Chalk Paint: How To Use It On Walls And Ceilings For A Vintage Look

Are you looking for an easy way to give your home a vintage look?

Are you considering using chalk paint but aren’t sure how? Chalk paint is a type of paint that provides a vintage, distressed look that can give your walls and ceilings an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind look.

Whether you’re sprucing up your walls or freshening up your ceilings, this type of paint can give any home decor a unique look and feel. In this article, we’ll discuss what chalk paint is, how to use it on walls and ceilings, and share some tips for achieving the best results.

By the end of this post, you’ll feel confident using chalk paint on your home’s walls and ceilings to create that vintage look you’re looking for.

And if you want to use chalk paint on your trim, be sure to visit our guide to using chalk paint on trim and baseboards.

Let’s get started! 

Chalk Paint: How To Use It On Walls And Ceilings For A Vintage Look


Whether you’re looking to add character and charm to your walls or ceilings or just want something different from traditional paint, chalk paint can provide just the right amount of vintage flair while still being easy enough to apply yourself at home for a DIY project.

Before we dive into the methods for using chalk paint, let’s step back and define precisely what chalk paint is.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalk Paint™ is a proprietary paint developed by color expert Annie Sloan in 1990, and the brand name “chalk paint” is actually a registered trademark of the Annie Sloan company. She developed the paint because she wanted a paint that required “no need for sanding or priming.” Chalk paint has been a popular choice of upcycling enthusiasts for decades now due to its ease of application and gorgeous end result.

Although Annie Sloan developed the original chalk paint, you can buy chalk paint knock-offs now, such as Rust-Oleum “Chalked Paint” and Country Chic “Chalk Style” paint. Chalk paint colors include everything from neutral white and gray to bright yellow and dark blue.

Keep in mind that chalk paint is not the same as chalkboard paint! That’s an entirely different type of paint that creates a surface you can write on with chalk.

Using chalk paint is the perfect way to bring an old or distressed look to any surface. Crafted with natural minerals, it’s free from harsh solvents and toxins while being simple to use.

From walls to floors and ceilings, outdoor furniture to fabric–the possibilities are seemingly endless when you use this paint. It is compatible with a variety of surfaces, both indoors and outdoors: glass, metal, wood, concrete, or plaster, just to name a few.

How To Use Chalk Paint

Neutral Room Set Lounge den in white rustic chalk paint

Using chalk paint is relatively simple; however, there are some things you should keep in mind before you start painting:

  • Make sure the walls or ceilings are clean and dust-free before applying the chalk paint. Although sanding and priming are not required for chalk paint, dirt or oil can affect how well the paint adheres to a surface. If you need more tips on how to prep for interior painting, be sure to check out our blog post on how to prep your house for painting.
  • Like oil-based paints, chalk paint is thick. Be sure to use a high-quality brush designed specifically for thicker chalk paints. This will ensure that the finish looks smooth and uniform. We recommend using a natural bristle (made from animal hair) paintbrush for chalk paint.
  • Always apply multiple thin layers of chalk paint instead of one thick layer; this will help ensure even coverage. Chalk paint tends to be thicker than many other types of regular paint (such as latex paint), so only use two coats sparingly.
  • Some people like to apply lacquer or wax to chalk paint after it dries to give it a glossy or semi-gloss finish, but it is not necessary to achieve an attractive paint job.

Using Chalk Paint On Walls

A Tribble Painting employee works on applying chalk paint to a wall.

Chalk paint can be used on both interior and exterior walls for an added touch of vintage charm. When using chalk paint on walls, there are some essential steps to follow for optimal results: 

  • Prep the wall by removing any dirt or dust from the surface. This will help ensure that the chalk paint sticks properly. 
  • When using chalk paint on walls, make sure to start at the top of the wall and work your way down; this will help ensure that any drips or runs don’t become visible as you progress down the wall.
  • Once the first coat has dried completely (this may take several hours), apply a second coat if desired for better coverage and durability.
  • Apply each coat of chalk paint with a brush or roller in long brush strokes in order to create an even finish. Try painting in different directions to help conceal brush marks. Allow each coat to dry fully before applying the next one. 
  • Once both coats are dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand any areas that you would like to have an aged look (this step is optional).  
  • Finish off by sealing with either clear wax or a clear coat for added protection and shine (optional).  

