Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint? DIY In 3 Simple Steps

Chalk paint is not necessarily striking, so you would want to coat it with another finish to enhance its visual appeal. It could be through staining or applying polyurethane, but can you paint over chalk paint?

Well, if you did not know, this (chalk) paint is easy to apply on different surfaces and has a matte finish. It requires constant maintenance to keep it beautiful.

After application, you have to seal it with wax and keep re-waxing it every few years to keep its color popping. The constant maintenance required prompts painters to look for alternatives. They search for products you can apply and leave on without regular upkeep, except for occasional cleaning.

The biggest dread about switching from chalk paint to something different is removing it before applying the new product. It is a procedure that takes a lot of time and effort, this takes us back to our question can you paint over chalk paint?

You can paint over chalk paint, but the steps you follow will vary slightly depending on whether or not you sealed the color and the type of paint you intend to apply over it.

If you sealed the chalk paint, you must remove the sealing coat to expose the raw color before painting over it.

You can paint directly over unsealed chalk paint because it has a rough surface to which coating products can adhere without a problem. However, some types of paints won’t stick well without the help of a primer.

In this article, I’ll explain the proper procedure of painting over chalk paint. I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on removing the sealing wax and proper practices to follow when applying the different types of paint over the old paint.

Let’s learn more on chalk paints.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Image of wood painted with chalk paint. Do you know How To Fix Blotchy Wax On Chalk Paint?Chalk paint is a surface coating that develops a chalky, matte appearance when it dries. However, you should not confuse it with chalkboard paint, a coating that painters use to create the chalkboard surfaces that we write on using chalk.

The name chalk paint stems from the textured matte appearance that makes a surface look like it has chalk dust sprinkled over it.

Chalk paint is more popular than standard paint because it is easy to use. It sticks to most surfaces – even painted ones- without the need for sanding or priming before application.

Moreover, it has a thicker consistency than other types of paint, which prevents it from dripping and can provide ample coverage in as little as one coat.

The thickness of chalk paint also allows you to apply it even on surfaces with minor cracks or intricate details. It fills the tiny spaces then levels up to create a smooth finish.

Nevertheless, you cannot just slap chalk paint on any damaged surface and expect great results. When the damages are too extensive, you must repair them first then apply paint.

Since chalk paint is water-based, it allows you to correct mistakes as you work with a little sprinkle of water. Moreover, cleaning your painting tools is very easy because all you need is water and some soap.

Where to Use Chalk paint

Chalk paint works best on furniture because it gives the pieces a gently aged look. Moreover, you can easily distress it if you want your furniture looking more aged. It is the best option to paint pieces with intricate designs because you won’t have to sand them down before painting.

Even though painters use chalk paint on furniture 90% of the time, its uses are not restricted to that alone. It is an incredibly versatile paint that can stick to any surface, including metal, plastic, and veneer.

Many homeowners even use chalk paint on kitchen cabinets, especially when trying to achieve the shabby-chic or country-style decor look.

The biggest concern that DIY painters have regarding chalk paint is whether it is durable enough to use on pieces that experience consistent traffic. The answer is yes, but only if you take extra steps to properly seal the paint’s porous surface.

The best product for sealing chalk paint is soft wax. 2-3 coats of polish on areas like tabletops, countertops, and other areas that will get a lot of use will go a long way in increasing the durability of the finish.

Your pieces will look great for several years, but you will have to rewax every few years to maintain the finish.

If the constant rewaxing is too much work, you can use polyurethane or polycrylic as an alternative. These products will provide a more durable seal that you won’t have to reapply constantly.

However, some of these products tend to yellow over time; hence they will compromise the color of the paint. Moreover, they have some sheen, which will also remove chalk paint’s signature matte finish.

Chalk Paint Vs Regular Paint

Chalk paint has several advantages, but we still don’t use it for all applications. Some surfaces require more coverage or protection, which only regular paint can provide.

Professional painters automatically know when to choose chalk or regular paint, but DIYers and beginners often need more help to make a decision. So let’s discuss the similarities and differences of both products to guide you along.

Paint roller but Can You Mix Semi Gloss and Flat Paint?Similarities

  • Both chalk paint and regular paint perform similar functions. They cover surface imperfections because they are opaque, and they protect the surface from further damage caused by the weathering effects of the atmosphere.
  • Both paint types come in different colors. So whether you are painting your piece to hide flaws or protect it, you can choose a color that conforms with the rest of your decor. The colors also allow you to decorate your pieces even if protection and covering imperfections isn’t your primary goal.


