How to Paint Furniture With Chalk Paint: The Step By Step Guide

Looking to find out what the best way to paint furniture is?  It is chalk paint for so many reasons. Did you know that when you learn how to paint with chalk paint, you can create many different painted finishes from sleek, clean and modern to antiqued or a distressed look.

You can even paint upholstery! Learn how to paint furniture with chalk paint and make the most of your furniture or kitchen cabinets.

If you have been following my blog for sometime then you know I have painted quite a lot of furniture.  I did a quick count…

…I have painted and posted about 42 pieces of furniture since I began my blog.

Today I am going to add one more and am going to show you how to chalk paint furniture.

sideboard in foyer that needs refinishing

What is Chalk Paint?

Chalk Paint is sometimes confused with chalkboard paint and milk paint, but Chalk Paint is neither of these. Chalk paint is a water-based furniture paint first created by Annie Sloan. Using the chalky paint requires little prep work, looks great, and has a very durable finish once sealed with a clear coat of soft wax or water-based polyurethane.

Since its arrival on the paint and home decor scene, many major paint brands like Behr and Rust-Oleum have introduced their own lines of chalk paint, including spray paint formulas.

You can even make your own chalk paint with Plaster of Paris or calcium carbonate powder when you want a certain color or to save money.

How to Paint Furniture Using Chalk Paint

Since moving to a new home, I have mentioned that I have been wanting to paint this sideboard (above) in my foyer. It is a unique piece that was handed down to me. The top drawer opens up to a desk and was the inspiration for the IKEA hack I did for the BHG Makeover Madness contest I won a few years ago.

It is not that I didn’t like the mahogany finish on the sideboard, but it was scratched and worn in places. It needed a colorful update.

A few weeks ago I was at friends house and saw she had painted a console table, blue. It was the exact color and finish that I had been thinking about for the sideboard so I asked her what she used.

Navy blue chalk painted sideboard with books on top

I have used quite a lot of different types of paint and know firsthand what the best furniture paint is.

I have a few favorite paint brands for all types of objects from walls to floors, but when it comes to painting furniture, there is only one type of paint that I will use and that is chalk paint.

You may be asking, WHY use chalk paint?

Why Would I Choose to Only Use Chalk Paint to Paint Furniture?

The answer: There are many reasons to paint with chalk paint, but the main one is that the furniture makeovers I use chalk paint and wax on always look like the finish was done in a factory. Smooth and velvety with a subtle sheen.

The chalk painted furniture has none of that “latex stick” or a built-up layered paint look that can be seen on corners and that keeps drawers and doors on furniture from closing right after painting when you use traditional latex paint.

Another reason you want to use chalk paint when painting furniture is that it rarely requires any preparation, such as sanding or priming, and can be used indoors or outside, on just about any surface.

It can be used to paint wood, metal, laminate and even fabric, making it one very versatile, low voc paint.

These are the most popular reasons why home decorators love to use it when making over an old piece of furniture.

Blue Chalky Chicks Furniture painted piece of furniture

The chalk paint my friend gave me was Chalky Chick’s Furniture Paint in the color DC Blue. It is a matte finish furniture paint like chalk paint, that requires wax or poly to seal it, so I decided to try it.

My friend made it easy as she gave me her leftover paint… which is another reason I like chalk paint, you don’t need a lot. I only needed half a quart to paint the sideboard.

Navy Blue chalk painted chest of drawers in foyer with brick floor

When choosing how to seal chalk paint, there are two options in the way of topcoats:

  • Soft Wax – Using wax may seem scary to do, but it is so easy and truly will make the painted finish velvety smooth. It does take time as you have to apply in thin layers and buff with a soft cloth to bring up the sheen.
  • Water-based Polyurethane – Using poly over chalk paint is popular, but I think takes away from the velvety sheen.

If you can’t decide on what sealer to use to protect the painted finish, here is a tip that may help you make the decision.

  • When using wax to seal the paint and the finish gets damaged in some way, for instance, a water ring. To fix it, you can simply sand over the damaged area and then touch up with paint and a thin layer of buffed wax and the damage disappears.
  • On a water-based poly sealed painted surface, you can’t easily fix a damaged area, as the new paint and poly will lay on top and make a ridge when in dries. The fix will stand out.

When refinishing a piece of furniture with chalk paint, you can also add a stain or glaze over it before waxing.

To see what this chalk paint technique looks like, take a look at this cabinet where I used stain. And this dresser makeover where I used glaze before adding the wax sealer to protect the paint.

For the finish on my now blue sideboard, I distressed a few areas with sandpaper first and cleaned the grit from the surface.

For the protective finish, I applied one coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax and buffed it with a soft lint-free cloth.

Then I added a thin layer of Annie Sloan Dark Wax and buffed it to a sheen.

close up of a Brass and navy sideboard

Putting down the clear wax first makes it easy to move the dark wax where you want it. It looks nice in grooves and crevices.

I have used and like many different waxes, but had the Annie Sloan brand in my supplies so I used it to seal the painted finish on the sideboard.

Back when I started my blog, chalk paint wasn’t even on the scene yet. But when Annie Sloan came on the market and I used it for the first time, I found the holy grail of paint to use when painting furniture.

Blue painted sideboard with decorative accessories on top and baskets on shelves.

