When painting the walls of a house, there are so many different types of paints that will work, the choice mostly comes down to what you want. This same principle does not apply to furniture and other types of indoor painting, however, and in this case, your options are often a bit more limited. For these types of projects, you are going to want to use chalk paint.
It is important to note that chalk paint is not chalkboard paint, and is instead noted for the matte finish that looks and feels a bit like chalk. Still, even within this subset of paint, there is a wide variation between one brand and the other. Figuring out which chalk paint is right for you can be a bit confusing.
That is why we put together a list of the 6 best chalk paint brands available and highlighted what makes each paint unique. Then we provide a thorough buyer’s guide, so you can find the best chalk paint for your next project.
|4, 32 oz||View all 36 colors||150 sq. ft.|
|Rust-Oleum||30 oz Can & 12oz Spray||View all 10 colors||150 sq. ft.|
|Renaissance||8, 16, 32, 128 oz||View all 45 colors||100 sq. ft.|
|FolkArt||2, 8, 16, 32 oz||View all 42 colors||20 sq. ft.|
|Chalky Chicks||32 oz||more then 35||150 sq. ft.|
|Chalked Country Paint||8, 32 oz||more then 42||n/a|
Annie Sloan – Best Performing Chalk Paint Brand
When it comes to chalk paint, Annie Sloan is arguably one of the biggest names in the market. While it may not have the all-around prestige as Behr or Sherwin Williams for paint in general, it does still provide a uniquely high-quality performance when used for certain applications. This can be seen in the extremely high acrylic content of the paint which allows it to provide some of the best results and is why we rated it the best performing chalk paint on our list.
To begin with, this is one of a few chalk paints that we reviewed which provides 150 sq. ft. of coverage–though that is for their largest size. Still, it is nice that they sell multiple sizes to best suit your project size needs. This chalk paint also comes in 36 different colors which, while not the most, have been selected based on market popularity over the last nearly 3 decades. With the exceedingly thick consistency, this chalk paint does not require any priming. Still, Annie Sloan made sure that the thickness of their paint does not impede a quick cleanup.
That said, there are a few issues with this paint, most notably its price. Since Annie Sloan is widely known as one of the best performing brands of chalk paint, it should come as little surprise that they lean on their reputation to justify a significantly higher price than most of their competitors. This would not be much of an issue, but this is also one of the chalk paints that require a protective finish or else it is prone to be scratched–though it does not crack.
Choose the Best Annie Sloan chalk paint colors
Rust-Oleum – Best Chalk Spray Paint
Rust-Oleum is likely a brand far more well-known for their automotive care and protective products than for their home decor paints. In fact, Rust-Oleum actually has a bigger market share in the commercial and industrial paint industry than in the consumer grade paint market. That being said, the brand has not stayed in business since 1921 because they produce a low-quality product. Still, this brand which focuses far more on other types of paint than it does chalk paint comes with a few caveats.
First, this is actually one of the less expensive paints we saw which is a bit surprising considering the brand name recognition. This chalk paint provides an ultra-matte finish that dries in 30 minutes, though you will need to wait for 2 to 4 hours before applying a second coat. The Rust-Oleum chalk paint also provides one of the best coverages that we saw at 150 sq. ft. Since it is a water-based paint, cleanup is fairly easy–even if it gets on your clothes.
Still, easily the best thing about the Rust-Oleum chalk paint is that it is the only product we saw which comes in a spray can
Choose the Best Rust-Oleum chalk paint colors and check price
Renaissance Furniture Paint – Best Chalk Paint for Furniture
Renaissance Furniture Paint may not be the biggest brand name on our list, but they are a fairly unique company that provides an exceptional quality of chalk paint. In fact, because the brand is essentially a single small business located in Mooresville, North Carolina, they do not have the luxury of allowing their name to push their product. Instead, they must do all of the heavy lifting on their own with quality.
Beyond the simple economics driving the Renaissance Furniture Paint chalk paint, it is also surprisingly good in most other respects as well. For one, this is the only chalk paint on our list that is certified to have a zero VOC content. While most of the chalk paints we reviewed have ultra-low VOC contents, this one stands out as having none. Moreover, this chalk paint is one of the thicker and will not require priming or protective finishes. Though this thickness does prevent it from being used with a paint gun–something that is generally preferred for wall painting–and it must be thinned or it will clump and be more difficult to clean up than most.
Choose the Best Renaissance Furniture Paint colors
FolkArt – Best Budget Chalk Paint
If you have spent any real time in the arts and crafts hobby, then you should be fairly familiar with the FolkArt brand already. If not, FolkArt is actually a brand of paint owned by the Plaid company which also owns numerous other craft brands including Martha Stewart and Fabric Creations. The FolkArt paint brand is squarely aimed at the low-end of the consumer market. As such, it should not come as much of a surprise that this is the least expensive chalk paint that we reviewed.
