Learn why I don’t use chalk paint, and the painting techniques I DO use when painting furniture and cabinets for our home.
One of my most popular posts is How To Paint Furniture. It’s a long post, with a lot of steps. Every so often I will get asked by a reader, why I don’t use chalk paint instead of going through all of the steps of sanding, priming and using latex paint like I do whenever I paint furniture.
So, I thought I would address this question, because I do have strong opinions about chalk paint! A lot of you may love it, and that’s OK. These are only my opinions. Do what works for you!
Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint
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So, what is chalk paint? It’s a paint that has a very matte finish. Annie Sloan trademarked the name of their chalky paint – “chalk paint”. There are a lot of other brands of chalky paint that you can buy.
Chalky paint is usually used for furniture and other home decor items like signs or frames. The reason most people want to use chalky paint is because it’s supposed to be easier to use (less steps) than how I like to paint furniture.
You may be wondering why wouldn’t I use chalk paint if it’s easier to use than latex or oil paints? I’m not a professional painter, but I’ve painted lots of furniture, trim and cabinets over the last few years.
Because I love to research things, I did look into painting our furniture and cabinets with chalk paint, but decided against it.
Here are the reasons why I don’t use chalky paint:
1. I Don’t Like The Way Chalk Paint Looks – My biggest reason for not using chalk paint is the look. Chalk paint is a matte finish that makes it easy to look distressed. I’m just not into distressed furniture.
I don’t mind furniture that’s very lightly distressed, so that it looks like it’s worn over time, I’m OK with that.
In fact, this white trunk sits in our living room, and came with some of the paint slightly sanded off. The trunk is’t painted with chalk paint, but does have a slightly distressed look on some of the edges where you would normally see wear.
I don’t like furniture that’s heavily distressed. I don’t get why someone wants a piece of furniture that looks like it was laying in a landfill for 30 years and beaten with a hammer and chain. Just not my thing.
2. I Don’t Like The Cost Of Chalky Paint – Chalky paint is expensive. A quart of chalky paint is about $34.95/quart. The latex paint that I love to use costs $42.00/gallon, and comes in hundreds of colors.
If you use chalk paint, the recommendation is that you will need to apply a special wax with a special brush to help seal the chalk paint and make it more durable. Both of these can be expensive. When I paint with latex paint, I do have to prime the piece first but a gallon of primer goes a long way. I can usually prime at least 4 or 5 pieces of furniture with one gallon of primer. Also, I love my inexpensive Wooster paintbrush!
3. I Don’t Like That Sanding And Priming Are Optional When Using Chalk Paint– One of the big selling features of chalky paint is that you don’t need to sand or prime your piece first before painting, so it’s supposed to save time. What they don’t tell you is that you will be spending a lot of time after you paint with the waxing step. So, I’m not sure how much time you’re actually going to save.
I’ve never waxed a piece of furniture before, but I’ve heard many times that it can be very hard to get the results you want, and hard to fix it if you make a mistake applying the wax.
Also, unless you want a heavily distressed look, you’ll probably want to sand your furniture first anyway. For the same reason I sand my furniture before painting, it helps the paint adhere better and will help smooth the wood.
4. I Don’t Like That Chalky Paint Isn’t Durable – When I was researching chalky paint a few years ago, I kept reading great things about it. It’s so fast and easy. People loved it. But, I also started reading some stories about the paint coming off easily, even after it should have had time to cure. Waxing is supposed to help with that, but I’ve read horror stories about the wax not curing even months after being applied. Also, the matte finish can absorb stains.
I believe the multi-step process of sanding, priming and painting that I use when I paint furniture, cabinets and walls is the most durable, tried and true method. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do things the hard way, because they work better!
I’ve used two different types of latex paints when painting our furniture:
- Benjamin Moore’s Advanced paint – This is the paint that I used when I painted our bedroom dressers. It’s a very thick, slow-drying paint, which makes it easy to level out the brush strokes. You can read my tutorial here – How To Paint Furniture.
- Pittsburgh Paint’s Breakthrough paint – After I painted our bedroom dressers, a professional painter that I hired to spray paint our cabinet doors told me about the Breakthrough paint. I had wanted him to use the Advance paint in his sprayer, but he was afraid it wouldn’t work very well. He recommended the Breakthrough paint, which I love. It dries very fast, is very durable and still gives a nice smooth finish. You can read my tutorials using the Breakthrough paint here – How To Paint Wood Furniture and How To Paint Cabinets.
Again, these are just my opinions about chalky paint. You may love it and that’s great, but it’s not for me.