Chalk Paint: A Simple Guide To Using It On Trim And Baseboards For A Rustic Finish

Is achieving a stunning, rustic finish for your home’s trim and baseboards on your to-do list? Have you been searching for an easy-to-use paint that’s both versatile and stylish?

This blog post will introduce you to the wonders of chalk paint and how to use it on trim and baseboards for a gorgeous transformation. By the end, you’ll be ready to confidently tackle this DIY project and create a look that’s uniquely your own.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Paint brush, sponge roller, paints, waxes and other painting or decorating supplies on white wooden planks, top view

Chalk paint is a decorative, water-based paint known for its chalky finish and excellent adhesion properties. It was first created in 1990 by Annie Sloan, a British artist, author, and color expert. However, nowadays, you can buy chalk paint knock-offs with names like “chalky paint,” “chalked paint,” “chalked paint,” or “chalk style paint.”

Just remember that chalk paint is different from chalkboard paint, a type of paint that creates a surface you can write on with chalk.

Annie Sloan designed chalk paint to require minimal preparation, making it easy to use for DIY enthusiasts and professional painters alike. Chalk paint’s unique formula allows it to adhere to various surfaces, including wood, metal, and plastic, without the need for a primer or even sanding in most cases.

Since its inception, chalk paint has gained immense popularity for its versatility and ability to create beautiful, vintage finishes on everything from outdoor furniture and kitchen cabinets to the bathroom vanity and other home decor features. If you’re painting other areas of your home’s interior with chalk paint, be sure to check out our post on how to use chalk paint on walls and ceilings.

Now that you know what chalk paint is, let’s dive into how to use it on trim and baseboards!

Skill Level: Beginner

Unlike traditional paint, chalk paint is beginner-friendly and perfect for DIY enthusiasts with little to no painting experience. The forgiving nature and easy application of chalk painting make it an excellent choice for first-time painters.

Time: 2-3 Days

The entire process, including preparation, painting, and sealing, will take approximately 2-3 days, depending on drying times and the size of your project.

Cost: $50-$100

The cost of chalk paint varies depending on the brand and the amount needed for your project. On average, a quart of chalk paint ranges from $15 to $50. Additional costs include brushes, sandpaper, and sealant.


  • High-quality bristle brush
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Clean, lint-free cloth


  • Chalk paint
  • Shellac (optional)
  • Wax for sealing (optional)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth

How to Use Chalk Paint on Trim and Baseboards

Tribble Painting Company employee carefully applying paint to a baseboard in a hallway with wood floors

Follow these steps to achieve a beautiful, rustic finish on your trim and baseboards:

1. Protect Work Space

Before you begin, protect your floors and other surfaces with drop cloths and use painter’s tape to cover any areas you don’t want to be painted.

See the video above for tips on which painter’s tape to use and how to best use it!

2. Clean Surface

Clean the trim and baseboards with a damp cloth to remove dirt, dust, and grime.

3. Sanding And Prepping Different Baseboard and Trim Surfaces (Optional)

Man sanding base board with sand paper.

Although chalk paint adheres well to most surfaces without extensive preparation, certain types of baseboards and trim may require additional steps for better adhesion. Be sure to wipe down the surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove dust or debris after any sanding.

Here’s a quick guide on how to prep various surfaces:

  • Glossy or Semi-Glossy Surfaces: For surfaces with a glossy or semi-gloss finish, gently sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper (approximately 180-220 grit). This will create a slightly rough surface, allowing the chalk paint to adhere more effectively.

  • Rough or Textured Surfaces: If your trim or baseboards have a rough or textured surface, you may want to smooth them out before applying chalk paint. Use medium-grit sandpaper (approximately 80-120 grit) to even out any uneven areas. After sanding, use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface further.

  • Painted Surfaces: If your trim and baseboards have been previously painted with latex or oil-based paint, you can lightly sand the surface using fine-grit sandpaper. This will help the chalk paint adhere better to the existing base color paint layer.

  • Stained or Varnished Surfaces: For surfaces that have been stained or varnished, consider using a deglosser or liquid sandpaper to remove the glossy finish. Follow the product instructions and ensure proper ventilation while using these products.

  • Raw Wood Surfaces: Chalk paint adheres well to raw wood, but it’s essential to remove any dirt, dust, or grime before painting. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the surface. If you want a smoother finish, gently sand the wood with fine-grit sandpaper and clean the surface afterward.

