Contrary to seemingly popular belief, chalk paint is not a type of paint that you can write on a chalkboard with, but instead, that’s chalkboard paint. Rather, chalk paint is growing in popularity when it comes to decor options for those who want a modern farmhouse or a rural-chic look.
Chalk paint provides a matte finish and a — you guessed it — chalky appearance. Plus, it’s incredibly versatile, so can be used for a range of DIY projects. Want to use chalk paint in your next home project? Here’s everything you need to know, including what kind of chalk paint to buy and how to use it!
The Best Chalk Paints:
The OG Chalk Paint
The original chalk-style paint was invented by the Annie Sloan brand in 1990. The trademarked chalk paint was designed for furniture and to be incredibly easy to use. Annie Sloan’s chalk paint can be used indoors or outdoors, doesn’t require any extra prep work, such as sanding, and it can be used on a variety of surfaces, from floors and metal to glass and fabric.
Compared to regular paint, chalk paint is easier to apply and doesn’t drip as much, and it also is easier to clean up, as it’s water-based. The paint is also pretty thick, so you might find you can get away with only applying one coat of paint to whatever it is you’re painting. Annie Sloan chalk paint comes in a variety of colors.
Beginner-friendly and convenient, it’s easy to see why this paint is a favorite with DIYers of every skill level. You don’t need to buy Annie Sloan-branded paint in order to get the chalk paint effect, though. There are lots of other brands making the same stuff and you can even make your own chalk paint at home, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
Chalk Paint Options
Here are a few of the chalk paint options available, beyond Annie Sloan.
Behr offers its own chalk paint that’s available in both liquid and spray form. The brand also offers its own wax, which many DIYers like to apply to dried chalk paint to achieve a worn, weathered look. Behr offers clear wax, white wax and dark wax, for various end results.
While Behr does offer the extra-convenient spray chalk paint, it’s worth noting that Behr’s formula is not water-based, which does make for a little extra work when it comes to cleaning up; you’ll need to use mineral spirits for washing your brushes and rollers, if used.
Joanna Gaines is often touted as the one who brought chalky paint to the mainstream, average homeowner, so it just makes sense that her line of Magnolia Home products would include some chalk paint. The brand offers a range of hues, though most fit into that modern farmhouse-style look that Gaines is known for. Think lots of muted greens and blues, and a lot of creamy off-whites and grays. Magnolia Home also offers two types of chalk paint wax.
Rust-Oleum calls its chalk paint “chalked paint” and the brand provides several variations on its traditional, ultra-matte chalk paint. Like Behr, the brand offers a spray option, but then also provides chalked glazes, tints and topcoats.
While these extra products may not always be necessary for every DIY project, if you’re concerned about getting full coverage and a protective top coat on your project, you may find them worth the investment. The base coat is especially handy if you want to do a two-toned distressed look. To keep your chalked paint project looking the same for years to come, you’ll want to use either the wax or the top coat.
If you’re not painting an entire room or a large piece of furniture or cabinets, then you may want a smaller quantity of chalk paint. That’s where Americana Decor’s chalk paint shines, and it’s available on Amazon.
The brand sells chalk paint in two, four, eight and 16-ounce jars, so you can buy only and exactly the amount of paint you need. Americana Decor also sells its chalk paint in more than 40 colors and, unlike what you’ll find from the Magnolia Home brand, these hues range from bright, bold yellows to fresh-grass greens.
This chalk paint option from FolkArt is also ideal for those who need chalk paint in small quantities. Better yet, the paint set comes with nine different colors included, so you can take on multiple projects with ease. It’s great for those who know they’d like to paint a few smaller items, such as small knick knacks or bric-a-brac.
Reviewers report that even just a small amount of this paint goes a long way and it works well on metal, wood, mirrors, rocks, plastic and more. Many also say they slightly dilute the paint with water, for more coverage.
For several chalk spray paint color options, look to trusted chalk paint from the spray paint brand, Krylon. Designed for use on wood, metal, plastic, laminate, wicker, ceramic or glass, the spray paint is easy to use on projects where you want a lot of coverage, fast, no dripping, pouring or brushing required.
Retinue It By Renaissance is a popular chalk paint pick for those who are specifically looking for an eco-friendly paint option. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic and low-odor, this paint can be used on decor and furniture, but also in arts and crafts projects.
The paint dries within 30 minutes and it can be cleaned with a soap-and-water combo. Also, the paint comes in a range of colors. Reviewers report using it successfully on everything from oak kitchen cabinets to pianos and various other surfaces in between.
DIY Chalk Paint
But what if you want to make your own chalk paint? If you’re not feeling like going to the store and dropping extra cash on new paint for your project, you can attempt making your own chalk paint at home, with either a smaller, sample size of traditional paint or paint that you already have on hand.
