Chalk Painting Tutorial Part II: Paint

Hi ya’ll!  Welcome back! Today is Part II of my Chalk Painting Tutorial.  If you missed Part I, you can read the full post here.  Included are tips for project selection, paint prep and material choices.  Here’s a recap:

  1. Choose Your Project Piece
  2. Inspect & Repair
  3. Clean Piece
  4. Mask
  5. Select Your Paint
  6. Choose A Good Quality Brush

Now that all the prep work is done and you have all the necessary materials, it’s time to start painting!  This is the really fun part, so let’s get started!

7. Start to Paint

The best thing about chalk paint is that primer is rarely required.  It could be beneficial when painting over laminate or melamine to boost adhesion although I have found that a good sanding usually does the trick.  I’ve only ever primed one piece before and that was mostly because it was a darker stain and I was using white paint and didn’t want to have to apply more than 2 coats.

In most cases, you can start painting directly over the original finish on your piece. For unfinished wood, it is best to apply clear shellac to any wood knots or open grains to prevent the tannins from bleeding through your paint layers.  This is particularly important when working with pine, oak and certain types of mahogany.


I apply shellac with a chip brush and because it’s so simple, usually end up applying it to the entire unfinished piece.  I find that it keeps the wood from absorbing the paint as much which means less coats are required for full coverage.

Just lightly brush it on like you would paint.  It dries in minutes and then you can move right on to painting.  Rust-Oleum also supplies it in spray form if you like that better.

When your painting an older piece typically from the 40s and 50s, the original stain may also bleed through your chalk paint layers.  This happens most often with cherry and mahogany.  If I’m concerned about bleed through, I’ll usually apply a small strip of chalk paint in an inconspicuous area as a test.  If I get bleed through, then I’ll apply clear shellac to the entire piece same as unfinished wood.  Shellac can be applied over paint so no need to strip the test area.  If you still get bleed through, you may need to apply an additional coat.

Tip: Shellac does smell so I recommend applying it in a well-ventilated area, outside if you can.  I have done this in my She Shop before, but always wear a respirator mask when I do.

Now, you can start painting.

Be sure you shake and stir your paint well before you begin.  That way you can ensure all the pigments are mixed and the color will be even.  I usually turn the can upside down and shake it several times before opening and stirring it.

Shake & Stir

Dip your brush in the paint.  Be sure to have enough paint on your brush to maintain a wet edge while painting.

Paint on Brush

When painting furniture, I usually start with the bottom of the piece first and then finish with the top.  There is no need to paint the underside of the furniture that touches the floor unless you want to.  For smaller pieces (like lamps, baskets and bowls) I typically paint the surface that makes contact with the table first, allow it to dry and then paint the rest of the piece.  That way I can set it down flat when doing the majority of the painting.

Paint with the grain in long sweeping strokes where possible.  This is particularly important on table tops and other large surfaces since it helps minimize brush strokes giving the piece a smoother and more cohesive look.  Chalk paint dries fast…really fast, so work quickly and try to minimize paint runs, drips and heavy (thick) edges.  However, the great part about chalk paint is that it is very forgiving and most issues can be sanded smooth after the paint is dry.

Long Sweeping Strokes

Note: I reviewed some important brush features to look for in Part I.  Long flexible bristles come in handy when painting corners and intricate details.  Flexible bristles, particularly on rounded brush heads make painting these features a snap.  That’s one reason why I like Annie Sloan’s Pure Bristle Brush so much.  The bristles easily mold to the corner leaving no bare spots.

Painting Corners

Let’s talk about coverage:

After you apply your first coat, don’t panic.  It will likely look splotchy and see-through like this end table…

1st Coat

But, I promise you the second coat makes all the difference.  Most times, for darker colors, 2 coats will be all you need.  For lighter colors (especially over dark stain), you’ll likely need 3 coats for full coverage.  If you’re looking for a more distressed finish, you may even be happy with one coat.  That’s the beauty of chalk paint- you have full control of the end result!

Here’s that same end table after a second coat…

2nd Coat

(Note: This photo was taken when the second coat was still wet which is why there are flat and shiny areas.)

To keep your brush fresh in between coats, you can wrap it in saran wrap or enclose it in a ziplock bag.