Here are some of the differences between these paints:

  • The Finish

Chalk paint has a textured matte finish, perfect for creating distressed and antiqued looks. It will not become gummy when you sand it to get the look.

On the other hand, regular paint has a shinier and smoother finish making it ideal for creating modern, sleek looks on pieces. You can try destressing it too, but it tends to gum up the sanding sponges, and the final look won’t be as good as what you’d get with chalk paint.

On the bright side, regular paints have varying sheen levels ranging from glossy to matte. Therefore, if you want an aged look for your piece when using regular paint, you can only use products with matte finishes.

  • Surface Preparation

Chalk paint sticks to most surfaces without the need for priming because the minerals and the pore spaces it has allows it to grip slippery surfaces more firmly.

However, some situations require a little sanding and priming, even with chalk paint. For instance, if you are painting a surface with stubborn stains or wood that produces tannins, you will have to apply a stain-blocking primer first to prevent the stains from bleeding through the paint.

On the other hand, sanding and priming are necessary before applying regular paint to any surface. Without them, the paint won’t adhere properly, and it will peel off the substrate even before it dries.

Adhesion aside, priming is also necessary to block stains that may bleed through regular paint and ruin the finish.

  • Temperature Tolerance

The minerals found in chalk paint allow it to withstand extreme temperatures – both hot and cold – once you apply it to a surface.

The pore spaces in the coat enable it to expand and contract without weakening the bond between the paint and the surface. Therefore, there is no risk of peeling, cracking, or flaking.

On the other hand, the tolerance of regular paints solely depends on the type of paint you have. For instance, oil-based paints are rigid; therefore, they cannot expand and contract with the substrate as the temperature fluctuates.

In contrast, latex paints are more flexible; hence, they can better handle temperature variations.

  • Durability

Chalk paints are durable, but only if you seal the porous surface properly after it dries. Chalk paint will absorb liquids and stain very easily. Without a proper seal, it will deteriorate in half the time suggested by the manufacturer.

On the other hand, regular paints are not porous, and they dry into tough coats that don’t usually require sealing. Don’t get me wrong, you can seal regular paint to boost its durability, but you will not experience any problems if you skip it.

Which Is Better: Milk Paint or Chalk Paint?

Milk and chalk paint are decorative finishes with very similar characteristics that make them almost impossible to tell apart. They are both water-based and are great for creating distressed furniture pieces like dressers, tables, and chairs.

Furthermore, they have low Volatile Organic compound (VOC) levels and dry super fast.

So, with all these similarities, are there any features you can use to distinguish between chalk and milk paint, or are their uses basically interchangeable? Let’s look at some of the contrasts between the two products.

  • Ingredients

Manufacturers use similar ingredients to create both milk and chalk paint. They use calcium carbonate as the main mineral then combine it with other minerals and pigments like iron oxide and ocher with water as the solvent. However, one ingredient sets milk paint apart from chalk paint – casein.

Casein is a milk protein that manufacturers add to milk paint to act as a binder. Since it is an organic component, it makes milk paint partly organic. Chalk paint lacks this protein binder; therefore, it is 100% organic – that’s the main difference between the two products.

  • Packaging

Ingredients aside, you can also distinguish between milk and chalk paint by how manufacturers package them. Milk paint comes as a dry powder with different dry pigments that you must mix with water before use.

On the other hand, chalk paint comes in liquid form with its ingredients thoroughly mixed. However, you may have to redistribute the pigments by stirring the product before use because some of them settle at the bottom of the paint container.

  • Smell

You can also differentiate milk and chalk paint by smell. They don’t produce pronounced chemical odors like regular paints. However, chalk paint doesn’t have a distinct smell after applying it.

In contrast, milk paint produces a faint smell similar to freshly-cut grass for about 1-2 hours after application due to the casein protein present.

  • Durability

Milk paint degrades faster than chalk paint due to the organic milk protein. After mixing the dry ingredients, you must ensure that you use all the mixture because it won’t last even if you cover the container tightly and store it in proper conditions.

On the other hand, chalk paint has a longer shelf life because it is 100% inorganic, You can store the paint even after opening it, and it will remain in good condition as long as the storage surroundings are favorable.

Now that you understand their formula differences and how to distinguish them physically, which is better: milk paint or chalk paint?

Whether you choose milk or chalk paint depends on the desired effect and color you want to achieve for your pieces. Milk paint works better as a paint wash because it is thinner, and you can also use it to thin other paints.

It is also perfect for achieving a rustic style with a very light sheen. Furthermore, you can mix the powder pigments however you want to create the desired shade for your project.

