How to Paint an End Table With Chalk Paint

chalk paint end tables

Heirlooms at Home 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 4 - 6 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $45

Chalk paint revitalizes most surfaces with minimal prep work. This revolutionary paint product is ideal for distressing furniture and decor items like candlesticks, mason jars, and picture frames, but it also creates a timeless finish. Some experts say that if you have an antique table—or antique anything—it's best to leave the original stain. However, if the current finish is so damaged, it would take a skilled woodworker many hours to complete with resanding and staining (and you don't have the time or money for that), you can update the table with chalk paint. The process is simple, quick, and fun.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalk-style paint resembles a surface covered in chalk—a flat, matte-looking appearance. It is different from chalkboard paint and is not meant to be written on. The paint is latex-based and cleans up with water instead of mineral spirits.

Preparation

Even though this paint claims that it is a no-prep paint, a little prep work will go a long way. Lay down newspapers or contractor's paper to protect the work area from drips or paint spillage. Take the time to sand the surface and create a smooth finish before painting. Also, add an ounce or two of water to the chalk paint per the manufacturer's instructions. Many paints will come in powder form or have a thick consistency that requires the addition of water. 

Tip

Before you paint the antique end table, inspect it for identifiable manufacturer's markings or consider getting it appraised. Make sure the table doesn't have a very high market value before painting it.

Safety Considerations

Whenever you sand anything or undertake a painting project, you should use a dust mask or respirator to protect yourself from fine particulate matter or noxious fumes. Goggles and gloves are recommended to protect your eyes and skin from paint splatter.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Medium to high grit sanding block
  • Rags
  • Paintbrush
  • Putty knife (optional)

Materials

  • Chalk paint (We used The Spruce Best Home Chalky Finish Paint in Casual Sophistication)
  • Clear sealing wax (We used The Spruce Best Home Clear Sealing Wax)
  • Wood filler (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gather Your Tools and Materials

    Invest in a quality paintbrush that is designed for chalk paint or latex paint. One of the worst offenses of using a cheap brush is the bristles falling out of the brush while painting, ruining the look of your project. Wood filler and a putty knife are optional and dependant on the condition of the wood.

    supplies for painting with chalk paint
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    refurbish old wood table with chalk paint
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  2. Fill Any Imperfections With Wood Filler

    You can use chalk paint on many surfaces like metal, stone, concrete, and wood. The paint hides imperfections well and usually requires little to no prep work. However, if the surface has holes, deep scratches, or large gaps missing, a little wood filler will go a long way. Apply a small amount of wood filler using a putty knife and allow the spot to dry completely. Lightly sand the surface with a medium grit sanding block to smooth out the wood filler.

    using wood filler on end tables
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  3. Create a Smooth Surface by Sanding

    If the end table's wood is in good condition, you may be able to skip this step altogether. If the furniture is in poor condition and has an alligatoring or cracking stain or peeling paint, sanding will dramatically improve the finished product. 

    Use a medium to high grit sanding block to scuff up the surface and create a flat finish free of any noticeable imperfections. This end table had some areas where the stain had started cracking and bunching together. It was sanded until smooth to the touch and no longer bumpy. 

    Tip

    Scuff up glossy surfaces to help the paint grip the furniture better. Chalk paint adheres better to glossy surfaces than other paint, but this quick step will ensure the paint will stick and all surface oils and grime have been removed.

    how to sand an end table
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  4. Thoroughly Clean the Surface of the Table

    Once sanding is complete, clean the surface with a damp cloth and allow the table to dry completely before going on to the next step. For best results, chalk paint needs a clean surface that is free of any dust or debris. 

    prep table for chalk paint
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  5. Apply the First Coat of Chalk Paint

    Chalk paint works well on uncoated or painted surfaces. However, avoid using it on areas that people will walk on or any furniture you will keep outside. Paint one or two even coats of chalk paint; allow the paint to dry completely between coats (at least six hours between coats). 

    how to paint with chalk paint
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  6. Buff Surface With a Wax Sealant

    Chalk paint is flat matte and benefits from an additional layer of protection. To create a distressed two-toned wood look, use dark sealing wax. To create a more timeless finish, rub on a thin layer of clear sealing wax. To apply the wax, put a small amount on a clean, lint-free cloth. Rub the wax into the surface using circular motions and allow it to dry. Once dry, get another rag and buff the surface to create a satin finish. 

    wax finish for chalk paint
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    finished chalk paint end table
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How to Keep Paint Looking Fresh

To maintain the quality of your finish, reapply sealing wax as needed. If you want to change the look of your table and give it more of an antiqued look, apply a dark sealing wax after the clear sealing wax layer.