Chalk painting furniture is a great way to bring an old piece of furniture back to life. With some prep work and a little paint, you can take an ugly, outdated piece of furniture and make it beautiful again. Learn how to chalk paint your first piece of furniture with this easy guide.
A Simple Guide to Chalk Painting Furniture
Chalk painting is loads of fun! In fact, if you’re new to painting, chalk paint is one of the best paints to “start” with as it’s very forgiving, requires little prep work and is fairly easy to fix if you make a mistake.
However, there are still a few important steps you should take if you’re considering painting your first piece. There is no time like the present. If you’ve decided that there is a piece of furniture you know would look better painted, you might as well try it out.
Choosing Furniture to Paint
If you are new to painting, be a bit more careful when picking out your first chalk painted masterpiece. Look for a piece of furniture that will be easy to paint, that way you’ll get the hang of painting before you take on any projects too big.
You’ll want something that doesn’t have many drawers or pieces you need to take apart. Check out this easy to guide to picking out your furniture to chalk paint.
The piece I chose was this gorgeous rocking chair. This is a great starter piece because it doesn’t have any parts that need to be removed, sanded, stained, or disassembled.
How to Prepare Furniture for Painting
What You’ll Need:
- Mild soap and water
- Acetone Nail Polish Remover and a cotton ball
- Sand Paper ( 120 Grit) – only use if needed, see below
Before painting can begin, there is a little prep work that needs to get done. When you’re chalk painting, the prep work is easy. First, wash your furniture down with mild soap and water and then allow the piece to air-dry.
When working with wood furniture, you need to know if the sealant used on the piece is oil-based or water-based. Chalk paint cannot adhere to oil-based finishes.
Simply use a cotton ball with some acetone and gently rub the furniture. If the sealant and stain come off, then you have a water-based paint and are done prepping. If you do not get anything off the furniture, then it’s oil based and you will have to sand down the entire piece before painting.
Additional Prep Work
If you have any areas that need wood filler or parts of the furniture that are chipping or peeling, you’ll need to address that before painting. Hopefully, you picked a piece that won’t require that prep work, but if not, make sure your surface is dry and smooth before beginning.
As with any paint job, prepping is key. Chalk paint is wonderful in that you don’t need a ton of prep work, but if you skip the required prep work, the final product can still come out poorly.
Chalk Painting Your Furniture
This rocking chair was simply a beautiful chair from afar. Up close this rocking chair was very beat-up. It needed to be refinished in some way. Sanding and re-staining with the beveled edges would have been too much for me. Therefore painting was a great option to give it a new lease on life.
This rocking chair was painted in Country Chic’s All-in-One Simplicity because white is a very classic look, especially for chalk paint. This chair was also heavily distressed for an aged look.
What You’ll Need:
- Chalk Paint – I chose Country Chic Chalk Paint for this project because it offers a great finish and is an eco-friendly product.
- Chalk Painting Brush – You’ll most likely want a round brush to start with. Once you get a little better at painting, you may need other brush options for more detailed work.
Before dipping the brush into the paint, make sure to stir the paint. If all the chalky goodness isn’t mixed together, the paint can be watery and won’t give you a chalky finish with good coverage. Treat it like you would any other paint.
When starting, use a round chalk painting brush, like the Country Chic’s Oval Brush, and begin with the first layer of paint, painting very conservatively. If too much paint is used, you will end up with drops of paint. It’s a pain if you have dripping in hard-to-reach places or pooling of paint in any of the crevices.
The first coat of paint, especially white, will look terrible. As you can see below on the rocking chair, you will end up with streaking and not enough coverage. However, this will get better with another one or two coats of paint.
Allow the first coat of paint to dry before applying the next coat. This takes at least an hour, if not a few.
Additional Coats of Chalk Paint
The second coat of paint will really give you coverage. Continue to be conservative in the amount you use, as pooling and dripping are always a concern. However, with this piece of furniture, the stain underneath still bled through the white paint.
Three coats of paint works best when using white or light colors. Keep in mind that dark stains and tannins can make it more difficult to paint with a lighter color.
With each coat of paint, wait 24 hours before applying additional coats of paint.
As you paint, you’ll want to apply as many coats as needed until you get full coverage on the piece you’ve chosen. Many colors cover better than white and only need two coats. If this is your first piece, I would suggest using a darker color for better coverage.
Distressing Chalk Painted Furniture
I chose to distress my rocking chair. Taking very coarse sandpaper, at 120 grit, I distressed all around the chair. The idea was to make it look really beat up. I thought the distressing would add a lot of charm to the chair and distressing is also great for hiding any imperfections.
What You’ll Need:
- Sandpaper (course – I chose 120 grit)
- Damp Washcloth
If you choose to distress, use coarse sandpaper and sand down the edges and areas normal wear should exist. This will most likely be corners or edges. On this chair, I chose to distress the seat as well to look like it had been worn out and well used.
Sanding down the piece will create a lot of dust. Once you feel your furniture has been distressed enough, wipe it off gently with a damp washcloth. Be sure that it’s not too wet as it can wash off your unsealed paint. A little damp is best.
This is an optional step and not necessary for every piece.
Sealing The Painted Furniture
Chalk painted furniture can be sealed in a variety of different ways. One of the most common ways is using clear wax.
What You’ll Need:
- Waxing Brush
- Natural Wax – I love Country Chic’s Product for this as well because it’s made with beeswax and does a great job sealing the furniture
- Lint Free Rag
Waxing is pretty simple. There are many kinds of wax, I used Country Chic’s Clear Wax to seal the chair.
With your brush, apply the wax generously over every nook and cranny on the surface of your piece.
Once wax has been applied to a large area, wipe off any excess with a lint-free rag or fabric and buff in a circular motion into the wood. This will bring out a shine in the wax and also massage the wax into the tiny nooks and crannies of the wood. If you don’t wipe off the excess, the surface will become sticky and tacky and collect dust.
As you wax, you’ll notice the color from the paint really coming through. If you distressed your piece, the brown from the wood of the furniture will really come through.
You will need to wait at least 24 hours before handling it. Although, it takes about 30 days to fully cure and harden before you can really use the piece.
Learning how to chalk paint furniture is a great way to upcycle and save old and unwanted furniture! This charming rocking chair now sits in my little girl’s room. She reads stories to her teddy bears in it and it gets used frequently without much wear and tear.
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Looking for more chalk painting tips?
- How to Use Antiquing Wax
- How to Care For Your Chalk Paint Brushes
- Get a Brush Stroke Free Finish with Chalk Paint
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