DIY Chalk Paint Furniture for Beginners

When we moved to Charlotte last spring, I was in a bit of a limbo. I had graduated pharmacy school, but I didn’t have a job yet. Most of my job applications got deferred until I got licensed to work as a pharmacist, which meant I had to pass my board exams first. I got bored with studying fast, so that’s when I got the idea to repaint my old, beat up desk. It would be my first furniture paint project, so I taught myself along the way. There are several tutorials out there on how to paint furniture, but based on my research and through my experience with this project, I came up with my own quick and easy “how to paint furniture with chalk paint” lesson.

I was surprised at how easy it was, y’all! I recommend starting out with a small piece of furniture that you are ok “messing up.” You don’t want to paint your $1000 Pottery Barn dresser just because you are tired of the color. If you don’t have an old piece of furniture, run by Good Will or Habitat for Humanity to get one for cheap.

I chose my black desk (originally from Target – similar) because I figured if it turned out horrible then it wouldn’t be a loss. I’m sure glad it turned out the way it did because now I have a pretty mint green desk to sit at while I write my blog posts! Plus, it ended up being the foundation for my office space that I recently spruced up (read more here).

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What you need:

  • Furniture
  • Chalk paint (or Latex paint)
  • Clear wax
  • Paint brush or foam roller
  • Wax brush
  • Fine sandpaperimg_9042

*Side note about paint brushes: I used a wax brush to paint and wax. You aren’t really supposed to do that, but it worked fine for me! Just be sure to rinse well with warm water between using the paint and wax.*

Step 1: Clean

Remove all hardware and clean your piece of furniture with window cleaner (Windex). This removes any oil or gunk that may prevent the paint from sticking.

Step 2: Paint

*I chose not to sand or prime my desk before painting it even though many tutorials instruct you do to so. If your piece has an old layer of paint or has a rough surface, go ahead and sand it first.*

Paint your first coat with the paint color of choice. I chose Martha Stewart Vintage Décor Paint because I’ve had good luck using her acrylic paint for mason jars (another DIY to try). You can also use a latex paint. Do not glob the paint; it is ok if it does not fully cover the first coat.

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Martha Stewart Vintage Decor Paint in Antique Sky
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First coat

Lightly sand between each coat (allowing at least 3 hours to dry first). This helps create a smoother finish. The last coat needs to dry for at least 24 hours.

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Second coat

Step 3: Distress

Use fine sand paper to gently distress the piece to your liking. Sanding blocks are really useful for using over large flat surfaces. I used more pressure sanding over the corners and edges to achieve a distressed look (Skip this if you prefer a matte look).

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Step 4: Wax

Once you are satisfied with how the piece looks, it is time to wax. Waxing seals the paint and prevents further chipping and peeling. Do this in the same manner as the paint. Wait 15 minutes before buffing and shining with a soft cloth. One coat should suffice, but I opted to wax two coats on the surface of the desk where I anticipated the most wear. I like ArtMinds clear wax from Michael’s, but Martha Stewart also has a clear wax if you wish to pair it with the chalk paint.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Allow the finished product to dry for 24-48 hours before moving indoors for use.

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Click here for office details

I would love to hear about some pieces that you’ve repainted! I’m on the hunt for another project myself:)

Thanks for reading! I hope y’all have an awesome weekend!

-Summer

*Contemporary Charm participates in several affiliate advertising programs. Clicks and/or purchases made through links on this blog may provide me with a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions on this blog are always my own.*

6 Replies to “DIY Chalk Paint Furniture for Beginners”

  1. I keep wanting to experiment with customizing furniture, but I keep worrying that I won’t finish or I will screw up somehow – which is especially silly since i used to help build and paint theatre sets! I’ll keep my eye out for something cheap to experiment on. Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. I might skip the distressing (not a fan of that aesthetic), but I’ll do my best! But sometimes the flaws make the piece more beautiful, so there is always that. It is, afterall, the making of a memory and not a piece bought in a store. 🙂

        1. I agree! Flaws give character that you can’t buy at a store:) I will say that I loved the matte look of my desk before I distressed it. It was so smooth and sleek..I almost kept it that way! Good luck:)

Let me know what you think!