Chalk Paint Techniques and Tips for Furniture

One of the biggest selling points of chalk paint is that it doesn’t require too much prep work. In some cases, you can even get away with not priming the surface. Chalk paint is also incredibly easy to clean up with just soap and water.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of chalk paint is the numerous techniques you can use to bring your furniture to life. From blending different colors to distressing, there are many artistic effects that you can achieve with chalk paint. 

In this post you will discover the best chalk paint techniques, and some tips and tricks when chalk painting furniture.


Chalk paint techniques can be divided into three categories:

  • Chalk paint brushing techniques:
    • Painting without brush marks
    • Blending
    • Layering
    • Cross-hatch
    • Stippling
    • Feathering
    • Washing
    • Dry brushing
  • Distressing techniques:
    • Dry distressing
    • Wet distressing
    • Two color chalk paint distressing
    • The resist technique
    • Distressing with Vaseline
  • Chalk paint waxing techniques
    • Waxing with a brush
    • Waxing wish a rag

Chalk Paint Techniques For Furniture

Chalk paint furniture techniques can be divided into three categories:

  • Chalk paint brushing techniques
  • Distressing techniques
  • Chalk paint waxing techniques

These techniques can give your painted piece a certain appearance or texture. The results, as well as the level of difficulty, will vary from technique to technique.

Related: Is Dixie Belle Paint Available at Home Depot? Lowes?

Chalk Paint Brushing Techniques 

Painting without brush marks

For a smooth and professional finish, painting without brush strokes (or making brush marks less obvious) is key. 

Brush marks aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, they can give a piece of furniture character. But for a smooth, more professional-looking look, removing brush marks is usually best. 

Chalk paint is a relatively thick paint. Since thick paints hold their shape better, brush strokes are more likely to appear, unless you do something with the paint. Thus, thinning your chalk paint is an effective way to remove brush marks. 

Add a bit of water to your chalk paint in a separate container and mix well. Be careful not to add too much water as it might dilute the quality of the chalk paint.

Using certain brushes for applying chalk paint can also eliminate brush strokes. Natural bristle brushes tend to give smoother results than synthetic bristles. Misting your brush with water before dipping it in the paint can help too.

Finally, you can use additives to remove brush strokes. Floetrol is an additive that helps to level out paint, eliminating brush strokes. You can learn more about Floetrol here


Blending is the neat process of fusing two different colors to create a transitioning effect on the paint. In some cases, blending combines the two colors to create a new color. For instance, if blending red and yellow paint, the area of transition between the colors will be orange. 

Follow the following steps: 

  1. Apply the base coat, leaving some open space for the color to be blended.
  2. Apply the second color of paint over the open space. Slightly overlap the two colors.
  3. Use a misting bottle and lightly spray the area where you want to blend the two colors. Use a clean brush to blend the two colors.
  4. Apply the second coat of the second color and repeat the blending process.


Simply put, layering involves applying a layer of chalk paint over another layer. The different layers typically have different colors, and the colors are blended together to some degree. 

For instance, people often like to do layering on drawer faces or cabinet drawer faces. For these areas, a light color can be applied to the drawer faces first. From there, a darker color can be applied around the border of the drawer faces. By blending the colors slightly, you bring depth to your piece and created a somewhat aged look. 


  1. Apply the first layer of chalk paint. Let it dry.
  2. Apply the second layer of chalk paint around the perimeter of the first layer and blend the two colors together for a seamless color transition. 


Texturing is another paintbrush technique that can make your furniture pieces pop. It involves painting in a way so that your paint dries slightly raised up from the surface. It can be simple as applying your chalk paint in a criss-cross motion or as complicated as creating a certain design in the paint. It can be done with one or more colors of paint.

The appearance of the textured paint will greatly depend on the applicator used (e.g. paintbrush, roller) and the brush techniques applied.


Cross-hatch is a paintbrush technique that gives the chalk paint a faux linen appearance. It’s done with one color of paint, and it can be enhanced by applying a glaze.