Using Chalk Paint On Ceilings

Tribble Painting employee applies paint to a celiling.

Using chalk paint on ceilings is similar to using it on walls but requires some extra steps due to its texture:  

  • Start by painting horizontal stripes along the ceiling with alternating strokes of chalk paint until the entire ceiling is covered.  
  • Once all stripes are painted, let them dry completely before adding another layer of white (or light-colored) chalk paint over the top in order to cover all stripes evenly and create a smooth finish.  
  • To add texture, use a damp sponge and dab lightly at different sections while still wet; this will pull up some color from underneath and create an interesting pattern when dry. Or you can leave it be for a standard chalky finish! 
  • Finally, seal with wax or a clear coat sealer as described above for walls if desired (optional).  

Tips For Using Chalk Paint

A bowl with intense chalk paint and brushes
  • Test out different brands of chalk paints first, as they tend to have different textures and finishes depending on their ingredients. This will help you find one that works best for what you’re trying to achieve without having to purchase multiple paints upfront (which can be expensive!). 
  • If possible, use natural light when painting so that you can see more clearly how your work is progressing as well as any imperfections that may need fixing before moving on (this is especially important when painting ceilings due to their height!).
  • Always wait for one coat of chalk paint to dry before adding another one–this will ensure better coverage as well as prevent any smudging, dripping, or running, which could ruin your project altogether.
  • Allow plenty of time between coats for drying. The amount of time it takes for the paint to dry completely will depend on the specific brand of chalk paint you are using, as well as how thickly you apply the paint. However, 12 hours is a good safe bet for any paint to dry.
  • Always use high-quality brushes when painting with chalk paints; cheap brushes can leave unsightly streaks in your final finish. While not absolutely necessary, we recommend using natural bristle brushes.
  • Make sure surfaces are completely dust-free before applying any type of painting product.
  • Always use chalk paint in multiple thin layers instead of one thick layer!
  • Seal finished surfaces with either wax or a clear coat once dry (if desired).

Tips For Using Chalk Paint Wax

Wax is an optional product that you can apply to chalk paint to add a glossy sheen and improve its overall durability. Annie Sloan sells a trademarked Chalk Paint™ Wax, but like their chalk paint, there are now many generic versions of wax for chalk paints being sold under various brand names. Dark wax and even black wax are also available if you prefer a darker sheen on your paint job.

In any case, chalk paint wax can be tricky to work with, and if not used correctly, the finished product might not look as great as you’d hoped. Working with chalk paint wax requires you to take your time and put in some elbow grease for that perfect sheen every time. 

So to make sure your chalk paint wax application comes out perfectly every time, take note of these important tips.

  • Chalk paint wax should only be used after the chalk paint has had ample time to dry–a day to several days is typical–to ensure a smooth and durable application.
  • It should also always be applied sparingly–spending a little more time applying thin coats yields better results. Remove excess wax with a clean cloth if you apply too much.
  • When applying paint chalk wax, rub it into the surface with circular motions, similar to how you would apply a hand lotion.
  • When applying the wax, work on small areas at a time. This prevents the wax from drying out on the surface before you’ve had a chance to rub it in.
  • If you want to create an extra sheen, try buffing the wax with a clean, lint-free cloth. Just be sure to wait approximately 24 hours before buffing! (If you prefer a matte finish, then skip this step.)
  • Chalk paint wax will feel dry when you first apply it–but it needs up to three whole weeks before fully curing, so be patient! Before it has fully cured, take extra precautions not to damage the wax, such as scraping it or placing wet objects on it. Once it has fully cured, you can treat the waxed surface just like you would any other normal surface.

Tribble Painting Company Are Your Local Paint Experts

Whether you’re looking to add character and charm to your walls or ceilings or just want something different from traditional paints, chalk paints can provide just the right amount of vintage flair while still being easy enough to apply yourself at home. Just follow our tips to get perfect results for your interior home painting project every time!

If you have any questions about using chalk paint or just need some help with a painting project, fill out our contact form, and we’ll be in touch soon. So what are you waiting for? Get painting today!

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