How Long Between Coats of Chalk Paint

Using chalk paint to revamp your furniture is an easy way to give new life to it. It adheres to almost any surface with minimal to no prep at all.

Chalk paint also offers excellent coverage, making it cost-friendly and beginner-friendly. Nevertheless, like any other paint, it is best to apply two coats of chalk paint for the richest color. 

But how long exactly should we wait for the second coat of chalk paint? 

In this post, you’ll learn how long between coats of chalk paint to wait and how long to wait before a top coat.


Wait 1-2 hours for your first coat of chalk paint to dry before adding a second coat. At this point, your first layer of paint should be completely dry, however dry time largely depends on humidity, ventilation, temperature, and paint layer thickness.

How long does chalk paint take to dry on wood before the second coat?

Generally, chalk paint on wood (and most surfaces) will be dry to the touch within 30 minutes to an hour. However, to be safe it’s best to wait 1-2 hours for your first coat of chalk paint to dry before applying the second coat. Applying the second coat when the first coat is still wet can lead to an uneven finish.

The drying time of chalk paint depends on several factors, which include:

  • Humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air): Chalk paint is a water-based medium, and it is fully dried once the water content of the paint has evaporated. If there is high humidity in the room, the moisture from the paint evaporates slower.
  • Ventilation: This factor refers to how much air circulates in your painting space. The better the air ventilation, the faster the drying process. However, too much airflow may cause bubbles and cracks on your dried paint.
  • Temperature: Chalk paint will dry faster in warmer weather (if there is not much humidity in the room). In contrast, it will dry longer in colder weather as there is less heat, causing moisture in the paint to evaporate slower.
  • Paint layer thickness: Thinner paint layers naturally dry faster. However, don’t make your layers of paint too thin because you may get uneven coverage. 
  • Paint brand: The standard drying time of chalk paint is between 30 minutes to an hour. However, some brands like the Rust-Oleum and Magnolia may take up to two to four hours to be touch dry.

A recently painted piece of chalk-painted furniture will dry the fastest in a warm and arid climate. On the other hand, a cold, moist room with poor ventilation is not conducive to a fast drying time. 

Related: How Long Does Chalk Paint Take to Dry

How long to wait before applying a top coat? (after the final coat of chalk paint has been applied)

It may be tempting to apply a top coat once the chalk paint is touch dry. However, doing so may result in an uneven, smudged, and tacky surface. It’s important to let the two coats of paint cure before applying a top coat. 

So, how long after your last coat of chalk paint should you wait before applying the top coat?

Wait at least 24 hours before putting the top coat on your chalk-painted surface. By then, the chalk paint will be fully cured, so there is no risk of lifting off the underlying paint. Once the paint has cured, the top coat will also apply smoothly, resulting in an even finish.

You can always skip putting on a top coat. However, if your paint job is in a high-traffic area, which is prone to frequent touching, and brushing against, you should use a top coat for durability and longevity.

And if you use a top coat, note that it will dry longer (two to four weeks at most). So, avoid touching or using the surface until it is fully cured to prevent damage and smudges.

How many coats of chalk paint?

Chalk paint is well-known for its thickness. Hence, sometimes the chalk paint color can look strong with just one coat. 

However, for the fullest and richest color, it’s always best to apply a second coat. It’s hard to achieve the perfect opaque paint finish you want with just one coat. 

Depending on the surface you are painting, you may even need three coats. For instance, if you are painting a dark piece of furniture with a light chalk paint color, without primer, three coats might be necessary. 

Do you sand between coats of chalk paint?

Sanding between coats of chalk paint is not always necessary, especially if you’re aiming for a rustic, farmhouse vibe to your furniture.

However, if you’re more into a sleek, flawless, modern look, sanding between coats of chalk paint is best. This will result in a smoother, even finish. Sanding between coats also improves paint adhesion, and prevents paint chipping and peeling.

Use fine-grit sandpaper (200-400 grit) when sanding between coats. This will help eliminate any imperfections without removing an excessive amount of paint. 

Always wait for the paint to dry for at least an hour before sanding and applying another coat of paint. To be extra safe, there is no harm in waiting until the paint is fully cured before sanding. Also, use a gentle hand and let the sandpaper do the most work to avoid sanding unevenly or removing too much paint at once. 

Does chalk paint dry darker or lighter?

Chalk paint generally does not dry darker or lighter. It does not change in hue even when it is fully cured (dried for more than 24 hours).

However, dried chalk paint may look like a slightly different hue than your color swatch depending on the lighting, and the area of the house your furniture is located. Additionally, the shade of wax that you use to seal your furniture can also slightly affect the chalk paint color. 

Note that chalk paint may start to appear darker over time, especially if there is a wax coat on top. As dust and grime build up on your furniture and seep into the wax the furniture may start to appear darker. 



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