More Ways to Customize Your Finish: Chalk paint can be thinned with water for lighter coverage or to create a wash, but can also be thickened by allowing it to sit open at room temperature.  Thinner paint will give a smoother finish while thicker paint will intensify the brushstrokes and overall texture of the piece.  I usually apply my first coat as is and will sometimes thin the second and third coats depending on the final look I’m going for.

8. Remove Masking Tape

I usually wait until the paint is just dry enough to be tack free and then remove the tape.  I’ve found that waiting to remove the tape until after the paint is thoroughly dry can sometimes cause it to peel.  Chalk paint dries fast…really fast…so it is usually tack free in about 15 minutes.  If I’m painting a larger piece, I’ll wait until I’m finished with the final coat of the entire piece and then remove the tape.  I have found that Frog Tape gives better results than other masking tapes if I have to wait until the next day when the paint is completely dry to remove it.

9. Distress (optional)

I love to distress my painted projects.  I feel like it only adds to the farmhouse feel and country charm.

Typically, I distress prior to waxing (although Annie Sloan does recommend distressing after). For me, though, distressing before tends to be faster and a little less work because I don’t have to break through the wax as well, but it does create more sanding dust.  I also love the effect wax has on the exposed wood (it shines it up a bit and really makes it stand out).

NOTE: I do all of the distressing in my She Shop and I can promise you, it won’t feel like you’re in a desert sandstorm, but there will be dust. 😉 Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is completely safe and has nearly no odor so there’s no danger other than a stuffy nose, but if you have allergies like me or are prone to sinus infections (also like me), you may want to wear a mask.

To combat the dust, I occasionally wear these dust masks (occasionally because I often forget haha) and use 3M extra fine, fine or medium grit sanding sponges depending on the surface and the extent of distressing I want to achieve.  I’ve also been using Annie Sloan’s Sanding Pads lately.  This pack includes a fine, medium and coarse grit pad.  They are incredibly flexible making them a great choice when you need to sand in hard to reach areas.  I’ve gotten great results with them and feel like I have even more control using the thinner pads than the sponges.  However, they don’t seem to last quite as long as the sponges.

When distressing, less is more.  You can always distress more as needed, but you can’t go backwards unless you repaint the surface.  That’s not a tragedy but will add time to your project.   It’s also important to think about where your piece would normally exhibit wear and tear after years of use.  Distressing in these locations will give your pieces a more authentic vintage look.

For this end table, I used the Annie Sloan course grit sanding sponge and distressed along most of the hard edges as well as the feet.

Distressing End Table

End Table Distressed

And, of course, you don’t have to distress at all if you prefer a more polished look.

10. Apply Wax

It’s important to seal your chalk painted piece for added durability.  I use Annie Sloan’s Soft Clear Wax (visit for a retailer near you or purchase from Amazon here).

Annie Sloan Wax

Wax is my preferred way to seal and protect chalk painted surfaces and Annie Sloan’s wax is by far my favorite product.  One 500mL can will last through numerous large scale and small scale projects.  I only recently finished my last can.  It lasted me three months and I was using it nearly every day.  I can’t even begin to list the pieces I used it on- at least 50 small projects as well as a coffee table, side board, corner hutch and more.

Wax will deepen and enhance the color of your piece, but will not change the color.  It will be dry to the touch immediately after application, but takes 5-21 days depending on ambient temperature to fully cure so be sure to use your piece with care until then. Once fully cured, Annie Sloan’s wax is food safe.  It is also safe for use on baby and child’s furniture, although Annie Sloan recommends extending the cure time to 4-6 weeks before use.

Wax can be applied using a brush or clean rag.  When I competed my first project- the 10 foot built in I talked about in Part I- I used a rag, but have since used the Annie Sloan Wax Brush for every project since.  I find brush application of the wax to be much faster, but it’s really up to your personal preference which method you use.

The technique when applying by brush or rag is basically the same.

