Chalk paint is a type of paint with a matte or chalky appearance that can give your furniture a vintage, chalky look. A versatile finish, its popularity has grown in recent years, and it can be found in nearly every paint store.
Because of its distinct look and ease of application, chalk paint is often used to decorate furniture, doors, and even walls. However, if you are painting a piece of outdoor furniture, you may wonder if chalk paint is waterproof and whether it can resist the damaging effects of the elements.
Is chalk paint waterproof? Although chalk paint is known to be water-resistant, it is not designed to be waterproof, nor suitable for outdoor use on its own. However, can take a few extra steps to seal the paint and make sure that it can withstand the elements.
In this article, let’s learn more about the qualities of chalk paint and how you can enhance its waterproof capabilities, especially for outdoor use.
What Is Chalk Paint?
You have probably seen chalk paint at work at some point in your DIY career, which is partly because of chalk paint’s rising popularity in recent years.
Not a lot of people are aware that chalk paint was actually invented by the paint brand Annie Sloan. However, because of chalk paint’s popularity, you will find that plenty of other brands have also joined the market with their own version of chalk paint.
My favorite brand of chalk paint is Rust-Oleum’s Chalked Extra Matte Paint.
Chalk paint is not to be mistaken for chalkboard paint, which is designed to create a matte chalkboard surface that you can write on with chalk.
Rather, chalk paint can give a surface the appearance of a chalk. It dries matte and gives the surface a distressed, chalky look that is a signature of vintage furniture.
Aside from its matte finish, chalk paint also has various other characteristics that make it quite innovative compared to traditional paint. One of these is its ability to paint over most dry and clean surfaces without a lot of sanding and priming.
This is not always the case, however. Since chalk paint has a distressed look, it may not always be able to cover the stains on the surface you are painting. If you have a stained surface, some cleaning up is still needed to prepare the surface for painting.
For people who love to paint vintage pieces, chalk paint is a great choice. It can easily cover up cracks and other details on the piece and even over other types of paint. For those who love restoring vintage furniture, this is definitely a huge plus.
Now, depending on your aesthetic, you may think this feature is an advantage or disadvantage, but because chalk paint is designed to look chalky, it can also leave brush marks on the final finish.
You may want the coat of paint to look textured, so this may not bother you. However, if you want a smooth finish, then a lot of effort is needed to smooth out the layers of paint.
Still, compared to other types of paint, chalk paint is less prone to dripping, which makes it quite friendly to beginners. You don’t have to have a lot of experience working with chalk paint to be able to achieve the signature chalk paint look.
Chalk paint is water-based paint, which means that it is very easy to clean up using just soap and water. If you want to thin the paint, you can just use water rather than having to invest in a paint thinner.
If you want more information on what exactly chalk paint is and how to use it, we’ve found an awesome video from the HGTV Handmade channel on YouTube featuring the one and only Annie Sloan herself! Take a look below.
Is Chalk Paint Waterproof?
Although it can be painted on most surfaces, chalk paint is rarely used on outdoor pieces because it is not completely waterproof.
Chalk paint can be somewhat water-resistant, which means things like moisture in the air in an indoor environment, and the occasional splashes of water won’t really harm the paint layer too much.
However, problems will occur when chalk paint is regularly exposed to water and moisture. The paint will peel and crack, and if you are using the chalk paint on wooden furniture, there are a whole host of other problems that can occur with unsealed wood too.
This is because wood is porous and can actually absorb moisture. When wood is wet, it will actually expand, causing the paint layer (which is inflexible) to crack. When the wood dries out and shrinks, it won’t shrink to its original shape, causing warping.
Moisture inside the wood can also be a prime environment for mold and fungi to grow. This is why most experts suggest that outdoor wood be waterproofed if it is to be left out in the rain or snow.
Similarly, other surfaces that are constantly exposed to water and moisture (such as your bathroom vanity) will need some waterproof abilities in order to maintain their appearance.
Unfortunately, this waterproofing protection cannot come from chalk paint alone. This is because chalk paint is not waterproof, only water-resistant.
Before you decide to write off chalk paint as an option for a piece of outdoor furniture, you should know that you can still waterproof chalk paint using a sealer. This will take a bit more work, but it will help the chalky, vintage look stay for much longer!
How To Make Chalk Paint Waterproof
If you love the chalk paint look for your outdoor furniture, there are a few ways that you can waterproof it to protect the paint as well as your furniture.
Chalk paint can easily be waterproofed using a clear sealer, and fortunately, there are a few options out there that can help enhance the matte look while still providing some waterproofing abilities.
Waterproofing chalk paint with wax is something you can do to give your paint job a sheen that is unsurpassed. It not only gives a beautiful, unmatched sheen and luster, but it also feels smooth and does an excellent job of proofing against water damage.
The wax also provides some durability to the paint job. Because of this, it will resist chipping, fading, or wearing away. Compared to other finishes, the wax won’t really yellow over time, and you can reapply it every once in a while to restore the same level of protection.
On the other hand, chalk paint does take a little bit of “elbow grease” to apply since you really have to buff it in. However, the result is a nice, smooth finish that doesn’t show brush strokes as regular paint does.
In addition, wax is not impervious to heat, which is undesirable if you are using it for a kitchen counter. And finally, the wax will need to be removed if you want to paint over it since it cannot be painted over (unless you want to apply chalk paint over it, of course).
Water-based poly-acrylic is another excellent waterproof clear coat that won’t diminish the appearance of chalk paint. Poly-acrylic is available as a spray solution or as a liquid that you can apply with a brush.
One of the biggest advantages of waterproofing chalk paint with poly-acrylic is that it is available in multiple finish options. This provides you with the ability to customize the look and texture of your chalk paint project. You can choose from shiny to matte or pick a flat finish.
Poly-acrylic is quite easy to apply thanks to the multiple application options (brush on or spray on) and dries quickly. This is great for those who are on a time crunch and looking for quicker application time.
Once dry, it becomes a very durable and waterproof clear coat that will preserve the look of your paint. However, if you want to refresh its look, poly-acrylic can be easily painted over using many different types of paint, not just chalk paint.
Keep in mind that poly-acrylic may discolor over time, so if you have white chalk paint, it may become yellow after a few years.
Oil is a lovely option to seal chalk paint if you are also hoping to revive some old wood. That is because most finishing oils work to nourish wood from the inside while giving the finish a layer of protection!
Drying oil (like tung oil) is a less toxic, easy-to-apply alternative to wax or poly that produces a similar sheen. As with wax or poly, you can add extra coats for a deeper sheen if desired. Because it is a natural product, wood oil is often non-toxic than other kinds of finishes and can be applied quite easily by wiping on the surface.
However, depending on the type of oil that you use, it can discolor over time. Since oil is designed to sink into a porous surface, if you are using oil to finish wood, it won’t really create a film over the surface of the wood as poly-acrylic or wax does. You will also need to reapply oil every once in a while to maintain a good layer of protection for the wood.