What Surfaces Can You Use Chalk Paint On

Chalk paint is one of the most versatile types of paint available. You can apply it to a variety of different surfaces and materials.

However, the way you apply chalk paint largely depends on the surface you’re applying it to. For instance, applying chalk paint to raw wood requires a different process than applying chalk paint to metal.

In this post, we will discuss what surfaces you can use chalk paint on. Additionally, you will learn exactly how chalk paint can be applied to these surfaces.

Finished wood

Chalk paint can most certainly be applied to finish wood, as long as the furniture is properly prepped.

Wood furniture that you would purchase from a furniture store, thrift shop, or yard sale will be finished more often than not. After all, furniture makers don’t often put in all the effort to build a piece of furniture without applying a finish at the end to protect the wood. Generally, furniture has a layer of clear polyurethane finish, stain, or wax. If a piece of furniture looks shiny or slightly reflective, chances are it has a finish of some sort.

Although chalk paint is known to stick extremely well to most surfaces, you shouldn’t apply it directly to finished wood. A layer of finish essentially acts as a barrier between bare wood and the paint, and the paint won’t adhere to the wood very well as a result.

To apply chalk paint to finished wood, it is extremely important to lightly sand off the finish first. Freshly sanded wood is the ideal surface to ensure optimal paint adhesion.

Unfinished wood

You can most certainly use chalk paint on raw wood. Whether you have recently acquired an unfinished piece of furniture or if you have built your furniture and haven’t applied a finish, chalk paint can bring your furniture to life.

However, you likely will need to prep your unfinished wood a bit before applying chalk paint.

For one, if the wood surface is uneven and rough to the point where you get splinters when you run your hands over the wood, you will likely need to do a thorough sanding.

On top of that, be wary of knots and tannins in raw wood. Found in trees like oak and chestnut wood, tannins are essentially a tree’s sap that can be visible in raw wood. Tannins can sometimes bleed through paint creating a yellowish-brown stain. Simply put, tannins can ruin a paint project.

In some cases, chalk paint is thick enough to sufficiently prevent tannin bleed-through. However, to be safe, you should apply a shellac-based primer to the bare wood first. This type of stain-blocking primer ensures that your tannins won’t bleed through your paint. Although priming is an extra step that most aren’t interested in completing, it can make a big difference.


Veneer is a very thin piece of hardwood often used for doors, flooring, cabinets, and wood furniture. When it comes to furniture, the veneer is usually attached on top of manufactured wood (particle board) with adhesive or nails. This gives furniture the appearance that it is made entirely from natural wood, even though natural wood only makes up the thin, top layer.

Chalk paint can most certainly be applied to veneer. However, because veneer has a finish most of the time, it is important to lightly sand off the finish first. The importance of prepping your surface before chalk painting can’t be understated.


When it comes to furniture, laminate is similar to veneer in that it sits on top of manufactured wood. This gives furniture the appearance that it is entirely made from natural wood. The difference is that laminate is made from synthetic material. Laminate is usually made with plastic to resemble the look of natural wood.

Although laminate isn’t real wood, it often comes with a shiny finish nevertheless. It’s important to lightly sand off this finish before applying chalk paint. If the laminate doesn’t have a finish of any sort, chalk paint should adhere well to it without much prep.


Chalk paint can most certainly be applied to metal. People often use chalk paint on metal furniture, radiators, and metal decorations. Because chalk paint naturally sticks so well, it has no problem adhering to metal.

Nevertheless, it is still important to prep your metal surface before applying paint. You don’t need to sand your metal surface the way you would with wood. However, at the very least, you should give the metal surface a thorough cleaning with soapy water. If the metal surface has been previously painted, and the paint is chipping, sand off the paint before cleaning the metal.


You can apply chalk paint directly to glass as well. As long as the surface is prepped and clean, chalk paint will have no problem sticking to the surface.

To ensure the best paint adhesion, give the glass a good cleaning with warm soap and water. If there is any sticker residue or stubborn grime that won’t come off with soap and water, use a bit of rubbing alcohol on these spots. The rubbing alcohol is harsh enough to remove residue most of the time.


Chalk paint adheres strongly to ceramic. If you are big into arts and crafts you may have ceramic pots, plates, or artwork that you are considering painting. The beautiful matte finish of chalk paint makes it an excellent choice for these projects.

Of course, like any other material, it’s important to clean your ceramic before applying chalk paint. Without cleaning the material, chalk paint will have a much harder time sticking to the ceramic, and your chalk paint finish won’t be as durable as it could be.

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