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All Your Chalk Paint Questions Answered

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Post updated: 8/9/2021

If you are looking for answers to questions about all things related to how to use chalk paint to paint furniture, seal it and more, I have the answers.

I have been using chalk paint on furniture since Annie Sloan first started selling it in the USA. I have shared all my furniture makeovers using it and other brands of chalk paint here on my blog, as well as tips about using the paint, sealers and waxes and even make my own chalk paint when I can’t buy the color I want.

I have gathered the most frequently-asked-questions I receive about chalk paint here in an easy to find your question format.

So that you can get your question about chalk paint answered quickly and start transforming your furniture into furniture you will love and enjoy for a long time.


If you have a chalk painting on furniture question that is not answered here or have a problem with a furniture makeover you are doing, please leave the question for me in the comment section of this post. I answer most question within 24 hours.

3 colorful chalk paint makeovers

General Chalk Paint FAQ’s

What is the Difference Between Chalk Paint and Regular Paint?

The difference and main reason why you would use chalk paint vs regular paint when painting furniture is that chalk paint was made for transforming furniture.

Its chalky formula adheres to any surface without needing to sand or use a primer coat. You would need to do both of these steps when using regular latex paint.

Another difference is how well chalk paint sands to a smooth finish.
When sanding a painted surface to remove brush strokes, regular latex paint rolls up and shreds a bit.

When sanding a coat of dried chalk paint, it turns into powder that wipes away, leaving a smooth finish with no brush strokes.

When chalk paint is sealed with either wax or polyurethane, the finish is smooth and velvety. When furniture is painted with latex, the painted surface can have a sticky tacky feel, even when it is dry. Items placed on it can sometime stick a little to it. This does not happen on a chalk painted finish.

Is Chalk Paint Waterbased?

Chalk paint is waterbased with low VOC’s.

Can You Use Chalk Paint on Metal?

Yes, you can use chalk paint on metal of all types, even cabinet pulls and knobs. Once sealed with wax, they will take on a subtle sheen and look amazing.

Can You Use Chalk Paint Over Varnished Wood?

Painting over varnished wood is one of the best reasons to use chalk paint.

On most furniture you do not have to sand before painting, but I have found a quick 5 minute going over the a previously varnished surface with a piece of 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface a little will help with paint adhesion.

When painting furniture with any type of paint, always use light coats and let each one dry completely before applying the next coat. More light coats will adhere to the surface better than fewer thicker coats of paint.

Can You Paint Fabric With Annie Sloan Chalk Paint?

Painting upholstery or fabric is another way that chalk paint can be used.

It works best on small and firmly upholstered items like a dining chair seat made of cotton or linen, but I have seen it done on wing chairs and a leather sofa with beautiful and lasting results.

When using chalk paint on upholstery, you can add a little bit of water to the paint to thin it. Doing this will make it easier for the paint to saturate the fabric to produce a nice even color throughout.

Once dry you can leave the paint unsealed or add a thin layer of wax and buff to a subtle sheen.

Can Chalk Paint Be Used Outside?

Chalk paint is water-based, but not waterproof. It can be used outside, but know it will gradually wear away over time when on furniture. Some like this aged look. If you want to paint an item with chalk paint and have it last, you can make your own chalk paint using outdoor latex paint.

I did this myself on a row of garden planters. The DIY chalk painted finish on them looks perfect even after being out in the elements for 5 years.

Is Chalk Paint Safe for Baby Furniture?

Since chalk paint is water-based and has low VOC’s it is a good choice to use on baby furniture.

The best sealer to use to protect the finish for chalk painted baby furniture would be a water-based polyurethane like Minwax Polycrylic. It will not break down over time and need to be reapplied. It comes in 3 different sheens and dries to clear non-yellowing finish.

4 chalk painted furniture makeovers

Prepping Furniture for Chalk Paint FAQ’s

Do You Need to Sand Before Chalk Paint?

The sanding chalk paint question is the most frequently asked question I receive. The answer is no you do not have to sand. But I will mention that at an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint class I went to, we were told that it can’t hurt to give the piece a quick going over with 100 grit sandpaper.

