Chalk Paint: What It Is and Ways to Use It

Chalk paint has become an alternative to renovate and redecorate the home. In this article, you'll learn how to use it and how to get the most out of it.
Chalk Paint: What It Is and Ways to Use It

Last update: 02 November, 2023

Chalk paint has become a real trend in recent years. This is due, among other things, to the fact that it’s very versatile and can be used on different surfaces, giving a special finish to walls, doors, chairs and cabinets, among other objects.

In addition, it’s cheap, environmentally friendly and easy to apply. Anyone can work with it, without the need to be an expert in decoration or restoration. Also, it doesn’t usually require additional treatment.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of your chalk paint. Read on!

What is chalk paint?

The concept of chalk paint refers to prepped colors based on gypsum (mainly calcium sulfate). The name is due to the fact that, once dry, you can write on it, just as you would on a blackboard. However, it isn’t the same as the cover in this type of surface.

Of course, in addition to gypsum, water (as a solvent) is added to chalk paint, as well as pigments to achieve the different colors. It’s also possible that some manufacturers add acrylics and other additives to give more durability or resistance.

Gypsum-based colorants were already known and applied since ancient times, in murals and other pictorial works. However, according to some research, the chalk paint itself was introduced by the British artist Annie Sloan British artist Annie Sloan in the 1990s. This was intended to provide an alternative for the repair of traditional furniture.

This is one of its most outstanding characteristics, as well as the reason why it has become so fashionable today: it gives surfaces a special finish that’s somewhat rustic and yet soft, as if it were an antique object.

Also, the presentations found in the market usually come in pastel or matte colors, ranging from old pink to pale turquoise, through very soft ocher and a wide range. This makes them special for vintage style decorations.

Mueble vintage con pintura a la tiza.
Furniture restoration is an ideal technique for applying chalk paint.

How to use chalk paint

Chalk paint can be applied in several ways: by brush or roller. You also have the possibility of using a compressor or spray paint, which is another good option.

There are also those who paint with a sponge or scouring pad to obtain a textured finish. It all depends on the size and shape of the surface to be covered or the type of object, as well as the effect you want to achieve.

In general, it’s recommended to follow these steps:

  • The surface should be clean, free of dust and grease. For this, you can use a cloth with water and then dry very well or wait for all traces of moisture to disappear.
  • It’s not always necessary to scrape or remove the previous paint. In case it is required, steel wool, spatula or fine sandpaper can be used.
  • The first coat can then be applied. It’s possible that a single application does not cover everything. However, it depends on how much the material absorbs and the color that was there before.
  • Furthermore, it’s necessary to wait that it dries, between 15 minutes and half an hour, before deciding if another coat of paint is necessary.
  • If lumps have formed, it can be sanded again and wiped off. Be patient.
  • If a smoother finish is desired or if you’re painting fabric (for example), you can thin the paint by adding a little water.
  • Most prefer the matte look, but protective wax can be applied with a fine brush and then buffed out using a soft cloth.
  • Finally, you need to clean the implements, wash the brushes and remove any drops of paint that may have fallen in unwanted places.

Where to apply chalk paint

Chalk paint is an interesting option for different decorating and remodeling projects, whether in the home or a business premises, such as a clothing store or a cafe. Chalk paint finishes are particularly attractive to the eye on walls, furniture, doors or other objects of almost any material (wood, stone, metal, plastics, ceramics, glass).


With chalk paint, you can give a special touch to one or more walls in the living room, kitchen, bedroom, even the staircase. You can use two tones or even just one stripe.

However, it’s not recommended for outdoors, since rain can cause it to run, even if it’s already dry. Similarly, be sure to remove moisture stains so that the tone is not uneven.

Cabinets and drawers

To renew an old piece of furniture and make it look more chic antique, just add a couple of coats, and then use sandpaper to reduce imperfections. You can paint wooden furniture such as cabinets, cabinets, drawers, tables, among others.


