How to Paint Furniture with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a beautiful, timeless way to finish a furniture piece. It comes in a wide range of shades and can be used on a variety of surfaces like wood, metal, and matte plastic. Chalk paint is even safe to use on a kitchen table.

Chalk paint covers up dings and scratches, making furniture look like new. The rich matte finish is sophisticated alone or distressed for a rustic chic look. Your project can be as simple as repainting a dresser white or painting an old coffee table a distressed vintage colour. You can finally be in on 2021’s hottest trend, a trend where everyone can’t seem to help but add a disressed look like these dressing tables by Homes Direct 365 who appear to favour the French, shabby chic and more recently a rustic reclaimed wood angle but can be on the expensive side.

Using chalk paint has an easy learning curve. To refinish a piece of wooden furniture such as a table or armoire with chalk paint, follow the steps below:

Choose your furniture piece and gather your supplies

Consider the furniture piece you have chosen to paint. You can strip any original paint or stain from the piece but with chalk paint, you can paint right over the existing surface. You do not need a primer. Chalk paint can even be painted over latex paint.

In fact, leaving the original paint or stain opens up possibilities for styling. For example, if your furniture is a reddish natural wood, consider leaving the original paint and painting over a contrasting colour such as deep blue. After painting, the furniture can be distressed which allows the red colour to show through. This provides a beautiful custom rustic look.

For this look, you will need to gather a paint kit with all the necessary supplies like; fine-grit sandpaper, a can of wax, a wax brush, shop towels (lint-free), a simple chip brush, and aluminium foil. Wrap your brushes in aluminium foil between coats to ensure they do not dry out.

Clean the furniture surfaces

No stripping is necessary but you will need to ensure the surfaces are clean and dry. Something like dishwashing liquid in water is good. Do not use furniture wax prior to painting as they do not mix well with chalk paint.

Now is the time to set up a drop cloth. Don’t worry if you get chalk paint on yourself or your floor. Chalk paint can be removed from clothing and floors easily with dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent.

Paint the furniture with a chip brush

Chalk paint goes on easily. You do not need to worry about maintaining one direction with your brush strokes, simply ensure the coverage is even. Depending on how rustic you would like the look, you do not even need to paint into every corner of the furniture.

Already finished surfaces typically require only one coat. If you are covering unfinished wood, you may need two coats of chalk paint. For unfinished wood, you can re-create the vintage/rustic look by using two contrasting shades of paint. Allow the chalk paint to dry for 1-2 hours before moving on to the distressing stage.

For a non-distressed look, apply two smooth coats of chalk paint. Allow each coat to dry fully and skip to the Apply Wax step.

Distress the surface

This is where the fine-grit sandpaper comes into play. The coarser the sandpaper grit, the deeper the grooves will be. In this case, the desire is to rough up the top coat of chalk paint to reveal some of the original paint underneath. This gives a lovely distressed look to the furniture.

How much you sand depends on the finished look you are going for. Do not worry if you sand off too much, you can add another coat of chalk paint if necessary.

Wipe down the furniture

Wet a shop towel and wipe off any dust generated by the sandpaper. This ensures a clean surface for the wax step.

Apply the wax

Since chalk paint does not seal, it is necessary to finish the furniture with a wax to set your work and keep it colourfast.

Chalk paint typically takes 24 hours to dry fully. Make sure that your paint is completely dry and there are no areas with remaining sandpaper dust. Use a brush dedicated to applying the wax (do not use the brush from the chalk paint). A wax brush has a special shape that aids the smooth and even application of the wax.

Apply the wax generously. Do not worry about using too much. You can always wipe off the excess as you go. You want to ensure that there is enough wax to properly seal your work.

For an aged look, you can use dark wax rather than regular wax. Keep in mind that a dark wax will darken the colour. Wax brushes can be reused again but note not to reuse a wax brush used with a dark wax in a regular wax. This will pollute the colour.

Let dry and relax

The setting time for wax is 2-3 weeks. If you use your furniture too early and find water rings, you can clean the water rings with soapy water and repaint or buff it out with more wax.

After setting, your furniture is finished and ready to go!

chalk painted furniture


Due to the short learning curve, painting your old furniture with chalk furniture paint is an easy and simple process if you’re looking to create some of your own bespoke style furniture – but it is still a timely one, just like any DIY furniture project.

There are however alternatives if you enjoy the look of chalk furniture, you could find a supplier online such as Weasel & Rooster to provide you with some brand new hand-painted chalk furniture – allowing you to enjoy your new additions without putting the work in.