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May 23, 2024

The 10 Best Chalk Paints of 2024

It’s no secret that paint can transform your space, but the prep work involved can certainly be daunting. After all, taping, sanding, and priming takes time! If you’re looking for a paint that cuts down on prep work, but still delivers quality coverage, look no further than chalk paint.

“Chalk paint is a water-based decorative paint used to improve and transform your furniture, cabinets, and more,” says Brian Shaunfield, a Charlotte-area Lowe’s store manager. “It is easy for DIYers, requiring little to no prep time. Chalk paint is also durable with a thick consistency, which creates a smooth, matte finish.”

We spoke with Shaunfield to learn more about chalk paints, and after reviewing hundreds of options, we found picks to fit every project and budget.

What We Researched

  • Prep Work: We covered the bases by researching each paint to see if it required any sanding, stripping, or priming. Knowing if these types of additional steps are needed provides a better idea of how long the project would take to finish.
  • Dry Time: Although many chalk paints dry pretty quickly, not all do. We looked at how quickly each paint dried and how long you’d have to wait before adding a second coat.
  • Color Selection: The tone and color make a statement, so we researched and found the colors available in each brand to ensure that there is a wide variety to cover your household design styles and preferences.

Key Terms to Know

  • Acrylic Paint: This type of paint is strong and durable and tends to retain its color. It is a water-based paint and can be cleaned off hands and objects with warm, soapy water.
  • Matte Finish: This type of paint finish is flat, with very little gloss or shine, and is usually quick and easy to apply.
  • Primer: This is a paint that is put on as a base before putting on the actual paint in the desired color. It covers up any stains or imperfections in the walls and helps to conceal the previous color of paint, ensuring a better and seamless application.
  • VOCs: This stands for volatile organic compounds, which are human-made chemicals that are typically gases and other air pollutants emitted from paints, pharmaceuticals, and more.


Why You Should Get It: The one-step application means you won’t have to worry about prep work.

Keep In Mind: The price per ounce is higher than other chalk paints on the market.

The best chalk paint needs all the top qualities chalk paint has to offer—a quick dry time, little to no prep work, and easy cleanup. The One Step Paint by Amy Howard At Home fits that bill.

This pick comes in 54 color options, so it’s great if you’re looking for a very specific shade. The all-in-one formula means you can skip stripping, sanding, and priming, saving you valuable time and energy. It’s compatible with most surfaces including wood, glass, concrete, and stone. It’s also durable enough to withstand the outdoor elements for use on patio furniture and decor.

While the total price tag seems to be in line with others on our list, the price per ounce is a bit higher than other options. This shouldn’t be a problem for small projects, but if you’re covering a large surface, you may need to purchase a few cans.

Product Details: Size: 32 ounces | Number of Colors: 54 | Dry Time: 20 minutes | Primer Required: No

Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint


Why You Should Get It: This is an affordable acrylic paint with a chalk-like finish, giving you the desired look on a budget.

Keep In Mind: It’s only meant to be used indoors.

If you’re wanting the chalk paint look on a budget, consider an acrylic paint with a chalk finish like the Waverly Inspirations Mineral Chalk Paint. This pick comes in an 8-ounce container, making it the perfect size for small furniture pieces or crafting. It’s available in almost 30 hues, most being bright statement colors. 

Though this is technically an acrylic paint, it has similarities to the best chalk paints available—including durability, a matte finish, and fade-resistant properties. 

This pick is intended for indoor projects and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and terra cotta. The chalk finish means this pick can be cleaned with just soap and water. If you love the antique look of chalk paint, Waverly Inspirations paint can be layered to achieve a distressed and vintage look.

Product Details: Size: 8 ounces | Number of Colors: 27 | Dry Time: Not listed | Primer Required: No

Retique It by Renaissance Chalk Finish Furniture Paint


Why You Should Get It: This pick has virtually no scent and is low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Keep In Mind: More than one coat may be needed to reach desired results.

