The Habitat
Share to PinterestAdd a Pop of Color to Your Furniture with Chalk Paint

How Can Chalk Paint Transform Your Furniture?

By Paula Ramirez
Share to PinterestAdd a Pop of Color to Your Furniture with Chalk Paint

There's no denying it — the chalk paint trend isn't going anywhere, and for good reason. Not only does it look fantastic, it's incredibly forgiving, adds a lot of character, and is a super simple DIY project. Chalk paint isn't limited to walls, either. If you're looking for your next statement piece, or you have some furniture that could use a new lease on life, chalk paint is a quick and easy way to instantly revitalize your decor.


Select your furniture

Share to PinterestOld side table
andipantz / Getty Images

You can choose just about any piece of furniture to cover with chalk paint. Dressers are a popular and fantastic choice, since some are tricky to cover with other kinds of paint, but you could also transform desks, wardrobes, and even mirrors. If you're nervous, start with a smaller or less important piece of furniture, but it's also possible to dive straight in — the good news is, even if your paint job looks less than perfect, a slightly rough finish actually suits the character of the paint.


Gather your supplies

Share to PinterestPaint supplies
Geo-grafika / Getty Images

Before you start any DIY project, make sure you have your supplies ready. In this case, you'll need

  • Chalk paint — this can be expensive, but a little goes a long way
  • A paintbrush — a simple chip brush will work just fine
  • Clear wax
  • A wax brush
  • Sandpaper
  • A drop cloth or tarp
  • Soft towels or rags
  • Additional painting supplies, like a paint stirrer, painter's tape, a paper towel and plate, and rubber gloves
  • A screwdriver to remove any handles


Protect your space

Share to PinterestPaint can on drop cloth
GeorgePeters / Getty Images

If you're painting indoors, make sure you're protecting your floor and any nearby furniture. Remove or cover furniture you don't want accidentally painted and lay a drop cloth or tarp to protect your floors. Make sure your space is well-ventilated and has plenty of light — natural light is ideal. Most chalk paints don't have ingredients that cause toxic fumes, but better safe than sorry! If you choose to paint outside, make sure it isn't too hot or too cold, and that you don't have a lot of bugs flying around that could land on your furniture while it's still drying.


Clean and prepare the furniture

Share to PinterestMan cleaning table surface
PeopleImages / Getty Images

First, remove any hardware or moving parts from your furniture, including handles, drawers, and shelves. Next, you'll want to make sure the surface isn't covered by any stickers or other residue. Sand down any particularly rough spots. Clean the furniture using a clean, damp cloth and some soapy water to make sure it's free from oil, dirt, or grime that could interfere with the paint. Finally, cover any areas you don't want to get paint on, including mirror surfaces, with some painter's tape.


Paint with the grain

Share to Pinterestpaint with the grain

Now you're ready to begin painting! Make sure your paint is well-mixed, first — if you don't have a paint stirrer or a decent substitute handy, you can achieve this by leaving the paint can upside down for a while (as long as it's completely sealed). As a general rule, you'll want to paint with the grain, not against it, to ensure a smooth finish. Concentrate on painting one area at a time, and consider starting with a small section, like the legs, to get a feel for it. Generally, though, chalk paint is pretty forgiving, so don't get too stressed about the actual painting part.


Maintain your brush and paint

Share to PinterestDirty paintbrushes
Steve Cicero / Getty Images

Chalk paint really isn't fussy, which means you can paint straight from the can. It does tend to be pretty thick, though, so you might need to dilute it with a little water to get your desired consistency. Alternatively, use a spray bottle to spritz some water onto your brush every now and then if the paint starts to get too thick. To stop your brush from drying out in between coats, wrap it in some tinfoil or seal it in a ziplock bag. And don't forget to wash your brushes once you've finished — you'll be grateful for it down the line.


Apply a second coat

Share to PinterestApplying a second coat of paint
Peter Cade / Getty Images

Chalk paint dries pretty quickly, so your furniture should be ready for a second coat of paint in less than an hour. Apply the second coat the same way you did the first, going with the grain and completing one section at a time. You may need a third or even fourth coat, but don't feel the need to go overboard — the thickness of chalk paint means that two coats may be enough, and too many could interfere with the smoothness of the finish.


