Just wondering if you ever tried Black Dog Salvage paints? I had a whole bunch of pieces to redo and the paints were on sale at Woodcraft so I invested in a few. The first piece I redid was a large old dresser. I did sand and clean significantly as it was in the attic for years. I used a brush on 2 coats then one coat of their top coat. It turned out very nice. I am now doing a bunch of chairs and other pieces. This time I am using a spray gun (critter spray gun) for the paint and top coat. Will have to compare to good old latex!

  14. Found you via Pinterest!

    I have an even easier, less expensive, invisible flat top coat: Paint base. Pick up some of the untinted, darkest (think black or navy) paint base. BM is a 4 or 5 for example. Paint it on. Be horrified! Because it paints on white. Once it dries, though, good luck finding where you left off. It even glues down chips without that gummy -urethane look. I happen to use Exterior, Latex, Flat because it gives me the weather proofing and UV protection interior paints don’t necessarily have.

    So for something SO inexpensive, that works so well? Paint base!

    I just finished veneering maple cabinet doors with white oak. I absolutely love the raw wood look, but in a kitchen? Gotta seal it. I used the exterior paint base again, smoothing the grain between 2 coats. The 3rd coat, (because I’m anal) I smoothed with a brown paper bag. It’s silky, smooth, and looks completely raw. It won’t yellow because it’s not a -urethane product, nor oil product.

    You’ve got good points, so I wanted to offer you a less expensive idea. Sorry it’s non-affiliate, although I’m sure you could dig up paint base on Amazon! More power to ‘ya!

    1. Hi, r u saying dark navy or black paint base to use as a topcoat? Goes on white, however, but dries clear? Just want to make sure I understand before buying some. Thx.

  15. I know Annie Sloan is the holy grail of chalk paint, but I found a recipe on Pinterest to make my own and it worked very well for a fraction of the cost (I used Behr paint!) That being said, I completely agree that even if you like chalk paint, it really can’t go on everything! I like the matte texture of chalk paint that I haven’t been able to duplicate with latex. I’ve only used it on a chest of drawers for my son, and overall, it turned out well. We’re two years into it and it has held up very well. However. this isn’t in a kitchen or dining room where there is much higher traffic. I think it can be fun, but like anything else, in moderation. At heart, I prefer stained wood to painted wood. Your painted pieces are beautiful though and I love your blog!!

  16. I too have had it with chalk paint, but I have turned to General Finishes pre-mixed milk paint for a beautiful finish that can be used indoors and out. They have glazes and varnishes that you can add. They also have a chalk paint line. The colors are heavily pigmented and they have a wonderful flat varnish.

  17. I am in the process of using chalk paint on my kitchen cabinets and I’m disappointed despite lots of researching before hand. I decided to sand despite being told it was not needed. The instructions state only one coat is needed. I’ve just finished the second coat and it is obvious that I will need at least four coats. I’m going to finish with acrylic paint and treat my chalk paint as a very expensive primer. And I will still have to add a protective coat or two. My advice is to try chalk paint on a very small project first.

  18. Ok. Well after spending 5 days, yes 5 days following the chalk painting directions of no sanding, no primer , I tried chalk painting on my oak table chairs & server. After the 1st coat all you could see was brush marks. So I tried lightly sanding the 1st coat. Then on to coat no. 2. Brushes, dried & again more brush marks. So again I lightly sanded & after I was finished it was as smooth as a baby’s behind. I let it set overnight with the hopes of polyurethane get it the next day. However, to my surprise the oak grazing now showed through he 2 coats. So again lightly sanded & painted. Next day there was the oak grains showing through. At this point it is 4 days into this easy no primer, no sanding approach. So day no. 5 comes & we had to get our table back in the kitchen because we needed it to stage our house. We did decide to put primer on our server after our first chalk coat & it worked out considerably easier. Well lesson learned. I’m not using it again. Will use latex the next time. It has a much smoother coat & is far less time consuming.

    1. Ugh. I’m so sorry. I’ve been there! Unfortunately, sanding is always necessary. Thank you for stopping by and let me know if I can help any way on this project or others.

