Chalk Paint 101

A row of pastel adirondack chairs with the words "How To Chalk Paint."

Chalk paint is the new way to achieve a vintage, aged, or rustic look when painting your indoor furniture projects. The nice thing about it is that it doesn't take much fuss at all. Rather than spending all that time sanding and sealing, painting, and using fancy techniques to achieve an old fashioned look for your furniture, chalk paint can make all the difference in no more than two coats. Read on to find out where to get it, how it works, and how to use it to its full potential.

What Is Chalk Paint?

The difference between chalk paint and other indoor paints is that it contains plaster, which helps it adhere to nearly any piece of furniture. It creates an antique look without the fuss of layering or playing with regular paint. While some people make chalk paint themselves by mixing a small amount of plaster with their indoor paint, chalk paint can be easily found at hardware and home décor stores.

How to Use Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is very simple—you paint your furniture with it and let it dry. Hence, the desired look is achieved. The neat thing about chalk paint is that even if you're painting a piece of furniture that has a terrible paint job or needs sealing, chalk paint will cover it up and make your furniture look a thousand times better.

While you may need to sand away any bumps or uneven surfaces with some sandpaper, there is no need to strip or prime furniture before painting. Chalk paint dries quickly, so once you're done with one coat you're ready to move onto the next.

How It Works

By adding plaster to the paint, chalk paint tones down the shiny look that some enamel and acrylic paints have. It creates a more matte finish, leaving furniture looking beautiful, but antique at the same time. The paint sticks to nearly any surface, whether the furniture you’re working on is sealed, stripped, stained, or painted. When it dries it creates an antique look that is very difficult to achieve with other indoor paints.

Seal and Protect

To help seal and protect your chalk painted furniture, use finishing wax on the surface after the chalk paint has completely dried. Much like other waxes, you simply apply it with a rag and then buff it out.

Tips and Tricks

  • You can use either a roller or a paint brush to apply chalk paint. There are specific brushes on the market made just for chalk paint, which have dense bristles. Apply the paint by painting in a consistent direction in a back and forth motion. As the paint begins to dry, you can switch directions if you’re concerned about streaks.
  • No extra painting techniques are required for chalk paint to create that antique look. Simply apply the paint in a regular coat as you would any regular interior paint.
  • Chalk paint is very dense, so a little goes a long way. However, you will likely need two coats to achieve your desired coverage.
  • If mixing your own chalk paint, it can sometimes be a little lumpy. Don’t fret, as these lumps will work themselves out as you paint.
  • If the paint appears too streaky after only one coat, apply a second one to achieve your desired look.

Mix Some Yourself

To create your own chalk paint, mix 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris and 2 tablespoons of water with 2 cups of the indoor paint of your choice. Use the mixture right after you make it.

Prevent a Mess

As with any furniture paint job, it’s important to protect the area around the furniture as you paint. Put down large tarps or sheets of plastic to keep any stray drops of paint from adhering to anything but the furniture.