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Imagine this: you’re in one of your favorite antique shops and you spot a beautiful, old armoire. It’s design is perfect for your space, but the finish is… very worn. You’ve taken on furniture painting before. It’s time consuming, a bit costly, and hard to do well without streaking, bubbling, or a million and one products to get the desired finish. 

Well, you don’t have to say no to that beautiful armoire, or whatever piece of furniture that’s caught your eye recently, if you opt to use chalk paint! Chalk paint is a DIYers dream product—it requires no sanding or priming (in most cases), only a few coats, and is incredibly customizable based on technique. And the best part? It dries super quickly and is easy to distress. Put simply? It’s the perfect solution to your annoying, furniture painting problems. Here’s everything you need to know in one blog post:

Prep Work

While post painting projects require a bit of sanding before the fun begins, chalk paint doesn’t need it! However, if you’re working on a piece of heavily varnished furniture, a bit of very fine grain sanding can help the chalk paint adhere. 

Whether or not you sand, it’s always a good idea to do a thorough cleaning of the item you’re painting to ensure it’s free of any grit or grime. Dust, animal hair, and dirt will show up in the paint if not properly removed. 


Using an appropriately sized paintbrush for your piece of furniture, begin working the paint onto the surface. A few things to consider:

  • If you’re looking for a more distressed look, paint onto the item in every direction, going back and forth. This will help the paint look more lived in and will make the distressing process easier. 
  • For a more modern look, paint in a more traditional manner in long, sustained strokes and up into the wet paint. 

The first coat of paint, especially if you’re painting dark wood or over a dark shade of paint, will be a bit see-through. This is perfectly normal. The time it takes between coats will vary based on climate, but the first coat should be dry within an hour’s time. From there, go back in with a second coat. Voila! 

Finishing Touches

Chalk paint has a naturally matte and rich finish. To seal in the chalk paint, opt for a wax or varnish. A wax will allow for a slight sheen but keep the finish mostly matte, whereas a varnish will make the piece a bit more glossy and modern looking. 

Wax must be spread on in light layers using barely any muscle. Immediately after applying wax to a small section, go back over the area with a lint-free cloth and remove any excess. If distressing, most furniture DIYers prefer using the wax to distress, as it is more forgiving and easier to work into the paint to achieve your desired effect. To apply varnish, simply paint on as normal, applying as many coats as you like until you reach your preferred finish. 

After waxing or varnishing, treat the piece of furniture carefully for about a month or so. The only drawback of chalk paint is that if not properly cured you can easily scratch or gouge the paint. 

Though there can be a bit of a learning curve, chalk paint is many designers paint of choice to refinish furniture. Whether a piece in your house is looking a bit worse for wear, the armoire in the antique store leaves a bit to be desired, or you’re looking to update your space with little time or effort, chalk paint is a great option.