The Renaissance Furniture Chalk Paint by Retique is hypoallergenic and has virtually no smell. It’s also low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are chemicals often found in paint that can cause air quality problems.

No prep work is required, however, you may need to apply multiple coats to reach your desired color and finish. The paint dries within 30 minutes to a silky finish. For a distressed look, Shaunfield advises dry-brushing a secondary color on top to add depth.

It’s also fit for both indoor and outdoor projects; if you’re using this paint outside, be sure to finish with a clear wax topcoat to seal and protect the paint. DIYers with small projects can also enjoy this high-end chalk paint, as there are smaller sizes available.

Product Details: Size: 1 gallon | Number of Colors: 43 | Dry Time: 30 minutes | Primer Required: No

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan

Why You Should Get It: This formula works beautifully on a variety of more challenging materials such as concrete, glass, and fabric.

Keep In Mind: Annie Sloan paints are not widely available at major retailers.

Annie Sloan, the originator of chalk paint, offers a beautiful array of colors, from the ’60s-inspired Barcelona Orange to the rich, dark Athenian Black. In total, the brand’s chalk paint comes in 43 colors. While we’ve come across other picks with an even wider selection, each option in the Annie Sloan range is vivid, distinctive, and stylish.

Formula-wise, Annie Sloan is also tough to beat. You can apply these paints to just about any surface type including wood, metal, laminate, and concrete. Beyond that, you can even use it on glass and fabric. It can also be applied to outdoor furniture, walls, and decor. We particularly love it for walls that need breathable paint, such as in historic homes, because of this chalk paint’s great coverage (about 13 square feet per quart) and the lack of fuss required to get that gorgeous, velvety chalk finish.

Like many of the best chalk paints, Annie Sloan paint requires little to no prep time (don’t worry about sanding or priming your surface). You can customize the look by adding water to thin it into a wash or top it off with the brand’s Chalk Paint Wax to protect your paint job and deepen the color. While many colors can be ordered online directly from the manufacturer, Annie Sloan is not as widely available as other brands on our list.

Product Details: Size: 1 Quart | Number of Colors: 43 | Dry Time: 1-2 hours | Primer Required: No

Rust-Oleum Milk Paint Finish


Why You Should Get It: It dries within 30 minutes and is ready for a second coat (if desired) in two hours.

Keep In Mind: There are only six color options available.

The best chalk paint will save you time during the drying process, and the Rust-Oleum dries down in just 30 minutes. If you want a rich color, you can apply a second coat within two hours. The water-based formula means this pick is easily cleaned with soap and water, which is great for high-contact pieces.

“Chalk paint is great for painting furniture and cabinets because it requires fewer coats of paint, less dry time, and enhances imperfections,” Shaunfield says.

The lightly textured finish will give a subtle antique look to your furniture. It’s available in six colors, most of which are neutral, classic shades. If you’re wanting a bold look, keep in mind that the only colorful shades for this pick are light blue and muted yellow.

Product Details: Size: 1 Quart | Number of Colors: Six | Dry Time: 30 minutes; two hour recoat time | Primer Required: No

Krylon Chalky Finish Paint


Why You Should Get It: It has a brief one hour recoat dry time. 

Keep In Mind: Sanding and priming is recommended, especially for covering dark surfaces.

Painting cabinets is a major project, so picking the right chalk paint for the job is important. If you’re looking for paint with a quick dry time so your kitchen or bathroom isn’t out of commission for too long, try Krylon’s Chalky Finish Paint. In one hour, it’s dry to the touch and ready for a new coat. 

You’ll save time waiting for the paint to dry, which is important since this pick recommends sanding and priming. It’s not required, but especially for cabinets, you’ll want an even application with full coverage. If you’re painting over a dark surface, the preparation is even more important.