Before chalk paint, I had always painted furniture using traditional latex and a primer that you would use for walls and trim.

When I finished that first chalk painted piece, I couldn’t get over the finish, it had the look and feel that I had always tried to achieve using latex paint/poly but could never get.

After that first chalk painted project, I learned to make my own chalk paint to save money and to be able to use any color of paint I wanted as most chalk paint brands only carry a select option of colors.

Navy chalk paint furniture before and after makeover
Navy Chalk Painted Furniture

Nowadays, chalk paint is made by many different brands and comes in many price points. Not all are the same, some have acrylics in them and other ingredients, but they still offer the same smooth painted and sealed finish.

Which brings me to this question that I get asked frequently.

What is So Great About Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint?

  • Furniture doesn’t need to be sanded or primed.
  • Chalk paint is easy to sand smooth once dry, which makes eliminating any brush strokes easy so you can create a super smooth finish.
  • You only need 2 coats. With traditional latex wall type paint, you need 1 -2 coats of a gripping/stain blocking primer and 2 coats of paint. This can make the finish look thick and make cabinet doors and drawers not close fully.
  • There is no latex “stick” when you pick up items from the surface.
  • Chalk paint is very durable when cured and when you add a wax or water-based polyurethane protective finish. One is not better than the other. It just comes down to personal choice.
  • Chalk paint gives you lots of decorative options!  You become a furniture designer since you can alter and mix colors, use clear or colored waxes to create many different decorative finishes, and create modern., vintage look and aged pieces.
Chalk paint furniture how to step by step tutorial and painting tips.

How to Decide What Type of Painted Finish You Want to Achieve?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want a more contemporary, modern look with paint that is full-coverage. If so then don’t distress the paint with sandpaper. Once the paint is dry simply add and buff a coat of wax or add a coat of water-based Polyurethane, like Polycrylic in the sheen you desire.
  • Do I want a more chippy look, distressed, rustic or aged look?  Then use 100 grit sandpaper over the dried paint to distress the finish in areas to make it look old and worn.
    • You can beat the surface with chains and other items to damage the wood, too or even use Vaseline in areas before painting so they paint doesn’t stick and will come off in areas.

I Like a More Modern Look for My Painted Furniture. Do You Have to Age and Distress Chalk Paint For It To Look Good?

  • No. This is the biggest misconception about using chalk paint in general. You do not have to distress the paint. I wrote a post about not distressing the finish in this post: Modern Painted Finish Using Chalk Paint

Do You Need to Sand Wood Furniture Before Painting with Chalk Paint?

sanded piece of furniture waiting for a coat of paint
  • When preparing furniture for chalk paint, the answer is no, you do not need to sand the surface before painting, but I learned at an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshop I attended, that a quick going over the surface with 100 grit sandpaper to provide some “tooth” for the paint to adhere can and will help with adhesion.
  • Five minutes will provide years of lasting durability. :-)  Worth the effort,  so I always do a 5-minute light rubdown of the surface. I clean it, let dry and then start painting.
Sanding the edge to distress a piece of painted furniture.

Other times when you should sand a chalk painted finish:

How to Distress Furniture with Chalk Paint?

The only other time you will want to use sandpaper on chalk paint is when you want to distress the dried second coat to make it look old and aged.

  • If you want a distressed finish when painting furniture, chalk paint makes it so easy as it is very easy to sand.
    • After the piece is painted and completely dry, using 100 grit sandpaper, sand the edges or any area that would see repeated use, like around drawer knobs and pulls, the top edge and corners.
    • You want to remove some of the paint to expose the bare wood underneath. The amount of distressing is up to the look you want. If you have never done it before, start with sanding a little bit, step back and to see if you think it needs more and continue distressing until you like what you see.

Should I Distress the Finish Before or After Applying Wax?

  • I like to sand/distress the edges before adding the wax, as I like the finish to look polished. If you want a more rustic finish, you can sand the edges after you add your protective coat of wax or water-based polyurethane.
    • The exposed wood will not have a finish over it and will look more rustic.

Should I Use a Brush or Roller When Painting Furniture with Chalk Paint or Furniture Paint?

3 paint brushes to use when painting with chalk paint

The soft bristle Purdy paint brush that I usually use just couldn’t push the Chalky Chick paint on smoothly.

I removed that first coat of paint and started again using a Waverly chalk paint brush I had.  I am so used to using Purdy brushes that never shed.  The Waverly brush did because it was new.

Paint Brush Tip – How to stop a new paint brush from shedding bristles:

  • Swirl the ends of the bristles in the palm of your hand a few times to remove the loose bristles.
    • Shake it out and repeat until no bristles show up in your palm. Depending on the quality of the brush, it may shed a lot or not at all.

Note to Self:  Always follow directions on label and use quality brushes. :-)

Can I Use a Foam Roller to Apply Chalk Paint?

  • Yes, foam rollers are perfect to use to cover large flat areas quickly, plus they don’t leave any brush marks.
  • Make sure to use a foam roller with rounded ends. The rounded ends lessen roller edge lines from showing in your painted surface.
  • For the smoothest finish use a Flocked Foam Roller instead of a plain foam roller.  It is the best type of roller for furniture painting.

What are The Differences Between Chalk Paint Brands?

Most chalk paint and furniture paints are thin, but the Chalky Chick’s Furniture Paint I used was thicker than others I have used previously.

