Looking to find out what the best way to paint furniture is? It is chalk paint for so many reasons. The most important one is that you can create many different painted finishes when painting with chalk paint from sleek, clean and modern to antiqued and distressed.
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.
How to Paint Furniture Using Chalk Paint
Since moving to the lake house 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 us from Ed’s uncle. 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, plus you know me, I want to see a pops of color in my decor. A few weeks ago I was at my friend, Gail’s 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.
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?
Why would I choose to only use chalk paint to paint furniture?
The answer: There are many reasons, 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 with a subtle sheen. They have 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.
The 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. Gail 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.
I distressed a few areas with sandpaper. 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. 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 from a chalk painting workshop I attended last fall.
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.
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.
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 decorative 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.
- Low or No VOC that are safer for your home environment.
- 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 or aged pieces.
To figure out what type of painted finish you want to achieve, ask yourself:
- 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, distressed, rustic, 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?
- 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.
Other times to sand the chalk painted finish:
- 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 dry then you would sand the edges or any area that would see use, like around knobs. This is one way to distress the finish. It removes some of the paint to expose the bare wood underneath.
- 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?
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. 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
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.
Chalk Paint I Use and Like The Best:
- Calcium Carbonate Powder or Webster’s Chalk Paint Powder – to make my own chalk paint in any color using flat, matte, or satin latex paint.
- Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint – My favorite bargain brand of chalk paint. If they have the color I want, I no longer make it myself.
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Chalk Paint Waxes:
- Annie Sloan Clear Wax and Dark Wax – Most expensive
- Fiddes and Sons Clear Wax – mid-range price
- Johnsons Paste Wax – Least expensive – found in the cleaning aisle at most supermarkets and home improvement stores
- KILZ Clear and Dark Wax