Does Chalk Paint Need a Primer?

Chalk paint does not need a primer. The chalky ingredients in chalk paint act as a primer.

What Brush to Use for Chalk Paint?

You can use any bristle or foam brush to paint with chalk paint. You can even use a foam roller. The higher the quality the better. For years I used Purdy brushes.

Now though, I have found that using a large rounded tip bristle brush made just for painting furniture with chalk paint will lay the paint down better and give the piece a smoother finish.

I have used many different brands of chalk paint brushes and like the one from Country Chic Paint the most. It lays the paint down better than any with no brush strokes.

If you take care of your brushes and wash them well after painting and hang them upside down to dry, they will last a long time.

4 photos of chalk painted items of furniture

Sealing Chalk Paint FAQ’s

Why Do You Need to Add Wax to Chalk Paint? 

When dry, chalk paint has a very flat finish. Oil from skin and other dust and dirt will be seen in the surface and hard to remove. When sealed with wax, chalk paint produces a beautiful finish that adds depth and character to a piece of furniture unlike regular paint and polyurethane.

Wax also provides protection to the painted surface. It deepens the color and adds patina. If you add colored wax or glaze over it, you even further enhance the color of the finish.

Wax should be applied very sparingly – just a very thin coat is all that is needed.  When you buff  – the magic happens  – it transforms furniture into so much more than just a painted piece of furniture.

What is the Difference Between Clear and Dark wax?

Clear or dark wax adds protection and shine to piece of furniture painted with chalk paint.

Dark wax adds protection and shine, but also darkens and changes the color of the paint.

Either can be used alone, but to achieve a beautifully aged finish, use clear wax first and buff it. Then add a thin layer of dark wax over this. Laying it over the clear wax allows you to push it into decorative details or crevices in the wood that will bring out the details.

If you use dark wax alone over chalk paint, it will look blotchy and you won’t be able to get an even color across the painted surface.

If you apply too much dark wax on a piece, it can easily be removed by applying some clear wax over it. Simply rub it off with the clear wax.

How Long to Let Chalk Paint Dry Before Waxing?

Drying time for chalk paint before waxing can vary depending on how many coats of paint you applied and the weather conditions. I usually wait at least 8 hours before waxing.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Chalk Paint?

Using a waterbased polyurethane like Polycrylic is a good choice if you don’t want to seal your painted furniture with wax. Two light coats will be enough to seal and protect the finish.

Do not use oil-based polyurethanes over chalk paint as they will darken and yellow the finish.

What Happens if You Don’t Seal Chalk Paint?

If you don’t seal chalk paint, over time you will see where a person touched the wall as the oils in skin will show as will marks from anything rubbing against the furniture. It is best to seal and protect the finish with either wax or waterbased polyurethane. Doing this will ensure a lasting finish.

How to Fix Blotchy Wax on Chalk Paint?

To fix a blotchy wax finish on a piece of chalk painted furniture is to keep buffing with a soft lint free cloth until the blotchiness goes away.

To keep blotchiness from happening in the first place, when applying the wax, only use a small amount and apply in a very thin coat. Use circular motions when buffing. When the cloth glides across the surface easily is when the wax is applied well.

When waxing a large flat surface, use wide circular strokes across the surface using even pressure this will ensure and even sheen across the surface.

If the blotchiness still persists, try using another type of cloth. Worn t-shirts work well as do blue Shop paper towels. I have even used Swiffer cloths.

How to Remove Wax From Chalk Paint?

If you want to paint over a waxed finish, you can use chalk paint right over the wax.

If you want to use another type of paint or finish, you will have to remove the wax first. Pour mineral spirits into a bowl and dip a rag in. Wipe it over the surface and rub into the surface to remove the wax. You may have to use a few rags as the wax will stick to them. Once a rag feels waxy, use another one.

Once most of the wax is off, you can sand the surface to remove the rest.

Should I Use a Brush or a Cloth to Apply Wax Over Chalk Paint?