First, remove a small amount of wax from your can (Note: the can in this photo is actually a sample size that’s why it looks so small. I ran out of my 500mL can and didn’t have a back up in stock-whoops- so I had to make do 😊)

Removing Wax From Can

Place this wax on a clean paper plate or a piece of paper (a paper plate works better, but I ran out of those too- I have got to get to the grocery store! Haha).  Don’t use a paper towel- they’re fuzzy and all that fuzz with definitely stick to and contaminate your wax.

Wax on Paper Plate or Paper

The reason I do this is to keep my can of wax clean and fresh.  Wax is sticky so your brush or rag will pick up any residual dust on your piece and carry it back to the wax.  Using the wax off your paper plate will prevent contamination of your entire can.

Dip your brush or rag into the wax like so…

Wax on Brush

You don’t need a lot of wax.  Less is definitely better.  If you end up with too much wax on your brush or rag, you can just wipe the excess off on your paper plate.

Apply the wax to your piece by pushing or rubbing (if you’re using a rag) into the surface like you would apply hand cream.

Push Wax Into Surface

Work in small sections at a time and then wipe away the excess wax with a clean lint free rag.  I use these rags all the time and they work great for both application and excess wax removal.

Wipe Away Excess Wax

You can use the same rag for excess wax removal until the wax starts to build up on it.  One 6 inch by 6 inch rag is usually enough to complete a small end table.

If you’re looking for a matte finish then you’re all done, but if you’d like a slight sheen on your piece then you can buff the surface with another clean rag.  Annie Sloan recommends waiting 24 hours before buffing, but I’ve had success waiting as little as 15 minutes.  I tend to only lightly buff my pieces because I prefer either a matte or eggshell type finish; however, you can buff to a gloss finish if that’s your preference.

Here’s the end table above after it’s been waxed and buffed.  So pretty- I love this color.  It’s called Duck Egg Blue. ❤ ❤

Final End Table Photo

If you notice any streaky areas after you’re finished, just apply a little more wax and buff it out.

For table tops or surfaces that will get a lot of use, I usually apply a second coat of wax, sometimes even a third.  This can be done as little as an hour after the first coat.

When you’re finished, a little warm water and dish soap will remove any leftover wax from your brush.  Hang it bristles down or lay it flat to dry.

Annie Sloan also makes a dark wax that can be applied after clear wax.  I’ve only recently started using this- it helps highlight brushstrokes, fine details and creates a really pretty aged effect.  You apply it the same way as clear wax.

Tip:  Always apply dark wax after clear wax.  This will allow you to control the color.  If it’s too dark, you can always reapply some clear wax to lighten it.

11. Install hardware (if applicable)

If you’re working on a dresser or hutch, then its time to install hardware.  Sometimes I reuse the original hardware, but usually I find something new.  Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite places to find knobs and handles- they have an entire aisle of goodies. The nearest one is over an hour away from me so I usually only go once every couple months and stock up when I’m there.  I also save the hardware from every piece I’ve ever refinished and will often spray paint of chalk paint it to give it a little update before using it on a different piece.

If you’re using different hardware and patched the original holes (see step 2 from Part I) then you’ll need to drill new holes.  I use my Dewalt drill and drill bit set for this.

12. Line Drawers or Interior Spaces (optional)

If your piece has drawers or interior surfaces (like the inside of a box), you can line them with scrapbook paper or fabric as the final finishing touch like I did in my Custom Rolling Cart Makeover and this Vanity Reveal.

I adhered the scrapbook paper to the drawer bottom with matte Mod Podge and then applied a thin layer of Mod Podge on top for added protection.

I don’t always line the drawers on the pieces I refinish, but it can add a little pop of color or an unexpected surprise if you do.  😊


I’m sure by now you know just how much I love chalk paint and I hope someday you will too!  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me here or leave a comment below.  As always, I’d love to hear from you and I’d really love to see before and afters of the projects you tackle.

Good luck and let’s get painting!!

blog signature (black ink)- actual size

4 thoughts on “Chalk Painting Tutorial Part II: Paint

  1. Pingback: Chalk Painting Tutorial – Part I: Prep | The Road Less Traveled Design Co.

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  3. Pingback: In A Day’s Work: Top 7 Time-Saving DIY Products | The Road Less Traveled Design Co.

  4. Pingback: Get the Vintage Barn Wood Look with Brand New Wood | The Road Less Traveled Design Co.

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