Can You Use Chalk Paint on Woodwork?

For most of us, woodwork is everywhere. It could be our furniture, our cabinets, on the exterior of our homes, and in a number of other places. So, what about when woodwork gets worn, needs some revamping, or even when you just want to change the color? 

It’s a common question that has been gaining a lot of popularity recently: can you use chalk paint on woodwork? When it comes to using chalk paint on woodwork, it’s absolutely possible and it can produce some great results.

However, before jumping right in to buying chalk paint and getting started on using it, there are some important things to know! We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using chalk paint on woodwork, like what chalk paint actually is, what it can be used for, how to use it on woodwork, and the pros and cons of using it on woodwork.

All About Using Chalk Paint on Woodwork

Before going to buy your chalk paint and getting ready to revamp or change your woodwork, it’s helpful to know what chalk paint actually is, what it can be used for, and how to use it.

What is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is a type of paint that is commonly used on furniture and other items to create a chalky, aged or distressed appearance. Chalk paint is officially trademarked by the company Annie Sloan, but there are a lot of other similar products on the market by other brands.

Chalk paint shouldn’t be confused with chalkboard paint, which is actually pretty different. Chalkboard paint is painted on products to be used as the surface of a chalkboard and to be written on with chalk. Chalk paint doesn’t create those effects.

This type of paint has a matte finish and has been known to need little to no preparation at all in order to be used, which has probably been a big factor that has led to its rising popularity.

What Can Chalk Paint be Used for?

Chalk paint can be used for a variety of projects and can also be used on a variety of different surfaces. Chalk paint can be used on furniture, cabinets, walls, ceilings, floors, and exteriors. Chalk paint has even been known to be used to paint metal and even fabrics.

Painting furniture and cabinets are perhaps the most popular uses for chalk paint – many a person looking to revitalize older furniture or cabinets and give them a new look have ventured into using chalk paint.

How to Use Chalk Paint on Woodwork

One of the pluses of using chalk paint is that it typically has little to no prep work involved. However, there are still some materials you may need in order to use it. You’ll also need to take some steps and tips into consideration!

Materials Needed for Using Chalk Paint on Woodwork

You’ll need some materials to use chalk paint on any woodwork or surfaces. They are:

  • Desired paintable piece(s)
  • Drop cloths, cardboard, painter’s plastic or other protective pieces for the area around your painting project
  • Chalk paint of the desired color
  • A quality paint brush
  • Lysol or Clorox cleaning wipes
  • Wood filler (in case any scratches or gouges need to be patched)
  • Putty knife (if using wood filler)
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape (if needed/desired)
  • Regular wax or dark wax (optional)
  • Shellac (not needed in all cases)

The Steps to Using Chalk Paint on Woodwork

Ready to use chalk paint on woodwork? Wanting to tackle painting a piece or two with chalk paint? Let’s walk you through the process!

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

You read about all the materials you’ll need to use chalk paint on woodwork, and now it’s time to gather them. Choose your desired piece or pieces to be painted, and choose your chalk paint color(s).

Chalk paint can be purchased through Annie Sloan if you’d like the official, name brand chalk paint. You can also buy chalk paints in other brands at home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Michael’s.

The other supplies needed to use chalk paint on woodwork can also likely be purchased at large retailers and home improvement stores.

Step Two: Prepare Your Area

Now that you’ve got all your necessary supplies, it’s time to prepare your painting area. This is where your drop cloths (or cardboard) and tape comes in! Hang painter’s plastic along the walls you don’t wish to get paint on, and leave drop cloths or cardboard on the parts of the floor you don’t wish to get paint on.

If there is any part of your woodwork you don’t want to be painted, it’s time to use your painter’s tape!

Step Three: Clean and Dust Thoroughly

You want your chalk paint to stick to your woodwork evenly and well, and in order to ensure it does so, you’ll need to clean and dust your piece(s) thoroughly. To do this, you can use Lysol or Clorox wipes and a duster.

You can also use god ole’ fashioned paper towels and cleaner to achieve the same result. Whatever you choose, make sure to clean and dust the piece(s) to the best of your ability.

Step Four: Repair any Scratches or Dents

If the piece(s) you’re painting has any scratches, dents or gouges, it may be in your best interest to fill them before beginning to paint. This step is (of course) optional, but still recommended. In order to fill any scratches or dents, use a wood filler and putty knife.

After using the wood filler and waiting for it to dry and set (this can take a few hours), use your 220 grit sandpaper for sanding the area down and making it even or to your desired look. Generally, to tell if a surface is smooth enough, you can close your eyes and run your fingers over the area. You shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the repaired spot and the other spots.

Step Five: Test

Before you start painting your entire piece, it’s helpful to test an inconspicuous area of your piece(s) first to make sure there isn’t any bleed through. Wait at least 8 hours for your test area to dry before continuing.

If you have a piece that is cherry or mahogany, it’s likely that you’ll experience some bleed through, and that’s okay. If you do, it’s a pretty simple fix: spray a couple of coats of spray shellac before painting or paint on a couple of coats of normal shellac before painting.

Step Six: Time to Paint!

Drum roll… it’s painting time! The great news about chalk paint is that it’s used to create an aged or distressed look, and because of that, there isn’t really any particular method to painting with it.

Make sure to follow any tips or instructions that came with your chalk paint before diving right in. But after that – dive right in! You can use your paintbrush in side to side strokes, up and down strokes, or even in “pouncing” strokes – pushing the paint right into the wood. This process is usually pretty easy and quick.

Chalk paint dries really quickly, so keep that in mind!

Step Seven: Let Dry and Recoat

Let your first coat of chalk paint dry for at least 24 hours before applying a second coat. A second coat is optional, and isn’t always necessary. It really comes down to personal preference.

After letting your second coat dry, you can make any desired touch ups on your piece(s).

Step Eight: Polyurethane or Wax

This step is also optional and isn’t always desired or necessary. To put the finishing touches on your piece(s), you may want to use a wax or polyurethane. Both are popular options that work well.

When using wax to finish chalk paint on woodwork, follow any manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. When using polyurethane, wait at least 7 days before applying it to the piece(s). The chalk paint needs to cure completely.

Polyurethane should be applied in a thin coat with a quality brush and left to dry overnight. After it is dried, it can be sanded down in any areas that feel rough. A second coat may be needed, and if so, follow the same steps.

The Pros and Cons of Using Chalk Paint on Woodwork

Now that you know all about chalk paint and how to apply it to woodwork, you may be wondering what the pros and cons of using it are. Let’s break it down!

The Pros of Using Chalk Paint

  • Less preparation is required
  • Chalk paint dries very quickly
  • Usually, less paint/coats are needed when using chalk paint
  • Chalk paint will hide heavily grained wood
  • Easy to customize
  • Easy to “destruct” if looking for a distressed look

The Cons of Using Chalk Paint

  • It’s thicker and can leave brush strokes more noticeably
  • It’s harder to have custom colors mixed
  • It builds up quickly due to its thickness
  • It can be pricey
  • It can be time consuming to apply


I've been building things for many years, and I want to share what I've learned to try and help whoever I can. Make sure to checkout the homepage for my most read posts!

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