On their website it states to use a chalk paint brush or stiff brush. I didn’t use one and after I applied the first coat to the top of the sideboard I found out why a stiff brush is needed for their paint.

Some brands of chalk paint are not pure chalk paint, but have acrylic and other additives in them that pure chalk paint does not.  I have liked all the brands I have used and below have listed my favorites.

I liked the Chalky Chick’s paint once I used a stiff brush and would use it again. You can buy it here:  Chalky Chick’s Furniture Paint

Sideboard that was painted with blue chalk paint

Chalk Paint I Use and Like The Best:

Chalk Paint Waxes:

When choosing what wax to seal your furniture, all waxes work well. Most are clear or dark. Clear wax goes on everything. You use dark wax over clear wax so that you can manipulate the dark wax into grooves and crevices to make the piece look aged.

  • Annie Sloan Clear Wax and Dark Wax – Most expensive, but goes on like butter and buffs to a sheen very easily.
  • Fiddes and Sons Clear Wax  – mid-range price and one that I have used the most.
  • Johnsons Clear Paste Wax  – Least expensive – found in the cleaning aisle at most supermarkets and home improvement stores. I rarely use this any longer as the smell is intense until it dries.
  • KILZ Clear and Dark Wax come in smaller tins when doing a smaller project.

Chalk Paint Supplies:

Depending on the size of the object you’re painting, you can opt to use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply chalk paint. How you apply the paint will depend on your applicator of choice:

  • To use chalk paint with a brush: For a smooth, uniform finish, choose a natural-bristle brush with long, flexible bristles. Dip the brush into the can, and tap the handle against the lid of the can to remove excess paint. Then, apply the paint in unidirectional strokes to one section of the piece at a time until the entire surface is covered.
  • To use chalk paint with a roller: Pour the chalk paint into a paint pan, then load it onto a high-density foam roller (depending on the size of the furniture, a four-inch mini roller may be the best option).
    • Scrape off the excess paint on the grid of the pan. Roll a thin layer of paint in a long, unidirectional stroke, then pull it back and make one more stroke in the original direction. Repeat this process until the entire surface is coated.
  • To use chalk paint with a sprayer: Chalk paint is a naturally thick medium that may not flow readily from all sprayers. You can get around this by watering down the chalk paint (adding approximately two tablespoons of water for every cup of paint) before loading it into the sprayer.
    • Or, you can opt to load the paint as is and operate the sprayer at maximum pressure, preferably with a spray tip measuring at least 1.8 millimeters to enable the fluid to flow.
    • To avoid risking damage to your sprayer, test this method on a small, inconspicuous part of the piece before tackling larger areas.

To read more about painting furniture with chalk paint and making it, check out these posts:

If you haven’t used chalk paint yet.  What is holding you back?

If you are afraid you will mess up a large piece of furniture, start with a small object like I did for these small and thrift store finds until you find your furniture painting confidence.

Not sure about using chalk paint? I used another type of paint on my laundry room cabinets. You don’t have to sand the surface before painting. Read my review at Beyond Paint All In One Paint in my laundry room.

Blue chalk painted sideboard

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  1. wow gorgeous nice job love it. Big wow factor.

  2. Would you please share how you accomplished the sheen you did on the blue piece? The piece I did, didn’t shine up like that, it’s duller looking.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa – To answer your question, What wax are you using as a sealer on your piece of furniture? What paint did you use? Let me know and I will be able to help you get the sheen you want.

      1. I used Annie Sloan for both.

  3. Averil Bloomfield says:

    Are you in Australia?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Averil – No, I live in the US.

  4. Peggy E Benvenuto says:

    My dresser was painted dark blue. I want to chalk paint it off white and distress it. Can this be done without removing the existing paint? Thank you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Peggy – It can be done, but after chalk painting the piece, the areas that you sand will expose the dark blue and you will see this in the sanded/distressed areas.

      What I do is figure out before hand where you are going to distress the chalk painted finish. Sand these areas to the bare wood. Take a photo of the piece with your phone to keep as a reference where these spots are. When the chalk paint is dry and time to distress, use your photo to remind yourself where to distress so no blue shows up in an under layer.

      If you have any other questions, let me know.

  5. Hi,
    I found this post very informative, wish I had found it before I started sanding. My query is this the piece of furniture I’m upcycling I have sanded back to the bare wood as I want the distressed part to be silver. Please guide me, am I right in thinking I can spray it silver then add my chalk paint, then sand to bring out the silver element?
    Many thanks inadvance.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valda –

      You are on the right path. When you sand to distress a chalk painted finish, whatever color is under the chalk paint will be seen in the layer of exposed wood and paint.

      If you want silver to show up in the distressed areas, you can paint the piece silver or simply paint the areas where you know you are going to distress silver and not paint the rest as it will be covered by chalk paint that is not distressed.

      If you want to cheat a little this way, use your phone to take a photo of where you added silver paint. Once you add the chalk paint layer over it and it is dry, use your photo as reference to where the silver paint is and sand to distress.