It also works for chairs, of almost any material. However, if you’re going to use it in the garden, we recommend you to put an extra protective layer, either varnish or wax.


Doors, bedroom doors, bathroom doors… all of them will look better with chalk paint. Of course, choose a shade that matches your walls and furniture.

Now, if you’re painting an exterior metal door, there are a few steps to take first:

  1. Remove handles, pulls and locks.
  2. Clean well.
  3. Apply a coat of matte anti-rust paint.
  4. Let it dry for at least 24 hours.
  5. Remove excess with fine sandpaper.

In the kitchen

In the kitchen there are several possibilities for chalk paint: the walls or old drawers, for example. To apply on tiles, you have to make sure to put a previous coat (primer).

Pintura a la tiza para azulejos.
To paint tiles with this substance, it’s necessary to make a primer before.


It’s possible to renovate cement or wood floors with chalk paint without spending too much money. You can use a single color or a stencil to add motifs with another tone. Then, apply a coat of varnish for durability.


As long as the chalk paint is fairly diluted in water (10 tablespoons per liter) you can dye fabrics, either cushion covers for living room furniture or T-shirts. It’s best to dry in the shade and without squeezing.

Reusing and recycling

You can revamp an old bicycle to place plants in the garden, some jars for the kitchen or baskets to place fruits and vegetables, the patio pots and many other things with a little chalk paint, imagination and willingness.


Do you have too much light in a room or want to protect yourself from prying eyes from the outside? Apply chalk paint to the windows. It even works on glass, as you can see.

At school

There’s also the possibility of taking advantage of this resource to have a space for the creativity and imagination of children. Chalk plant is great for playing and making art.

The advantages and disadvantages of chalk paint

There are several advantages that chalk paint provides for decorating. In this sense, it allows to achieve certain artistic or decorative effects.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to apply, dries quickly, covers well, and doesn’t leave bad odors. Normally, it doesn’t require previous steps, such as sanding or priming.

However, its adhesion depends on how porous the surface to cover is. On some plastics (rigid PVC), it doesn’t usually give good results. It’s also not a good idea for exteriors or bathrooms, since it’s not resistant to humidity or continuous rubbing.

Another of its advantages is that it’s generally environmentally friendly. Usually, it doesn’t contain strong solvents, unless the manufacturer added some additional component for greater adherence.

Thanks to this, when you finish painting with it, soap and water is enough to clean the utensils you used, as well as your skin. Likewise, in case of making a mistake, it’s possible to wash and remove it and sand any remains.

For these reasons, scientists have even used it to mark animals during studies, since it’s harmless and easily washed off. It’s also a type of paint you usually find in certain traditional or old buildings, because it has the least impact.

Also, as we said in the previous point, chalk paint is non-toxic, according to research carried out in Indonesia, related to traditional toys, where they point it out as the reason for using this pigment.

Precautions when using chalk paint

Despite everything, we must take some precautions to avoid problems or damage. To this end, take into account the following recommendations:

  • Clean the objects well before applying the paint.
  • Perform a test with a little paint, to see if it has adherence on the surface.
  • Let it dry before applying a second coat or a protective varnish.
  • Cover the surfaces that you do not want to stain, either with paper, cloth or some other element.
  • People with skin or respiratory reactions to chalk or plaster should wear gloves and masks when painting.
  • Avoid contact with mucous membranes.
  • Check the components on the container to make sure that it does not contain added acrylics.
  • Be careful with children. Although this is a product that they can use, be careful so that they do not put their hands in their mouth or eyes.

Decorating like an expert

If you’ve ever walked into a clothing store or a café and wondered how they manage to have such beautiful decor with that vintage feel, you already know. It’s because of the chalk paint.

And now that you know the secret, it’s your chance to show off and decorate like an expert. Remember to choose tones that harmonize with each other and with the rest of the decoration. For the rest, just let your imagination run wild!

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.