How to Get a High Gloss Finish with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is excellent for furniture, home decor, and other DIY projects. One known advantage of using chalk paint is creates a stunning matte finish, giving furniture a distinct, vintage look. 

However, instead, you might want to create a glossy, high-shine finish on some chalk-painted furniture pieces. Fortunately, even with chalk paint, a shiny, high-gloss finish is still achievable with the right techniques. 

In this post, we’ll explore how to get a high gloss finish with chalk paint.

Can you really give chalk paint a glossy finish? 

Chalk paint is a popular type of paint that creates a soft, matte finish. Naturally, people often wonder if its possible in the first place to make chalk paint glossy. 

“High-gloss chalk paint” doesn’t exist. You also can’t expect to make your chalk paint glossy by mixing any solutions in your paint. The top coat is the key to creating a glossy finish for your chalk paint. 

Traditionally, furniture wax is the go-to solution for protecting their chalk paint pieces.

You can give chalk paint a glossy finish with finishing wax by buffing the wax a day later. Alternatively, you can use other top coats such as polyurethane, varnish, or polycrylic. 

Related: Applying Polyurethane on White Paint (Without Yellowing) 

How to make chalk paint glossy with Polycrylic: step by step 

Minwax Clear Polycrylic is an excellent choice for achieving a high gloss finish with chalk paint. This water-based protective finish is extremely durable, and easy to apply compared to furniture wax. 

Minwax Clear Polycrylic comes in a few sheens including

  • clear matte
  • clear semi-gloss
  • clear satin
  • clear gloss

For achieving a glossy finish, the clear gloss finish is your best bet (available here on Amazon).

Here is the step-by-step process for giving your chalk paint a glossy outcome using Minwax Clear Polycrylic:

Related: Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Wax Chalk Paint

Materials you will need:

  • Chalk paint
  • Minwax Polycrylic (clear gloss)
  • High-quality paint brush or high-density foam roller
  • Sandpaper (400 grit)
  • Clean cloth

Steps:

Step 1: Use a paintbrush or foam roller to apply chalk paint to your piece of furniture. Allow it to totally dry completely.

Note that although proper prep before chalk painting your furniture is necessary before applying paint, this process is beyond the scope of this post. To learn how to prep your furniture before applying chalk paint, see here.

Step 2: After the first coat has dried, sand the surface using 400 grit sandpaper to smooth up any rough patches or brush strokes. Although many people skip this step, light sanding can work wonders to smooth out your surface. Once finished be sure to clear off any dust with a clean tack cloth.

Step 3: Apply a second coat of chalk paint and allow it to dry fully. Given chalk paint’s thick consistency, two coats should be all you need to get the fullest color. Repeat step 2 to smooth out the surface once the second coat has dried.  

Step 4: After the last coat of chalk paint has dried, crack open your Minwax Clear Polycrylic. Before using the polycrylic, stir it for a minute or so.

Step 5: Apply a thin coat of polycrylic to the painted surface with a high-quality brush. Many prefer synthetic brushes as opposed to natural horse hair brushes since natural brushes often shed bristles. It’s a huge pain to pick them out of polycrylic as it’s drying.

Work in long, even strokes, and avoid going over certain areas disproportionately more than others. Otherwise, you will end up with a lopsided and uneven finish. Use slow smooth brush strokes to avoid trapping air bubbles within the finish. 

Step 6: Allow the polycrylic to dry for at least two hours before sanding lightly with 400 grit sandpaper. This will assist in smoothing out any bubbles, or brush marks in the finish. 

Step 7: Remove any sanding dust with a clean tack cloth before applying a second thin layer of polycrylic. Applying at least two coats is important to ensure the most durable finish. 

Again, use long, even strokes and avoid going over the same place more than once.

Step 8: Allow the last application to dry for at least 24 before using the furniture. Note that it can take 2-3 weeks for the polycrylic to completely cure and reach its maximum hardness. If you’re concerned that the furniture may get scuffed in this time, position it in a low-traffic area of your home for the time being. 

NOTE: Naturally, polycrylic with a glossy sheen will give you a glossy finish. However, to make the finish even shinier, you can wet sand and buff the polycrylic finish. Use ultra-fine grit sandpaper (400+ grit), and wet sand your surface. Use a small amount of paste wax and a fresh cloth to buff the surface.

Before going down this road though, you may want to experiment with this technique on a text piece of wood before applying it to the piece of furniture you’re working on. After all, you might not be happy with the result, and you can save yourself a ton of trouble by testing the technique first. 

Related: How to Apply Wax to Chalk Paint

Other finishes for chalk paint (Aside from polycrylic)

Aside from polycrylic, there are a few other amazing finishes you can leverage for a pleasant glossy finish on your chalk paint project.

Wax

Wax is a popular choice for protecting chalk-painted furniture. However, to get a glossy finish with wax, you must buff the wax. 

Apply a transparent wax to the dry chalk paint with a brush or cloth. Let the wax dry for at least 24 hours, otherwise, you will simply wipe off your wax when buffing it. Next, rub a clean cotton cloth lightly on the furniture in a circular motion to buff the wax. The more you buff your wax finish, the shinier it will get.

Remember that wax cannot last as long as other finishes. Additionally, it can sometimes get cloudy over time as it accumulates dust. To keep the wax’s shine, you will need to regularly reapply and rebuff the finish every few months. 

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a transparent, long-lasting finish that may be used to produce a glossy finish on chalk paint. This protective coating is great for preventing scratches and other surface damage. After all, it’s much more durable than wax. 

For the shiniest finish possible, use a high-gloss polyurethane.

Additionally, since oil-based polyurethane can turn a yellowish-amber hue over time, it may not be the ideal choice for light-colored or white-painted surfaces. Use a water-based polyurethane product instead. 

Varnish

People often wonder if you can varnish over chalk paint. Ultimately, you can. 

Varnish is often a word used interchangeably with polyurethane, lacquer, and other finishes. However, varnish is technically a specific blend of resins, solvents, and oils. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is a synthetic version of varnish. 

Although oil-based varnish is a more durable option than water-based varnish, similar to oil-based polyurethane, oil-based varnish can yellow over time. That said, for light-colored chalk paint, use water-based varnish to avoid tainting your paint’s color. 

Final words 

This might sound obvious, but if achieving a glossy finish is what’s most important for you, consider not using chalk paint. Instead, use regular latex paint with a satin or glossy finish. This way you don’t need to apply a top coat to achieve a glossy finish. 

The lovely natural matte finish of chalk paint is what makes chalk paint so attractive to most people. However, if this finish isn’t what you want, you can save yourself a ton of time and hassle by using a different type of paint altogether. 

 

Sources:

https://www.minwax.com/en/products/protective-finishes/polycrylic-protective-finish

https://www.anniesloan.com/us/techniques/5-things-to-know-about-chalk-paint-wax

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