Chalk paint is an easy and inexpensive way to update outdated candlesticks that no longer match your existing home decor. If you don't have a pair of candlesticks around but want to try this project, they are easy to find at thrift stores and flea markets.
This tutorial explains how to make DIY chalk paint candlesticks with a distressed finish. You can go heavy with the distressing or use a very light touch for a more subtle look.
Keep in mind that chalk paint adheres best to smooth surfaces. Likewise, any candlesticks you select should have a smooth finish. If there is chipping paint or surface imperfections, you may want to lightly sand and repair the surface prior to painting.
Tools and Supplies
- Old candlesticks
- Chalk paint
- Clean rag
- Sealing wax
- Sanding block
Pick a Paint Color
There are dozens of chalk paint colors available, so color selection might take longer than the painting part. We opted to paint two very different looking candlesticks with The Spruce Best Home Paint in Thrift Vibes, which is a vibrant green hue—perfect for a pop of color. By keeping the color the same, the candlesticks work better as a group even though they don't match and are from different eras.
Thoroughly Clean the Candlesticks
Chalk paint doesn't require a lot of prep, but one thing you need is a clean and dry surface so that paint adheres properly. Remove any dust, grime, or grease using a damp rag. Use a mild cleaning product if it's required, but be sure that the surface is rinsed and dried.
Remember that sanding is not usually required for chalk paint, but if you're dealing with a highly lacquered surface, you might want to give the entire stick a light sanding prior to painting.
Paint on the First Coat of Paint
Prep the chalk paint according to the manufacturer instructions. Some chalk paint requires you to add a tablespoon or two of water to make the paint a thinner consistency. You don't want the chalk paint to be too thin or too thick, so finding the right consistency might take some practice.
Once the paint is ready, use a natural bristle brush to apply your first coat. Some paint will only require one coat, but we usually apply at least two. If you don't have a natural bristle brush on hand, a synthetic bristle brush will work fine, too.
Watch Out for Drip Marks and the Allow Paint to Dry
When painting candlesticks, thinner coats allow you to have more control over the finish. However, you need to be careful of drip marks and quickly smooth them out before they dry. Look on the undersides of the candlestick where the paint would likely start to drip.
Once you have a smooth coat, allow the paint to dry completely before adding another coat or going on to the next step. We waited about four hours between coats.
Use a Sanding Block to Distress the Edges
If you don't want distressed candlesticks, skip this step altogether. However, if you want your candlesticks to look aged and chippy, use a sanding block to buff off the top layers of chalk paint lightly. Grit isn't important here because you're just trying to lightly remove the top coat. We opted for a 120-grit sanding block because that's what we had on hand.
This step works well if you like the color that's underneath. If you don't, you may need to use a dark finishing wax instead. On these candlesticks, one shows a yellow distressing and the other shows a brown wood-tone distressing.
The yellow candlestick was distressed in a very subtle manner and the brown candlestick has a more obvious distressing that looks less natural but more rustic.
Apply a Finishing Wax
The final step is crucial because it seals in the chalk paint finish and protects it from rubbing off. Pick a wax finish of your choosing and buff it on to dry chalk paint using a clean, lint-free rag. This wax usually comes in clear or dark brown. The latter gives the finish a more antique feel.
Enjoy the Revamped Candlesticks
You're done! Show off your newly painted candlesticks in groupings. Many designers recommend pairing candlesticks in odd numbers and using varying heights.