On the other hand, chalk paint is best to achieve a realistic antique look with a completely matte appearance for your pieces. However, color mixing is not as easy as milk paint; therefore, your options are limited.

Pros and Cons of Chalk Paint

In this section, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of chalk paint. Keep reading for more:


  • Chalk paint can stick to any surface with little to no preparation. It allows you to finish projects faster and is incredibly beginner-friendly.
  • Chalk paint is water-based; therefore, it is more flexible than other types of paint, mainly oil-based paints. Moreover, it is easy to clean your tools with just soap and water after using chalk paint.
  • Chalk paint is thicker than regular paints; therefore, it doesn’t drip easily. Its thickness also allows you to achieve the coverage level you desire with a few coats.
  • Chalk paint is better at hiding surface imperfections because of its matte appearance. Unlike shiny paints, it downplays the flaws, which highlight even the most minor defects.


  • You must always apply a protective coat over chalk paint to make it durable. If you don’t seal the porous coat properly, your finish will deteriorate faster than the manufacturers intended.
  • Chalk paint costs more than other types of paint. Manufacturers formulated it to cut out significant painting steps to make it easier to use, even for beginners. This extra convenience and the costly ingredients used to make it make chalk paint so expensive.
  • Due to its thickness, it is easy to leave brush marks on chalk paint than on any other type of paint.

How to Paint Over Chalk Paint

The steps involved are:

Step 1: Inspect the Chalk Finish

Before painting over the old finish, you must check to see if it was sealed with wax. As mentioned earlier, chalk paint isn’t very durable unless you seal it. Therefore, if there is a wax coat, you must remove it before painting; otherwise, the paint won’t stick properly.

Use a metallic paint scraper to scrape the top of your finish gently. If the action leaves white scratch marks on the finish, or you see a whitish build-up on the scraper, it means your finish has wax on it.

You can also pass your hand over the finish to feel its texture. Bare chalk paint has a rough surface, while waxed chalk paint feels smooth to touch.

If there’s wax, follow the following steps to remove it. If there’s no wax, you can skip directly to step 2.

  • Pour some warm water into a container, then add your regular household cleaner to make a cleaning solution.
  • Dip a clean rag into the solution, squeeze out excess liquid then wipe the waxed surface to remove dirt and grease.

You must always clean the surface before removing the wax to protect the chalk paint underneath. When removing wax, the mineral spirits will dissolve it and cause it to mix with the dust particles on the surface.

Therefore when you start rubbing the finish to remove it, you will also be rubbing coarse particles on the chalk paint. As a result, you may leave scratch marks on the chalk paint, which will show through your new finish and ruin it.

  • After cleaning, wet another clean cloth with mineral spirits, then start rubbing the finish to remove it. The wax will saturate the cloth as it comes off; therefore, keep folding the rag to expose clean sides as you work. When one fabric gets fully saturated, switch to a clean one. Keep folding and switching cloths until all the finish comes off.
  • You will know that the wax is off wholly when you notice a slight drop in the intensity of the chalk paint color. If the difference is too small to see, run your bare hand over the surface. If you feel the chalk paint texture, the finish has come off, and you can proceed.

If you’re repainting a large surface and feel that rubbing off the wax is too much work, you can sand it off instead. However, sanding is a little tricky; therefore, you must be careful not to harm the chalk paint.

Start with medium-grit sandpaper, then finish with a fine-grit sandpaper. Ensure that you use very little pressure as you sand to only remove the wax without scratching the chalk paint.

Step 2: Clean the Chalk Paint

Bare chalk paint easily attracts dust, stains and develops a chalky appearance as time passes. So cleaning is essential to remove the dirt and stains.

It is also necessary to clean the surface if you use the sanding method to remove the surface wax. Sanding leaves a lot of dust, which will interfere with paint adhesion. Consequently, it will cause your finish to peel off too soon.

  • Mix some Trisodium phosphate (TSP)with warm water, then pour the solution into a spray bottle. 
  • Gently spray the mixture over the chalk paint, then use a lint-free cloth to wipe the surface. Take care not to saturate the surface with too much liquid, or it will take ages to dry. Moreover, if the surface doesn’t dry properly and you paint over it, the color won’t stick.

Note: You can also use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean the surface following the same procedure as TSP.

Step 3: Apply the Paint

After the surface has dried, you can paint the surface with any paint you have. The rough texture of the chalk paint accepts paint readily; therefore, there is no need for sanding before painting.

However, I recommend giving the old coat a slight scuff to make your finish adhere even better.