According to lifestyle blogger I Save A2Z, you can make enough chalk paint for a small decor project, like a table, with as little as an 8-ounce sample size of paint. All you need to do from there, the blogger explains in their homemade chalk paint recipe, is add in plaster of paris and water.
What To Look For in a Chalk Paint
Before you buy just any chalk paint, consider a few things that might impact your purchasing decision. Not all chalk paints are the same.
While most chalk paints can be used on most surfaces, that doesn’t mean that all chalk paints can be used on all surfaces. Check out your chalk paint’s intended uses before beginning your project.
Likewise, while most chalk paints are easy to clean up with just soap and water, some aren’t quite so convenient. Make sure you’re buying the chalk paint with the ingredients you want and need.
If you like to consider the eco-friendliness of a product before bringing it into your home, this is something to consider when shopping for a chalk paint as well. Some contain toxic or harmful ingredients, while others are specifically formulated to be more eco-friendly and safe to use in the home.
How To Use Chalk Paint
Once you have your chalk paint in hand, how do you actually use it? Here are some of the top ways DIYers prefer to use this unique product.
Likely the most popular use for chalk paint is restoring, personalizing or painting furniture. Whether you picked up a gorgeous old desk at the local thrift store or you’ve inherited a China cabinet from Grandma, chalk paint might be worth considering!
If you want to give a piece of furniture a new-to-you look, then you can use chalk paint to get the job done. From bohemian chic to rustic farmhouse and everything in between, if it’s a distressed yet colorful look that you’re after, chalk paint will deliver with ease.
The best part? Since chalk paint sticks to just about everything, there’s hardly ever a worry about whether or not you’ve bought the right paint for your particular piece and project.
For a more rustic look in the kitchen, you might consider using chalk paint on your cabinets. Since chalk paint is so easy to use and usually only requires one coat, before adding your wax, it’s an ideal pick for this project that can sometimes be an annoying and laborious chore.
If painting your kitchen cabinets for a new shabby-chic look still seems like quite the ambitious undertaking, even with the easy-to-use chalk paint, you can start small, by painting a few accessories around your home. Again, chalk paint sticks to just about every surface, so you can feel free to apply it and get creative with just about anything. Lamps, candlesticks, photo frames, vases — the possibilities are nearly endless.
Tips for Using Chalk Paint
Ready to get started on your chalk paint DIY project? Here are a few handy tips to help you get started.
Don’t Necessarily Skip the Preparation Process
While one of the best things about chalk paint is that it goes onto just about everything and rarely requires any priming or sanding off any existing paint on your item, you will want to do a little bit of prep under certain circumstances. If your item to be painted is dirty, for example, you’ll want to give it a good clean before you start painting.
Don’t Forget the Wax
Likewise, while you can leave your project as is once you apply your first coat of chalk paint, you likely will want to use the extra wax that’s often sold alongside chalk paint. The wax can add an extra layer of depth to your paint job, but also protect your item from wear and tear. This is particularly useful if you’re painting a piece of furniture that will be used often, such as a dining room table.
Buy the Best Paint Brush
You may be tempted to use a brush roller on your chalk paint project, but, often, a traditional brush is the way to go. Accomplished DIYers often recommend using a natural-bristle brush for chalk paint jobs, as these brushes will leave behind visible brush strokes, which are desirable for many of these rustic-chic projects.
Additionally, since the brush strokes are visible, feel free to get creative with how you apply the paint. Brushing in different directions and shapes can make for a more interesting aesthetic.
If You Apply Too Much, Wipe It Off
If you find that you’re applying a little too much chalk paint to your project (remember, it only takes a little bit!), don’t worry. Just wipe off the excess paint with a wet paper towel.
Be Mindful About Your Distress
Once you have your item or surface completely painted and waxed, it’s time to do a little distressing. However, only do this if that’s what you’re going for rather than just having a clean, matte finish.
As you distress your new-to-you piece of furniture with a piece of light sandpaper, think about how the distressing might look most natural. Where would an item be most used or how? Distress accordingly. Better yet, look online for photos of antique versions of your piece, to see where they sport authentic wear and tear.
Give Your Next DIY Project a New Twist
If you’ve been sleeping on the amazing versatility and convenience chalk paint can lend to your DIY projects, now’s the time to wake up and realize all this unique type of paint can do for you. Whether you’re giving a much-loved piece of furniture a makeover or creating a brand-new work of DIY art, chalk paint may just be the best fit for your project.
Need more DIY and crafting inspiration?
You may also be interested in: How To Make Your Own Candles At Home [Home Decorating Guide]
7 Chalk Paints That You Can Use At Home:
- Behr Chalk Paint
- Magnolia Home Chalk Paint
- Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint
- Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint
- FolkArt Home Decor Ultra Matte Chalk Finish Paint Set
- Krylon Chalky Finish Spray Paint
- Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint