How to Use Chalk Style Paint with a Paint Sprayer

Chalk paint is an amazing product especially in the furniture refinishing world. It goes on smooth and dries even smoother! Even though it’s easy to apply with a brush for a smooth finish, every now and then you might want to use it in a sprayer. The question is, how do you use chalk paint (chalky style paint) with a paint sprayer?

How to Use Chalk Style Paint with a Paint Sprayer

A while ago I decided to give a can of chalk spray paint a try with a faux wood bookcase makeover. It turned out great but it was also very costly because that little can of chalky style spray paint did not go very far.

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If you’ve ever used chalk paint you know that one thing it is known for is it lasts forever! You should be able to paint a handful of furniture pieces with it!

This is not the case with chalk spray paint in the can.

The bookcase above took 2 cans of Rust-Oleum spray paint to cover it. At $7-$8 a can, that can add up!

That’s when I realized that the best option to “spray chalk paint” is to use chalk paint in a paint sprayer and not in a can.

To answer my question;

Can you spray chalk paint in a paint sprayer?


There are a few things you need to know before attempting to spray paint anything with chalk paint through a paint sprayer.

I’m currently working on refinishing a few cane back chairs. I would normally use a brush to apply the paint, but I needed to ensure a smooth and even finish on the cane. I knew the best way to do this was with a paint sprayer.

My paint sprayer of choice for this project is the Home Right Finish Max paint sprayer. It’s very affordable and easy to use.

I used this paint sprayer when I painted my laminate kitchen cabinets and it worked beautifully.

Before I dive into the how to’s of this project, know that you always need to follow the directions on the can of paint you are using.

I’ve never seen a chalk style paint that can’t be used in a paint sprayer. That being said, always consult the brand to make sure it’s ok. Also, each paint sprayer will come with its own directions about thinning the product to be used in a paint sprayer.

For this post I will be referencing Rust-Oleum’s chalk paint with the Home Right paint sprayer.

Note; since chalky style paint is water based, we will be thinning the paint with water.

Just a little FYI while I’m on the subject; you can’t thin oil based paint with water because water and oil don’t mix. Don’t try this method with oil based paints!


How to use chalk style paint with a paint sprayer;

  • Prepare the surface by cleaning it and sanding if necessary.
  • Reference your chalky style paint to make sure it can be used in a paint sprayer.
  • Thin the paint with water so it will flow well in the paint sprayer. Each sprayer will come with its own directions on how to do this.
  • Make sure to stir the paint/water solution really well.
  • Start spraying your surface with light and even strokes until you get the desired finish. It might take a few coats. Make sure each coat is dry before applying a new one.
  • Apply a sealer or wax.

Let me share a few of my in process pictures of how I used chalk paint to spray paint these cane chairs.

This is one of my favorite chalky style paints.

The first thing I did was grab the paint sprayer to see how to thin the paint.

how to use chalk paint in a sprayer

My paint sprayer came with this little cup that “tests” how to thin your paint. You dip the cup in the paint and check how long it takes the paint to “run out” of the cup. They included a handy little chart to help you thin your paint accordingly.

how to use chalk paint in a sprayer

I’ll be honest, this was trial and error for me.

I added a little water, then tested the run out time. It took me adding water twice to get the desired viscosity.

how to spray paint chalk paint

Now the paint was thinned according to the sprayer’s instructions and it was time to spray!

One thing to note; make sure once you’ve added water to stir it really well. If you don’t, the paint won’t spray with a consistent viscosity and it won’t look right.

I adjusted the paint sprayer nozzle to make horizontal sprays.

I held the sprayer about 6 inches from the chair and used smooth and even strokes.

I tried to overlap the strokes about 1/3 of the spray pattern, as the paint sprayer suggested.

how to spray chalk paint

It took two coats of paint to get the desired look!

I think they turned out well.

how to use a paint sprayer with chalk paint

Can you use chalk paint sealer in a paint sprayer?

In my opinion, I would not use chalk paint sealer in a paint sprayer. There are certain sealers that DO say they can be used in a sprayer, but the recommended way to apply chalk paint sealer is with a brush.

That being said, if you do use a sealer in the paint sprayer, you need to run mineral spirits or a good cleaner (other than water) through the sprayer.

How to Use Chalk Style Paint with a Paint Sprayer

I think this is my new favorite method for applying chalk paint. Not only is it super smooth, but it looks like a factory finish!

Now off to add a sealer. For those that are wondering, chalk paint ALWAYS requires a sealer.

I’ll share more of this cane back chair makeover when I’m done!


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