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Why use chalk paint vs regular paint

If you are a DIY enthusiast looking to upgrade an antique piece, or you simply want to makeover furniture that no longer suits your style, using chalk paint vs. regular paint is one of your first decisions. Chalk paint is often reserved for rustic styles, but it is pretty versatile and can fit modern and contemporary aesthetics in the right circumstances. With a flat matte look, this paint introduces a dose of texture to the space. However, there is more to chalk paint than just a finish preference.

Whether you want to flip that worn dresser, vanity, or cabinet, chalk paint comes with many advantages, and a handful of disadvantages, too In this post, we guide you through the pros of using chalk and regular paint!

A chalk-painted dresser in progress!

Why use chalk paint vs. regular paint

Chalk paint is a special type of decorative paint that gives a matte and chalky finish. Therefore, it is commonly used to give the furniture a rustic makeover. At the same time, it’s also incredibly simply to use, because it doesn’t require you to sand or prime furniture first. With so many advantages, chalk paint is a go-to choice for both newbies and experienced DIYers wanting to flip their old furniture.

What is the main difference between chalk paint and regular paint?

A bed painted with latex paint for a glossy look

Chalk paint is known for its distinctive matte finish and the simple application process that requires no prep. It contains minerals and is specially designed to grip onto various surfaces without sanding or applying a primer.

On the other hand, regular paint comes with variety of finishes, like satin or high-gloss. Both latex and acrylic paint aren’t as porous and need sanding and a primer to stick on smooth surfaces.

However, regular paint might not be the ideal fit for your project. The prepping process includes sanding and stripping, which are pretty time-intensive and abrasive methods. If you work with fine pieces, the chemicals and sanding process might damage its surface. Therefore, chalk paint can be an ideal choice when working with fragile antiques.

Here are some of the biggest advantages of chalk paint.

1. Less prep work

Beginner DIYers find chalk paint so easy to work with. With regular paint, you need to undergo a lengthy prep work process. From filling the cracks, sanding, and applying a primer, there are many steps to complete before applying the first coat of paint.

With chalk paint, the process is straightforward. All you need to do is ensure the surface is clean and dry. If there is paint already, you are free to apply the layer over it. You won’t need to strip the previous paint to update the piece with a fresh one. First, you need to remove the hardware and set it aside. Then, use a damp cloth and a mild cleaning product to remove the dust and grime.

Vintage finds often come with fine details that give the piece its charm. Therefore, making sure the paint covers the tiniest corners and nooks is crucial. The application of chalk paint is simple, and you don’t need to worry about the small cracks and crevices as the consistency will make the process relatively easy.

2. Easy cleanup

After painting with regular paint, you are left with a huge mess. With chalk paint being water-based, you can wash the tools and clean the mess using water and soap. The consistency doesn’t let the paint drip. Even if it does, you can clean the drops easily. Chalk paint doesn’t contain volatile organic compounds, so it won’t release unpleasant smells.

3. No topcoat

Regular paint requires a top coat to have a durable finish. While chalk paint doesn’t need a top coat, it does need a sealant. Even though chalk paint isn’t prone to chipping, it is porous and might soak up spills. Therefore, it might be better to apply a top coat to ensure the lovely color stays intact.

4. Matte look

If you are keen on the flat matte look, chalk paint will achieve the desired results. Whether you are after a shabby-chic look or want to add the modern minimalist vibe, the matte finish can fit your style to perfection.

5. Distressing

A distressed finish will add texture to the piece. This simple step will add character to your furniture if you love farmhouse or shabby chic style. With latex paint, distressing can be challenging. If you want to achieve the worn look, you might end up with peeling instead of the natural distressed finish. With chalk paint, achieving a worn finish is too simple. You can easily distress the chalk paint using a wet towel for a natural look that mimics the natural deterioration process.

6. Chalk paint has lots of uses

The lack of prep and easy application make chalk paint the ideal choice for any furniture flipping project. Thanks to its consistency, the paint can perfectly adhere to wood, glass, metal, and fabric. Therefore, you have more flexibility with chalk paint.

If you want to add your own signature touch to the furniture, you have plenty of options with chalk paint other than a distressed finish. We already mentioned that the paint is quite porous, and this feature is ideal if you want to show off your creativity and add an artistic touch to your furniture. If you’re going to layer colors, the porous nature of chalk paint will allow easy blending. The result is a unique finish that you can’t replicate with any other paint. Regular paint won’t blend with different colors nicely, so you won’t achieve the look you want.

Even though the paint has a dull finish, it doesn’t have to mean that you should stick with the matte look if it isn’t your preference. You might like the easy application that chalk paint offers, but you might not be keen on the flat look. In this case, you can opt for wax as a sealant. With buffing, you can attain a moderate sheen. You won’t achieve a completely satin finish, but the wax is an excellent choice if the chalky finish appears too flat for your taste.

What are the pros and cons of chalk paint?

Chalk paint doesn’t require a primer, a major advantage

Chalk paint is easy to work with, even for beginners. In most cases, you won’t have to prep and prime, so the process is straightforward and fast. Since chalk paint is water-based, you can easily clean the tools with water and soap. Also, it gives furniture a nice matte finish, ideal for a wide array of styles.

However, chalk paint comes with cons too.

For one, chalk paint comes with a higher price tag, so be ready to pay more if you prefer the matte look and convenience. It also comes in fewer paint colors, so if you want a custom color, like Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray to match your walls, for example, you won’t be able to match it perfectly.

Also, some furniture requires prep work no matter what, so if you’re choosing chalk paint because you’re hoping to skip on out the sanding and primer, make sure your piece is the right candidate. Older pieces that have staining, especially if the stain is oil based, will need to be sanded and primed so the stain doesn’t bleed through the chalk paint.

Finally, if you plan to finish your chalk paint project with a wax or polyurethane, know that either can deepen the color of your chalk paint, which can change the look of a piece.

It is better to paint furniture with chalk paint or regular paint

Whether you are a beginner in painting or prefer the convenient process, chalk paint is excellent for furniture. The best part, like we mentioned, is that chalk paint requires little to no prep work. It can grip onto smooth surfaces, so there is no need for a primer. Whether you want to add charm to your old dresser, wardrobe, or dining table, the matte finish will suit your needs.

However, if you want an extra durable finish for your chalk-painted project, you need to apply a topcoat.

Chalk paint is more saturated than latex paint so you will achieve the desired look within one to two coats. Latex paint doesn’t have the opacity, and achieving full coverage is somewhat tricky. Thanks to its composition, chalk paint tends to be less susceptible to temperature changes and doesn’t chip. On the other hand, latex paint can chip or crack when exposed to extreme temperatures.