Furniture Painting

How To Paint Furniture That has Previously Been Painted Using Chalk Paint

Today we get to finally start talking about the actual painting process. We will visit our first medium for painting furniture which will be chalk paint. This introduction to furniture painting course started several weeks back. If you are just jumping in be sure to check out the HUB post for this series. It will give you access to all previously mentioned topics videos and posts. It will also lay the foundation and steps needed to take before jumping into chalk paint. Making over furniture with chalk paint can be so fun! But you want to make sure you take the right steps so you don’t end up with a piece of furniture you are not happy with. I’ve also shared my favorite tools and products needed for this series so be sure to check out that list!

Please note that this posts contains affiliate links.

How To Paint Furniture With Chalk Paint

Even though this particular post will discuss painting furniture that was previously painted. The steps I am sharing today to paint this piece of furniture are nearly identical to how I’d approach painting any piece of furniture with chalk paint.

Let me first tell you why I love chalk paint, and when and why I choose it as the right paint for a project. I have used both milk paint and chalk paint to make over furniture. While the different types of paint are always consistent and each are uniquely beautiful. The types of furniture, the finish and how they accept the paint are different. For that reason, I don’t always pick milk paint or chalk paint for each piece of furniture.

When To Use Chalk Paint:

  • If I want a full coverage finish
  • When I want a more modern look or feel to my piece of furniture
  • If I want a vintage or distressed look but with more control with how the paint distresses and chips
  • When I am painting a piece that was previously painted
  • If the piece of furniture has a high shine or glossy finish or texture
  • When the piece of furniture is not completely made of wood
  • If I were new to furniture painting and never made over furniture before
  • ANYTIME I want to beautifully make over any piece of furniture with paint!

If any of the above mentioned reasons apply to you and your unique piece of furniture than you know chalk paint will work well for your project!

Really chalk paint is always a great option for painting furniture. Milk Paint however can be a bit finicky and for that reason I don’t always recommend it as the right medium for painting all types of furniture.

How to Begin Painting Your Furniture With Chalk Paint

lets go ahead and dive into the chalk painting process! At this point I am assuming you have the right tools. Paint is on hand, and? you have properly prepped your furniture as outlined in the posts prior. Once you have you’re ready to begin.

What Chalk Paint To Use

in a future post Ill talk more about different types of chalk paint. I am using Amy Howards At Home line of chalk paint for this project. After using many different brands of paint this is easily my favorite and I would highly recommend it. You can find it most Ace Hardware Stores. Its also available online from some retailers as well. The color I’m using is a dark gray called “A Good Man is Hard to Find”.

Mix Your Can of Paint

how to paint furniture using chalk paint

This may seem like an obvious or even a frivolous step but its crucial. If you don’t properly mix your can of paint you’re starting off on the wrong foot.

Paint that hasn’t been mixed right can be:

  • streaky
  • translucent
  • discolored

This is very easily remedied by mixing.

Simply use a wood stirring stick to really blend and mix the paint together. Take special care to really scrape the bottom of the can and pull the thicker paint that has settled back to the top. The goal is to make it so the entire can of paint is one color and the texture and thickness is consistent.?

I would caution against shaking to mix your paint. You will get bubbles and its harder to mix well this way. A paint stick helps you see if the paint is properly mixed.

Generally chalk paint is produced by the manufacture than shipped to the store. That means it has sat for? while on a shelf. Unlike when you go to a home improvement store and the paint is mixed right then and there. This just means that you’ll need to make sure to mix it before you start painting!

Where to Begin

Start at the top of your piece of furniture and work your way down. I suggest this because its easy to drip and splash paint as you go. Even if you’re careful and experienced. If you start from the top and work down, you will have a better chance of catching those drips and splatters before they dry. Giving you a chance to smooth them out.

Use a Foam Roller

Whenever I paint with chalk paint I start with my foam roller. I love foam rollers for the following reasons:

  • Great coverage
  • Consistent coverage
  • Smoother application than a paint brush
  • Takes less time to paint

Pour a generous amount of chalk paint into your paint pan. Roll your foam roller into the paint completely covering the roller. Take care not to get paint on the metal part of the roller device. Roll off the excess paint on the bottom of your paint pan. For this reason I like to use a paint pan. Its easy to roll off the excess paint and make sure it doesn’t turn your project into a sloppy mess.

Start Painting!

Starting at the top of your piece on a flat surface begin painting. Hold your paint roller firmly pressing down hard enough so that the roller has traction on the wood to actually roll. But not hard enough that it can’t roll and instead drags along the surface. As you roll don’t be too worried about some of the roller lines. Just smoothly roll over the surface up and down, until you work those away. Roller lines can also be minimized by rolling off the excess paint into your paint pan.

Paint with the grain of your furniture’s wood not against it. Paint starting from one edge and slowly roll your way to the edge parallel. Keeping the paint application consistent and smooth as you go. Try not to make too long of strokes, just long enough so that you can easily extend your arm all the way and then back. You may need to switch to the other side of the piece of furniture if it is too long to cover in one arms length.


The First Coat of Paint

Your first coat of paint with just the roller typically will not be full coverage. Do a single even layer of paint with your roller and don’t worry about the inside edges corners and details that your paint roller cannot reach. Once you have used the roller you will go back and touchup the details with your paint brush.

If your paint roller seems to be splashing paint as you roll it, that is a sign that its too full of paint. Simply roll some off in your paint pan.

To save time, simply paint all the large flat areas first then go and do the smaller areas. I like to do the top, then sides, then drawer fronts, then the smaller areas between drawers etc.

Using Your Paint Brush to Apply Chalk Paint

Once I have covered as much as I can in chalk paint using my foam roller its time for a paint brush. I am picky about what brushes I use on furntirue. For more on that visit this post.

Simply dip your paint brush until the bottom half of the bristles are saturated in paint. Begin once again at the top and start touching up all the details and areas the roller missed.

Continue to paint with the wood grain and make sure not to use to much paint. If you do there will be a line that forms between where you rolled your paint on and where you painted your paint on. The goal is to seamlessly match the paint brush strokes in with the roller strokes.

Tip: Use a dry paint brush to quickly fix drips and remove paint where it has pooled in the corners.

I like to keep my roller on hand as I use my paint brush. I’ll use my brush to fill in the details and then quickly roll over the areas the roller can reach. This makes it so that the paint all has the same consistency throughout.

What to do When Particles Get Into Your Wet Paint

This can be an issue especially if you paint outside. If something like lint or a small speck of dirt or plant flys onto your furntirue while the paint is wet. I simply pick I it out with my finger. I then use my roller and lightly pounce the tip over the area. Then roll paint on the area back and forth until its completely blended away.

If you’re noticing that the bristles of your paint brush are falling off into your paint and onto your furniture chances are you need a better brush like the one I talk about HERE.

Painted Edges with Chalk Paint

Take special note of the edges of your furniture as you paint. Its very easy for the paint to build up and pool over the edges as you paint them. To avoid this simply put less pressure on your roller. Lightly roll over the opposite edge if the paint happens to bleed over to the other side. Keep checking all sides of the edge as you paint and you will either catch or avoid the paint drying poorly is it has pooled or dripped.

Take the Drawers out Or Leave Them In

For me this depends on the type of furniture and its appearance. For the one in this post I obviously left the drawers in. I choose to do that because the dresser is mostly flat and simplistic. On a more detailed or curvy piece of furniture I would definitely take the drawers out. You will see me do so in future videos. If you plan to paint over the hardware I would suggest pulling the drawers out to paint as well. Something detailed like handles and knobs are more likely to drip. If you pull the drawers out so the faces of the drawers are towards the ceiling you will have less dripping.

