Chalk painting is all the rage right now because it doesn’t require you to sand! It’s so easy! In this post, I’ll show you how to chalk paint…the even EASIER and FASTER way!
Have you tried chalk paint yet? It is the most amazing thing ever. Without getting all technical, it’s basically paint that you can use without primer and….(the best part) without sanding! It’s perfect for refinishing furniture because you don’t have to deal with a bunch of extra steps.
Before I discovered chalk paint, I actually repainted a couple of pieces of furniture the old fashioned way. I sanded for what seemed like hours.
Oh wait…it was hours.
That was followed by primer, 1 coat of paint, hours of drying, another coat of paint, more hours of drying, and a sealer…all while inhaling some serious fumes.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why people thought this was fun.
I’d heard about chalk paint but was hesitant to try it because I didn’t feel like I had the time to learn about a new technique of painting.
Until I heard about the no sanding business.
Then I was on board.
Painting without the hassle of sanding?? Yes, please!
How to Chalk Paint: The Easy and FAST Way
For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll show you how I chalk painted a $60 dresser I found at Goodwill and turned it into our TV console in the living room.
But the craziness only begins there, because I’ve pretty much chalk painted half of my house. Check out some of these other chalk painted projects I’ve posted on Instagram:
Ok, so I may have a problem.
It’s totally fine.
I’ve definitely learned a few things along the way: shortcuts, unnecessary steps, favorite products, money saving tips, and more. And today I’m gonna share those with you!
Let’s get started!
Chalk Paint Supplies: What Do I REALLY Need?
1. Chalk Paint (duh.)
There’s are actually a few different brands of chalk paint that I enjoy using…all for different purposes.
- Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint from Walmart: This chalk paint is great because it’s super affordable and comes in a bunch of colors. It’s definitely the chalk paint I use the most, and it’s great for small projects.
- Pros: Super affordable // easy to work with // lots of colors
- Cons: Not really designed for large projects // not available online
- Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint: This paint comes in a quart size, so it’s great for large projects! It’s also one of the more affordable chalk paints if you’re looking to paint large pieces of furniture.
- Pros: Reasonably priced // available online (even Amazon carries it!)
- Cons: Limited color options
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: If you’ve heard of chalk painting, you’ve heard of Annie Sloan….who kind of made the whole thing popular. Her paints are on the more expensive end ($40/quart), but she’s also the guru of chalk paint so you know you’re getting a good product.
- Pros: Expert in her field
- Cons: High priced // limited color options // limited retailers
For smaller projects, you can’t go wrong with Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint from Walmart! For larger projects, like furniture, Rust-oleum Chalked Paint is the best bang for your buck.
2. Wax or Protective Finish
- Waverly Inspirations Clear Wax from Walmart: This is the wax I use 90% of the time, and I love it. A little bit goes a long way, so I use this even on my large projects.
- Pros: Affordable // lasts a long time
- Cons: May take longer to apply
- Rust-oleum Polyrurethane Matte Finish: I just recently learned from a friend that a matte polyurethane also works as a protective finish on chalk paint! I used this for the first time on my bar stools, and it turned out great!
- Pros: Quicker application time // able to apply with a paint brush
- Cons: May require more coats
You really can’t go wrong with either of these. It all comes down to how you want to apply the protective layer. Wax is applied with a wax brush or sponge, while the polyurethane can be applied with a brush. I’ll get into that a little later.
3. Wax Brush or Staining Sponge
I’ve applied wax 2 different way, and one method far outshines the other!
- Wax Brush: A brush specifically designed for applying wax. These are really great brushes and can be found on Amazon.
- Staining Sponge: Y’all, using a staining sponge to apply the wax is SUCH a shortcut, it cuts the waxing portion of chalk painting down by at least half! I’ll get into how to do it a little later, but this is my number 1 recommended short cut method!
Let’s say it again for the people in the back: “Staining sponge! Staining sponge!”
4. Paint Brush
- Chalk Painting Brushes: You can find brushes specifically designed for chalk painting, and those are fine. Nothing wrong with them. But there is another option….
- Pros: Specifically designed for chalk painting
- Cons: More expensive than an average paint brush // must clean after each use
- Cheap Chip Paintbrushes: After doing a little bit of research, I discovered that your average cheap-o chip paint brushes are just as efficient as the higher priced chalk paint brushes.
