How to Paint Over Chalk Paint (The Right Way)

Chalk paint is great for repainting and upcycling furniture. It is easy to apply, and it creates a lovely matte finish. Chalk paint is also great for distressing if you’re intent on creating a weathered, rustic look for your furniture. 

But what if you wanted to try a new look or color? Is it okay to paint over your chalk-painted furniture? Fortunately, you can paint over chalk paint, but you must prep the furniture properly first.

In this post, you’ll learn how to paint over chalk paint properly and the tools and supplies you need for this next paint job.


Here’s how to paint over chalk paint with any type of paint:

  • Clean your furniture thoroughly
  • Remove any topcoat by applying mineral spirits or sanding
  • Apply primer (if repainting with oil-based paint)
  • Apply two coats of your new paint
  • Seal your furniture

Can you paint over chalk paint?

You can paint over previously chalk-painted furniture as long as your prep your furniture properly. In fact, if you plan to repaint with a water-based paint, as long as there isn’t a top coat on your furniture, you can simply clean the surface, sand lightly, and repaint it.

However, more work is necessary if the furniture has been sealed with wax or other topcoats. Additionally, if you find that your chalk paint finish is severely cracking or pealing, you will need to take extra measures as well. The same can be said if you plan to apply oil-based paint over your chalk paint. 

For a detailed overview of the steps for painting over chalk paint under these circumstances, follow the steps below. 

Related: How Long Does Chalk Paint Take to Dry

How to paint over chalk paint

Painting over your chalk paint furniture is relatively straight-forward. However, as mentioned, extra measures need to be taken if the chalk paint has a finish on it, if it’s cracking, or if you plan to use oil-based paint.

Tools and supplies

When painting over chalk paint, make sure that you have the following tools and supplies:

  • Cleaning supplies: Clean lint-free cloth, mild dishwashing liquid, TSP degreaser
  • For removing paint and finish: Paint stripper like Citristrip, or coarse sandpaper. Fine grit sandpaper (220+ grit) can be used in-between coats of paint to smooth out brush marks, although this isn’t completely necessary. 
  • New paint
  • High-quality brushes or high-density rollers
  • Topcoat
  • Drill or screwdriver: For removing hardware from furniture
  • Miscellaneous painting supplies: drop cloth, painter’s tape, and rags

Preparing what you need beforehand will streamline your process and make you more efficient. 

Step 1: Clean your furniture thoroughly and remove any hardware

The very first step for any paint job is cleaning. This is necessary, especially if you’re painting old, thrifted furniture or kitchen pieces. Most things get a buildup of dust, grime, and some grease over time, even with regular cleaning.

For this process, you’ll only need to mix some mild dishwashing liquid in clean water. Then, dampen a clean, lint-free cloth and start wiping your furniture. Make sure to clean every nook and cranny, even the underside of your piece, to remove dirt and other contaminants. Then, leave it to air dry.

Although it might seem counterintuitive to clean before sanding, it’s important for avoiding sanding grime into the underlying chalk paint.

Next, remove the hardware from the furniture to avoid getting paint on it. A drill or screwdriver will get the job done. 

Step 2: Remove wax (if any)

After cleaning, check whether your furniture has a wax coating or other topcoats. It is important to know since primer and paint will not fully adhere to wax and other top coats.

If you’re painting over your own furniture, meaning you were the one who painted it, and you’re sure you didn’t wax it, skip this process.

Otherwise, you’ll need to find out if it has a topcoat with any of these steps.

  • Scratch test: Lightly scratch the furniture. If it leaves a scratch mark, it probably has a wax coat.
  • Mineral spirits: Dampen a cotton ball with mineral spirits and rub an area in a circular motion for 30 seconds. If the surface becomes tacky or soft, it has a wax topcoat.
  • Denatured alcohol or acetone: Use a cotton ball to wipe this product on your surface. If the coat dissolves, becomes tacky, or beads, it has a different topcoat (e.g., varnish, polyurethane, lacquer, etc.)

If you don’t see signs of wax move on. If you find wax, use an abrasive sponge and mineral spirits to scrub the whole piece. You should start to see the coat break down and pull away from the paint. Continue this process until there’s no more wax left on the surface.

Then, use the TSP degreaser to clean off all the leftover residue.

Step 3: Sand your furniture

Sanding preps your chalk painted surfaces by roughening the texture. This gives your primer teeth to grip to. 

If your surface has anther type of topcoat other than wax, such as polyurethane, you can sand it down as opposed to removing it chemically before painting. 

Use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface. You don’t necessarily need to completely remove all the chalk paint. But nevertheless, make sure every inch of the piece is more or less evenly sanded. 

Step 4: Do a second cleaning

After sanding, do a second cleanup. Make a mixture of warm water and a tiny amount of dish soap and soak a rag in the mixture. Wring out your rag slightly and wipe down the furniture from top to bottom.

This process aims to remove the dust and debris you’ve accumulated from sanding. 

Then, let the furniture dry completely before priming.

Step 5: Start priming (if painting over chalk paint with oil-based paint)

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to paint over water-based paint with oil-based paints. The components in these paints aren’t compatible and the oil-based paint won’t adhere very well. 

That said, use a multi-purpose primer to prep the furniture. Your primer will essentially create a barrier between your old layer of chalk paint and the new layer of oil based paint. Also, priming will help you transition from dark to light-colored paint.

After priming, make sure that your primer has sufficiently dried before applying the paint layer.

Step 6: Apply two coats of your new paint

Finally, apply the new paint to your sanded-down furniture.

Apply your paint with either a brush or high-density foam roller. Allow the first coat to sufficiently dry and then apply a second coat.

When you’re satisfied with your paint job, let the furniture fully dry and cure for as long as the manufacturer recommends. Check the label for the exact amount of time. 

Step 7: Apply topcoat

This last step may be unnecessary if you use an all-in-one paint for your furniture since it already includes a topcoat.

Nevertheless, a top coat is best to seal the paint and increase durability, especially when putting pieces in high-traffic places. Polyurethane, polycrylic, varnish, lacquer, and wax are all popular choices. 



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