Is Chalk Paint Durable?

Chalk paint has become incredibly popular over the years. The soft finish look of chalk paint makes the furniture look stunning.

However, although chalk paint makes furniture look great, people are often skeptical of the practicality of chalk paint.

DIY painters often ask if chalk paint is durable relative to other paints.

This post addresses this very question.

How durable is chalk paint?

Two coats of chalk paint on its own is not very durable. Chalk paint can easily get scuffed and scratched unless a top coat is applied. To protect your chalk paint furniture, apply wax or a protective finish to your furniture.

Why chalk paint isn’t super durable

Chalk paint is formulated to be relatively easy to wipe or sand off from furniture. People love chalk paint for this very quality because it’s easy very easy distress your furniture (intentionally rubbing off paint in certain areas for artistic effect). 

However, although chalk paint has great artistic benefits, the ease with which chalk paint can be removed is also a drawback. After all, it can be scuffed off relatively easily. Additionally, it can be rubbed off with water relatively easily as well. Chalk paint isn’t nearly as durable as regular latex or acrylic paint.

In turn, it’s extremely important to apply a top coat to chalk paint to give it the protection it needs. 

Additionally, there are other measures you can take to make your chalk paint as durable as possible that we will cover later on. 

Related: How to Clean Chalk Painted Furniture

How to apply a top coat to chalk paint (finishing wax)

The most important step to ensure that your chalk paint furniture is as durable as possible is applying the top coat. A top coat will protect your furniture’s finish from wear and tear, stains, and water damage.

You can apply a variety of top coats to chalk paint including polyacrylic and polyurethane. However, chalk paint enthusiasts generally choose finishing wax for chalk-painted furniture. Its matte finish compliments the soft matte finish of chalk paint. 

There are a variety of great furniture waxes for chalk paint projects such as Jolie finishing wax (available here on Amazon). 

Most prefer using a brush for applying wax to chalk paint. To do so, dip the brush into the wax, making sure that you only get just a small amount of wax on the bristles. Don’t load up too much wax as it can result in unevenness in the finish. Apply small amounts at a time. 

Apply wax in small sections at a time so that you can ensure even coverage on the furniture and so that you don’t miss areas. Then, lightly wipe off any excess wax built up on your furniture with a lint free cloth.

Once the wax has been applied, be sure to wait 24 hours for the wax to dry before buffing the furniture.

Other ways to make your chalk-painted furniture as durable as possible

Applying a top coat is key for making your chalk paint durable. But prepping and painting your furniture property is also critical to make sure your chalk paint doesn’t rub off.

Prep your furniture

Chalk paint companies love to boast that no prep is needed for their product.

However, prepping your furniture will always lead to more durable painted furniture. Depending on the circumstances, without sanding and priming, the paint won’t adhere well to the furniture.

If the surface wasn’t well prepped, chalk paint can sometimes be scratched off with a fingernail, or rubbed off with a bit of force.

Proper prep is particularly important under the following circumstances: 

  • Furniture has a shiny laminate or veneer
  • Furniture has a finish 
  • Paint is peeling off the furniture left and right
  • There is a considerable amount of dirt, grime or grease buildup
  • You have applied wood filler in a few areas and it needs to be sanded down

To prep your furniture, start with a light sanding of the entire surface. You can use fine grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) to sand either with a sanding block or with an orbital sander. Sanding your surface essentially roughens it up and gives your primer a great texture to stick to. 

Once you finish sanding your furniture, be sure to wipe it down with a wet rag to remove the wood dust. Let the furniture dry a bit before next steps.

For the strongest paint adhesion and most durable finish, apply a layer of primer before painting. 

Apply two coats

“Always apply two coats of paint”

If you have been painting furniture for any amount of time, chances are that you have heard this before.

But people often forget why it’s important to apply two coats of paint in the first place.

Aside from making sure the wood color of the furniture doesn’t bleed through, applying two coats of paint is important for making the paint job as durable as possible. The second coat of paint essentially gives your furniture an extra layer of protection.

Let the finishing wax cure

Giving your finishing wax enough time to cure (reach maximum hardness) is important for preserving the finish. 

Annie Sloan, one of the most popular chalk paint brands, recommends waiting two weeks for finishing wax to fully cure. If you don’t allow the wax to cure for long enough, the chalk paint finish will be more susceptible to damage.

That said, it’s important to leave your recently waxed chalk paint furniture in a low-traffic area where it won’t get damaged. 

Final words

As long as the furniture is properly prepped, two coats of paint are applied, and a top coat is applied, you’re chalk-painted furniture will be protected from the usual wear and tear that life will throw at it. However, it’s important to stress that the top coat is most important to make sure that your chalk-painted furniture is well protected.

If durability is the most important quality that you want in paint, consider using a chalk paint alternative. There are various other paints that provide much greater protection for furniture.

For instance, basic latex or acrylic paints offer much more protection than your typical chalk paint. The downside is that you can’t create the distressed look on furniture as easily as you can with chalk paint.

Choose your paint wisely!

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