  1. Apply the first coat of chalk paint in either a vertical or horizontal motion. Let the first coat dry.
  2. Apply the second coat of chalk paint, this time in a horizontal motion if the first coat was applied in a vertical motion, or in a vertical motion if the first coat was applied in a horizontal motion.


Stippling is a paintbrush technique that adds a lot of dimension to your painted surface, adding peaks and valleys to your chalk paint. When done correctly, the texture of the painted surface should look similar to the skin of an orange. It’s typically done with just one color.


  1. Paint heavily in a small area.
  2. Dab the area with the tip of your paintbrush’s bristles to add small peaks and valleys to your paint. 


Feathering is a technique wherein you gently brush over paint, pretty much like dusting over it (like what you do with a feather duster). It aims to give your paint a smoother finish by smoothing out the heavy strokes.


  1. Use the same paintbrush you used to apply the paint.
  2. Angle your paintbrush just above the painted area. Then, apply very light bristle pressure and gently brush over the paint, as if you’re sweeping over it.


Washing is a paint brush technique that lets you play with two colors at the same time. It lets you display a veil of color over the existing wood finish. This is done by thinning the chalk paint with water, with the aim to dilute it. 

When done washing, you should still be able to slightly see the surface under the washed layer of paint. It’s a great approach for creating a Beachwood finish. 


  1. Thin your chalk paint with water. You’d want to dilute it a lot.
  2. Apply the diluted paint over the painted surface.
  3. Using a paper towel or lint-free cloth, wipe off the paint, creating the wash effect.

Dry brushing

Dry brushing is a technique that adds depth, texture, and dimension to your piece. 

It involves just slightly dipping your brush into your paint. That way, the brush is dry for the most part as you apply the paint. The result gives the piece an aged appearance.


  1. Lightly dip the tip of your paintbrush in the chalk paint
  2. With moderate pressure, apply the paint over the painted surface. Leave some areas where the existing finish can show through.

Distressing Techniques

Dry Distressing 

Dry distressing is also known as “sanding” because it involves using sandpaper or a sanding block to distress certain areas of dried chalk paint. It’s best done before applying a top coat.

Since this technique will produce sand dust, it’s recommended that you work in a well-ventilated area. Also, wear a safety mask to avoid inhaling the sand dust.


  1. Let the last coat of chalk paint dry.
  2. With medium grit sandpaper, begin sanding away dried paint on areas that you want to distress. Usually, these will be areas that would normally have daily wear (i.e., edges, corners, etc.).
  3. Adjust the level of grit to achieve your desired result.

Wet Distressing

Wet distressing is practically the same approach as dry distressing but instead of sandpaper, you would use a damp sponge or cloth. Since chalk paint is water-based, rubbing a damp cloth on the areas you would like to distress will quote away the paint, and expose the underlying surface. 

You’ll be needing a bucket of water and a clean lint-free cloth or a rag.


  1. Dip your cloth or sponge into the bucket of water and wring it out
  2. Using your damp cloth or sponge, rub the areas that you want to distress (usually edges, corners, and raised surface areas). The paint will begin to dissolve, exposing the underlying surface.

Two Color Chalk Paint Distressing 

This distressing technique involves first layering with two different chalk paint colors. Perhaps you would like to use a darker paint color first, followed by a second coat of a lighter color. By lightly removing the top layer in various areas of the furniture, you can let the bottom color layer show through. This can give your furniture a lovely aged effect.


  1. Apply the first color of chalk paint and let it dry.
  2. Apply some chalk paint wax or candle wax on areas that you want to distress.
  3. Apply the second color of chalk paint. Let it dry.
  4. Use sandpaper on areas that you want to distress, removing the top color so that the first color shows through.

The Resist Technique 

This resist technique involves using natural (bee wax), petroleum jelly, or candle wax. For this approach, apply wax on areas that you want to distress. The wax will resist the second coat of chalk paint, making it easier to distress those areas. For a more natural worn look, apply the wax on the edges, corners, and raised surface areas.


