Looking to give your furniture a new lease of life? Chalk Paint — famed for its matte, chalky appearance — is a brilliant way to spruce up worn-out, tired-looking furniture, including kitchen cabinets, chairs, internal doors, and drawers.

Our eponymous line of decorative paints draws on a lifetime of research and experience in working with paint and colour.

Quick, easy and perfect for beginners, and with no sanding or priming needed, it can be painted straight onto surfaces, including wood, metal, plastic and brick, producing full coverage and a perfect chalky finish.

Before we tell you how to chalk paint furniture, we asked our founder about the mistakes to avoid. Take a look at our expert tips below.

Top five mistakes to avoid with Chalk Paint

1. Overloading your brush

Don't overload your brush! This is such an important rule with all painting. You can add paint, but it's much harder to take it away! Too much paint can lead to oozing, smudging and general messiness. Every time you dip your brush or roller, wipe it on a lint free cotton cloth or on your roller tray to remove excess product.

2. Painting the top side first

Particularly when you do a chair, it's important to turn it upside down and paint the underneath first. You won't miss bits that way and it's quite a fun way to paint. Some people find chairs boring to paint, but I love it!

3. Waiting too long before removing stencils or tape

Let the paint dry slightly before removing a stencil, rather than waiting for it to be completely dry. This also applies with painter's tape; dry paint could potentially crack when the tape is removed so it's best done when the paint is dry enough not to run, but still a little wet.

4. Following trends

People often ask "what's on trend now to paint my kitchen?". It really comes down to what you like. Don't paint your kitchen red if it's not a colour you like, but fashion tells you to do it. You have to live with it!

5. Overthinking

Have fun! Consider what you're going to do before you do it; but without overthinking to the point of inertia. Chalk Paint can be used to create any effect from Industrial Rustic to bone-inlay effect using my Pearlescent Glaze; decide what style you want before you start and make sure that it suits your home and your personality.

One of our favourite tips is to paint something neutral on the outside and then add a flash of vibrant colour on the inside; it'll make you smile every time you open a drawer or a wardrobe. Colour brings joy so be bold with it!

Blueberry Blue Chalk Paint
Smoked Moss Green Chalk Paint

How to transform your used furniture

1. Preparation is key

While there's no need for sanding or priming, you still need to prepare furniture beforehand. To ensure a smooth finish, remove any handles from drawers and clean down surfaces with a damp cloth to remove grease, grime and dirt. Don't forget to lay down a dust sheet, too.

If there are stubborn marks or greasy areas, give your furniture a wipe down with sugar soap and warm water. You need a clean surface to ensure the paint sticks to the wood.

2. Get your brushes ready

If you're keen to chalk paint furniture at home, it could be worth picking up some new paint brushes. The best brush for painting on oak furniture is an oval paint brush; it's made with a careful mixture of natural and synthetic fibres to produce the best result for your project.

When it comes to reaching those tight corners, an angled detailed brush should do the trick. Meanwhile, flat brushes are great to have on standby as these can cover large smooth surfaces easily. A stencil brush is also an option for anyone with a creative streak.

3. Apply the paint

Thanks to its thickness, chalky paint is one of the easiest paints to apply to furniture. Once you've opened the tin, give it a stir to ensure the consistency is flawless. Then, dip your brush in and apply the paint straight over the surface.

Don't be afraid to move the brush in every direction all over the piece. This part doesn't have to be neat or precise, you just need to get the paint on there.

If you want to make a statement, consider creating a colour wash — a lighter paint effect that softly colours the furniture. To do this, simply decant some paint into a clean tray and add a splash of water. Give it a little mix and then apply to furniture.

Not quite what you're after? Give the weathered look a go. To do this, keep the brush dry and use a minimal amount of paint for harsh brush streaks. Going for shabby chic? Simply paint the pine furniture and let it dry completely. Then, take some sandpaper to the edges, corners and handles to sand off some of the paint to expose the natural wood underneath.

4. Wait for the paint to dry

Once you've painted the first coat (and you're happy with it), wait for it to dry. Depending on room temperature, this could take anywhere between one to three hours. It might look patchy as it drys, but this will be covered during the second coat.

As it's drying, keep an eye open for any paint drips; these can be tough to remove later on, so check the paint is evenly spread.

Chocolate Brown Chalk Paint
Dove Grey Chalk Paint

5. Apply your second coat

A second coat of Chalk Paint will fill in thin spots and streaks, giving it a smooth, all-over finish. When the first coat is dry to the touch, apply a second coat in the same manner, moving your brush in all different directions to cover the entire piece. Touch up any patchier areas and again, remember to not apply the paint too thickly, instead build it up if needed.

Going for the shabby chic look? Simply paint the furniture and let it dry completely. Then, take some sandpaper to the edges, corners and handles to sand off some of the paint to expose the natural wood underneath. If you're going for a multi-coat shabby chic effect with one bold colour underneath another colour, leave the paint to dry completely in between coats. For a shinier finish of the same colour, you will need at least two coats.

6. Complete the look with Chalk Paint wax

The final step in how to chalk paint furniture like a pro is to seal with wax. While this step is optional, it can help to prolong the paint, give it a more professional five-star feel, and help you achieve creative paint effects. The wax will sink into the wood, protecting the paint job you've worked hard to achieve.

To apply, simply use a bristle brush or a lint-free cloth and apply liberally. If you do opt for wax, ensure that every section has been covered. It's worth noting that wax can take up to two weeks to reach its full hardness, so be careful with the furniture in question.

Additionally, furniture lacquer can be used as an alternative protective finish to wax.

Once it's dry, accessorise your piece of furniture: a vase of dried flowers for a chest of drawers, new doorknobs for kitchen cabinets, a photo frame on a bedside table etc. It will look as good as new!

Where to buy Chalk Paint

You can buy Hemway's Chalk Paint directly from our website or from well-known paint retailers. You can also buy similar chalk-based furniture paint, while a few home retailers have their own ranges of chalky paint.

Grey, white and black are typically the most popular colours, but you'll be spoilt for choice with the range of hues available, from pastel shades to neutral shades and jewel tones.

And you don't just have to chalk paint furniture – you can achieve a chalky finish for walls, floors and garden furniture. Shop a selection below.

By Paddy West
Published: 16 Jan 2024

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