Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint

Chalk paint has become extremely popular over the years. DIY furniture painters rave about how much they love the product. 

But putting all the hype aside, it’s important to take an honest look at chalk paint to determine if it’s right for your next project.

After all, chalk paint has some amazing qualities, but there are certainly some qualities that make the product undesirable for some.

In this post, you will discover the pros and cons of chalk paint for furniture.


Pros of chalk paint:

  • Sanding isn’t needed before applying chalk paint (in some cases)
  • No primer needed (in some cases)
  • Chalk paint is stylish
  • Great coverage
  • You can make it yourself

Cons of chalk paint

  • Not durable (unless a top coat is applied)
  • The cost
  • Only available by certain providers
  • Cleaning chalk-painted furniture is difficult

Pros of chalk paint

Sanding isn’t needed before applying chalk paint (in some cases)

In many cases, prepping before applying chalk paint doesn’t need to be intensive. Chalk paint is unique in that it has much better adhesion than your typical latex paint. Chalk paint “sticks” to most surfaces very effectively, making sanding and priming in some cases. 

Depending on the type of wood furniture and its condition, you can simply apply chalk paint after a thorough cleaning. To clean your furniture thoroughly, use TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), a powerful powdered cleaning solution that cuts through grease and grime effectively. 

However, there are certainly some circumstances when it’s absolutely necessary to sand and prime your furniture. At the very least, you should sand your furniture under these circumstances: 

  • The furniture has a high-gloss finish or wax
  • The furniture’s current paint job is flaking
  • You have applied wood filler to the furniture to patch up holes and scratches

Note that even though you can get away without sanding under some circumstances, your paint job will always come out more durable if you scuff sand. 

Related:6 Reasons Why to use Chalk Paint on Furniture

No primer needed (in some cases)

Primer is used to create a base coat before painting. Paint has a much easier time adhering to furniture when the primer is applied first.

However, in some cases, primer isn’t needed before applying chalk paint. Because of chalk paint’s incredible sticking power, it will strongly adhere to practically any surface without the assistance of primer. 

However, if you’re painting over wood that’s high in tannins, applying primer is a must. These woods include:

  • Oak
  • Chestnut
  • Mahogany
  • Walnut

Tannins are acids in the sap of these woods. Tannins can bleed through paint if it hasn’t been properly primed with a stain-blocking primer.

Note that even if your furniture isn’t rich in tannins, a coat of primer will never hurt. It will always make your paint finish a bit more durable. 

Chalk paint is stylish

Possibly the most obvious benefit of chalk paint is it creates a tasteful matte finish. A chalk paint finish looks “chalky” for lack of a better word. 

Chalk paint is a particularly popular paint for creating a rustic, weathered look for your furniture. It’s easy to create a distressed look in your furniture by strategically sanding away bits of chalk paint here and there. Given the chalky finish of the paint, it’s relatively easy to distress chalk paint furniture.

That said, the artistic effects that you can achieve with chalk paint make it alluring to many.

Additionally, chalk paint makes it incredibly easy to blend colors together. It is very easy to create the effect of two colors seamlessly bleeding into each other.

Often furniture upcyclers will make the edges of drawers, grooves, or indents in furniture a slightly darker color. This gives furniture more depth and creates a stylish weathered look that is quite fashionable.

Great coverage

Chalk paint has amazing coverage, meaning that a little bit of paint can be spread across a large surface.

Regular latex paint generally doesn’t offer the same coverage. To put things in perspective Valspar signature latex paint covers 400 square feet per gallon. Annie Sloan chalk paint covers approximately 566 square feet per gallon.

This difference in coverage is substantial. Suffice it to say you can get much more bang for your buck with chalk paint. 

Additionally, there are a few tips and tricks you can implement with chalk paint to make it cover even more surface area.

For one, you can thin the paint with water. Thinning the chalk paint by mixing in a bit of water will help to spread the chalk paint over even more surface area. Since chalk paint can be quite thick, thinning the paint this way is also important for spreading it easily.

You can thin your chalk paint by mixing your chalk paint with water in a separate container. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to lightly mist the furniture as you apply paint. 

You can make it yourself

Chalk paint by Annie Sloan is a wonderful product. There are various other brands with similar chalk paint products as well. 

However, if you’re feeling extra hands-on, you can create your own chalk paint with baking soda, calcium carbonate or Plaster of Paris. 

By creating your own chalk paint, you can customize the thickness of your paint to your liking.

Cons of chalk paint

Not durable (unless a top coat is applied)

Although chalk paint is praised for how it looks, chalk paint isn’t the most durable paint in the world. The paint can be scuffed and scratched relatively easily. 

However, by fortifying your chalk paint furniture with a top coat, you can make the furniture significantly more resilient. Simply applying a coat of wax can work wonders for protecting your chalk paint furniture so that it can withstand the typical wear and tear that life will throw at it. Without a top coat, you can potentially scratch chalk paint off with your fingernail, even with two coats. 

The cost

Possibly the biggest downside of chalk paint is the cost. Chalk paint can cost twice as much as regular latex paint. 

Suffice it to say that chalk paint is significantly more expensive than other paint. To be fair, chalk paint’s amazing coverage allows you to spread a small amount of paint over a large surface. Nevertheless, the cost can be a huge turnoff for many.

If you are planning on flipping furniture and you want to minimize expenses to maximize profits, you may want to consider chalk paint alternatives.

Only available by certain providers

Chalk paint is only provided by specialty providers. That being said, you might not be able to find your favorite brand of chalk paint at your local hardware store or at big box stores like Lowes or Home Depot. You may need to purchase the product directly from the brand’s website or a specialty paint store. 

This isn’t a huge downside of chalk paint, but it can certainly make gathering painting supplies more inconvenient.

Cleaning chalk-painted furniture is difficult

Cleaning chalk-painted furniture can be tricky. You can’t necessarily clean your chalk-painted furniture with the same cleaning solutions and vigor as you would with other painted surfaces. 

With a layer of wax on chalk paint furniture, you need a delicate touch to avoid damaging the top coat. In many cases, it’s best to simply wipe off dust or grime with a rag.

If you’re removing a stain from your chalk-painted furniture, you may end up rubbing off the top coat in that area. In this case, you may need to touch up with spot with a fresh coat of wax. 

Final words: Pros and cons of chalk paint

It is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of chalk paint before purchasing the supplies for your next project.

Possibly the most important considerations should be the style and cost.

Chalk-paint furniture has a very distinct look. The soft matte finish looks great for many pieces of furniture, but you just need to be sure that’s the style you want (as opposed to a glossy look).

As far as cost goes, it is important to consider your overall objective with the project. Are you painting a piece of furniture for your house? If so, it might make sense to splurge a bit on chalk paint to create the look that you want in your furniture. However, if your goal is to flip furniture for profit, it’s not very cost-effective to use chalk paint for all your projects. Consider using a relatively less expensive paint if you want to maximize profits.

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