Using your Roller on Detailed Areas

While I typically use my paintbrush for all detailed areas, a roller can come in handy too. In this particular area of the dresser I just dragged the tip of my roller along the molding to get into the small details. I then took care to roll back over them as I normally wood so the consistency stayed the same.

Painting Your Second and Subsequent Coats of Chalk Paint

The first order of business to be sure of before painting subsequent coats is simple. The first coat must be completely dry. This means that the paint is no loner cold to the touch but room temperature before you proceed.

Using a foam sanding block in a medium or fine grit you can then prep for the next coat(s)

Prepping Between Coats

I then use my foam sanding block and sand the entire piece of furniture this will further smooth out your piece. Doing this step will give you the most high quality results. Stains and rough or uneven texture can also be resolved in this step.

This step is just to smooth things out not to remove any paint to distress. Once you have finished sanding simply brush all the dust away. The apply your next coat just as you did the first.

The good news is that the next coats typically go on much faster. The first coat is the most time consuming and tedious.

What To Do When The Paint Won’t Cover?

This a particular problem if you are painting over a piece of furniture that was previously painted.


You can see here that I ran into this problem. The cream milk paint it was first painted in was poking through the dark gray chalk paint. You can easily fix this by doing the following:

How Many Coats are Enough?

The following things can help determine if you have enough coats to stop painting

  • Full opaque coverage
  • No brush or roller stokes are visible
  • The entire dresser has the same coverage of paint throughout
  • No areas that are darker or lighter its all the same shade

Once you have these results you are done painting! I hope this post and the video are detailed enough to give you the information you need to get really beautiful results on your furniture! Its such a rewarding process to see your furniture be transformed through your own hard work!

Next week we will talk all about top coats and how I applied the one I choose for this dresser! A great option if you need a tough coat that is water resistant and kid proof!

XO Haley


8 Comments on “How To Paint Furniture That has Previously Been Painted Using Chalk Paint

  1. Hi
    I want to thank you for this “most detailed” article!!! GOD knows how many webs and videos i have seen but NO ONE went through details the way you did, really you covered the whole project without missing any even tiny detail, matters one really face when painting! Especially about edges, drawers, etc…
    It is very rare that i write massages but with you i had to thank you.
    Thank you so much. My best wishes. Maha

  2. Hi! This is so helpful. The best and most helpful page I have seen!

    I am new to chalk paint and am wanting to paint some wooden chairs with chalk paint. On the legs of the wooden chairs and the back, they are already painted this horrible green color!

    Based on your dresser, I assume all I would need to do is just sand the already painted parts just to get a smooth finish and then I can just paint over it with the chalk paint? Do I need to completely strip off the paint before I use the chalk paint? I’m wondering because we bought a paint stripper but would love to skip this step and just do a quick sand to get it smooth and then paint away!

    Thank you!

  3. Hi! I am getting ready to chalk paint a dresser and I started by doing the wooden knobs. This piece hasn’t been painted before. After painting the first coat it is cracking. I know people love this look and I do but not on this particular piece. Is there a way to fix this? I tried to do a second coat but it still is crackled. Any tips that might help? Thanks!

  4. Hi, thank you very much for the detailed explanation! I have never done DIY in my life, but I have been thinking to makeover my china cabinet for a while.. The cabinet is second-handed and the previous owner has already painted that cabinet with a chalk paint in gray. I would like to change the color of the calk paint to white, but I don’t know if I can paint white chalk paint over the gray chalk paint.. I would like to know your professional opinion about this. Thank you!

  5. A lady painted my Hoosier cabinet with chalk paint by mistake.I wanted a satin or eggshell finish, not flat. To correct it she sprayed a fine coat of clear finish on it which did not help at all. In order for me to get a smooth coat can I use min wax & if so could I apply it with pieces of nylon stockings or what kind of brush. I don’t want to start using it till I get my finish on. She even put chalk paint on the hardware. How do I get that off? She suggested paint thinner. Sorry so long.

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