Chalk paint is the perfect way to provide an old piece of furniture with a new lease of life, all the while maintaining a rustic, shabby chic vibe.
It’s possible to leave your chalk paint bare, ie. to not seal it, though this does mean it’ll be more vulnerable to wear and tear, and won’t last as long.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of not sealing your chalk painted furniture:
- By leaving your chalk paint unsealed, you’ll get to enjoy that beautiful chalky, matte finish
- While it’ll be more vulnerable to wear and tear, it’ll also distress naturally, which could be exactly the look you’re going for.
- It’s cheaper and less time consuming
- You’ll leave your furniture exposed and vulnerable to daily wear and tear
- The paint will chip away or fade more easily
- Some people prefer the shiny finish of a paint seal
In my opinion, it’s always best to seal your chalk paint, as the chalky quality that we love is also what renders it less durable.
Paint sealer is designed to bond with the paint topcoat and offer maximum protection to keep your paint jobs looking their best for longer.
What is the best sealer for chalk paint?
When it comes to sealing your chalk paint, you’ve got quite a few options to choose from, and these can help you achieve a certain finish. Many people are keen to preserve that matte, chalky quality that makes chalk paint so popular.
Minwax protects and adds hand-rubbed luster to any finished wood surface and is a good alternative to polyurethane. By buffing the wax into the chalk paint your furniture is given a beautiful, gentle sheen without it looking shiny or overly polished.
Buffing will also remove any excess wax that you may have applied, allowing the product to cure and harden, which protects your piece from wear and tear.
This is a great affordable option and is ideal if you’re on a budget, it comes in natural and dark, and the dark works great on black paint, or if you want to add an antique effect to lighter chalk pieces.
Today there are also more sealing products on the market designed specifically for chalk paint. This one from Krylon provides clear, low gloss protection when applied over chalk paint and requires no primer or prep.
This is perfect if you want to ensure your furniture is durable but you’re worried about compromising on that matte, chalky look that your paint gives.
For ultimate durability and protection, opt for Polyurethane, as this clear sealant provides the most durable finish, making it an ideal option for high traffic, water-prone furniture pieces.
There are also some matte polyurethane options available on the market, or satin or gloss finishes if you want extra shine.
Do you need a topcoat over chalk paint?
A topcoat acts as a sealant, so it will lock in your paint and protect it from moisture, mug rings, sticky fingers, or even the weather. As well as offering protection to your furniture, a top coat can enhance the color of your chalk-painted furniture, and prevent you from having to repaint it every couple of years.
If your painted furniture will be prone to contact with water, food, and kids on a daily basis, your best bet is to seal your chalk furniture with a poly sealant such as the one mentioned below.
- How long does it take chalk paint to dry?
- Do you need a special paint brush for Chalk paint?
- Can you use a roller for chalk paint?
- What are the pros and cons of Chalk paint?
- Should you sand before chalk painting?
What is the best topcoat for chalk paint?
There are several quality products on the market.
In my opinion, the best topcoat for chalk paint is General Finishes Top Coat in ‘flat.’
This water-based topcoat will protect your chalk or milk painted projects as it’s the hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane topcoat on the market today, and takes only 1 to 2 hours to dry.
Rust-Oleum also offers a Matte Clear Topcoat designed specifically for chalk paint.
This dries to a velvety matte finish to allow your chalk paint to maintain its vintage look, but it will also protect it thanks to its excellent adhesion. It’s also low-odor and requires minimal prep, so the application is super easy and stress-free, plus clean-up requires a simple combination of soap and water and the topcoat dries to touch in just 30 minutes.
There’s also Jolie’s Finishing Wax Protective topcoat which has a matte finish, but can also be buffed to add a subtle shine.
This wax topcoat is odorless, non-hazardous, and water-resistant, and has a soft texture that is easy to apply. While it comes in a small pot, a little does go a long way.
Are sealers and topcoats the same thing?
Sealers and topcoats are generally considered to be the same thing, as both serve to protect the paint underneath. They come in different forms though, from waxes and sprays to polyurethane or water-based topcoats.
Which one is for me?
Sealers help protect your chalk paint, but they can also enhance the look of the piece. Some sealants will change the appearance of your chalk paint more than others, and those with a matte finish are generally better suited to chalk paint unless you want a glossier finish.
This article provides a good breakdown of the different effects various topcoats can achieve.
While you might think your chalk paint looks beautiful untouched, it’s always best to seal it, as otherwise, you’ll be repainting your piece before you know it. Sealing your chalk paint with a topcoat perseveres it and keeps it looking good for longer, and also protects it from water and stains.
Today there are a myriad of options on the market, and seen as chalk paint is a massive thing right now, there are even specific sealants designed to maintain chalk paint’s matte, vintage finish.