Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint For Furniture (and some of my favorite makeovers!)
Ever wondered about chalk paint?? Here you’ll find the pros and cons of chalk paint for furniture so you can make an informed choice for your next makeover!
Since I use a lot of chalk style paints (mostly Annie Sloan, which I love), I thought I’d write a post detailing the pros and cons of chalk paint for furniture.
Yes, there are pros AND cons to it. Well, there’s pretty much pros and cons to everything, right?
It’s always good to know what they are before you begin a project so I hope this post is helpful to you.
Not only that, I thought I’d share some of my favorite chalk painted furniture makeovers while I’m at it.
You guys know I’m a chalk paint and chalk-style paint fan. But I’d even have to agree, there are cons to using it.
Even so, I’ve created, and continue to create, some really great furniture makeovers using it.
Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint For Furniture
But first, let’s take a look at one of my favorites…
Surprise, surprise! My Aubusson Blue dresser.
It’s the first chalk painted piece I shared here on the blog, oh, about 7 or so years ago.
To this day, it is still at the top of the list for me.
You can read all about it here >>> Aubusson Blue Dresser Re-Do
Okay, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the pros and cons of chalk paint, or any chalk style paint.
PROS of Chalk Paint (and chalk style paints)
- No prep needed….most of the time.
- No primer needed….most of the time.
- No sanding needed….most of the time.
- Dries quickly.
- Typically goes further. (1 can will paint multiple things)
- Can be thinned and used in a sprayer.
- Blends easier, and nicer, for artistic painting techniques and applications.
- Distresses easily.
- Easy cleanup.
Now let’s talk about those for a minute.
Prep and primer.
Yes, no primer is typically needed with chalk paint. But you really can’t say that across the board.
There are just going to be those times when a primer is necessary for any type of paint.
It’s not magic.
One of those times and one that comes up often around here is when you are painting a reddish type of wood/stain.
That absolutely takes “prep” in the form of applying some sort of primer/sealer to seal in that red so it won’t bleed into your paint.
You may come across other times when something that has soaked into the wood continues to rise to the surface through the chalk paint.
It too would need some sort of primer to seal it up.
How about wood that has a rough, chipped or my favorite (not!) a really slick finish on it?
Do you really think it won’t need some prep work? I know some people out there would say no, but I don’t usually chance that.
If you have a really slick finish, you need to prep before using chalk paint.
If you have a rough or chipped finish, you need to prep.
But overall, yes, in most cases, chalk paint is pretty user-friendly in that it really does require little prep.
It will stick really well to your stuff. ;) But use some common sense along with it.
Time for a pretty furniture makeover break.
Another of my favorite chalk painted pieces….
This old coffee bar dresser I painted years ago. It was the coffee bar before I created the newest one I have now.
This dresser and “mirror”/ chalkboard now lives in someone else’s home.
You can read more about it and the graphic I used on top, here >>> Coffee Bar Server
Okay, back to the PROS of chalk paint.
Yes, it really does dry pretty quickly.
Which I love.
Because I’m an impatient painter. lol
It goes further.
Well, hmm, I do think it can.
But that all depends on the color and the coverage you are getting.
Which I will say, is usually pretty good with chalk paint.
Using it in a paint sprayer.
I absolutely love that it can also be used in a paint sprayer.
That is a game-changer when it comes to painting.
Because, if you have used chalk paint or any chalk style paint, you know it can leave brush marks.
There are several ways to combat that….thinning it out with water, sanding it between coats, using a roller to apply or using a paint sprayer. (>>>this one is my favorite!)
So even though, as you’ll see below, brush marks are listed as a “con”, I don’t really consider it one.
There are many ways around it.
You will hear people complain about this being an issue with any type of chalk paint, but it really is a non-issue.
No, I’m not talking about blending together two paint colors to come up with a different color.
I’m talking about artsy techniques. Blending 2 or more shades together to create variations, ombre or other designs.