- Pros: Cheaper // can be found at the Dollar Store (or even Amazon) // can throw away when done
- Cons: Bristles may “shed” while painting
I’ve been using chip paint brushes since I discovered this little hack, and I’ll never go back. Yes, some of the bristles do shed…but, just keep a toothpick nearby to easily remove them when painting.
5. Optional Supplies
If you plan on distressing any of your furniture, my two go-to items to make it go quick and easy are:
- Sanding Block: You can find these anywhere, even Amazon, and they have different grits on each side to help with distressing some of the chalk paint off. These are actually washable and reusable.
- Tack Cloth: This helps get all the excess dust off after distressing with a sanding block. SO much easier and more efficient than a towel.
Get the Stuff
How to Chalk Paint: Directions
Like I said earlier, for the purpose of this blog post I’ll be working with a large dresser. So let’s get started!
1.Remove any hardware from your piece if you don’t want them painted. For me, this was removing all the handles from the drawers.
2. Some tutorials will tell you to do some light sanding before you chalk paint if there are any imperfections on your piece.
Honestly, I find this step unnecessary and I rarely (if ever) do that. I personally feel like all the imperfections give the piece of furniture more character, so I leave it as is.
If you’re just dying to sand and want to get rid of some rough patches, you can use a sanding block to smooth the area.
Related:DIY Refinished Farmhouse Table (A Beginner’s Guide)
For this project I used Rust-oleum Chalked Paint in Aged Gray.
3. Apply your first coat of paint. Ok, you can’t get much easier than this: shake your container, stir it, and then go to town.
One of my favorite shortcuts that I’ve learned during is that during the first coat you don’t have to paint in one direction…and that comes straight from the chalk paint guru herself: Annie Sloan. She said it gives the piece more texture, and I have to agree. Plus, it allows you to paint so much faster!
The first coat only took me about 20-30 minutes…drawers and all.
*Also, if you plan on using a chip brush like I mentioned, you may have a few bristles that fall out here and there. It’s no big deal, and you can pick them out using a toothpick no problem. I think I had about 3 bristles fall out during the whole process.
4. Let your first coat dry for about an hour…maybe less, depending on how thick your coat of paint is. Chalk paint dries very quickly, and you can actually see how fast it dries if you’re looking at it in the sunlight.
5. Apply a second coat after the first one has dried. Yes, you’ll need a second coat. But it goes on even faster because most of your furniture is already covered.
For the second (and remaining coats if you choose) you’ll want to pay a little more attention to your brush strokes. I went a little more “back and forth” with my strokes this time, but still wasn’t super structured.
The second coat took about 15-20 minutes.
Related: DIY Chalk Painted End Table
If you’re not distressing, then just skip ahead to step #8.
6. After my second coat dried, that’s when I got my sandpaper block and started distressing. This isn’t hard, but it’s the most tedious step. Now apparently you can distress before or after you wax, but I always do it before because I want the wax to be the very last thing.
When distressing, you want to give it that “worn” look so start with places that would get natural wear and tear. If you have a hard time knowing where those places are, you can’t go wrong with the corners and edges.
Use a 220 or 150 grit sandpaper and sand the paint in places until it shows the original wood. Now remember, the more coats of paint you apply the harder you’re going to have to sand. Don’t be afraid to put a little elbow grease in it. I usually rub sandpaper lightly over the whole entire piece to give it a few scratches here and there, but then I really focus on the corners and edges.
It took me about 45 minutes to distress the whole thing.
*Don’t worry about the sandpaper making your piece look “scratchy”. Once you apply the wax, those scratches are less noticeable and just add to the distressed look.
7. After distressing, make sure you use a tack cloth to clear away any remaining dust from sanding. You won’t want any of that getting in your wax!
For the purpose of this tutorial I’m using wax, rather than the polyurethane.
8. Now you’re ready to wax! I find that this is the step that intimidates most people when it comes to learning how to chalk paint. Even if you’ve never waxed before, it is not difficult. Also, yes: this step is necessary. Without some sort of protective cover, your chalk painted furniture will show wear and tear very easily.
Plus, if you’re not thrilled with how your piece looks painted or you’re worried you might have distressed a little too much, wait until you apply the wax. It completely brightens up your paint and really makes those distressed areas look perfect!