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. Hello Diane,
    Would you clarify a couple of steps for me? I love this step-by-step, but the wax part left me with questions.
    I’d like to chalk paint my gentlemen’s chest. Do I have these steps correct:
    1. lightly sand (think I’ll prefer to sand rather than skip this step)
    2. two coats of chalk paint
    3. add more distressing with sanding, if needed, after paint dries (I’ll be doing this)
    4. use clear wax & buff out
    5. Should only the dark was be used after this step to add finish to the distressed/antique look OR can I use the polyurethane in a satin finish to do that? Wasn’t sure after reading the article if wax and then polyur. to follow is correct…or only clear wax followed by dark wax.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mizraggy –

      You have all the steps in the correct order. When adding a coat of paint, poly or wax always use light coats. When it comes to sealing your painted piece you have to choose if you want to use wax or water-based poly. You don’t use both.

      If using water-based poly, you first have to figure out what sheen you want the sealed finish to be. Water-based poly comes in a few different sheens – Matte – Satin and Semi-gloss – Gloss. Choose the one you want.

      After your painted piece is dry, brush on a water-based poly like Minwax Polycrylic. Let the first coat dry, then apply a second light coat. Once dry you are done.

      If you want to seal with soft wax: Once the paint is dry, rub on a thin coat of clear wax with a lint-free cloth. Rub it in well all over the surface, even a thin coat will spread easily. Buff this with a lint-free rag until the cloth slides over the surface easily. You can add a second layer after this to build up protection, again buffing well. If you want to darken the finish, after the first coat of clear wax is on and buffed, you can add a layer of dark wax over the clear and buff. Adding the dark layer over the clear allows you to move the dark color where you want it. If you apply dark wax first the dark color absorbs into the chalk paint and can’t be moved around. The finish can look spotty.

      I always sand the edges to distress before adding either sealer. This gives the finish a smoother look. If you want the piece to look more rustic and beat up, you can sand after the finish is on. Either way works, it is just up to the look you are trying to achieve.

  7. I had to pause to offer you a tip…

    You literally produced the Best Blog/Article I have changed to discover on the Internet, and on the Subject(s): DIY, Chalk Paint, Painted Furniture, “What works to achieve the most Professional Finish.”
    Paint + Sealer, and more.
    Not done yet! In addition to the “VALUE of Content”, your a Most Effective Directional Writer (giving directions/how to’s).
    You use a clear format for the content and provide appropriate and applicable reference photos/visuals.

    I happen to have one of my Degrees in Journalism. As In sure your aware, Journalism is a “Fat College”, meaning the School of Journalism includes several areas of subjects and each are a Major Subject in their own right: Journalism = Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations, Print Media, Broadcasting, TV/Radio/Print/Internet all mediums, Anchor, Reporter, Editor, Research, Investigative, and the really skill studies behind these which includes: “Writing”, Press Releases, News Articles, Commentaries and Editorials (Persuasive Writing and Speech), Creative Writing, Public Speaking, Voice and Diction, Market Research, and on and on.

    I share this so you can measure the Review/Comment I offer here.

    Thus, as experience improves upon our learned skills and/or natural gifts, I’m sure you’ll agree our confidence climbs.

    Obviously you have done so with your Creative Refinishing of Furniture, but you also offer an equally Professional level of “Information Presentation” including: Vaule of Content in its Usefulness to the Subject Area, and the How-to Directional Information.

    Likely my 1st observation of your work but I don’t expect it to be the last!

    Well Done and I look forward to more.

    BTW, I was gathering info on the subject of: Chalk Paint for Walls. I have a desire for a slight texture (like Linen Paper, the stock option for printing or old reference would be Typing Paper Linen Stock).

    I was curious if I needed to seal a wall version and if I could find any experience and reference to the texture, on the subject. That was quite limited, Annie Sloan Tips helped answer: Living Room and Bathroom, no sealer required, left Kitchen and Bath with a suggested purchase of Annie Sloan Wall Paint.

    Thus I’m guessing, maybe a Semigloss base and the chalk mix recipe.

    I’ve checked this a few times over the past few years and I’m just going to go with the Living Room and Bedroom and see how these work and tackle Kitchen/Bath after.

    I’m sure the method will come to me.

    So, I just happened to see your title and I have Projects that are ready to be done so I can clear my space and I thought, why not check out this recommendation and make a more attractive Schedule for both time and eliminate some of the hours sanding.

    I can’t seem to not get detailed and oh Obsessive Compulsive in Craftsmanship.

    lol, I seem to desire unique outcomes and they often require unique methods.

    There ya have it, recognition, compliment, and Market Feedback, all from 1 Source and with some accreditations.

    You take care, enjoy your Passion and Best Wellbeing wishes to you, yours, and your viewers.

    Beth Bartlett
    (Writer/Artist) – my new Direction for Profession

    I will fill out the email form and you’ll have my email address, I rarely check it unless I am expecting something. But, I’m on FB and FB Msgnr – feel free to give me a shout anytime.

  8. Have you tried or would you recommend Frenchchic chalk paint? If you have do you think it’s as good as say, Annie Sloan or one of the other brands you recommended?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi May –

      I have not tried Frenchchic chalk paint. I just checked out the site – Love the name and the paint/wax product sounds intriguing.

      Even though I haven’t tried it, there isn’t a chalk paint brand I don’t like. The choice for me comes down to color and cost. I think if you like one of their colors, then go for it.