Chalk paint and chalk style paint for the win here, for sure.
Speaking of blending colors. Here’s a perfect example of that.
This would’ve been much more difficult to achieve with latex or other style paints.
The chalk style paints just do this so effortlessly.
This is our NEW coffee bar dresser, you can read all about it, here >>> Aqua Dresser Coffee Bar
More pros of chalk paint…
It distresses really well as if time had worn it down. Exactly the look you are going for.
You can distress it before you seal or after.
And you can even distress with a wet rag or paper towel. That’s not something you can do with something like latex.
I love the options!
Have you ever tried “distressing” latex paint? Sure, it works sometimes. But most times it sort of rolls off, or peels off, instead of looking like it was smoothly sanded off or worn away naturally.
Look, I’ve painted with just about anything and everything you can imagine and I can tell you, chalk paint and chalk style paints clean up easier!
They just do. It’s just how it is.
I can let chalk paint dry on a brush and soak it, and voila, good as new.
Spill it on something, it will come off. (as long as you haven’t sealed it yet. ;) )
A definite pro here.
Let me share another one of my favorite chalk painted furniture pieces before we continue.
This tall antique dresser is one of my favorites (and one of Pinterest’s favorites too! ;) )
I still have this one and use it in my bedroom. It’s a beauty.
You can read all about it here >>> Giverny Chalk Paint Makeover with White Wax
CONS of Chalk Paint (and chalk style paints)
- Isn’t always “no-prep” and “no primer”.
- Can leave brush marks.
- Stains will bleed through this paint more than latex and other types of paint.
- Needs to be sealed.
- Can be pricey.
- Can be hard to find/purchase.
- If using wax to seal, it can be labor intensive.
- Waxing needs to be repeated at a later date to continue to protect the piece.
As I already mentioned above, no, chalk paint is not always no prep. I don’t really consider this a con.
As I said, it is not magic, so I wouldn’t expect it to be perfect in all situations.
And not all situations (furniture) are the same. Some are rougher than others.
Some have issues, some need prep. :)
Yes, you are more likely to get brush marks with this kind of paint but you don’t have to. ;)
Not unless you want to or are going for that look.
As I already mentioned above in the “pros” section, there are many ways to combat that.
Stains and bleed through.
Some stains will bleed through the paint. Not only that reddish wood but just your everyday stains and such.
That’s just the nature of this paint. It is more porous so it will allow things to “soak through” at times.
This is when you’ll need to use that primer that folks say you don’t need with chalk paint. ;)
No biggie though, it’s easily remedied.
It does however always need to be sealed.
Well, unless you are using it outside, then you can leave it unsealed.
Typically though, it needs sealing.
It can be costly.
Yes, chalk paint is pricey. It’s more of a boutique brand and the price reflects that.
Most chalk style paints are as such.
One that I love and use quite a lot these days is Rustoleum’s chalk style paint.
They have about 10-12 colors now and it is much more reasonably priced. (highly recommend)
I’ve been very happy with them. I do wish they had more colors though.
You can find all the colors here >>> Rustoleum Chalk Style Paint
Another fun chalk painted furniture makeover…
This is another oldie and one I still have in my home.
I created this fun graphic to paint onto the front. I used my $35 Craigslist projector on this one!
See all the details on this makeover, here >>> Coastal Themed Chalk Painted Chest
Where to buy?
Chalk paint can be tough to find to purchase. Since it is a “boutique brand”, you will have to hope it is sold in one near you.
If not, you can find it online but then hefty shipping is usually involved.
I’d say this is a definite con.
Rustoleum Chalked Style Paint is much more available. (I linked it just above)
I hardly ever use wax anymore. (and I have about 5 cans of various colors out in the garage! ha, oh well.)
I do love how a wax finish looks (and feels) but I don’t love applying it. I just really do not.
It is somewhat labor intensive and who has time for that?
Not only that, but you will need to reapply it over time. No thanks.
Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t come across a new post here with a chalk painted dresser that’s waxed, because you probably will. ;)
It just means it is by no means my go-to.
I could do a whole post on the pros and cons of waxing and this post is long enough already, so I’ll just leave it at that.
I’ve used many topcoats and a few new ones (to me) recently, and I still always go back to my old favorite.
It just stands the test of time for me. It’s solid and made by General Finishes.
You can find it here >>> Top Coat
I also love this one for a different look/feel >>> Flat Coat (no shine)
Let’s leave you with another of my favorite furniture makeovers.
My beloved secretary’s desk.
It is one of those that I did indeed use wax on.
And not only that, I used several colors of wax on it. (that I blended specifically for this piece)
So there is a beauty in that. The wax really did create a lovely finish.
That is when I would use wax. When you want a specialty finish that poly just won’t give you.
You can read all about that and this desk, here >>> Secretary Desk Makeover With Chalk Paint
I hope you enjoyed this post today.
If you have considered using any of the chalk style paints, I hope this has helped you with your decision.
There are quite a few pros and cons of chalk paint, but the cons are really not ones that can’t be overcome.
And remember, there are cons with any product you may decide to use.
Understanding what they are is the most important step to deciding which one will be your choice.
PIN it to save it!
More posts in the “back to basics” series:
- How To Create Faux Verdigris (and video)
- How To Create Faux Patina (and video)
- How To Dry Brush
- 26 Different Types of Chalk Style Paint
- Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint For Furniture (you are here!)
- 5 Top Ways To Seal Chalk Paint
- How To Chalk Paint Furniture & More!
- How To Transfer Images
- How To Import Images Into Silhouette
- How To Restain Wood Without Stripping
- How To Use Gel Stain
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Nancy, these are great tips/reminders about chalk paint. I make my own which seems to work better than some of the boutique brands I’ve purchased though, I admit, I haven’t invested in any of Annie Sloan’s paint.
Thank you for all the beautiful photos as well. You create amazing things!
Someday I hope to get a paint sprayer.
Have a great weekend!
That’s awesome! I tried my hand at home-made way back but never stuck with it! I’m too lazy I guess! lol I do love AS paints but they are pricey so I’ve really enjoyed using Rustoleum’s, which is very similar to me (and half the price). Thank you for the sweet words! If I could sit in a big ole garage and paint furniture all day long, I’d be so happy! :) xoxo
Hi Nancy. I love chalk paint, too, for the many reasons you list. Also hate waxing! What sealer do you generally use?
Hi Carolyn! I’m sorry, I meant to put that in the post! I just edited the post to include 2 that I love. :)
I have a question. I want to paint over my painted cabinets, will chalk paint work, and have you had any problems with wear; like around the drawer pulls?
Yes, it will. I actually did this years ago. (but no wax in the kitchen) You can read all about it in this post here. And, no, it actually held up very well. Here is another post I did as an update 4 years later. :)
Fantastic post! I have been following you and Chrissy for so long…….lol! I needed this brush up. Thank you!
Yay!! I’m so glad it’s helpful to you Linda! :) xo
Good advice and info!
Hopefully it’s helpful! :) xo
Thank you for this post, Nancy!!! Very helpful! It helped to clear up my wax questions. I will not fear going wax-free.
You are so welcome! I’m glad it will be helpful to you! And no way, skip the wax! ;) xo
I laughed out loud when I read that you have a collection of waxes. I was just evaluating my paint and sealers and discovered I have wax that hasn’t even been opened!! How sad is that? I don’t know why I bought AS dark wax but the salesman was cute and gave me some great ideas on how to use it!! I am going to start trying to use wax on frames and pieces that don’t get much use so I can get it gone. Hope you are enjoying the nice weather and can paint outside now! XOXO
Oh, hahaha! Yes, I’m glad I’m not alone!! ;) And yes, that dark wax lasts FOREVER too, because you only ever have to use so little of it. I guess that’s a good thing but oh my, adds to the collection! I love your idea of using it on small pieces to use it up though. Might have to do the same. SO happy the weather has finally gotten nice…and staying nice! Yes to moving it outside! xoxo
Hi Nancy, what did you think about the Polyvine sealer. You said that you had ordered it and were looking forward to using it that afternoon but I never heard further. Can I assume that you didn’t like it? Its the only sealer I used these days.
