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Chalk paint has become a staple for many DIYers, with its unique texture, farmhouse-chic appearance, and easy, fast-drying application.
We researched dozens of top options, paying particular attention to ease of use, surface compatibility, and drying time. Our favorite is the Rust-Oleum 30 oz. Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint because it applies easily, dries quickly, and works equally well on different surfaces.
Here are the best chalk paints for your next DIY project.
Best Overall: Rust-Oleum 30 oz. Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint
Who else recommends it? Best Reviews and Good Housekeeping both picked Rust-Oleum Interior Chalked Paint.
What do buyers say? 90% of 2,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Rust-Oleum 30-ounce Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint is our top choice for adding rustic charm to different projects. This versatile chalk paint requires no stirring, is simple to apply, and works on many surfaces.
It's easy to select the right shade for your application, thanks to the selection of 11 different colors, a protective topcoat, and two glazes. This paint sticks well to many surfaces, including wood, metal, canvas, and ceramics. When it comes to application, Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint goes on smoothly without the need for many coats. You could even get away with just one coat for a more distressed look.
While additional coats may be necessary for the most finished look, the best part is that this paint dries in about 30 minutes. However, if you're hoping to enhance a furniture's natural surface, you might have to wait a little longer (up to 2 hours) in between layers of protective topcoat or glaze. Overall, this quality paint is highly recommended for various projects, works efficiently, and creates a beautiful finish.
Best Color Selection: The Spruce Best Home by KILZ Chalky Finish Paint
A little of this water-based formula goes a long way. With 14 different shades available, The Spruce Best Home by KILZ's Chalky Finish Paint is a great way to experiment with lightening a dark wood piece or adding a bright accent color to a room. It's also one of the most affordable chalk paints available, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself painting all the furniture in your house—once you start it’s hard to stop!
This paint can be used to cover old or new wood, cast stone, concrete, glass, metal, wicker, and more. For best results, lightly sand the surface before brushing or rolling on the paint.
Best for Furniture: Recolor Paints Winter Water-Based Chalky Paint
Now you can restore your wood furniture with upcycled paint—recolor is made from 100 percent recycled paint, and for every quart purchased, 3 gallons of water and 3.4 pounds of CO2 emissions are saved. This water-based paint applies easily and smoothly, and its color is noticeable in a single coat. For a more opaque finish, you’ll want to apply a second coat after allowing the first coat to dry for at least 30 minutes. The paint is available in 20 colors and is not for use on metal.
Best for Kitchen Cabinets: Retique It Chalk Furniture Paint by Renaissance DIY
Instead of the hassle of an entire kitchen redo, give your kitchen cabinets a quick refresh with this Retique It chalk paint. The formula glides on smoothly with a brush and dries in just 30 minutes, though chances are you’ll want to use a second coat. It comes in over 40 colors, ranging from neutrals to look-at-me brights, and is made in the United States.
Note that when you’re painting in a high-traffic area like your kitchen, you'll want to take the time to finish your cabinets with a wax to prevent scuffs and scratches.
Best for Upholstery: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Whether you're looking to conceal stained fabric or modernize an antique piece, using chalk paint on the fabric of your chair, couch, or ottoman is an easy way to forgo the hassle of reupholstering. This technique works best on furniture that you don't use frequently, as it will make the fabric feel rougher to the touch.
Annie Sloan created Chalk Paint in the 1990s with the goal of appealing to both beginners and experts. In addition to fabric, her formula can be used to paint metal, wood, flooring, and glass. When using it on fabric, you’ll need to water down the paint first. A little chalk paint can go a long way.
Best Spray: Krylon Chalky Finish Aerosol Spray Paint
Spray paint allows you to cover a large piece of furniture quickly and with minimal effort. Krylon's Chalky Finish Spray Paint offers the same smooth, ultra-matte finish as regular chalk paint in a can and is available in 18 different colors. You’ll want to use it outdoors, of course, and be sure to cover your patio or deck and don a mask and goggles before painting. Give the can a good solid shaking before you spray to prevent any clumping or streaking.
Best Brush: Modern Art Supplies Chalk & Wax Paint Brush Furniture
Because chalk paint is thicker in texture than regular paint, you’ll want to use a brush that’s specially created for these highly-pigmented formulas. Round brushes with strong, yet bendable natural bristles pick up just the right amount of paint and allow you to brush it on in any direction for a vintage look. These brushes come in a set, with both a large and small option for hard-to-reach places or stenciling. When it’s time to clean them, simply soak for a few minutes in paint thinner, then wash with soap and water.
Best Wax: Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Clear Wax
Once you’ve completed your paint job, you’ll want to seal and protect it by applying a coat of wax. Clear wax goes on clear and imparts a soft sheen, while the dark wax gives your project an aged look for extra character and adds depth to moldings and other intricate woodwork. A little of this affordable wax from Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines should go a long way, especially as you’ll only need to apply it once every few years. It goes on with a brush and can be buffed out to get the look you want.
What to Look for When Buying Chalk Paints
Chalk paint was designed as a water-based paint. When choosing chalk paint, be sure to read the fine print to make sure you’re choosing a water-based, non-toxic, odor-free formula that is healthy for you and the environment.
One of the reasons that chalk paint is so popular is that it is low maintenance and able to be applied to most surfaces without doing any prep work. Be sure to read the specs carefully before buying chalk paint, depending on the surface you intend to paint. For example, while some chalk paint brands can be used on metal surfaces, others cannot.
Should chalk paint be sealed?
While it’s not technically necessary, many experts recommend that you seal chalk paint finishes with protective wax that will prevent wear and tear, particularly in high-traffic areas or on high-touch surfaces. Others prefer to leave chalk paint surfaces bare to ensure that the paint maintains its signature chalky matte appearance, allowing it to develop a natural patina over time that they prefer.
Is it better to brush or roll chalk paint?
Depends on who you ask. Many people advocate using a natural flexible long bristle brush to apply chalk paint, and enjoy seeing the traces from the brushstrokes in the paint’s signature matte finish. Others prefer to use a foam roller, while this method may require using more paint.
How many coats of chalk paint do you need?
One of the advantages of chalk paint is that you generally don’t need to prime or sand before using it, since it happily adheres to most surfaces. You can generally get away with a single coat of chalk paint. But this is a matter of personal taste and the look that you want to achieve. Chalk paint inventor and evangelist Annie Sloan suggests applying it “thickly for a rustic, textured look or smoothly for a slick modern look.” You can also create a faux patina on a wall or piece of furniture by layering different shades of chalk paint to give it a distressed look.