4. Apply Shellac (Optional)

If you’re concerned about stains or tannins bleeding through the chalk paint, you can apply a coat of shellac as a barrier.

5. Shake Chalk Paint Can Vigorously

Before opening the can, shake it well to ensure the chalk paint is thoroughly mixed.

6. Apply Chalk Paint

A close up of a Tribble Painting employee applying paint to trim

Using a high-quality bristle brush, apply a thin, even coat of chalk paint to the trim and baseboards. To minimize visible brush strokes, use long, smooth strokes in the direction of the wood grain.

7. Allow First Coat to Dry

Fragment of classic white interior with wooden french herringbone parquet floor and installed wall panels, decorated with moldings and skirting boards.

Allow the first coat to dry for the recommended time on the paint can, usually 1-2 hours.

During this time, clean your brush and prepare for the second coat.

8. Apply Second Coat

After the first coat is dry, apply a second coat of chalk paint for better coverage.

Two coats are generally sufficient for achieving a solid, even color. However, depending on your chosen shade and desired opacity, you may need to apply additional coats.

9. Allow Second Coat to Dry

Wait for the second coat to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

This may take another 1-2 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature of your workspace.

10. Sanding for Distressed Look (Optional)

Caucasian male hand sanding

If you want a distressed look, use fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the edges and raised areas of the trim and baseboards.

This step helps to reveal the underlying wood or color, giving your project an aged, vintage appearance.

11. Seal with Wax or Topcoat

To protect your painted trim and baseboards and enhance their appearance, apply a clear wax or dark wax with a clean, lint-free cloth.

Transparent wax maintains the original chalk paint color, while black wax adds depth and character by settling into the crevices and brush stroke marks. You can also mix the two waxes to create a custom look.

12. Let Wax Cure

Allow the wax or topcoat to cure for the recommended time, typically 24-48 hours. This step is crucial for the longevity and durability of your painted surfaces.

13. Reattach Hardware

A Tribble Painting employee reattaches an outlet cover after a paint job

Reattach any hardware that was removed during the painting process.

14. Clean Up

Tribble Painting Company employee carefully vacuums around the baseboard in a home

Finally, clean up any dust or debris that may be left behind after your project is over. Your trim and baseboards are now ready to be admired!

Tips for a Professional Finish

A decorators paint tray with rollers and brushes

To achieve a professional-looking result with your chalk paint project, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use high-quality brushes: A good brush is essential for smooth, even coverage and reducing brush strokes.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area: Chalk paint dries quickly, so make sure your workspace is well-ventilated to speed up drying times and reduce the risk of dust settling on your wet paint.

  • Be patient: Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes. Take your time, and don’t skip steps like cleaning and sealing for the best results.

  • Practice on a small piece: If you’re new to chalk paint, consider practicing on a small, inconspicuous piece before tackling your trim and baseboards.

Chalk Paint Colors

Paint cans with different green and beige colors, color charts on background

One of the best aspects of chalk paint is the wide variety of colors available. From muted neutrals to vibrant hues, there’s a shade for every style and taste. Annie Sloan features almost every hue imaginable, from muted gray to bright shades of blue and yellow.

When selecting a chalk paint color for your trim and baseboards, consider the overall color scheme of your room and the desired effect you want to achieve. Additionally, keep in mind that you can mix paints to create custom shades, allowing for even more personalization.

Chalk Paint vs. Latex Paint

For people unfamiliar with the characteristics of chalk paints, it may be helpful to compare them to traditional latex paint.

Chalk paints are known for:

  • matte finish

  • excellent adhesion

  • minimal preparation requirements

Latex paint is known for:

  • smoother finish

  • getting better adhesion with primer

  • requiring more preparation, such as sanding and priming

While both paints have their merits, chalk paint is the go-to choice for those looking for a rustic, vintage appearance with minimal fuss.

Contact Tribble Painting Company For All Your Painting Needs

Person finding Tribble Painting Company online with their laptop computer.

In conclusion, using chalk paint on trim and baseboards is an accessible and cost-effective way to achieve a stunning, rustic finish.

By following the steps outlined in this blog post and incorporating the provided tips, you’ll be able to complete a beautiful transformation with ease.

However, if you prefer to have a professional touch, Tribble Painting Company is here to help. Our skilled team is experienced in all types of interior home painting, ensuring impeccable results.

To get started on your home makeover, fill out our contact form today or give us a call. Don’t wait any longer to create the rustic, charming space of your dreams!

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