Chalk paint is an easy and inexpensive way to update candlesticks that no longer match your home décor. Rather than toss them, sell them, or donate them, make them new again with a layer of the chalk paint of your choice. 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 for a quite affordable price.
A distressed finish is an interesting visual option for chalk paint candlesticks, so we included that option with this tutorial. You can go heavy with the distressing or use a very light touch for a more subtle look.
What Is Chalk Paint?
Chalk paint is a decorative paint typically used for furniture, home accents, and small projects. It has a soft, matte finish, takes well to distressing, and provides a gently aged look. It requires very little preparation of the surfaces on which it will be used, which makes it a great paint for beginners.
There are countless chalk paint colors available, so color selection might take longer than the painting does! We opted to paint two very different styles of candlesticks with The Spruce Best Home Paint in Thrift Finds, 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.
Chalk paint doesn't require a lot of prep, but one thing you do need is a clean and dry surface so that the paint adheres properly. Remove any dust, grime, or grease using a damp rag. Use a mild cleaning product if it's required. Be sure that the surface is rinsed well and completely dry before proceeding.
Choose the Right Candlesticks
Keep in mind that chalk paint adheres best to smooth surfaces. Therefore, any candlesticks you select for this project should have a smooth finish. If the candlesticks have chipping paint, imperfections, or a highly lacquered surface, you may want to lightly sand and/or repair the surface prior to painting.
Equipment / Tools
- Clean rags
- Sanding block or sandpaper
- Old candlesticks
- The Spruce Best Home chalky finish paint
- Sealing wax
Apply the Paint
Prep the chalk paint according to the manufacturer's instructions. Some chalk paint requires you to add a tablespoon or two of water to create 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 small paintbrush brush to apply your first coat. Some paint will require only one coat, but it can be a good idea to apply two coats, especially if you wound up with paint on the thinner side.
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. Don't forget to look on the undersides of the candlestick where the paint would likely start to drip.
Allow Ample Drying Time
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.
Distress the Edges (Optional)
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 lightly buff away the top layers of chalk paint. Grit isn't important here because you're just trying to lightly remove part of the top coat.
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
Finishing wax, also known as sealing wax, seals in the chalk paint finish and protects it from rubbing off. Pick a wax finish of your choosing and buff it onto the painted candlesticks with a clean, lint-free rag.
Finishing wax for chalk paint is commonly available in clear or dark brown. The latter gives the finish a more antique feel.
Choose How to Showcase Your Candlesticks
There are many ways to use the candlesticks besides the obvious move of setting them on the table for candlelit dinners. One good option is to show off your newly painted candlesticks in groupings on a mantel, table, or even in a fireplace that isn't in use. Many designers recommend pairing candlesticks in odd numbers and using varying heights, or you can choose to pair your candlesticks with a DIY chalk paint mason jar for an even more eclectic look.