  1. Apply the first color of chalk paint and let it dry completely.
  2. Apply or rub the wax on areas that you want to distress.
  3. Apply the second color of chalk paint and let it dry for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Using a damp cloth or sanding block, distress the areas where you applied the wax.

Distressing Chalk Paint With Vaseline 

This technique is similar to the “resist technique” in that you apply a resisting agent to distress the chalk paint. In this technique, you’ll be using Vaseline. And you’ll be applying it on the areas that you want to distress even before applying the first coat of chalk paint. This will allow the unpainted wood to show through those areas, creating a naturally worn look.


  1. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline on areas that you want to distress.
  2. Apply chalk paint to the surface and let it dry to the touch (about 30 to 90 minutes).
  3. Using a damp cloth or rag, rub the areas where you applied Vaseline. This will remove the coat of paint on those areas, allowing the wood to show through.

Chalk Paint Waxing Techniques 

Waxing With a Brush 

Once the last coat of chalk paint has completely dried, you’d want to seal it with a top coat. One of the most used top coats for chalk paint is chalk paint wax. Sealing chalk paint will protect it from surface from damage.

Chalk paint wax can be applied with either a brush or a rag. To apply wax with a brush, you need to:

  1. Let the last coat of chalk paint dry completely.
  2. Scoop out a dollop of wax and place it on a paper plate.
  3. Load up some wax onto the tip of a brush. You can use a brush specifically designed for applying wax or a similar round brush with stiff bristles and a blunt end.
  4. Brush the wax onto the painted surface. You can apply it in a loose circular motion. Or if you want to work the brush in a side-to-side motion, make sure that you follow the grain of paint on the wood. It’s recommended that you do this in sections rather than applying the wax to the entire surface in one go.
  5. Remove any excess wax using a lint-free cloth.
  6. If you want a polished finish, you can let the wax dry overnight, and buff it with a clean, lint-free cloth the next day. 

Waxing With A Rag

Some will find it easier to apply chalk paint wax with a rag as it can cover more surface area.

  1. Wrap the rag around your hand.
  2. Scoop some chalk paint wax with your hand that’s wrapped with the rag. Don’t scoop out too much. You just need an amount that can apply a thin layer of wax on the surface.
  3. Gently apply the wax onto the painted surface.
  4. Once the entire surface has been applied with wax, use a lint-free cloth to remove excess wax.
  5. Let the wax dry for at least 24 hours. If you want a polished finish, you can let the wax dry overnight, and buff it with a clean, lint-free cloth the next day.

Using Clear Wax Vs Dark Wax 

Clear wax will provide protection to your chalk paint without altering its look too much. It’s like covering a book or notebook with clear plastic. On the other hand, dark wax ages the painted surface, giving it a sort of “antiquing” effect. So if you want to give your furniture an aged look without distressing it, you can do so with dark wax.

If you’re planning to use dark wax, always pair it with clear wax. Do not apply dark wax directly onto the painted surface as doing so can stain the paint color. The clear wax will protect the painted surface, allowing you to safely apply dark wax. Also, make sure to apply dark wax immediately while the clear is still fresh.

Miscellaneous Chalk Paint Tips and Techniques 

Crackle Paint Technique

This technique uses a crackle medium, giving the painted piece or surface a worn or aged look. Visually, “cracks” appear on the top coat of paint, allowing the base coat to show through. To let this happen, the crackle medium is applied between coats. You can simply use Elmer’s glue as a crackle medium.


  1. Apply the first color of chalk paint. Apply as many coats as you need. Let it dry completely.
  2. Apply the crackle medium over the painted surface using a paintbrush. Apply a thin layer if you want finer cracks. If you want larger cracks, apply a thick layer.
  3. Let the medium dry for about one to four hours. If using school glue, you don’t have to let it dry completely, but it needs to be tacky to the touch.
  4. Apply the second color of chalk paint, then let it dry completely. You should be able to see the “cracks” appearing.
  5. If you want to give your painted surface a more distressed look, use medium grit sandpaper and sand the areas that you want to distress.



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