Note: Priming is not a necessary step when painting over chalk paint, but if the old paint has stains, you must apply primer first. Otherwise, the stains will show through the new finish and ruin it.

You must also check to see if the stains are only on the surface of the chalk paint or they are bleeding through from the surface.

If it is the latter, you must strip the chalk paint back to the bare surface, then prime with a stain-blocking primer before applying your new finish.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Latex Paint?

Yes, you can apply latex paint over chalk paint. Latex paint has excellent adhesive qualities, and since it is also water-based, it will stick on chalk paint without a problem.

However, you must make sure that there is no sealant on the chalk paint before applying the latex paint. Otherwise, the latex paint will slide off the surface as soon as you apply it.

You must also ensure that the new paint color is precisely the same or almost similar to the chalk paint color. The reason is that latex paint is not as thick as chalk paint.

Therefore, if you use a light-colored latex finish over a deep-colored chalk finish, the darker color will show through the new finish. Consequently, your new finish will be compromised, and your work will look unprofessional.

Even if you apply several coats of latex paint, they may not be enough to mask the old color completely. So, if you are using completely contrasting colors, I recommend using a stain-blocking primer over the chalk paint before applying the latex paint.

This way, the old color will not show through, and you won’t have to use too much latex paint to mask the chalk paint color.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Acrylic Paint?

You can spread acrylic paint over chalk paint as long as you slightly sand the chalk paint to make the acrylic adhere better. Acrylic paint is just like chalk paint because it has terrific adhesive qualities; therefore, it sticks to different surfaces without a problem.

Painters sometimes use chalk paint as a base for acrylic paint when they don’t want to use a primer first.

Before painting acrylic over chalk paint, you must first sand the old coat with a fine-grit sandpaper. The main reason for sanding is to knock down bumps and level cracks, and other flaws in the old finish.

You must also clean the chalk finish with isopropyl alcohol to remove dirt and grease. Otherwise, the dirt will interfere with adhesion, and the grease will make it difficult for the acrylic paint to dry correctly.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint Without Sanding?

Whether or not you sand chalk paint before painting over it solely depends on the type of paint you intend to use and whether you sealed the surface with wax.

Acrylic paints or paints with low sheens, such as eggshell paint, will stick to bare chalk paint without sanding. They have almost similar physical attributes; therefore, it will just be like applying a second coat of chalk paint.

On the other hand, shiny products like hi-gloss paints or glossy clear coats like polyurethane tend to slide off surfaces. Therefore, they need more help to stick, even on textured surfaces like chalk paint.

If you want to skip the sanding, you can use a bonding primer before applying these products. The bonding primer will act as a magnet between the chalk paint and the gloss product stopping the new finish from sliding off the surface.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Gloss?

You can use glossy products over chalk paint, whether it’s glossy paint or a clear coat like polyurethane or polycrylic to protect it. Mostly, painters use shiny clear coats over chalk paint to give it a bit of shine, and they adhere very well.

Like all the other paint types, you must first ensure that the chalk paint surface has no wax. Both wax and gloss paints are smooth and shiny. Therefore if you put a gloss over wax, it won’t stick. Instead, it will slide off the surface as soon as you apply it.

The best thing about applying glossy products over chalk paint sealed with wax is that you don’t have to remove the wax completely.

You have to sand the wax lightly to give it a bit of tooth to grab onto the gloss paint. However, use fine-grit sandpaper and very little pressure to avoid leaving deep scratches on the surface as you sand.

The gloss paint may adhere, but it will also highlight the blemishes after it dries, making your finish look amateurish.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Eggshell Paint?

Yes, you can paint over chalk paint with eggshell paint.

Paints with an eggshell finish are not as shiny as gloss paints. They are closer to the matte finish of chalk paint; therefore, they stick to it better.

You need to follow the same procedure you use when painting over any paint – clean the surface, sand it a little, and then apply the new paint.

As we know, chalk paint has a beautiful matte finish, but it is not as durable as other types of paint. On the other hand, Eggshell paint has a very low sheen, but it doesn’t stray too far from the matte effect.

Furthermore, its shininess makes it more durable than products with a matte finish – in this case, chalk paint. Therefore painters often use eggshell paints over flat products to boost their strength without compromising their desired taste for a matte finish.

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint With Satin Paint?

Yes, you can use satin paint over chalk paint whenever you want a finish that reflects some light but is still soft enough to avoid the glaring shine of a pure gloss. Satin paints are easier to maintain and will hold up well on high-traffic pieces like countertops and kitchen cabinets.

Nevertheless, satin paints require more surface prep work. Since they reflect more light, they tend to highlight surface flaws that the matte chalk paint may have hidden.