      For the brands I like – I like Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint – very affordable. It is sold at Walmart. Here is a link:

      It doesn’t come in a huge range of colors, but when I need a basic color, this is my go-to brand and a lot simpler than making my own. For wax, Annie Sloan waxes are the best by far, worth the cost and the easiest to use as it buffs to a sheen quickly without a lot of effort.

      If you use the Frechchic, let me know how your project turns out.

  9. Thanks for all of your tips!! I’m just about to paint a roll top desk.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Suzanne – Thanks – I hope your desk comes out great. The roll top can be tricky to paint. Thin coats will be best for the roll top.

  10. When making your own chalk paint do you find that it alters the color of the original paint at all? I painted a side board with paint I made myself and it seemed like it turned out lighter. I love the blue you used for your sideboard in the post and was thinking of trying my hand again at mixing my own, but do I need to allow for lighter shade b/c of mixing my own?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa – The only color that I have seen the paint lighten up is when I made black or dark navy chalk paint. So if you want to go for the navy blue like I used for my sideboard, you may want to use the pre-made. For your sideboard, did you wax or poly it yet? When you do that it will deepen the color. You may want to test a small area to see if you like how the paint looks after it is sealed.

  11. Hi –

    Gorgeous! I saw a couple of years ago that you said you were working on a way to not have black and red paint get lighter when you add calcium carbonate to it for homemade chalk paint. Do you know how to prevent that from happening?


  12. We are thinking of using fabric paint on our church pews. They are bright blue, and were installed in 1977. They are very sturdy and made from fine wood. We can’t afford to replace them, so thought you could advise us on how to properly covered them with fabric paint (or something else), and be much less expensive. We priced reupholstering them, but it would cost at least $1000 a pew and we have 24 pews!! HELP!! Thank you for any input you may have.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Imran – Not sure I would use fabric paint. Too expensive for the amount needed. Do you know what type of paint is on the pews now? Shiny? Dull? Is the painted finish worn? Smooth? Knowing this would help figure out the best paint to use

  13. Danielle M Rowland says:

    Hello, this is exactly the color and look I am going for with a Hope Chest we bought at a yard sale.
    Can you tell mw what the color is?
    Thank you so much

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Danielle – The paint is Chalky Chick’s Furniture Paint in the color DC Blue. There is a link to it in my post. It is a matte finish furniture paint like chalk paint, that requires wax or poly to seal it. I clear wax over it first, then used dark wax to enrich the color.

  14. I have enjoyed reading all of your articles about chalk painting and have convinced myself to chalk paint a baby crib (currently dark wood and I will be painting it green) for my soon-to-be-here grandson. Would you recommend a wax or poly coating for baby furniture? Also, while a spray sounds easier, it’s harder for me to find a spot to work — no basement and it’s too cold outside. Can I get a smooth finish using a brush? Thanks for your help!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Theresa –

      When painting a crib, chalk paint is one of the safer paints to use, I would suggest you go over the surface of the crib with 100 grit sandpaper first. A light going over is all the is needed to rough up the surface a bit. This will really help for the paint to adhere.

      I would recommend a water-based poly for the crib. Less toxic and once dry, is permanent. Wax takes longer to cure and if the crib sits in the sunny window, it could soften. I would suggest using Minwax Polycrylic. It comes in different sheens, Matte, Satin and Semi-gloss. I would go with the matte or satin.

      To ensure a smooth finish with chalk paint using a brush. After each coat dries, go over with a medium to fine grit sandpaper – 100-220 to smooth any ridges before applying the next coat. Use more very light coats when painting and let dry completely before adding the next coat. This will ensure that it won’t chip or peel once dry. Chalk paint is very easy to sand in between coats to remove brush strokes. Also use a high quality chalk paint brush that has rounded ends. Like this one:

  15. I really like the rustoleum chalk paint if you are going for something inexpensive. I use wooster short cut brushes with a flexible small handle that makes getting inside of cabinets etc a cinch (and they are cheap) Rustoleum also makes a smoke glaze that is gorgeous over white. Southern strokes is my favorite clear wax. It is super soft and easy to apply with a pleasant slightly citrus scent. Have you tried any of these products?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Maple- I have used the shorty brushes. They are a very smart design! Have not tried the Rustoleum glaze or the Southern Strokes wax. I think I will like the citrus smell. :-) Will look into each. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I have 6 dining chairs I would like to chalk paint…I was told to get the best finish in dining chairs that a “spray chalk “ paint it better…your thoughts? Thank you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Angela –

      Using spray chalk paint would make painting the chairs a fast and easy project. I have used both regular chalk paint on chairs using a brush and spray painting chairs with regular spray paint. I like both, but spraying is easier and you get a smoother finish. Spray chalk paint is a great product. I have used in on a few items. You can see how I painted chairs in these posts: Dining Room Chairs using Chalk paint: and Spray Painting Kitchen Chairs:

  17. Greta Goss says:

    My biggest question with chalk paint is durability.
    I have use wax finishes over paint instead of poly in the past and after it evaporated I had to rewax.
    I don’t want finishes the require further maintenance except dusting once a piece is done.
    Thus I want to know if the water based poly over chalk paint is permanent or also evaporates.
    If so, can Zar Antique Matte Oil poly be used instead and achieve the same effect?
    Thanks, Greta

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Greta – Water-based poly will not evaporate and will last forever. Using anything oil-based over chalk paint will darken it and give it an amber-yellowed color over time. I would not use it. If you don’t want to use wax, use Minwax Polycrylic in a matte finish. It also comes in other finishes. All are water-based and will not change the color of the paint when applied.