You can apply wax with either a wax brush that is made for using to apply wax. It has a rounded tipped end. Or use a lint-free cloth, such a cut-up worn t-shirt or SHOP Towels.

To apply the wax, swirl the tip of the brush into the can of wax and remove a little bit. Brush it lightly over the chalk painted surface to apply a very thin coat. Re-load the brush when you need more wax to cover the surface. Then buff with a lint-free cloth.

To use a cloth to apply the wax, dip a section of the cloth into the can to remove a little wax. Rub it onto the painted surface it large circular motions. Keep the wax coat thin. Add more wax to the rag as needed to cover the surface and then use a clean lint-free cloth to buff.

Blue chalk painted sideboard in decorated entry of home

After Painting With Chalk Paint FAQ’s

How Long Does it Take For Chalk Paint to Dry?

Chalk paint dries pretty fast in about 30 minutes. If the paint was applied in a thicker coat or in humid weather, it could take longer as it may feel dry to the touch, but the underside may not be dry. It is better to wait a little longer to be sure.

Why Does Chalk Paint Have to Cure?

After you’ve apply wax to a painted surface, it will become dry to the touch quickly but it has not yet hardened to a durable hard finish yet.

The hardening process called “curing” starts as the solvents in the wax evaporate over time usually a week to a few weeks depending on the temperature in the room where the piece is.

You can use your newly painted furniture right away, but just be gentle with in for a few weeks.

Once cured, your piece of furniture can be used normally.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint?

If you want to paint over chalk paint with another color of chalk paint, then you can paint over it, even if the paint has wax on it.

If you want to paint over the chalk paint using a regular latex or acrylic paint, then you will need to remove the wax first before painting. If the chalk paint had polyurethane over it, you will need to sand and use a primer before adding regular paint over it.

How Do I Fix Bleed Through

Bleed through of wood tannins in furniture can show up through paint, especially if you are painting over unfinished wood or old pieces of furniture with dark finishes.

To fix the problem, let the paint dry and then you can apply a coat of clear shellac over the area with bleed through. Once dry, apply another coat of chalk paint over the area.

If your piece is very old and has a dark stain, you can take the extra step and brush on a light coat of clear shellac over the entire piece before painting. Let dry and then paint.

How to Remove Chalk Paint?

You can remove chalk paint from a piece of furniture by sanding it off or using a paint stripper.

If stripping, I like using CitraStrip as it is the least toxic brand. It takes a little longer to break down the paint, but does the job well without any fumes.

Once the chalk paint is removed, you can wash the surface with a damp cloth to remove any lingering stripper and then sand the surface smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.

I hope this FAQ post about chalk paint answers all your chalk painting questions. If not – just leave your question in the comment section of this post.

Learn More About How To Paint Furniture With Chalk Paint:

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  1. Diane, this is a very informative post that should clear up the questions that a lot of people have about chalk paint. I have used both ASCP and the DIY version using Plaster of Paris, both with success. You made a good point when you said it’s the waxing that gives the piece a beautiful sheen.

  2. Thank you so much!!!! I’ve been doing a lot of research about homemade chalk paint vs ascp and durability and coverage and it was driving me nuts. This helps so much. Thanks!!!

  3. Great post! I would like to just mention that you can use a poly coat over homemade chalk paint if you want to use on a piece of furniture or cabinet that will get a lot of heat or water. You have to distress with a glaze but it does work. (I will try ANYTHING just to avoid a lot of prep work!)

    1. Suzan,

      Thanks for this tip. I’ve been wondering about using poly over chalk paint for certain pieces. I’ve been collecting resale “finds” for my place and you’ve just helped remove the last doubt about what to do with them.



    2. I tried using poly on my night stands (painted with chalk paint)
      The chalk paint continued to soak up the poly no matter how many coats I applied.
      Long story short…
      I cant apply wax since I already used the poly.
      Im now left with stands that look really crappy :(
      Water marks and the chalk paint is wearing off.
      I guess the only thing left to do is sand them down and start over :(

      1. Hi Kelly – I am not sure why the poly soaked into the chalk paint. What recipe did you use to make the paint and what type of poly did you use?