Hi Suzanne! Yes, I have used it but only on a small piece. I usually try out new finishes on small pieces before moving to something larger. I actually mentioned it (and linked it) in this post, you might have missed it. :) I’m looking forward to trying it again! xo
Hi Nancy, thanks for your quick reply. I did miss it. Some get to me and some don’t. That’s the power of the internet I suppose. Best wishes.
Oh yes, I totally understand that! :) xo
First let me say I love your blog….great info and pics. you have put the itch back into my creative side. I do have a question for you…..if you seal a piece with wax, can you go back a put a sealer over ( like a spray sealer) it to further protect it? Just wondering.
Happy thrifting and maybe I will run into you one day as I live in the same area.
Aw, thank you so much, Glenda! I am so, so happy you enjoy the blog. :) And yay to getting that itch back! That is so exciting!
As far as your question goes, unfortunately, no, you can’t. It won’t adhere to the wax. You would have to remove the wax first by sanding or with something like mineral spirits.
Oh yay, yes, say hello to me if you see me out and about, I’d love that! xoxo
Nancy, thank you so much for your quick response. 😊
You are very welcome, Glenda! :)
Just getting started with chalk paint and the only place I can work on projects is my basement. Any suggestions on sealers that don’t need good ventilation? I plan on selling pieces, so is using wax out?
Yes, I love General Finishes High Performance Top Coat, General Finishes Flat Out Flat (for a non-shiny look), Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide is good too. None of those are strong at all. And to your question about wax, I occasionally will use wax but mostly on something like a mirror frame, picture frame, small item etc, not furniture. For most furniture and things, I just use a poly (as mentioned here) for a strong, durable finish that doesn’t require the new owner of the piece upkeep on the wax. For example, wax will need to be touched up somewhat over the years. It can also “melt” and leave rings if something hot is set on it. Most people buying furniture will not realize this. Not only that, if someone who purchases such a piece ever wants to repaint it, the wax will have to be removed or painted over with more chalk style paint first. Most people won’t know this either. Just a safer bet to go poly if you are selling your pieces! :) (I actually wrote a post about the top 5 sealants for Chalk Paint here)
Thanks for the great tips. I have some furniture that I plan on chalk painting. I’m new and chalk painting and looking for some good tips. I am going to take your advise on using a top cop instead of waxing. How many coats would I need to apply?
Thanks in advance :)
You are so very welcome.
As far as how many coats, well it depends on what you are painting and the use it will get. Most things are fine at one coat. More usage I would do two coats. Keep in mind that the more poly coats you put on, the more risk of a little bit of yellowing (mostly where the excess has gathered in crevices, etc. So keep an eye on those areas. Good luck and have fun! xo
Hi Nancy. I’m so glad I found this blog, it’s very helpful. I will be chalk painting my armoire maybe black (haven’t quite decided) my first chalk painting project! I’m excited about this, just wanting to make sure I do it right. I’m a little confused on which top coat I should use between the two General Finishes. There’s the High Performance flat top coat, than there’s Flat out Flat top coat, both by General Finishes, are they both basically the same? Also have you ever tried renaissance chalk paint? I was thinking the midnight black. Thanks so much!
Oh yay, how exciting, Laureen. So, I have another post that might be helpful to you also, >>> here.
But about those two sealers/topcoats, one of them I use quite often is the High Performance Top Coat by General Finishes in the finish “Satin”. Another one I like and use when I don’t want much “sheen”, is also by General Finishes called Flat Out Flat. It’s just a flat finish. They are similar but the finish is different. (sheen vs no sheen)
Those are my two main “go-tos” but use other topcoats from time to time.