  18. vicki sorrell says:

    What brand and color did you use on this blue cabinet?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Chalky Chick’s Furniture Paint in the color DC Blue.

  19. That Sassy Life coach says:

    Chalk paint.. who knew! Going to give it a bash

  20. Without a doubt, a beautiful furniture always beautifies the home and we always need to take care of them. Painting the old furniture makes them look new and beautiful. This article really helped me a lot as I was looking for such kind of instructions which can help me while painting the furniture of my home.

  21. Hi there!
    I bought a bedroom set at an estate sale and didn’t realize that the fronts of the drawers were plastic. Look like real wood. My question is, can I still use chalk paint on this?

    1. Hi I just happened to see your question that maybe she didn’t see and thought I’d give you some of my advice. I’m a furniture painter and I use chalk paint alot. That being said you absolutely could use chalk paint on plastic. If it were me I would definitely use primer and then ofcourse seal it after you chalk paint it. You can you wax or a poly on it. The polyurethane would protect it more from being scratched off. There is a water based sealer spray from Walmart and from my town true value. It’s non yellowing spray so you could use it on a light or white color and it wont turn it to a different color like some polyurethane can. The brand is Kylon, white can and says crystal clear for metal wood wicker and more, indoor/outdoor- protective non yellowing clear finish.. it’s by far one of the best sealers I’ve ever used. Goes on as smooth as a babys butt! Lol nothing I have ever used has ever went on so smooth and flawless. Only takes maybe 10mins total. That’s the only thing I use unless I want to wax with a color then I will use the wax just for the aged look. Hope that helps you or someone else!

  22. Very pretty.
    I have never heard of this rand of paint. Did you like using it?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi DiB –

      Painting my sideboard/desk was the first time for me using Chalky Chick’s paint. I liked it. The paint is comparable with other chalk paints I have used – Annie Sloan, Country Chic, and Fusion Mineral paint. All of these brands are good. When considering what paint brand to use on a piece, I choose the color I like and go with that brand. As far as waxes to seal the paint – Annie Sloan is my favorite. When I need a bargain – Johnsons Paste Wax is my go to.

  23. Christy K says:

    Hi – thank you for this great write-up on chalk painting furniture! We’ve been ‘saving’ furniture for years while saving for a place at the lake. To create some cohesiveness we’ve painted our mish-mash of furniture using the DC Blue paint and are very pleased with the outcome! My husband was resistant to using chalk paint because he believed it had to result in a heavily distressed finish and pictures of your sideboard won him over! Many thanks for sharing your style and your fabulous tutorials!

  24. Katie Bruhn says:

    Would shellac work the same as polyurethane to protect?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Katie – Shellac could be used over chalk paint, but I would not recommend it. It is a natural product that has a warm tint. This color could change the color of the paint when applied over the paint. However, shellac is used with chalk paint as a base/primer coat to seal smelly furniture or dark woods that have a lot of tannins in them. The shellac blocks the smells and tannins. Paint can be applied after it is dry.

      For sealing/protecting chalk paint I would recommend using wax or water based polyurethane. These will not alter the color of the paint.

  25. Brandi McNallen says:

    You did an awesome job!! How were you able to keep the sheen of the wax on the top, even? I’m having a huge problem getting it even. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Brandi – To keep the sheen even across the surface, only apply a thin coat of wax and buff really, really hard with a soft lint-free cloth. If you have applied the wax and it is not even, keep buffing and use a few different textures of soft cloths until the cloth glides easily over the wax. It may take some effort

      If you applied too much wax. I have done this myself…. I just kept buffing with long hard strokes until I like the sheen. You can add another layer of wax over buffed wax that won’t buff to a sheen. It will help to spread and soften the first layer so you can buff. Changing out the buffing cloth with a clean cloth will also help get the wax evenly spread across the surface.

  26. Sideboard is lovely!!! Plan to copy that color. Where did Gail find that brand? I too, took a AS class. Found her paint overpriced. So cheap to make your own chalk paint. Can you suggest a cream color for my French bedroom set? Thanks a lot.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ellie – I linked to the Chalky Chicks paint in my post. Gail found it online on Amazon. Are you planning to use Chalky Chicks? If so check out their color called Old Lace. If making your own paint using latex paint I would take a color swatch of a chalk paint color you like from any brand of chalk paint and match it up to a major paint brands paint that is sold at the home improvement store. If you don’t have a swatch of the chalk paint color, take your phone with you and bring up the chalk paint site with the color listed. This way you can find a close match. It may not be perfect, but it will get you close.

  27. Dianna L Waller says:

    Diane, Question for you: I purchased an old four piece Thomasville bedroom set. I want to remove the old “funk” from it, such as molding on the drawers and fill in some decorative accents. I sanded down one of the nightstands to the bare wood. Now I am wondering if I needed to do that and/or if I need to now sand all the pieces down to bare wood.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dianna – When painting furniture there is no need to remove all the paint down to the bare wood. If you wanted to stain the wood, then yes you would need to do this.

