Chalk Paint Tutorial

I’ve blogged about many different chalk paint projects, but I felt like I needed to provide a basic, step-by-step tutorial for you.

Simple Chalk Paint Tutorial

Chalk paint is so great because it requires no prep work.  You don’t need to sand or strip paint – you just go for it!

For this tutorial, I’m using a wooden plaque I picked up at a craft store.  But you will use this same technique on furniture, cabinets, or whatever else you are chalk painting.

How to use chalk paint

For the chalk paint, I am using Annie Sloan chalk paint.  You can find local retailers by going to her website.  There are several other chalk paint options out there – don’t be afraid to test them out!

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

First, paint the entire piece with chalk paint.  I often use a brush (for larger areas I sometimes use a small roller), and you’ll find that a little paint goes a long way.  You may only need one coat, but I find that I usually need two.  This paint dries really fast, and you’ll be able to tell when it’s dry.  Apply the second coat of paint AFTER the first coat is dry.

Painting with chalk paint

Chalk Paint

You can use other finishes, but Annie Sloan’s wax is one of my favorites. Apply two coats of wax on the piece using a wax brush.  You DO NOT have to wait for the first coat to dry before adding the second coat.

I love wax for furniture pieces, but I would NOT recommend wax on table tops, desk tops or cabinets.  Go here to see why I don’t recommend wax on kitchen cabinets.

Annie Sloan Clear Wax

Applying Clear Wax

Like the paint, a little wax goes a long way.  It’s pretty easy to see if you’ve missed any spots.  After you have applied the wax with the brush, use a lint-free cloth to buff and remove any extra wax.

Buffing the Wax

This next step is optional.  Dark wax is good if you want to bring out details and/or like the aged look.  You must first apply the clear wax BEFORE you apply the dark wax.  Go easy on the dark wax.  You won’t need much!

Annie Sloan Dark Wax

In this tutorial, I only applied the dark wax around the edges.  You can buff with a lint-free cloth as you did with the clear wax.

Applying Dark Wax

If you first applied the clear wax BEFORE you applied the dark wax, you can use the clear wax to erase and dark wax mistakes or if you find that you want a little dark wax.  Dip the cloth in the wax and rub away the dark wax.

Clear wax as an eraser

Clear Wax Eraser

You can sand the edges if you really like the distressed look.  In my tutorial it’s hard to see the distressing since I painted white over a light wood.  However, sanding the edges can add a lot of interest.  Especially if you paint over a dark piece of wood.

Sanding Chalk Paint

One more thing you can add to the chalk paint is gilding wax.  This can be found at any craft store and comes in a variety of colors.  I used my finger and apply this.  For this tutorial, I applied the gold wax to the edges.

Gilding Wax

Gold Wax

And that’s the end of the tutorial!  Once you get started, you’ll find that chalk paint is really user friendly.  Here are some projects I’ve done with chalk paint:

This first project is a headboard I paint with chalk paint (I also painted the upholstered fabric).  The headboard was gold, and I painted it with a gray chalk paint and used clear and dark wax.  I also distressed/sanded it.  To see more, click HERE.

Gray Chalk Paint Distressed and Dark Wax

This next piece was a dark trunk that I painted with gray chalk paint.  I used clear and dark wax as well as the gold gilding wax.

Gray Chalk Paint with Gold Wax

This ornate piece is part of my daughter’s bedroom set which was originally white.  I used gray chalk paint and clear and dark wax.  I also sanded it.

Chalk Paint with Dark Wax

This is my daughter’s headboard.  The piece was originally white, and I painted it with turquoise chalk paint.  I used clear wax and sanded.  To see more on her room, click HERE.

Chalk Paint with Clear Wax

This is a hutch I painted for my kitchen.  The hutch was originally dark, and I used a yellow chalk paint.  I used clear and gold gilding wax and heavily sanded.  You can see more if you click HERE.

Distressed Yellow Chalk Paint

I painted the legs on my dining room table gray.  The table was originally dark, and I used clear wax and a little sanding.  You can see more by clicking HERE.

Gray Paint with Clear Wax

This is a free dresser that was handed down to me.  It was dark, and I used white and gray chalk paint.  I also used clear and dark wax and sanded the piece.  You can see more by clicking HERE.

White Paint with Dark Wax

This is a bench that we made from a headboard.  The headboard was originally a tan color, and I used a green chalk paint with a clear wax.  I also sanded it.  You can see more on this project by clicking HERE.