I have not tried that paint yet but have heard good things about it.
Good luck and have fun with your new makeover! You’ll want to do more once you finish that one up. :) xo
Thanks for the information on chalk paint. Have you ever used it for painting kitchen cabinets? Years back I worked for a paint company and used techniques for good prep then.. In previous home we had dark cabinets. We sanded and primed 3 coats to cover possible knots in wood, then one coat flat and one coat semi on cabinets. Sanded between coats. Would u recommend chalk paint for kitchen where cabinetry doors opened and closed daily? Also if you would use chalk paint there, would u recommend poly urethane or something to seal the finish?
Yes, I sure have actually. Here is the post for it…and here is my update on it 4 years later.
I think it would be fine. Ours held up really well with just a few small things. I also think a good enamel based paint like Emerald Urethane by Sherwin Williams is good too. Both are solid (just different) choices. For chalk paint, I absolutely recommend poly, not wax. I would never suggest using wax in a kitchen setting. Hope that helps!
Hi Nancy! I am first time chalk paint user. Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. I have an old/antique wood youth hutch (on wheels to give you an idea of age). I ended up having to strip layers of paint (cracked everywhere!) and then sand it in order to repurpose it. I really am looking to get that antique look without breaking my bank. Not to mention I have 4 busy boys and don’t have a lot of time. What would you suggest? Do I need to do a primer first? Would the Rustoleum brand work on this? Shine or no shine for a top coat? Sorry for all of the questions. Thanks!
Hi Christina! You shouldn’t really have to primer it first if you’ve sanded all the way down. If it is a reddish type of wood, then yes, I would prime because you can get some bleed through with some of those older pieces of reddish toned/stained/types of wood. The Rustoleum Chalked paint will work great on something like this. Shine or no shine is a personal preference. I personally like a low luster finish…satin or matte. Good luck and have fun with it! xo
Hi Nancy! I am going to refinish dated bar stools made of blonde wood with gold metal foot bars at the bottom. I’m thinking of changing the wood to gray or navy blue and the gold to matte silver. Would you recommend chalk paint or stain to achieve a modern gray coastal look for a beach house??? –Julie
Hi Julie! You could use chalk paint “like” a stain. Just water it down a bit. This way, the paint won’t cover the wood grain, just change the tone of the wood. You could also use stain. I’ve done it both ways. :) xo
Hi Nancy! I’m a new subscriber, new to chalk paint and new to refinishing furniture. Quick question: why does a piece painted with chalk paint intended for outdoor use not need to be sealed? I would think it would need to be sealed even more. –Julie
Hi Julie! So happy to have you here! :) Well, it’s not really so much that it doesn’t need to be, it’s that Chalk Paint doesn’t necessarily have to be sealed outdoors. Sealing it with wax is a no because the sun will heat that up and it won’t last. Sealing it with poly and it could peel, etc. (but if you use exterior poly you should have better luck with that) Chalk Paint will “patina” over time out in the elements. It’s really more of a personal choice of which way you want to go. :)
i have question to this post.
is it possible to draw on the paint with lets say chalk or liquid chalk pens and erase it again? I‘m really curious about this.
kind regards to you
Yes! I have actually made “chalkboards” out of chalk style paint. Here is a post showing one…https://www.artsychicksrule.com/chalkboard-coffee-bar-menu-board/ and another one… https://www.artsychicksrule.com/chalk-painted-chalkboard-desk/
I love the pulls on the second dresser in this article the one with the wood top? Where can I get those?
I’m sorry, those came on the dresser so I don’t know.
That’s ok. Thanks for the quick reply.
I have a piece
of furniture that will be used outdoors. What finish/sealer
should I use?
Hi! If you are using chalk paint I wouldn’t use any finish outdoors. That is the recommendation by the makers of chalk style paints. (true chalk paints).