That said, this paint only comes in a single 8 oz size. Even worse, that 8 oz bottle only provides about 20 sq. ft. of coverage after the necessary 2 coats of paint. This means that unless you have a fairly small project piece, the FolkArt’s value is likely to be undermined by the need to constantly buy more bottles. On top of that, the thickness of the paint increases the drying time a bit longer than most which definitely makes it a tad less convenient.
Choose the Best FolkArt colors
Chalky Chicks – Best Chalk Paint for Paint Gun
Chalky Chicks is another small brand that relies on providing a particular niche a specifically tailored product in a market or large, multinational competitors. Coincidentally enough, this brand also comes out of North Carolina. In this case, the Chalky Chicks brand of chalk paint aims to capture the convenience market in that you do not have to do much of anything with this paint when you want to use it. That said, this is not necessarily the best value for all needs.
This all the more remarkable when you consider that this chalk paint provides 150 sq. ft. of coverage. In terms of the formula, the Chalky Chicks chalk paint is also notable for having an ultra-low VOC content. That said, one of the main downsides of this chalk paint is that it is a bit more expensive than the average. On top of that, it is one of the less durable and will require a protective finish to prevent scratches or cracking over time.
Chalked Country Paint – Best Chalk Paint for Cabinets
Country Paint is another brand in a long line it seems that is manufactured by a small, entrepreneurial store whose quality won over the market and allowed them to expand. This originated in Battle Creek, Michigan the quality of this paint has allowed the brand to franchise their products to retailers around the country. In terms of what it provides better than most, this chalk paint offers more options for your projects’ style.
With a dizzying 42 different colors as well as the option to order a custom color from their in-house manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, few of the brands on our list can hope to compete with the wildest dreams your project may inspire.
This paint also comes in multiple sizes depending on whether you have a large project like cabinets or a room’s walls or a smaller project like a picture frame or other accessory.
This chalk paint is another on our list which is certified to have an ultra-low VOC content as well as an absence of any toxic components. This is also an exceptionally thick paint and will not require priming or leveling. That said, this paint might actually be a bit too thick as it is one of the few which must be thinned to be used for most purposes. Not thinning the paint will create a rough application that dries too quickly and shows every brushstroke.
All paint is a mixture of chemicals, but what defines that formula most is generally known as the base of the formula. This the compound that will determine most of the physical properties of the paint like how thick it is, how it applies, how long it takes to dry, and how durable it is. When it comes to chalk paint, there is actually more than one base that can be used. The bases are latex and acrylic, but both are actually fairly similar and differ by the amount of vinyl in them.
Acrylic – This is seen as the top-end of “latex” paints and is defined by having a much higher concentration of acrylic resins in the formula than vinyl–though there may still be some vinyl included in the formula to cut costs. Regardless, acrylic latex paints are better than vinyl latex paints in virtually every way. Acrylic latex is a thicker paint that will provide better saturation per coat. It is also a much more durable latex paint that is less likely to require a protective coating. The flip side of this is that acrylic latex paint is often significantly more expensive than vinyl latex paint.
OCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that are found in many types of paint even to this day. These chemicals are essentially the oxidized by-products of a paint’s formula when it is exposed to the air over a long period of time. VOCs are known to be carcinogenic which can increase your risk of certain cancers. While there are government regulated standards for VOC content, it is obviously better to get a chalk paint that has a little VOCs as possible–none if you can find it.
Pre and Post:
Priming refers to a couple steps in the preparation stage of painting. While the word itself technically refers to a layer of a base coat of special paint designed to assist in paint adhesion and saturation, the process involves more than that. Most priming will generally require you to sand down or scuff up the material, so the paint will better stick to the surface. Even for chalk paints which advertise you do not need to prime the surface, you will still need to scuff up smooth areas and apply two coats. In this instance, a no priming chalk paint merely acts as its own primer.
Once you have finished painting your project, the job may not yet be done. Some paints are more durable than others–especially if they have a high acrylic resin content. Regardless, of the durability of the paint itself, the setting of the paint will also help determine whether or not the project needs to be protected with a finishing product. For chalk paint, this finishing product is generally a special type of furniture wax. Without this wax, many chalk paints are liable to become scratched or chipped in the course of normal life. That said, some projects genuinely may not require a protective finish depending on the location, and there are chalk paints out there that can stand up well enough on their own in these situations without a protective finish.
The consistency of the paint will depend a bit on whether it is vinyl latex or acrylic latex based, but it will also matter what the other elements of the formula are. Unfortunately, most brands do not provide a complete listing of their formula to protect their trade secrets. Still, when beginning a painting project, knowing the consistency of the paint will go a long way in determining whether the project will be a pleasure or a pain.
The consistency will affect a wide number of factors including the application, which we will cover later, but ultimately, the biggest quality will be how it looks after each coat. That said, this is not a consideration where a single answer is the “right” answer.