      Since you did sand one nightstand to the bare wood, you do not have to do it on all the other pieces of the set. Once painted they will all look the same. Save yourself time and effort. What you do need to do is, sand the surfaces smooth to remove nicks or large scratches in the surface and also too provide some tooth for the paint to adhere. Then apply the paint in light coats, letting the first coat dry before applying the second light coat.

      If using chalk paint or any paint, tannins can seep through to the paint in some types of wood. If your set is old and dark stained wood and you plan to use a light color, you may want to prime first with clear shellac. One coat and let it dry will do the trick. I have only had to do this on one piece. A mahogany mirror where the wood was old. I painted it with Annie Sloan blue and it went brown right away. This doesn’t happen on most new or lighter stained pieces of furniture.

      Happy painting. It will really update your bedroom set and will be worth the time and effort you put into it.

  28. Beautiful!! Have you had any problem with mahogany bleed thru? A former furniture/antique restorer told me that mahogany was hard to paint as the deep red color tended to bleed thru even with prime. I would love to do this to my inherited 1949 Drexel buffet as the dark shiny finish classes with my teak parquet floors.
    The Chippendale dining chairs are a beautiful satin finish that i want to leave but the dining table also has a dark shiny finish while the leg are the satin finish. thnx for your detailed info

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barbara –

      Did you use paint primer? What works is clear shellac. You can buy it in the paint aisle. It is inexpensive and works great. One or two light coats on the surface, let dry and then paint with chalk paint. It works and since it is clear, you can still distress and not see a white layer of primer between the color of the paint and the color of the wood.

  29. Auntie Kaye says:

    Diane I am late commenting, but wanted to add my voice to those who have registered approval. You should be very happy with the outcome! I hope I do not offend, but my response to all of the “before” pictures of this piece on your blog was “that piece could be SO much more!” and now it is! I agree with others about the baskets – they are fine, but my eye sees some decorative pieces there.

    Question: I have always wondered about the inside of pieces such as this – the inside of the drawers, doors, and the inside that you would see with all of the drawers removed. Do you paint these? If so do you wax these surfaces as well?

  30. Diane, this is lovely, and you’re posts are always so thorough and well explained. Thank you!

    I’ve tried chalk paint but wasn’t in love with the finish. Do you think that I just possibly didn’t my Dom good job with the wax? When I dust , some parts feel satiny and smooth, while other parts seem to grab the dust and have more texture. Any thoughts?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Tiffany –

      From your description of the waxed finish on the piece you chalk painted, it sounds like you may need to buff the areas where you feel the texture. The wax may have been applied to thick or dried before getting buffed enough. When buffing wax, the cloth should slide right over the surface. To remedy the wax build up, place the piece outside in the sun on a hot day. This will soften the wax. Once softened, remove some of the wax with a plastic spatula and then buff the surface with a soft, clean lint-free cloth until the cloth slides over the surface. If the piece is too big to take outside, you can hold a blow dryer on the heat setting over the wax built-up areas to soften it.

      Buff with a soft cloth with as much muscle as you can to really get the wax into the wood and to a sheen.

  31. Sue Bauman says:

    The sideboard turned out more lovely than I could’ve imagined, Ed’s uncle would be proud of that piece of furniture, I am sure! Your tutorial for chalk painting is very detailed and well illustrated. Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge.

  32. Charisse Andrews says:

    What a lovely piece! Before, you could see that it was a unique piece of furniture, and although I love wood furniture, the paint has given it a new life and it is now gorgeous. So nice; I think that I might change out the baskets for books placed horizontal or pottery, perhaps blue & white export china or pure white ironstone. What a change for the better! And thank you for the additional tips about your experience using chalk paint. I also love the stuff, and you helped make the learning curve a bit shorter through your previous posts. Thanks Diane!

  33. Elizabeth H says:

    I love the furniture, the blue is perfect!

  34. It is beautiful! It reminds me of blue hallway off of your kitchen.

  35. Milie Torres says:

    Diane, it looks fabulous. Great job my friend! Millie from http://

  36. Went from kinda fugly to pretty fab-u-lous! I’m not a fan of blue but this just ‘works’ in your design concepts and palette. is visually ‘calming.’

  37. I also have been to an Annie Sloan dealer class. Your directions are so thorough and LOVE this color fry the CHICKS!!
    It turned out lovely. While I lived in the South, I saw a piece like yours and have never had the opportunity to acquire one. Yours is stunning, and so glad you shared this and the process.

  38. patty reed-pederson says:


  39. Diane, I loved having you as my mentor at Haven this year! I’ve never used chalk paint, but I’m hoping to paint our DIY twin headboards with chalk paint for my twin sons’ room. Thanks for this expert tutorial!

  40. Stunning colour, beautifully offset by the hardware. Terrific job and also love your very informative and experienced comments re chalk paint – more please!

  41. Like all the rest of the comments I love what you did. I’m surprised because I like wood so much but sanding and re-staining, etc. is just too much work. And, this looks so much better. I’m wondering why under your list of favorite chalk paints you didn’t include Anne Sloane’s chalk paint. You mentioned her wax. Did I miss something?

  42. Gail Vernali says:

    Diane, it looks lovely in DC Blue, what a wonderful informative post. I just may go over my white chalk paint with black to fill the creases, love it. Always an inspiration.