  19. Feel your pain. There is no such thing as no prep. Clean, sand, clean again, prime, paint and seal. Sounds like you may have had some bleed through. Won’t pay that cost of chalk paint. I wouldn’t recommend it on a piece that gets a lot of use like a dining table and chairs

  20. Great tips in this article and the comments. I have come across a great product from Benjamin Moore called Cabinet Coat. It works great on high traffic items such as kitchen cabinets and can be tinted. My favorite color currently is Maritime White. I liked it so well on my cabinets that I have used it on kitchen table and chairs projects as well. I am on the latex bandwagon as well. I like the color options and the durability.

    1. Heirloom tradition chalk paint said all you do is degloss, scrub, wipe down and paint. No sanding, priming. Just clean and paint. Look up this and give me your ideas , I’m wanting to paint my bedroom furniture. I have an area how, but then I run across post like this and it makes me second guess myself. I have NO CLUE what kind of paint to use, whether I need to sand, prime etc, do I or don’t I. Totally confused.

      1. This is a great question Shelby. This process is a good insurance policy because if you chalk paint over a piece of furniture that had been oiled or someone used Pledge on it, there’s a good chance the paint will peel over time. And then, redoing the project will be over twice the work. With this process, you can be sure you won’t have to redo anything later. Please let me know if you have any other questions Shelby!

  21. Why use a satin finish instead of flat if you’re going for a matte look? Wouldn’t flat be more effective or is it a durability issue?

    Thanks!!

  22. I make my chalk paint with unsanded grout. I do not like the wax finish so I always use poly over my pieces . I have never had any problems with my projects, and I have done many. I personally would not use it on kitchen cupboards but I have used it in my bathrooms with much luck , and I did it about 2 years ago.

  23. I personally find the difference between chalk paint, always ASCP, and latex to be like night and day. The workability of ASCP is magnificent and I have been able to create pieces with layers that were not possible with latex, per my experience. I have done my entire kitchen with ASCP and waxed it with three coats. I don’t use a brush for the wax, rather a lint free cloth, and it goes quickly. Most people make the mistake of using too much wax at a time. This is an interesting take on the contrasts with the paints. I guess it comes down to preference, overall style desired, and technique used. Also, I find that ASCP goes a really long way. For my kitchen, I used graphite on the lowers and even doing three coats for added durability, I still have one-third of the quart left. The uppers were done in old white and I used the entire quart. For the wax, I used clear and I still have about a quarter of the container remaining. I have painted with latex before, but I find it is better left for either straight line work or single color items. Thanks for the info though. Great food for thought.

  24. Boy have I been not reading email for a long time.
    Yes, I was saying that. Pick up the paint base for the darkest of paints. It goes on cloudy to actually white, but dries beautifully clear.
    Since I initially posted here, I’ve “clear coated” white oak cabinet doors I’ve made with this paint base. It’s dried so beautifully invisible, all the fine grain of the white oak is visible, but no darkening like a poly would. No sheen, just beautiful wood.
    I highly recommend this as an option!

  25. You can remove wax with Mineral spirits or ammonia. Think Windex!
    I’ve done it several times and chosen to repaint with latex.

  26. I had refinished a dresser & used it for my coffee bar, but I went the chalk paint route as I saw all the hype about “no sanding, no primer!” It took me 4 coats and lots of sanding in between before I finally got it looking acceptable. I’m so glad I found your post on Pinterest because I’m now attempting another piece, this time a chest, and I want it to much less stressful!
    My question is, I want to paint it a grayish color & give it that antique look, should I use a wax or glaze? And is this going to cause me to have to let it cure for several weeks? I’m planning on selling this piece so I really would like it not to sit around for that long while it cures. I read through your blog several times, but there were so many different tips & advice, I’m a little overwhelmed trying to figure out the steps and what is the right way to go about it, I want to make sure I do it right.

    Thanks for your help!!

  27. Great post, and your pieces are beautiful. I just chalk painted a cherry wood standing jewelry armoire. I didn’t want to pay the prices for ASCP or wax, so I got a sample size of the Behr premium plus and they tinted it to match a pillow that is in the room it will be in (cost under $4). I bought a 1-lb bag of calcium carbonate from Amazon that had good reviews for about $10. I got a clear wax from Chalk-Tique on Amazon for about $13. I painted my piece yesterday – 2 coats – and I think it looks pretty good. But the waxing… I don’t know if it’s my paint or my application, but I imagined it would glide on and be easy to smooth on and buff, but even after 2 coats of the wax, the piece still has a very chalk-time sort of rough texture, where I would like it to be at least a little bit smooth/buttery. Any tips? Just keep waxing? It seems to just soak it right up.

