How to Chalk Paint an Entertainment Center

One of my favorite things to do is chalk paint! It instantly transforms a piece of furniture by giving it a rustic farmhouse look.

This entertainment center belonged to my in-laws. It is the final piece of the puzzle in our basement renovation project.

Step 1: Disassembling and Cleaning

I removed all the knobs and hinges.

This entertainment center is in several pieces so we had to take it apart and wipe it down to remove dust, cobwebs, etc.

Step 2: Spraypainted the Inside of the Cabinets

I cheated on this piece of furniture. On the bottom section, there are cabinets (with doors). I wanted to lighten these interior cabinets but did not want to take the time to chalk paint these areas. I purchased an off-white spray paint to use on the inside of the cabinets.

I taped the front edges of the cabinet so the spraypaint would not get on any exterior parts of the cabinet. (These exterior parts of the cabinet will be chalk painted.) Then, I spraypainted the inside of the cabinets. Spraypainting needs to be done outside and make sure you are not close to anything the paint could ruin. You would be surprised how much the paint floats through the air. You only see the interior of the cabinets when you open the cabinet doors and it blends beautifully.

Step 2: Chalk Painting

Primitive is my favorite color of chalk paint. I purchase it at Home Depot.

I have used it to transform several pieces of furniture. It is sort of an oatmeal color and goes with everything. It also looks good over black or brown.

A few painting tips . . .

When you paint, be sure to paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. Try to paint with long, even strokes. When you paint the edges, make sure your last paint stroke ends at the edge of the surface- – sort of letting your paintbrush finish this stroke by going off (or away) from the tabletop/cabinet top/shelf/side of the cabinet.

Also, check for drips. If you have a drip, go over this again with your paintbrush.

The picture below is after the first coat of chalk paint.

I painted two coats of chalk paint, being sure to get all the crevices. It took quite a while because there are so many pieces.

The picture below shows two coats of chalk paint. Up close, you can see the grainy texture, which is characteristic of chalk paint. The purpose of using chalk paint is the ease of sanding the paint off to expose the under color.

Step 4: Sanding

The purpose of sanding is to sand off some (but not all) of the chalk paint in strategic spots to reveal the paint color underneath and give it an aged/worn look.

You want to sand off some (but not all) of the chalk paint in strategic spots. I use finer sandpaper (320) initially and sometimes use more coarse sandpaper (120) if the chalk paint is not sanding off easy enough or not revealing enough. I suggest starting off with fine sandpaper (320) and then transitioning to more coarse sandpaper if needed. It is really a matter of taste.

I do all the like areas first — end pieces, front pieces, shelves, edges, etc. This helps me to double-check myself for consistency (so all the sections blend/match), but at the same time wanting it to look random as if natural worn spots. Even though I try to be consistent, I am also inconsistent to give it a naturally worn appearance.

Rounded areas are fun to do because you can give them a real worn look.

I constantly look over the piece until I am happy with its appearance. You can sand more or less depending on your preference.

The edges are easiest, but I don’t overdo it.

Step 5: Now we are ready for poly.

I don’t use wax, but instead, use Minwax wipe-on poly (clear satin). I use rubber gloves so I don’t have to clean my hands with paint thinner. I use a cotton rag (usually from an old t-shirt).

I don’t want the furniture to have a shiny look, but just to have protection. I put two coats on the entire piece of furniture. (If I am doing a table, I do three coats on the tabletop.)

Tip: Be sure to apply the poly in the same direction of the grain of the wood. Use long even strokes in a very uniform way to give it a smooth and consistent finish. If you are not consistent, you might see smudges after it dries. If that happens, don’t sweat it, just learn from it. Over time, you will not even notice this.

Make sure that you read the directions and give plenty of time to dry between coats — overnight is best. I have made the mistake of not letting it dry sufficiently between coats and it took a LONG time to dry, but it finally did!

The poly tints the color a little – – sort of an antique/aged look, but I actually really like the look of this. Because I use this poly so much, I know what to expect each time.

Step 6: Reassemble

We carefully reassembled the entertainment center one section at a time and then installed the freshly spraypainted hinges and new knobs. The hinges and knobs are black. I like the contrast of the light chalk paint and the dark hinges and knobs.

Drumroll . . . the final result!

Check out some of my other chalk painting blog posts:

To see how we transformed our basement, click HERE.

Get some chalk paint and a brush and transform a piece of furniture to be a special treasure in your home!


Author: Suzanne

Blogger and DIYer with my talented husband Neal. I share about our projects and life lessons following Christ.

17 thoughts on “How to Chalk Paint an Entertainment Center”

    1. This is great. Can you refer me to someone who can help me do this to a piece of furniture that I have? If yes, please message me at (917) 301-5902

      1. Naomi,
        Thanks! It really depends on where you live. I don’t really know many people who do this except for other DIY bloggers. I do know one person in Montgomery, Alabama. Where do you live?

    2. This is a great guide! I just got some of the same brand of paint and was wondering how long the tiny jars last. I also read a few folks who watered it down some for a washed look. How long does the jar last for you when painting straight from the jar?

      1. Hey AJ,
        Surprisingly, these small jars last longer than you would think considering how small the jars are. I think it took me maybe 3 or 4 jars to paint the entire entertainment center. If I paint something smaller, like a small bookshelf or nightstand, it only takes a fraction of the can. I hope that helps.

  1. This turned out so beautiful. I also like how you decorated the shelves. Can you do a post on how to decorate shelves? Mine look so cluttered.

    1. Margaret,

      Thanks so much for your affirming words. I have to admit that decorating shelves is not my thing but I have gotten better. I have a friend who has helped me think through this and so I have gotten better! I just might take your advice and do a post on this. Thanks for suggesting this.


    1. Hey Connie,

      Great question! Sanding really depends on the piece of furniture. If it has loose paint or a lot of bumps and burrs, then I do sand. However, if it is relatively smooth, then I don’t sand. Thankfully chalk paint is forgiving and having some rough spots (i.e. not sanding) gives it more character in the end.


  2. Do you know a good place to get an entertainment center like this? I like how this looks. It is so pretty.

    1. Hey Dion,
      This was our in-laws. I think they purchased this at a place that sells wood furniture you paint yourself, like a Wood You Furniture store. They originally painted it black and then I chalk painted over the black. It is is very sturdy – – a solid piece of furniture. Let me know if you find one and how it goes.
      Thanks for reading our blog!

  3. Love how this turned out! How many containers of paint did you need for this project? I’ll paint my entertainment center soon. I also like that you used poly instead of wax.

    1. Thanks, Trish!

      I think I used 2 and a half of the small jars of this chalk paint. It always surprises me how far it goes.

      Let me know who it goes. Thanks for reading my blog.


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