  43. Elaine Williams in Baltimore says:

    I love it! What a neat pop of color! I love old pieces that are given a second life. You are so creative and inspirational.
    I am not a fan of the draw pulls – I like the shape and design but I prefer satin or brushed nickle. On a piece like this would it be possible to remove the pulls, clean, and spray paint with brushed nickle?

  44. What a beautiful piece – love the blue!! Thank you for all the chalk paint tips, I’d like to paint a dresser next year and instead of latex paint I’ll try chalk paint. You know what though, there is something about those baskets that don’t seem quite right. I wonder what they would look like spray painted white or a bold colour? Or using curved baskets like cute curvy slouchy ones, that would be more relaxed and beachy?

  45. Diane,

    Your sideboard is absolutely stunning! I love the color!

    You’ve inspired us; my daughter is now painting her desk using the WAVERLY in ink.

    I have a question, we have a small dresser i would love to redo but the drawer fronts are plastic. Can I use chalk paint on those and if not then what do you sugggest we use?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rachel – Thanks :-)

      Yes, you can use chalk paint over the plastic. I would sand it first with 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface. You want to knock down the slick surface so the paint has something to grab onto. Clean off the sanding grit and then go over with hot sudsy water and rinse. Then you can paint. Use only very light coats, letting the first one dry before adding the second. Chalk paint does take time to cure. Since the surface is plastic, I would let it sit on the dresser for a 48 hours before going over with wax or poly.

      I used chalk paint on plastic planters in my yard. They have held up great and are out in the sun and rain. I wrote about them here:

  46. Carol Heartfelt Whimsies says:

    I absolutely LOVE this piece! The navy is a perfect choice!!!
    This post has to be one of the most thorough I’ve ever read on chalk paint!!
    Thank you!!! I know I’ll be referring to it time and again!

  47. Excellent job, great color choice.
    Not a fan of the baskets, kinda of cheapens the exquisite piece. imho !
    how did you get the brass deco pulls so shiny ?

  48. I have learned so much from your blog. Thank you for your inspiration. You are a blessing. I love the color of your sideboard. You have given me inspiration and courage to step out beyond my comfort zone and change many pieces in my home too. Thank you Diane, thank you !

  49. Yes, yes, yes! I love it! I am picturing a striped rug to go with it!

  50. Your sideboard looks amazing!! I’ve been putting off painting my dining room chairs, and you’ve now convinced me to use chalk paint to update them. I’ve been waiting for you to re-do your foyer piece and now that you have, it even enhances the floor, which I’ve mentioned before that I’m not crazy about. :>) Seriously, I’m not being critical of the floor – I’m just so in love with your new lake home that I want to see everything match your wonderful style.

  51. You did a wonderful job Diane, that is the perfect color. I love chalk paint and wouldn’t use anything else on my furniture. I painted a old library table for my foyer and it turned out lovely.

  52. Linda L Weeks says:

    Not only is this color perfect, your finishing and distressing is too! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better job of chalk painting! I am thinking of getting the same type and color as you have used here. Inspiring work, again, Mz. Diane!

  53. Glenda West says:

    Love how this turned out, the color and finish are beautiful. My favorite by far!

  54. Susan Scott says:

    Very elegant addition. The blue finish is beautiful

  55. Just love the color of the foyer cabinet. It looks so lovely. I would like to paint the island in my kitchen with this paint. Do you think it would stand up to the wear and tear of kitchen use? I am also thinking about doing my kitchen chairs which are painted already when we purchased them (we sold furniture for years and these came from Singer Sewing Machine company/furniture division/which I see has left the parent company. Ours are not modern but, ladder back syle. They are already distressed and have a floral decal on the top. Should this be removed first and again, do you think the paint would stand up? I really appreciate all the work you do and love your ideas. Peggy

  56. So beautiful and stunning. Perfect way to welcome guests. I am getting ideas!

  57. Thank you so much for this post. I have an old secretary desk that I would love to paint and your directions are so helpful. Love that blue color!

  58. Did you use dark wax? I love the texture and depth it has… Just perfect!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sara –

      Yes, I did write it in the post. I used clear wax first and buffed it and then went over with dark wax and buffed. Putting the clear wax down first allows you to move the dark wax where you want it.

      1. Sara Newell says:

        Sorry… Somehow I missed that, but glad I did, because I didn’t know that about clear wax first. Thanks for your inspiration!!

  59. Pamela Caudill says:

    awesome job Diane…you’re hired!!

  60. Theresa Stewart says:

    Ab so lute ly gorgeous! You outdid yourself on this one!

  61. 1960sgirl says:

    “Stunning” is the word that came to my mind when I saw the pictures! Wow…

  62. OMG! I love this! Give the room a much more relaxed air!
    I just finished painting a small server in my living room with chalk paint and am tempted to tackle the sideboard in the dinning room. I

  63. Becky in 'Bama says:

    Your efforts were rewarded 100%. Looks fresh and new and old all at the same time. Great job.

  64. Marianne A. says:

    Gorgeous. The piece is beautiful, anyways (I love them pulls), but the new finish is stunning.

  65. Beautiful! Love the color!

  66. Love this piece of furniture. I even liked it with the old finish! I am so partial to blue I ,too, would have chosen that color. Very nice.

  67. LindaSonia says:

    Your project came out absolutely GORGEOUS!! I love it. Also, thanks for this very comprehensive post of the process. Appreciate it! :-)

  68. BEAUTIFUL!! Love the color.