How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last

Everyone knows that one of the easiest types of paint to refinish furniture with is chalk paint or chalky style paint. I love chalk paint. It’s so easy to work with, and it’s also so forgiving. The biggest question is does it withstand a lot of traffic, toddlers, dinners, kid snacks, and basically life? If I wax the table top will it withstand the abuse of the daily routine? There are so many questions that you need to consider when preparing a surface like a table top. Does a chalk painted table top hold up well? Let me show you how I used chalk paint to refinish my moms table top and how I sealed it. Spoiler alert; I didn’t use wax.

Let me show you the table BEFORE I added any chalk paint to it.

The first thing my mom asked me before she decided to paint the top was,

“Can I paint over Stained or varnished Wood without sanding?”

YES! The key here is finding the right type of paint to use like chalk paint or chalky style paint.

I’m no stranger to using chalk paint to refinish a dining room table. As a matter of fact I’ve chalk painted many furniture pieces over the years. I chalk painted an antique desk and here I refurbished a bookcase with chalky spray paint.

That being said, I feel like I’ve had enough experiences (and made enough mistakes, LOL) to learn what works when it comes to chalk painting a high traffic surface.

Before I dive into “how”, you need to know “what” you are painting.

Even though chalk paint and milk paint is said to cover any surface, I would still do things a little differently if this wasn’t a solid piece of wood furniture.

Let’s discuss this lovely table;

This is a beautiful old Pennsylvania House Queen Anne Cherry table that had seen better days. My mom loved the look of the wood, and everything still looked ok but the table top.

Her decor style is more of a British colonial style with pops of vibrant colors.

The color palette in her home consists of mainly black, cherry wood and cream.

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How to use chalk paint on a table top and make it last

We decided to use Valspar Chalky Finish paint mixed in a black color. She wanted a two toned table with a black top.

I won’t go into all the details on HOW TO CHALK PAINT a piece of furniture because I’ve already detailed a post that you can check out below.

how to use chalk paint

You can see in the BEFORE picture that mom had already taken blue painters tape and wrapped the edges with it.

How to chalk paint a table top to last;

  1. Prep the surface by cleaning it real well with a lint free brush and sanding with a fine grit sandpaper.
  2. Apply the painters tape around the edges if needed
  3. Use a bristle brush or round brush to apply the chalk paint
  4. Sand in between the coats to ensure a smooth finish
  5. Make sure you clean the dust after you sand each coat
  6. Apply a top coat once the desired finish is achieved with chalk paint

A few notes about how to create a lasting finish for this chalk painted table;

  • We used a bristle brush to apply the chalk paint. If you are painting the entire table and would prefer to use a paint sprayer, I’ve got a post detailing how to use a paint sprayer to apply chalk paint.
  • I used a fine grit sanding block to sand in between the paint coats
  • The most important part about creating a durable finish on top of chalk paint is the top coat. Keep reading for more details.

This is what the table looked like after the second coat of paint (the paint is still a little wet FYI).

After the two coats of black chalk paint were dry, I did a little sanding.

The trick to creating a durable chalk paint finish on a table top is a good top coat.

I said before I wasn’t going to use wax. In my opinion, wax does well for sealing chalk paint (which is it’s sole purpose) but not necessarily for repelling water or holding up to high traffic.

I’ve written an entire post with lots of sources and products on how to seal furniture for a high traffic surface.

how to seal furniture for high traffic

How do you seal chalk painted furniture for a durable finish?

This is where I opted to use a Polycrylic sealer from Minwax instead of wax. This is my go to sealer for a more durable finish.

Here is where I ran into some issues.

Not all my projects are cupcakes and rainbows and I always try to be real with y’all. 🙁

Let me show you what happened after I applied the first coat.

This wasn’t a new can of sealer. Apparently it crystalized at some point and this is what it looked like after it dried.

Ugh, I should have thrown that can away before I used it. Note to self (and all my furniture flipping friends); if the can doesn’t have an absolute seal on it, throw it away!

Back to the drawing board….or should I say sanding board.

We sanded it down with an electric sander down to the layer of black chalk paint.

Finally looking better! Now it’s time to add a coat of NEW sealer.

We added two coats of sealer and decided to stop there. I always suggest at least two coats for a table top or surface that gets a lot of traffic.

Ready to see this beautiful Queen Anne Table finished with chalk paint?

How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last
How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last
How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last
How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last

I think the chalk painted table top really blends well with her decor style.

As I always say, a little paint can transform any surface!

If you enjoyed this post I would love for you to share it to Pinterest.

How to Chalk Paint a Table Top to Last

If you enjoyed this post you might like a few other posts below:


chalk painted kitchen table


antique coastal dresser makeover

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