What is the Difference Between Chalk Paint and Regular Paint

Are you wondering about what is the difference between chalk paint and regular paint when it comes to furniture painting? Chalk paint has become increasingly popular for furniture projects, but many are unsure if they should use these types of paint for furniture or use other options.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both types of paint, as well as how to properly apply them so that you get a beautiful finish every time. You’ll also learn about alternative options for painting furniture. Read on to find out more!

photo of latex and chalk paint with text overlay

Chalk Paint is a type of water-based paint that has a chalky, matte finish when dry. It has been claimed that it will stick to most surfaces without needing any primer, making it ideal for furniture projects.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t stick as well as the manufacturers claim, though it does stick better than latex paint! Additionally, Chalk Paint can be easily be sanded down for a distressed look and topcoated for added protection.

Regular latex wall paints are water based as well and require more preparation before application, but still don’t stick as well as chalk paint does.

It also takes a little longer to dry than chalk paint, and if you sand it at all, it starts to ball up and clogs up sandpaper. Additionally, it is not durable without a polyurethane topcoat, and it feels kind of rubbery.

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Pros and Cons of Using Chalk Paint for Furniture Projects

Using chalk paint for furniture projects has both pros and cons.

On the plus side, chalk paint is known to stick much better than regular latex wall paint, making it a great choice for furniture projects because they get a lot of wear and tear, and if your paint doesn’t stick well, then your work will look crappy within a couple of days.

scratch test of chalk paint without the topcoat

Check out this post on how to chalk paint furniture to see what happens when you don’t prep before chalk painting furniture.

Additionally, with the range of colors and ease of use, you can create a variety of looks on your furniture, including blending, and additional finishes.

On the downside, chalk paint has a chalky finish and if not topcoated with waterbased polyurethane it can be hard to clean… and it just isn’t durable without a topcoat.

Additionally, you still need to do some prep work such as sanding before painting with 220 grit sandpaper and using a primer for painting furniture like clear shellac to help the paint stick better.

Pros

  • sticks better than regular paint
  • many options available
  • easy to distress or sand
  • versatile, can be used to create many different finishes

Cons

  • chalky finish that has to be topcoated
  • hard to clean if isn’t topcoated with waterbased polyurethane
  • furniture needs prepped to help chalk paint stick well

Tips for Using Chalk Paint on Furniture

When working with chalk paint on furniture, there are a few tips to keep in mind for the best possible results.

First, make sure to clean the furniture before painting. This will make sure that the surface is free of dust, grime, and dirt so that the chalk paint can adhere properly. It’s also important to lightly sand the furniture with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any glossy finishes to help the paint stick.

Next, spray on 2 coats of clear shellac or a stain blocking primer onto the furniture before painting with chalk paint. This will stop any stains from coming through the paint and also help the paint stick better.

spraying clear shellac onto furniture

Then paint on your chalk paint. Here are the best paint brushes for chalk painting, and here is how to get a brush free finish when painting furniture.

Finally, topcoat your chalk painted furniture with a water based polyurethane to make the chalk paint durable and easy to clean. This will also help protect the finish from wear and tear, as well as scratches. Here is how to apply waterbased polyurethane to painted furniture.

How to Paint Furniture with Chalk Paint

  1. Remove the hardware
  2. Clean the furniture with Krud Kutter
  3. Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper to help the paint stick and smooth out the surface
  4. Spray 2 coats of clear shellac or a stain blocking primer onto the furniture to stop stains from coming through the paint and help the paint stick
  5. Paint on the chalk paint
  6. Topcoat with waterbased polyurethane to make the chalk paint durable and easy to clean

Pros and Cons of Using Regular Paint for Furniture Projects

Using regular paint for furniture projects has both pros and cons. On the plus side, regular wall paint is relatively inexpensive, comes in a variety of colors so you can match any decor, and you can create a range of finishes with latex paint.

Additionally, it’s easy to purchase at any hardware store so it’s accessible to anyone.

On the downside, regular wall paint does not stick as well as chalk paint and even with proper preparation of the surface, it will still need to be topcoated with a water based polyurethane for added durability.

Additionally, when sanding regular latex paint it has a tendency to ball up and clog up sandpaper.

photo of ball up and clogged sandpaper

Pros

  • easy to purchase at any hardware store
  • comes in an endless amount of colors
  • cheaper
  • can create many versatile finishes with latex paint

Cons

  • does not stick as well, even with preparing the furniture before painting
  • when sanding, it will clog up your sandpaper and ball up
  • have to prep the surface really well to make it stick to furniture well enough
  • needs topcoated with waterbased polyurethane to make it durable

Tips for Using Regular Paint on Furniture

When working with regular paint on furniture, it is important to keep a few tips in mind for the best possible results.

First, prepare the furniture for paint by cleaning the surface with Krud Kutter to remove any grime, dust and dirt and then lightly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. This will help make sure that the paint adheres well to the surface.

Apply 1-2 coats of a great primer like BIN shellac primer to help the latex paint stick.

rolling on tinted bin shellac primer onto furniture

Next, paint your regular wall paint onto the furniture and allow it to dry completely in between coats.

Finally, topcoat the painted furniture with a waterbased polyurethane for added durability and protection from wear and tear.

How to Paint Furniture with Latex Paint

  1. Remove the hardware
  2. Clean the furniture with Krud Kutter
  3. Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper to help the paint stick and smooth out the surface
  4. Apply 2 coats of stain blocking primer that has excellent bonding properties, like BIN shellac primer onto the furniture to stop stains from coming through the paint and help the paint stick.
  5. Paint with latex paint
  6. Topcoat with waterbased polyurethane to make the paint durable and easy to clean

As you can see, the process of painting furniture with chalk paint and latex paint is basically the same.

Chalk paint companies tout that you don’t need to prep before using chalk paint on furniture, unless you’re painting a very slick surface. But in my experience, chalk paint will not stick well enough to furniture without properly prepping the surface first.

There are only rare occasions where chalk paint will stick to furniture and stick well enough to not scratch or chip off when lightly used in regular day to day life.

Alternative Paints for Painting Furniture

When it comes to painting furniture, there are a plethora of options beyond chalk paint and regular wall paint. These alternative paints offer unique finishes and characteristics that can make painting furniture easier and more enjoyable.

If you don’t want to have to prep before painting your furniture, I recommend using Heirloom Traditions Paint. It will stick to even laminate surfaces with only cleaning as the prep.

spraying Heirloom Traditions Paint onto furniture

Here is our blog post on my honest Heirloom Traditions Paint Review post and how to paint with Heirloom Traditions Paint for more information.

If you want to use regular paint on your furniture, I recommend turning the latex paint into homemade chalk paint with our homemade chalk paint recipe post.

It’s really easy to do and makes painting furniture more successful. Check out this DIY emerald green bedside table to see the homemade chalk paint in action.

Milk Paint is an all-natural, non-toxic paint made from milk proteins, clay, lime and pigments. Milk paint is best used for furniture with a rustic vibe and can be sanded or distressed to add even more character.

Learn about more types of paint for furniture in our best paint for furniture post, and pick the best paint for your project depending on what finish you want.

More Paint comparison resources

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