A thinner chalk paint might require more coats to get the same kind of saturation as a thicker paint, but it will also dry quicker and not need to be thinned as much or as soon after opening the paint.
On top of that, thinner paints can more easily be applied with a roller or spray gun. Still, thin paints will definitely need to have a protective finish applied after they have completely cured to prevent the paint from scratching or cracking–which will somewhat offset the savings a lower priced, thinner paint provides.
On the flip side, thicker consistency paints will generally require less paint to provide a saturated layer. Aside from the fact that this will ultimately decrease the painting time and produce an overall better-looking result, it also helps offset some of the additional cost that thicker paints–which usually have a higher acrylic base content. Even better, thicker paint is less likely to show the brush strokes, though it will also often require more curing time and need to be thinned more often. This last part is important because thick paints will almost certainly have to be thinned if you want to use a roller or spray gun–and even then they may not be suitable. Still, if you are painting a project that is not in environmental or active risk, a thick paint may not need a protective finish.
When it comes to indoor or outdoor general paints, the manner of application is usually more a matter of choice than necessity. If you want a somewhat tacky or textured look, then you go with a roller with different density of knits to provide more or less texture. If you want the smoothest look possible you go with a spray gun–though you either need to be somewhat experienced or hire a professional for that job. Finally, if you want a smooth look that still has some character, you go with a paintbrush.
This is not at all the case when it comes to chalk paint. In fact, the overwhelming majority of chalk paint is intended to be brushed onto the project piece.
That said, there are still numerous chalk paints that can be applied with different methods and even a few chalk paints that can be thinned to become more or less acceptable with some of the different application methods.
This is the standard way to apply chalk paint and is fairly straightforward. It does not require any special preparation of the paint, though you can alter the consistency to suit your needs if you like.
The only issue with using a brush to paint is that it is far more liable to show the brush strokes than the other methods.
If you are looking to use chalk paint to create a distressed “shabby chic” look, then this is perfect. If that is not your goal, it may take some time to figure out the consistency and painting technique necessary to eliminate the more noticeable brushstroke patterns
This is generally the method that you use if you simply want to paint something quickly without much trouble. Needless to say, the roller method of application should only be used for larger pieces of furniture, cabinets, or other projects that will present large surfaces.
The primary issue with paint rollers when using chalk paint is that many chalk paints are too thick for paint rollers.
The paint absorbs into the knit of the roller cover and applies not as a layer but as a thick blob. In fact, if the paint is too thick, the roller will not even roll at all and will merely push the blob around on the project piece. The solution to this is to thin the paint, but figuring out how much to thin it may take some trial and error.
Unless you plan to paint a wall with chalk paint, there is little reason to use a paint gun. That said, if you require your project piece to have the smoothest finish possible, you may opt for this application method–even if the piece is comically small in comparison.
The primary concern with a paint gun is similar to a roll at its base but can have far worse consequences.
Essentially, most chalk paint is too thick for a paint gun.
While this may make rolling unthinned chalk paint a bit messy and futile, it can be far more disastrous to a paint gun, clogging up the machine and requiring an extensive breakdown to properly clean it. That said, even if you figure out the proper consistency for using a paint gun with chalk paint, this application method still requires an experienced hand to prevent an uneven application that will either look splotchy or layer the paint too thick in various places.
This is by far the least common type of application method and we only found a single brand that even offers it. Essentially, this method takes chalk paint and applies it through an aerosol can like any other spray paint. While this can speed up the application time, the chalk paint must be exceedingly thin for it to be sprayed from an aerosol can. This means that this kind of chalk paint will require more coats to get the same color saturation and will definitely need a protective finish to prevent any cracking or scratching to the project once the paint has cured.
Thankfully, such a thin consistency of chalk paint does mean the curing process will be quicker than most.
In the end, the type of project, size of the project, the skill level of the user, and intended look of the finished product will all factor into what chalk paint on our list is the best chalk paint for you. If you are looking for a shabby chic distressed look, you are probably better off going with a thicker paint will more easily sand off without quickly wearing thin.
In this instance, we highly recommend the Annie Sloan. This is by far one of the thickest paints on our list and performs better than all the others we reviewed. It is so thick it does not need to be primed and can provide 150 sq. ft. of coverage. This means that rubbing it off will provide an excellent layering look for the shabby chic distressed look. That said, you will want to apply a protective wax to the final product as this thicker paint is oddly not the most durable.
Of course, if you want a solid chalk paint that is a bit less expensive, then the Rust-Oleum is an excellent choice. While it does have a slightly higher VOC content than many of the other chalk paints we reviewed and its consistency is a tad thin, it is still surprisingly durable and provides a similar 150 sq. ft. coverage. On top of that, this is the only chalk paint that we found which can be applied using a spray can.