    Your tips as well as Kerry’s in the comments, are hugely helpful for the future. I had painted my bathroom medicine cabinet with regular white paint (I think it was Behr, but not certain), over primer, and now, several years later, the pain is chipping badly.

  28. I only use regular household latex paint to paint my inside furniture. I use thin coats of paint and it looks great. Did my kitchen cabinets 6 years ago and they are as white as they were the day I painted them.

  29. I have a large ornate fireplace mantel that is coated with 4 layers of Bri-wax dark mahogany. Is there any way to prime or coat it so that I can paint it? The “look” was good for many years but. now want to go in another direction. Any suggestions will be deeply appreciated.

  30. Karin! OK, so I started a project with chalk paint and as I was prepping to seal, I came to the realization that it wasn’t what I wanted…I thought chalk paint was the only way…I lightly (but it took a while!) sanded the credenza, used the Zinsser BIN primer/shellac and did 3 coats of chalky paint, hopeful that the polycrylic would give me the durability and modern/sleep sheen I was looking for. After doing research, I see I should have led with latex, but oh well. I have since gone to the store to buy Behr urethan alkyd semi-gloss. Should I sand my previous work down a bit before using this? Would you still recommend Varathane poly water based when complete?

    1. Hey Kimberly,
      I’ve never used Behr’s urethane alkyd but you might sand the former surface just to scuff it up some. I wouldn’t worry about a clear cloat after a semi-gloss surface. Hope this helps. Karin

  31. Hi! Was wondering if you have ever have distressed using a latex paint before. I prefer to use a latex paint but would like to distress a bit, would like your input? Thank you.

  32. When using Behr Marquee for your furniture projects, have you scuffed edges to antique like you can with chalk paint or does it chip?

    1. I don’t have a lot of experience with distressing that one but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Just use a really high grit sandpaper to avoid peeling. Thanks Lori!

  33. What would you recommend for someone who wants to decorate with painted furniture, but has a lung disease and cannot use any paint or sealer with an odor? I also will not use the masks that are recommended. They are too large and heavy. That’s why I have chosen chalk paint…I do seal it.

  34. I painted my kitchen cabinets with chalk
    Paint and then used dark wax over. I love the look and they turned out awesome !
    However , can I add a coat of anything to protect them and seal them really good ?
    I want a matte look but since they are obviously used daily I want the little bit of extra protection.
    Thanks
    Lisa

    1. Hey Lisa,
      Since they have the wax on top, I don’t know if you can put a clear coat on top. You might test a very small inconspicuous area to see how it works but I want to say that a clear coat won’t adhere to the wax. So sorry as I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. Thanks Lisa!

  35. Hello Kerry,

    You said you use Kiltz primer, but do you use it for the cabinets?
    I have two kids (boys) and is rough in here, we also spend lots of time in the kitchen area.
    So I am looking for durability and resistance.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Carmen, I would probably use Zinsser Cover Stain as a primer for cabinets. It has a little bit of a smell but you really want an oil-based primer for cabinets. I am redoing my cabinets in January so I will have a full post then with lots of details! Thanks Carmen!

  36. Hi Karin,
    I am planning to use your latex paint method to paint a bookcase. The piece is veneer or laminate (not sure which) and has one of those cardboard back panels that is held on with tack nails. It’s nice looking but not of the highest quality. My question is, can I paint the back panel or will it become soggy from the paint’s moisture? I’ve seen others use peel and stick wallpaper to cover inside shelving and backs but I don’t want a pattern on mine. Any advise is much appreciated!

  37. Hi Karen,

    When you use a latex paint such as Bear’s on your furniture projects, do you turn it into a chalk paint using your friends recipe or do use use it straight out of the can? I want to refinish an antique dinning room set and I am torn as to which direction to go. Please help.?
    LA

  38. Hi – just found your site and I’m very intrigued as I do not want to use chalk paint. I’m trying to replicate a piece of black furniture from Pier 1 and it has a shiney smooth surface. The SW paint of Behr paint that you use – is it flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss? Thanks – definately will check out more of your sites.

    1. Hey Wendy, Great question! I usually use Satin no matter what type of paint. If you want a shinier look you could also go with semi-gloss paint. They should have samples of the different sheens at the paint counter to help you decide. Thanks Wendy! – Blessings, Karin

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