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Chalk paint is a quick and easy way to give furniture, cabinets, and even upholstered items an Instagram-worthy DIY makeover. This latex-based paint is highly pigmented and comes in a range of colors, leaving behind a soft, matte finish for a farmhouse chic vibe. Unlike other formulas, it can be applied directly to the item you’re painting without needing to strip or sand its original paint or varnish. Though nearly similar in look, chalk paint differs from milk paint, as it doesn't need to be prepared with water. This makes chalk paint an incredibly convenient upgrade for all types of skill levels and projects.
Here are the best chalk paints to give your next DIY project a smooth and velvety texture.
Best Overall: Rust-Oleum 30 oz. Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint
One of the best things about Rust-Oleum's Interior Chalked Paint is its drying time: With each coat drying in just 30 minutes, you can easily complete your project in a single afternoon. Paint with one coat for a distressed, aged look or layer with a second for a more finished look. It’s available in eight classic colors and can be used straight from the can, no mixing or stirring required. In addition to wood furniture, this Rust-Oleum paint also sticks to metal, canvas, and ceramic.
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.