The best chalk paint
Originally created in the early '90s, chalk paint has since become a huge trend in the DIY world. Its thick consistency provides a rustic, distressed look, giving new life to old furniture pieces.
This versatile paint isn't just for furniture, though. It can be used on a wide range of surfaces both indoors and out -- you can even use it to spruce up old laminate or concrete floors. More often than not, chalk paint sticks to these surfaces without priming or sanding them first. No prep work along with the easy-to-apply consistency make the furniture and cabinet paint by Chalky Chicks our favorite choice.
Considerations when choosing chalk paints
VOCs (volatile organic compounds), while harmful, are found in most paints. These compounds are what allow the paint to solidify and dry on a surface. Chalk paint normally contains low levels of VOCs. Always look for a low-VOC or no-VOC label.
With its highly adhesive properties, chalk paint has no problem sticking to most surfaces. It rolls smoothly onto wood, metal, glass, plastic, and concrete, just to name a few. However, things get a little challenging if you're painting something with a lacquered surface. Sometimes the lacquer mixes into your paint, causing discoloration. It's best to strip and sand the surface first, just to be safe.
Most paint, when stored properly, has the potential to last for years. However, it's recommended that you use your paint within one year of purchase.
Chalk paint naturally has a beautiful matte, chalky finish. However, you can add some sheen by applying wax on top of the paint. Wax is available in clear or dark and is a great way to both protect your paint and alter the finish.
Generally speaking, chalk paint is quite thick and is actually designed to leave visible brush strokes. This rough and rustic look is quite trendy. However, you can easily alter the thick consistency of chalk paint by adding a little water. Thinning your paint out gives your project a smooth finish with few to no visible brush strokes. Remember, the thinner the paint, the more coats you need. If the paint is too thin, durability may be an issue later on.
Chalk paint prices
A normal quart of chalk paint can range from $17 to $40, while a gallon can fall anywhere between $20 to $100. Keep in mind, higher-priced paints tend to be thicker, meaning you won't need as many coats.
Q. Is chalk paint the same as chalkboard paint?
A. No. Chalk paint gets its name from the chalky matte finish, whereas chalkboard paint is used for creating DIY chalkboards that you can actually write on.
Q. What brush should I use for chalk paint?
A. That's up to you. A natural bristle brush shows more visible brush strokes if you're trying to achieve that rustic look. Rollers and foam brushes can be used just as easily.
Q. Do I need to use a wax finish?
A. No, but it's recommended that you do. Applying a few layers of wax protects your piece and helps the paint last longer. We suggest applying at least two to three layers of wax to any outdoor furniture you paint.
Q. How do I distress chalk paint?
A. There are a number of tricks to give your chalk painted item a distressed look. Letting some of the old color poke through, roughing the area with sandpaper, and using different brushes are just a few ways.
Best of the best: Chalky Chicks Furniture & Cabinet Paint
Our take: This thin chalk paint applies as easily as any water-based paint. There's no need to add any water; with just 2 coats you get a smooth chalky finish. The best part is there's no surface preparation required.
What we like: Paint is easy to apply, requires no surface prep work, and is safe to use indoors with ventilation. Perfect for beginners.
What we dislike: Thin consistency requires at least two coats, sometimes more.
Best bang for your buck: Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint
Our take: Easily achieve that rustic distressed look with this ultra matte paint.
What we like: Comes from a trusted brand. Ultra matte finish. Dries quickly. Low-odor. Adheres to most surfaces with little to no prep work.
What we dislike: May require multiple coats.
Choice 3: Dover's Chalk Paint Mix
Our take: Easily convert latex or acrylic paints you already own into a chalk style paint.
What we like: Can be portion controlled for small projects. All natural, non-toxic formula. Adheres to most clean surfaces.
What we dislike: Chalky effect not as strong as actual chalk paint.
Amber Van Wort is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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