How to Use Chalk Paint

How to use chalk paint

Both the wood and fabric was painted with chalk paint on this headboard.

Chalk paint eliminates the prep work and does not require stripping, sanding or priming! It adheres to most any surface, and chalk paint dries quickly and cleans up easily with soap and water since it’s water-based. Chalk paint has low odor, is very durable, and it dries to the flat chalky finish seen on antique pieces.

Chalk paint only requires a quick washing of your piece with a cleaner like Simple Green to remove dirt and dust. Chalk paint is so great because it eliminates the need for prep work.



    Paint the entire piece with chalk-type paint. I often use a brush (although for larger areas I sometimes use a small roller), and a little paint goes a long way. Only one coat may be needed, but I almost always find that I need two. This paint dries really fast, and it is easy to tell when it is dry. Apply the second coat of paint AFTER the first coat is dry.

    You can water-down chalk paint and use it in a sprayer for a smoother finish. See more on that HERE.


    After the paint is completely dry, apply two coats of sealer. I would suggest using either a polycrylic or wax. I’ll talk more later about when to use which.

    For a polycrylic (a water-based sealer), you can apply with a brush, roller or sprayer. Two coats should be adequate.

    To apply wax, a wax brush is helpful (a rag can be used but I find a brush is well worth the investment since it makes the application easier and more even). It is not necessary to wait for the first coat to dry before adding the second coat. Also, for each coat of wax, remember LESS is more! You can add the optional dark wax if you like the aged look, but after all the wax is apply you will have to buff it with a lint-free cloth. Buffing helps smooth and removed extra wax.


    You can sand at the end if you like the very distressed look. Sanding blocks with fine grit work best.

This bedroom furniture was painted with chalk paint and sealed with wax.

Tips for Using Chalk Paint

To Begin:

Make sure the paint is well mixed.
Tip the can over for 30 minutes and give it a good shake. Clean/dust the piece before painting.

While Painting:

Keep in mind the paint dries very quickly!
Do not load the paint brush with paint. The paint is thick.
Quick brushstrokes work best.
Most pieces take 2 coats of paint.
In-between coats of paint, put the brushes in baggies.
Keep the paint covered. It can thicken when exposed to air.
Use a roller for chalk paint.
Chalk paint can thicken over time, just add a little water to make it thinner.

While Waxing:

Do not overwax! Think about it like applying hand lotion – put on a small bit and massage until it is absorbed. Use a brush to apply the wax and a lint-free cloth to wipe off excess. USE CLEAR WAX FIRST BEFORE APPLYING THE DARK WAX. The dark wax adds dimension and age. Use the clear wax as an eraser if too much dark wax was added. See more on using wax with chalk paint HERE.

Painting Fabric with Chalk Paint

To paint fabric with chalk paint, do the same steps as before only water down the paintt. This can be done by adding water directly to the paint. When adding water to the paint, I suggest a 1:1 ratio: 1 part paint to 1 part water. Fabric really soaks up paint, so it will not go far on fabric. After the paint is dry, finish with a couple coats of clear wax. The result will feel similar to leather! Also, keep in mind that if your fabric is peeling, cracking or torn, paint will not fix this. See more on painting fabric with chalk paint HERE.

How to use chalk paint

When NOT to Use Wax as a Sealer:

I would NOT use was when sealing cabinets, desk or table-tops, or floors. I used wax years ago on my kitchen cabinets and had to repaint them, and you can see more on that fiasco HERE. However, I used chalk paint with a polycrylic sealer in our laundry room, and had great success. You can see more on the chalk-paint laundry cabinets HERE.

After Painting:

To clean brushes (paint & wax), wash with soap and water. (Dawn dish soap works well!) Buff the piece 24 hours after your last coat of wax if you want a shinier look. Keep in mind that wax takes awhile to cure. I usually allow the wax to dry a few days before I transport a piece or use a piece. However, keep in mind that it can take weeks for the wax to completely set.

Go paint something!

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How to use chalk paint

Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint

Today I’m talking all about painting furniture with chalk paint.

Painting Furniture with Chalk-Type Paint

If you take a look around my blog, you’ll quickly realize I am a huge fan of any type of chalk-type paint (or miracle paint as I lovingly call it).

Painting with Amy Howard One Step Paint

Chalk-type paint eliminates the prep work and doesn’t require stripping, sanding, or priming!  It adheres to almost any surface, dries quickly, and cleans up easily with soap and water.  It’s pretty close to the perfect paint.

Distressed Yellow Chalk Paint

If you’re new to painting furniture, go ahead and try chalk-type paint!  I think it will help you gain confidence, and let you then branch out to other paint types – although you may not want to after you see how easy it is to use!

Gray Chalk Paint Distressed and Dark Wax

To begin, I usually just wipe down a piece to remove any dust or dirt.  I personally have never used a primer with chalk-type paint, but I would suggest it if the piece has a really glossy finish.

Step 1:  Paint

Paint the entire piece with paint.  I usually use a brush (but a small roller could come in hand for some pieces such as cabinets).  You’ll find that a little paint goes a long way, and I almost always use two coats of paint.  Chalk-type paint dries really fast, but make sure the first coat is dry before applying the second.

Chalk Paint Tutorial

Step 2:  Wax (Clear)

After the paint is completely dry, apply two coats of wax on the piece using a wax brush.  I don’t wait for the first coat of wax to dry before I apply the second coat.  A tip when waxing, less is more! You are not limited to using wax, but wax does work well with chalk-type paint.  However, I would recommend a water-based polycrylic for cabinets, table and desktops, floors, and outdoor furniture.

Adding Clear Wax to Chalk Paint

Step 3: Wax (Dark)

This step is optional.  Dark wax is good if you want to bring out details and/or like the aged look.  You must apply clear wax BEFORE you apply dark wax.  Go easy on the dark wax.  You won’t need much!  Apply the dark wax with a brush over somewhat dry clear wax.  Remove excess wax with a lint-free cloth.

Adding Dark Wax to Chalk Paint

Step 4: Buff Buff the wax using a lint-free cloth.  It’s pretty easy to see where you missed the wax, so you can easily touch those places up with a brush or rubbing the wax in with your cloth.  Buffing helps smooth out and remove extra wax.

Buffing Chalk Paint Wax

Step 5: Sand  I recommend sanding after you apply the wax because of the chalk nature of chalk-type paint.  It will make a mess if you sand before waxing and then you risk waxing in the chalk paint particles.  I usually sand the edges and places where normal wear and tear would occur.

Sanding Chalk Paint

And that’s it!  This is by far my favorite paint to use on furniture. You can also see the more basic tutorials in my Painting Furniture Tutorial Series by clicking HERE. Still want more tutorials and information on painting furniture with chalk-type paint, milk paint, spray paint, latex paint, and oil-based paint?  Then you need to check out my eBook, Painting Furniture.  Receive your FREE copy by signing up for my newsletter.

Go create something!

Are you new to my blog? Go HERE to see my home tour and HERE to shop for items I use in our home.

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