This pick will work for DIYers looking to add white or gray to their kitchens, however, these are the only colors available. You can leave the paint as-is once it dries for a distressed look or top it off with a wax sealant for a smooth finish.

Product Details: Size: 1 Quart | Number of Colors: Three | Dry Time: One hour; one hour recoat time | Primer Required: Recommended but not required

Country Chic Paint Chalk Style Paint


Why You Should Get It: This is an all-in-one product that serves as a primer and sealant as well as paint.

Keep In Mind: The price per ounce is high compared to other chalk paints on the market.

This rich-hued pick has a built-in primer and top coat to get your desired look all in one product. In addition to little to no prep work, it’s a durable paint that requires fewer touch-ups and recoats. While the Country Chic Chalk Paint comes in over 50 colors, the black shade Liquorice stands out. 

The formula is fit for most projects, including furniture, cabinets, and even kids’ toys (it’s certified safe by European Toy Safety Standards).

While this pick has several pros, it’s important to note that the price per ounce is high compared to other chalk paints on the market. However, if you’re working on a small project, this is the best choice for a dramatic result.

Product Details: Size: 4 ounces | Number of Colors: 50 | Dry Time: 30 minutes | Primer Required: No

Magnolia Home Chalk Style Paint


Why You Should Get It: It has great coverage—one quart covers up to 100 square feet.

Keep In Mind: It’s pricier than other chalk paints on the market.

Chalk paints can give new life to a room, and that’s exactly what this paint achieves. The Chalky Paint by Magnolia Market comes in over 40 colors to go with any style and project. In one hour, it’s dry to the touch, and by hour two, it’s ready for a second coat. 

While it is on the pricier side, it requires little prep work, which saves you money on primer and sanding materials. 

The formula was designed to have great coverage and hide small imperfections, making this paint fit for updating furniture. The matte finish is easy to clean with soap and water, and one quart covers up to 100 square feet.

Product Details: Size: 1 quart | Number of Colors: 42 | Dry Time: One hour; one to two hour recoat time | Primer Required: Not listed

Krylon Chalky Finish Spray Paint


Why You Should Get It: Spray application means no brush strokes left behind on your DIY project.

Keep In Mind: The 12 ounce can does not have a lot of product for large projects.

Spray chalk paint is convenient and ensures no brush marks will be left behind. Krylon makes a spray version of their Chalky Finish Paint that’s a great fit for small projects. This spray holds 12 ounces of paint and comes in 16 colors. It dries to a smooth, matte finish, but if you want a distressed look, simply go over the area with sandpaper. 

Chalk paint is known to dry fast, but this pick dries ultra-fast—in under half an hour. It’s fit for a variety of surfaces, including wood, plastic, metal, glass, wicker, and ceramic. 

The can is on the smaller end, so keep your project’s size in mind when shopping. Large projects mean more surface area, which drives up your budget. This pick does not require a primer and can be sanded to reach the desired finish.

Product Details: Size: 12 ounces | Number of Colors: 16 | Dry Time: 25 minutes | Primer Required: No

Rust-Oleum Chalked Protective Top Coat


Why You Should Get It: This sealant has a clear matte finish that enhances the color of the chalk paint beneath. 

Keep In Mind: It’s intended as a sealant to apply over paint, so it requires you to purchase the paint itself.

Most chalk paints claim to not need a sealant, but though it may not be required, adding a protective layer never hurts. “If you want your chalk-painted pieces to last without chipping or staining, we recommend applying a sealant,” Shaunfield says.

Rust-Oleum’s Protective Top Coat has a clear, matte finish and is said to enhance color. This protective layer will increase durability without the hassle of applying furniture wax. Simply brush it on after the chalk paint has dried and wait 30 minutes for a smooth finish to appear. If you’re going for a vintage look, try sanding a little of the top. Just keep in mind that by doing this, you’re sanding away the protective layer.