Green Chalk Paint Clear Wax

I also have a FREE chalk paint tips printable you can get by clicking HERE.

I hope after reading through this tutorial you have the confidence to go for it!  Chalk paint is fun and an easy was to instantly transform a piece.


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Want to see what else I’m up to?  Click on the photos below:

DIY Concrete Table          Paint.a.Faucet            PaintedHeadboardB&A


  1. Heather says

    Thank you sooo much for sharing! 🙂

    Q: Roughly how big of a furniture piece does a can of chalk paint cover, with the recommended 2 coats?

    • sincerely, sara d. says

      Hi Heather! I painted a twin headboard & footboard along with a large dresser and mirror with one quart of chalk paint. It does stretch pretty far. I hope this helps! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Mariângela Portela says

    Sara, seu trabalho é lindo, você conseguiu um efeito delicado e elegante.
    (Sara, your work is beautiful, you got a delicate and elegant effect.)

  3. Teresa says

    I painted some furniture with chalk paint and then sanded. I didn’t use the wax first. What do u suggest I do now? Thanks for any feedback.

    • sincerely, sara d. says

      You’re fine! I sand after the wax because of the mess. Chalk paint that isn’t sealed can be incredible messy/dusty when sanded. Your furniture is fine. You can add a sealant or wax even after you sand. Good luck!

  4. Carol says

    Hi, I am painting my first piece with chalk paint and I was curious if there was a certain amount of time to wait after painting, before applying the wax? Thanks for the tutorials!

  5. Nicole Linington says

    Beautiful post, thanks for sharing! Do you have any tips for waxing those intricate details? I just painted a nightstand with beautiful accents but it was difficult to ensure paint coverage so I’m nervous about the waxing process there. Thank you!

    • sincerely, sara d. says

      When waxing, it can be hard because wax can get caught and clump up in the intricate details. A good wax brush is helpful as well as a rag. However, there are times a brush and rug can’t get all the wax out. I’ve used q-tips (a tedious process) to clean out some of the extra wax – which is what most of us use them for anyway, right?!

  6. Debbie says

    When you paint with two colors of chalk paint, do you mix the two colors or paint one color and then the other? Love your tutorial and all of your furniture pieces. Thanks!

  7. Esther Spence says

    I was disappointed after putting on clear wax. I didn’t want a high gloss but there was absolutely no difference in the look before and after. Did I do something wrong? I thought it would have somewhat oh a semi glossy look.

  8. Loraine van Rooyen says

    Hi Sara. I am soooooo in love with your work. The bug has bitten me. I found an old cupboard stashed away in an attic and cannot wait to get my hands dirty! I have bought country grey chalk paint and dark wax for the grooves. The saleslady said that I should paint varnish after the first layer of paint. Would this varnish be instead of the wax that you suggest? I would also like to modge podge renaissance transfers onto the doors and would appreciate your advice in this regard. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Loraine van Rooyen

    • sincerely, sara d. says

      Hi Loraine! Thanks so much for the sweet words. Yes, she suggesting varnish instead of the wax. I would suggest a water-based sealer called polycrylic. You can find it at any hardware store. It’s so much easier to clean up and won’t yellow over time like an oil-based sealer. However, I wouldn’t suggest using a wax and the polycrylic. I would use one or the other. In regards to Mod Podge, they have types that are specifically for furniture/higher used areas. I would suggest that for your doors. If you go to the Mod Podge website, you should be able to find what I’m talking about. It sounds like you have all kinds of fun projects planned. Good luck!!

  9. Morgan says

    Hi! So my bedroom furniture was a lighter wood, that I painted very dark. I have annie sloan paris grey paint. I really don’t need to sand down the dark color?? Just paint right over it with no prep? Thank you!

    • sincerely, sara d. says

      Hi Morgan, you shouldn’t have to sand down the darker color. Chalk paint usually adheres to most surfaces. The only issue I’ve had with it adhering is on a surface that has been waxed or a laminate piece. Good luck!

  10. Carol Tumberger says

    Hi, I have an old bedroom set made from cherry wood….would I be able to use chalk paint on that? It’s over 30 years old, and I want to update my bedroom. Any ideas before I go buy a new bedroom set??
    Thank you for your ideas… I’m a beginner and going to paint my first piece today!

  11. Veronique says

    Hi, I have a dinning table and chairs that are very shiny and thickly covered in lacquer.
    Would you recomend sanding first ?

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