How to Chalk Paint a Table

chalk painted table diy home improvement project

A few years ago, my mother and I traded a piece of furniture. She wanted a bigger piece I no longer needed and I just loved this little antique table.  So, in this post, I will show you how to chalk paint a table. I like its unique shape and functionality (having a place for books). Below are more before pictures.

Step 1: Gluing

Because of its age, this needed to be glued and tightened up. Neal helped me with this part. We used Elmer’s wood glue and Neal is the king of clamps. He has every size and shape to get the job done!

The most frustrating part of a project is waiting for glue to dry when I am ready to transform something.

Step 2: Sanding

I used fine sandpaper to remove any bumps or “burrs” and to give it a smooth painting surface.

Step 3: Chalk Painting

This is my favorite color of chalk paint. 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 using long, even strokes. When you paint the edges, make sure your last paint stroke ends at the edge of the table – – sort of let your paintbrush finish this stroke going off (or away) from the table.

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

Because chalk paint dries so fast, I try to chalk paint inside (shop, basement, garage, etc.), especially on a warm, breezy day. It is commonplace for me to paint small items on my kitchen island. When the paint dries before I am finished painting, it leaves brush marks. To protect the countertop, put wax paper down and wipe up any paint that drips on the countertop.

Starting with the table upside down to start painting the underside first, I painted two coats of chalk paint, being sure to paint all the crevices. Just knowing that the underside was not painted would bug me. Once I painted the underside, including the feet, I flipped it over and finished painting the remainder of the table.

Below are pictures showing the table AFTER it is chalk-painted. 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 undercolor.

Step 4: Sanding

The purpose of sanding it 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 easily enough or not revealing enough. I suggest starting with fine sandpaper (320) and then transitioning to more coarse sandpaper if needed. It is a matter of taste.

I do all the like areas first (end pieces, inside and then outside, both feet, the bar across the bottom, the shelves) and then the top last. This helps me to double-check myself for consistency (so that all the sections blend/match), but at the same time I want it to look random as if naturally 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 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. Then I work on all the flat pieces.

Step 5: Now we are ready for poly.

Instead of using wax, I use Minwax wipe-on poly (clear satin). My advice is to wear rubber gloves so you don’t have to clean your hands with paint thinner. To apply the polyurethane, use a cotton rag; a piece of an old T-shirt works great.

Polyurethane does not create a shiny look, so I like this better. However, it provides great protection. My typical practice is to apply 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 as the grain of the wood. In a large area such as the top of a table which is very visible, use long even strokes in a very uniform way so that it has a smooth and consistent finish. If you are not consistent, you might see smudges. 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 like the look of this. Even though this is the first time I have used this color, because I use this poly so much, I know what to expect each time.

Drumroll  . . .  the final result!

Check out some of my other chalk painting blog posts:

Don’t forget to Pin this for future reference.

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Please post below and tell us what you think or If you have questions about how to chalk paint a table.

Get some chalk paint and a brush and transform something from trash to treasure!

11 Comments

  1. Cindy on 04/09/2020 at 2:45 AM

    I like this color too. Is is more gray or tan?

    • Suzanne on 04/09/2020 at 9:32 PM

      It is sort of a taupe color – – in between tan and gray. I call it an oatmeal color. I just love this color because it goes with everything. Happy Chalk Painting!
      Suzanne

  2. Emma Leigh on 04/09/2020 at 10:04 AM

    Super cute

    • Suzanne on 04/09/2020 at 9:31 PM

      Emma Leigh,

      Thanks so much! I was happy with how it turned out.

      Suzanne

  3. Camilla on 04/09/2020 at 9:27 PM

    What grit sandpaper do you use?

    • Suzanne on 04/09/2020 at 9:37 PM

      Camilla,
      That is a great question! 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.
      Happy Chalk Painting!
      Suzanne

  4. Darlene on 04/10/2020 at 7:41 PM

    What a precious little table. I like how you painted it.

    • Suzanne on 04/10/2020 at 7:43 PM

      Darlene,

      Thanks so much! I like how it turned out.

      Suzanne

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