This pick has a low odor and VOC formula, which means it has fewer chemicals than traditional paints and sealants. It’s important to keep in mind that this top coat is only meant for indoor use, so you’ll need to consider other options for any outdoor projects. There’s also no color to this sealant, so you’ll need to purchase the paint as well.

Product Details: Size: 30 ounces | Number of Colors: One | Dry Time: 30 minutes | Primer Required: N/A

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Amy Howard At Home One Step Paint is our pick for the best chalk paint because of its durability, quick dry time, and compatibility with most surfaces. It also cuts out the prep work of sanding and staining, which will save you valuable time and energy. If you’re looking for a budget friendly option for small projects or crafts, try the Waverly Inspirations Mineral Chalk Paint. This acrylic paint has a chalk finish that gives you the best qualities of chalk paint for a fraction of the price.

What To Know About Chalk Paint Before Shopping


“Chalk paint is mainly available in quart sizes,” Shaunfield says. “You’ll want to ensure you purchase enough to cover the furniture you intend to paint. Typically, a quart of chalk paint can cover between 60 and 140 square feet—roughly the surface area of a small dresser,” he says. Paying attention to price per ounce will help you determine whether a certain chalk paint is within your budget more than looking at the overall price.

Dry Time

Shaunfield notes that chalk paint typically takes about an hour to dry, though this may vary by the brand of paint and the material you’re painting. He notes that since chalk paint dries fast, you’ll need to move quicker than usual when painting. This ensures a proper blend and application.

Primer Required

For the DIYer wanting to save time, chalk paint is a great option. “Chalk paint adheres to most surfaces, so you can generally skip sanding and priming before applying,” Shaunfield says. However, if you have the time and are looking for a rich color finish, a layer of primer wouldn’t hurt.

Your Questions, Answered

What is the best chalk paint?

Selecting the right chalk paint depends on your project and goals, however, there are a few qualities to look for when shopping. Chalk paint should ideally have a quick dry time, be easy to clean, durable, and cut back on your prep time. Our overall best pick (the One Step Paint by Amy Howard At Home) checks all of these boxes, plus it’s eco-friendly and comes in 54 colors.

How do you paint furniture with chalk paint?

“Painting furniture is the most popular use for chalk-finish paint,” Shaunfield says. Chalk paint typically does not need primer, requires fewer coats of paint, and takes less time to dry than other paints.

So what’s the correct way to do it? For the application, Shaunfield recommends using a brush over a roller or spray gun. Brushes can be small and flexible to give you more control in tight corners and edges. The way you actually paint the furniture will depend on your desired finish.

“Depending on your style, you can choose to create a smooth, matte finish or an antiquated distressed look,” Shaunfield says. If you’re looking for a solid, traditional finish, apply two coats with a brush for a strong color. For a distressed look, Shaunfield says you’ll need two different paint colors, a base coat, and a contrasting second coat. “You’ll dry-brush the secondary color to add depth,” he says “Apply wax on top of the chalky paint to top of this look.”

Do you need a sealant when using chalk paint?

While not required, a sealant is recommended for chalk paint projects to prevent chipping or staining on high-contact pieces.

Shaunfield says, “A wax sealant is the best choice for any chalk-painted furniture that you want to finish with an ‘antiqued’ look. For furniture pieces that are frequently exposed to water, food, or fingers, polycrylic sealant is the most durable choice for sealing your chalk-painted projects.”

There are hundreds of sealant options on the market, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few of the top-rated products. For a vintage finish, try this wax sealant by Miniwax. Consider this polycrylic sealant if your priority is protecting your high-contact pieces.

Who We Are

Addie Morton is a contributing writer for Better Homes & Gardens who specializes in home decor and lifestyle content. For this story, she spoke with Brian Shaunfield, a Charlotte-area Lowe’s Store Manager with years of experience in the home improvement industry and expertise across all product categories. Using Shaunfield’s expertise and recommendations, Morton researched hundreds of options to compile this list.

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