Pour a little bit of wax onto a paper plate, dip your staining sponge in and wipe it on the furniture in a back and forth motion. You can see from my pictures that I started applying wax in the same manner I painted…crazy! After about a minute of that, I realized it would look better if I waxed in one direction.
When applying the wax you shouldn’t have any excess to wipe off (which eliminates an entire step if you were using a waxing brush). You’ll also be able to tell where you waxed because it will make your paint a shade darker.
After you wax the entire thing, you need to wait 24 hours before applying your next coat. I always apply at least 2 coats. They say the more use it’s going to get, the more coats of wax you use. Since this is just going to have a TV sitting on it, 2 coats is enough.
My first coat took about 45 minutes to apply.
*After your first coat of wax, it will seem dry almost immediately. You still need to wait before applying another coat! I’m not going to say you have to wait exactly 24 hours, but plan on just leaving it until the next day.
9. When you’re ready for your 2nd coat of wax, you wax it the exact same way. I used a new sponge, although I’m sure you could clean and reuse the other one.
This coat of wax went much quicker, because your piece is already “sealed”. You’re just going over it quickly with one more coat.
The second coat only took me 20 minutes.
The Finished Product!
And that’s it! If you plan on applying more coats of wax, just wait a day in between and follow the same steps. Add your new (or old) hardware, and then put your fancy new piece of furniture in your home and spend the next month staring at it and smiling every time you walk past it!
Let’s review some of the chalk painting shortcut/time saver hacks we learned:
- Go with a more affordable chalk paint brand like Waverly Inspirations or Rust-oleum.
- Use a staining sponge instead instead of a waxing brush to cut your wax time half.
- Skip the chalk paint brushes and go with cheap chip paint brushes.
- Use a sanding block (if distressing) to easily distress your furniture quickly.
Want more chalk painting?
If you want even more chalk painting inspo, check out these related posts!
- Refinished Farmhouse Dining Room Table: A Beginner’s Guide
- DIY Chalk Painted End Table
- DIY Fall Series: Chalk Painted Pumpkins
Where is your link to the wax? Or what does it look like and what brand?
Her Happy Home says
I’ve edited the post to include the link to the wax.
I Loved your tutorial! I’m trying chalk painting for the first time today after I get the supplies you suggested. I have some crate & Barrel bedside tables in an ugly cherry wood. But they are very well made and I wanted to repurpose them in a light gray. I’m behind the curve I guess. Chalk paint is probably outdated now but I’m doing it anyway. I just hope it doesn’t look too “ country” ish.
Her Happy Home says
I think it will look great!
Cheryl L Ogren says
I love this!! I too can’t afford all of those fabulous chalk paints, they are great but in reality too pricey. I too have used the Walmart ones. I recently came across Rustoleum’s chalk paint at Walmart! It comes in a spray can version as well. I have these woven back chairs that have been driving me crazy to cover with the can chalk paint, decided to give the spray a try. It worked great, while waiting to dry I found your site. SO LOVE IT!! Nice to know that there those on a budget and busy, who can only do/afford so much. After seeing what you do with your dresser, I’m going to tackle our obnoxiously large entertainment center. We to have a giant wall, so it fits (out of date though)., hoping your technique will at least make it look more current. Hope to see more of your projects!!
Her Happy Home says
Hi Cheryl! I can’t wait to see your finished dresser…I bet it will look great! And I have seen the spray chalk paint, but haven’t tried it yet…looks like that’s going to be my next project! 🙂 And I don’t always get around to writing a blog post for some of my smaller projects, but I always post them on my Instagram! @herhappyhome
Sheila Herron says
I had quite a bit of furniture that I wanted to distress to put in our new for, old house. The walls are very dark. Like you said chalk paint can get really pricey if you are doing many pieces so I found a recipe on line. 2 parts paint and I part baking soda. If it gets too thick I just add a little more paint to it. It leaves kind of a rough finish but I was clear coating of the top anyway so that wasn’t a big deal for me.
Sheila Herron says
Amanda, I am Billy’s cousin and we’ve been redoing an old family house. The walls are a really dark stain in most of the rooms and so I wanted a lot of the furniture to be a white distressed look. As you said chalk can be expensive especially if you have several pieces you want to do. I found a recipe on line to make my own. 2 parts paint and 1 part baking soda. It leaves a kind of rough finish but a light sanding takes care of that. Just thought I’d let you know.
That’s sounds great! Thanks!