Finish with wax

Share to PinterestFurniture wax
simonkr / Getty Images

This part may sound intimidating, but it really isn't. Dab your wax brush gently into the wax — you only need to use a little a time. Using circular and sweeping motions, gently brush the wax onto the dried paint surface, finishing with the grain. You should see the color darken a little; in the end, the wax will enhance your paint color but not otherwise affect it. Softly wipe the surface once or twice with a microfiber cloth to remove any excess. If you're painting a piece that's going to experience heavy wear, you can add a second or third coat of wax, waiting at least 24 hours in between each coat.


Give it a distressed look

Share to PinterestWoman sanding a table
FilippoBacci / Getty Images

This part is optional, but it really does look great. You can distress your furniture before or after applying wax — if you choose to do it afterwards, make sure the wax is thoroughly dry. Using some medium-grade sandpaper or a sanding block, lightly go over the parts of the furniture that would naturally experience the most wear and tear, including corners, edges, and detailing. Distressing is great for giving newly-painted furniture that natural, lived-in look, particularly if you're aiming for a more vintage feel.


Replace your hardware

Share to PinterestNewly painted drawer with handle
Nicolas Garrat / Getty Images

Once you're happy with your newly-painted furniture, it's time to replace any handles, drawers, and shelves you removed in the beginning. This is also a great time to give your piece an extra facelift by replacing old handles or knobs with new ones — new handles don't have to be expensive, but they can really make a difference in the overall look of your furniture. While the wax may take up to 30 days to fully set, your furniture should be usable in as little 24 hours, so enjoy!


Understanding the furniture's original era and style

Share to Pinterestvintage chair with paint
Kristen Prahl / Shutterstock

Every piece of furniture carries with it a rich history and a tale of its time. Before embarking on your painting journey, delve deep into its era and the design nuances that defined it. This research not only offers invaluable insights but also shapes your color palette, ensuring the final outcome seamlessly marries the elegance of yesteryears with today's trends. By honoring its roots and infusing a modern flair, you're crafting a piece that transcends time, becoming an enduring classic.


Two-color distress technique for depth

Share to Pinterestwood texture with two shades of paint
Fede Lupis / Shutterstock

The allure of antiques often lies in their depth and character. The two-color distress technique masterfully captures this essence. Start with a foundational color, overlay it with a secondary shade, and then artfully sand select areas. This process unveils hints of the base color, creating a multi-dimensional look that exudes depth, personality, and a touch of nostalgia. It's more than just painting; it's a journey back in time, bringing with it the charm and grace of a bygone era.


Dry-brushing for color blending

Share to Pinterestfurniture painting with dry brush
Ruslan Zagidullin / Shutterstock

In the world of furniture artistry, dry-brushing stands out as a technique par excellence for achieving delicate color transitions. With just a sparse amount of paint on your brush, you can weave together shades, crafting gradients that flow effortlessly or introducing muted color accents. This method is not just about blending; it's about elevating a piece to a realm of understated elegance. For those with an eye for detail and a penchant for sophistication, dry-brushing is the key to unlocking unparalleled beauty.


Exploring chalk-style paint brands

Share to Pinterestchalk paint overview
Balint Koban / Shutterstock

In the realm of chalk-style paints, brand loyalty often reigns supreme. However, venturing beyond the familiar can unveil a treasure trove of possibilities. The market is awash with a myriad of brands, each boasting its unique spectrum of colors and textural nuances. By casting a wider net and experimenting, you might stumble upon a brand that resonates with your vision, offering the exact hue or finish you've been envisioning. It's a journey of discovery, leading to the perfect symphony of color and texture.


Stripping, sanding, and re-staining for rejuvenation

Share to Pinterestman sanding furniture
SeventyFour / Shutterstock

Reviving a piece of furniture is akin to breathing new life into it. Sometimes, a simple paint job won't suffice. It demands stripping away the vestiges of the past, meticulously sanding to smooth out every imperfection, and then re-staining to unveil its renewed splendor. This process, while labor-intensive, is a testament to your commitment to excellence. The end result? A piece that not only stands out for its beauty but also narrates a tale of transformation, echoing your craftsmanship and passion.



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