You must ensure that the old chalk paint coat is leveled and has no chips or cracks. You also must ensure that the surface beneath the chalk paint has no imperfections before applying the satin paint.

Before applying satin paint over chalk paint, use fine-grit sandpaper to level any scratches on the old paint film. However, remember that sanding will only work if there are a few scratches, but the paint coat is still fully intact.

If the paint is peeling anywhere, the only remedy is to strip the chalk paint and prepare the surface again before applying the new paint. The same conditions apply if you notice that the surface beneath the paint has flaws that need fixing.

How Do You Fix Brush Strokes In Chalk Paint?

Image of painted wood but What Is Wood Painting?It is common to notice brushstrokes on chalk paint, especially after it dries. They usually stem from using amateur application techniques, using the wrong painting tools, or a combination of both.

Before we discuss how to fix them, let’s first look at how they occur and the best way to avoid them.

  • One of the biggest causes of brushstrokes is applying thick coats of paint. Chalk paint is naturally thick; therefore, if you pick up too much product with your brush, it will be harder to spread, and it will increase the chances of producing a streaky finish. 

It is usually hard to spot brushstrokes on a thick coat of chalk paint, but the problem reveals itself once the finish dries. You can easily avoid this problem by thinning your chalk paints before use.

If you don’t want to thin the whole product, you can dip your paintbrush in water occasionally as you work.

  • The other mistake – usually made by beginners – is applying the paint with too much pressure. When you press your brush too hard, the bristles will flare out and create dents in the paint coat. These dents will show up as brushstrokes after the finish dries.
  • The final mistake is using the wrong paintbrush to apply the chalk paint. Chalk paint is a water-based product; therefore, the best brushes to use are synthetic paintbrushes. These brushes are flexible, and they maintain their shape throughout the project. If you use natural-bristled brushes, the animal hairs will soak up a lot of paint, leaving thick coats that are prone to brushstrokes. Moreover, natural bristles brushes tend to bunch up when dipped in water-based products; therefore, they won’t produce a smooth finish.

Rectifying the above problems is pretty straightforward, but what if your finish has already dried with brushstrokes? How do you fix brushstrokes in chalk paint?

You can fix brushstrokes in chalk paint by sanding them down with fine-grit sandpaper. The brushstrokes are minor horizontal dents on the paint coat, so sanding will level them, leaving you with a smooth surface.

After sanding, you can carefully apply a final coat of chalk paint or seal the paint with wax. Follow the procedure below to remove brushstrokes successfully.

  • Start by wearing a dust mask to keep you from inhaling the large amounts of dust produced when sanding chalk paint. 
  • Next, fix a 220-grit sandpaper sheet to an electrical sander, then sand down the flaws. Start working from the lower side of your piece, moving up, and ensure that you drag the sander in circular motions to create an even surface. If you don’t own an electrical sander or don’t know how to use one, use a sanding block instead. Wrap your sandpaper sheet around the block, then sand as usual.
  • Run your bare hand over the sanded areas to feel its smoothness after every pass. Keep scuffing the surface until all the marks fade, and the whole finish feels silky. Afterward, vacuum the entire piece to get rid of sanding dust.
  • Finally, use a damp (not wet) cloth to wipe the paint coat carefully, removing any remaining paint dust.


Chalk paint is a versatile product that produces terrific aged finishes, especially on furniture. It has beautiful colors, and you can customize your finish anyhow you like to suit your decor style.

As beautiful as it is, chalk paint is not as durable as most paints; therefore, you must seal it with wax to maintain its luster. However, even the polish doesn’t last forever, so you have to rewax your pieces every few years to maintain the finish.

This constant maintenance is what dissuades most painters from using chalk paint. But what if you have already used chalk paint and want to spruce up your pieces?

Can You Paint Over Chalk Paint?

You can paint over chalk paint as long as you remove the wax seal to improve the new paint. Naturally, chalk paint has a porous textured surface, so any type of paint can stick to it without sanding or priming.

Latex and acrylic paints are the best products to spread over chalk paint because they are all water-based and have similar adhering capabilities. You can also use gloss and satin paints, provided you sand the surface a little to boost adhesion.

Even though painting over chalk paint requires no prep, there are some situations where you must use a primer to produce the best results.

You may have to prime the surface if the old chalk paint has some stains or if you are coating over a dark color with a lighter shade. This will prevent the old color from showing through the new finish and ruining your work.

I hope this article clarifies everything you need to know about painting over chalk paint. If you have questions or more information to share with us, please reach out in the comments section below.