What You’ll Need to Start a Chalk Paint Project

Aaahhhhhh….chalk paint.

This wondrous invention makes painted furniture enthusiasts burst with happiness.  Chalk paint is easy to use…a little bit goes a long way.  You also don’t need any artistic ability to cover a piece of furniture.  Secondly, it’s easy to personalize.  The colors are meant to be mixed to create an entirely new hue, or layered to add dimension when it’s distressed.  This product also dries fast and sealants are done curing about a mere 24 hours after application.

In my opinion, this is a huge bonus over similar products like milk paint, where the finished products can take weeks to cure.

I was introduced to this amazing product when we were selling our townhouse.  My first project was upgrading our powder room vanity and mirror from the original builder grade pine color to something fun and fresh.  Since then it’s quickly become one of my favorite tools to rejuvenate our furniture and decor.  Chalk paint helped me completely transform an ugly brass chandelier to this fun fixture in our new dining room.

While chalk paint is almost as easy as opening a can, stirring it up, and slathering it on a nightstand, there is some prep work.  You’ll also want to have some of these additional tools on hand as you begin your project.  Trust me.  Taking the time before you get started to invest in these must-haves helps give you the finished product of your imagination.

Here we go…

Sandpaper in a couple different textures

Before you begin painting, it’s a good idea to quickly run a piece of coarse sandpaper over your piece.  This helps the pain absorb nicely overall, and smoothes any other rough patches from wear and tear.  After painting, you will then want to use a sandpaper with a finer grit, if you’re going for the popular rustic look.  Try to have a variety of sandpaper types on hand so you can properly distress your finished piece.

You can pick up sandpaper in any local hardware store, like Ace Hardware.

Paint brushes in a few sizes, shapes, and bristle types

One of the reasons to love chalk paint is how easily and thoroughly it covers your furniture makeovers.  Because it’s so easy use, it can be tempting to buy those cheaper combination packs of paint brushes.  These are awesome brushes to use for smaller projects like picture frames or mirrors.  However, when using them on larger projects such as furniture, you’ll find that bristles can fall out of the brush and into your project.  If you’re working on a table or dresser, save yourself the frustration and invest in a few quality paint brushes.    The bristles will last you throughout numerous projects, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from the out of pocket expense.

Foam brushes are great to use when you want to add a light was of color on top of an already painted or stained piece.  Imagine a driftwood effect and you’ll pick up what I’m putting down.

You may also want to have brushes with finer tips on hand if you’d like to add intricate details like stencils or pops of color in cracks of the furniture.  (I’m considering adding a fun pop of color in the crevices of Munchkin #2’s dresser and nightstand…another upcoming project for my ever growing list!)

Sealing waxes and/or polyurethane sealants

Most of the well-known chalk paint lines offer waxes that you brush on top of your painted piece.  The wax helps seal in the color while adding a soft sheen to its finishing.  Waxes come in clear, light, or dark finishes and which one you use is entirely up to you.  It all depends on what kind of antiqued finish you’re going for.

These same lines will also offer polyurethane sealants for those pieces designed for high traffic areas, like kitchens or bathrooms.  Again, the poly-sealant you choose all depends on what finish you’re going for.  You may find that some seals will give you an easy to clean surface, desirable for pieces you convert into a kitchen island or mini-bar.

Don’t forget you’ll also need an additional paint brush or two for your wax or sealant application.



After you apply the wax to your project, you’ll need to buff it a bit to create that soft sheen.  To do this, you’re going to need a cheesecloth.  This protects your paint and wax from over-scratching as you’re putting the finishing touches on your piece.  This helps the paint take on that soft, velvety look of antique, old-world furniture.

Tack cloths

Finally, tack cloths are a furniture make0ver novice’s dream come true (after chalk paint, that is.). These cloths are like sticky cheesecloths, and they help pick up all the excess dirt and dust you’ll accumulate from sanding and buffing your furniture as you go.


A few other handy miscellaneous items…

When I dove headfirst into my first major furniture makeover, there were a few items I didn’t realize I was going to need right off the bat.  There’s going to be a need for either a Phillips or flathead screwdriver at some point.  You may also find you’ll need a screwdriver with special bits to accommodate unusual screw heads you may find.  I discovered a square screw while taking apart my grandmother’s dresser.  A quick trip to The Home Depot led me to discover this fun ratchet.  It has interchangeable driver bits that can be used for lot of purposes.

It is also a good idea to have wood filler on hand right from the get-go.  You’ll undoubtedly encounter holes and knicks while rejuvenating furniture.  Wood filler is available in a variety of colors to accommodate your specific needs.  I actually prefer using a generic natural color since it’s going to get painted over anyway.  Its versatility means I can use it again and again without issue.

As you begin to master the art of chalk painting furniture, you may need to pick up additional materials like wood fillers and liquid nails to completely revamp some of your furniture and decor.  However, the products listed above are the must-have’s you’ll want nearby as you start your first undertaking.

Finally, always remember that chalk paint’s greatness can also be credited to it being pretty goof-proof.  It is a product that is meant to be experimented with in terms of colors, distressing, and textures.  Mistakes are not only easy to cover up and fix, but also encouraged because they will add charm and individuality to your furniture makeover.

I’ve really enjoyed working with chalk paint…from chandeliers to kitchen tables, and I see a lot of pieces around the house just begging for some colorful love.  Stay tuned for the projects in the near future…this is chalk painting fever isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!



  1. Jonathan Groner | 1st Aug 17

    Great work on these DIY projects Alison! These posts and the site look great! Keep it up!

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