How To Paint Furniture Without Chalk Paint

How to paint furniture without chalk paint. Chalk-painting furniture was all the rage several years ago and yes, I have tried it! As a long-time home decor addict, I have tried pretty much every method of painting furniture,

My tried and true method of painting furniture remains the same as it was years ago. Why? Because it works and stands the test of time! I still have a couple of wood pieces that I painted back in my college days! Let’s talk about what I don’t and what I DO use instead!

paint furniture without chalk paint

There are now numerous brands of chalk paint. The chalk paint revolution and subsequent frenzy were started by Annie Sloan chalk paint line back in 1990. She started her own line of chalk paint which was the first commercial brand that I know of. Using chalk paint was easy since you didn’t have to sand wood furniture, making chalk-painted furniture a total hit. Contrary to the commercial chalk-style paint, I used to make my own chalk paint before that was even available. I learned how when I studied art and in my brief art teaching career.

I LOVE a nice, elegant semi-gloss finish on furniture. 

paint furniture without chalk paint


The Chinoiserie dresser above is in our dining room and I found it a couple of years ago at a thrift shop. It’s an old Thomasville piece that resembles Henry Link Bali Hai faux bamboo. I wanted a lacquer finish but did not want to spend the money to have it professionally done. See my tutorial in THIS POST, which again…did not involve chalk paint, only lots of spray paint. Clearly, I’m happy with the results 😀 and in contrast to a chalky finish, this is glossy!

My New Dining Room Table Project

One day we were up at our beach home and I was taking a break perusing FBMP. Facebook Marketplace…a most wondrous place for furniture! I had been thinking of replacing our existing dining table with something smaller. At $20… indeed a SCORE, but in really bad shape though so this table needed to be rescued and revamped. I should note that the seller had this listed simply as “a project table”!

vintage Thomasville oval table

The Gustavian lines called to me and the size was just perfect. Additionally, the oval shape works better for our small dining area. I knew that it would take some work, but it was not my first rodeo and I was ready for the challenge!

How To Paint Furniture Without Chalk Paint

Supplies That You Need

  • Sandpaper in various grits, depending on the finish
  • Tack cloth or cheesecloth
  • GOOD latex primer
  • Can of acrylic wall paint in satin
  • Can of clear gloss polyacrylic sealer
  • Angled paint brush (cut in brush)
  • Mini paint roller (foam)


This table was obviously in someone’s garage and used as a work table. The top was covered in rings and drips of paint and grease. Luckily, it didn’t have any deep scratches that required wood filler or any other extensive repairs. So, I jump straight into prep work!

I began my work by prepping my piece of furniture. I hand-sanded the top only down to the original finish with grit sandpaper, which was fairly straightforward. Then I used a tack cloth to remove the dust and any remaining dirt. You can always wipe it down with a slightly wet lint-free cloth.

painted Gustavain table in process

Next, I set up an area inside the a/c of the house laying down a painter’s drop cloth to protect the floor. Then, I went straight into priming it by giving the entire table the first coat of primer using Kilz. Depending on the state of the furniture pieces you’re about to paint, you can always give it a second coat of primer, although this is not recommended for most cases.

how to paint a table without chalk paint

How To Get A Smooth Finish On Wood Furniture

The best way to get a smooth finish on wood furniture is by rolling the paint! It will adhere well and settle nicely by using a foam roller.

We have done dozens of furniture makeovers and painting jobs over the years using regular paint in this way! On the table, of course, I could only do the rolling application on the top. On the legs, I used a 2″ cut-in paint brush of good quality. The example below is from our recent beach house laundry room renovation.

roll paint on tables and doors

Of course the type of paint matters!

Allow the primer coat to dry for a full 24 hours. I know that it can be tempting to give it a fresh coat of paint sooner…don’t. I use Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in a satin finish to paint furniture without chalk paint. This paint is not latex paint, but it is water-based and is low VOC, so can be used indoors with no mask.

All of the paints that I use have little to no odor and these days are water-based.

They work just as well as the old oil-based paints used to, as long as you paint properly and give enough curing time between coats. I do wear disposable gloves to protect my hands and nails and below is a shot of the paint used. It’s simply called WHITE.

benjamin moore advance paint satin white

Give your furniture nice even light coats, using light brush strokes. This will give the end result in a better coverage consistency.

While it might be tempting to slather the paint on like cream cheese to a bagel…NO! I gave this table 2 coats of paint about 12 hours apart and allowed a day to dry before sealing.

The Detailing

No matter your personal preference, don’t overlook the details when painting furniture!
The apron of the table had this beautiful reverse dentil molding. I highlighted it with my favorite tinted wax using a cotton t-shirt rag. This small detail created a distressing touch, giving the final result a bit more dimension and texture.

Less is more and I applied a tiny amount while I had my finger wrapped in the rag. Then I rubbed it in and wiped off the excess with a fresh part of the rag. For the brass hardware, I brought out the beauty by using this shade of Rub N Buff applied in the same manner.

paint furniture without chalk paint

A very close up shot…and you could use a tiny brush for the gilding, but IRL no one gets this close!

Gustavian table details

Painting furniture is a process and be prepared to paint over the course of a few days for a long lasting job.

After ALL, was dry I rolled on the sealer, using a small foam roller. Several coats were applied within 24 hours to dry. This gives the furniture a protective finish to protect it against water rings in the future. improving durability. I used this sealer, but any water-based acrylic sealer will do. I DID NOT SEAL THE LEGS…not necessary and I didn’t want them as glossy, I wanted a more matte finish.

minwax sealer


You know what they say in decorating about one project leading to another? How to paint furniture with house paint also called me to paint these chairs! In order to use them along with this upcycled table it was necessary. I took my time and gave the chairs two coats of the same paint (no sealer). They were already “primed” with this tutorial – Secrets To Giving Furniture A Chalk Finish. You can use this method to prime any raw finish fairly easily! As you can see I used a cut-in brush and carefully painted only up until the piping. I did get a few tiny spots of paint on the piping here and there, but they aren’t really noticeable.

paint furniture without chalk paint

And finally…the finished dining room set! 

It pairs well with the sideboard now and the sheen of the table has that upscale look I was going for! The FRESH PEONIES are from PETAL DRIVEN.

grandmillennial dining room

The old farmhouse-style table has sold on FBMP and will be residing at a home in the Florida Keys!

Farmhouse table and chairs

I’m really pleased with the look and hope that you’re inspired to do a budget-friendly DIY makeover as well! Let me know your thoughts if you’d like in the comments section below!


paint furniture without chalk paint 2

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    It looks absolutely fabulous…love it!

  2. What a huge difference paint makes! This table is now gorgeous! Love the chairs, too! Great job!

  3. Looks fantastic and lots of information and tips about “how to” Thank you for sharing Janet. I was waiting for the results and voila. The cabinet did you decide on a colour for it yet?

    1. Glad that you found this helpful Linda! On the cabinet, I’ve only painted the inside and not sure I’ll do the exterior. Big decision, lol!

      1. I totally understand. I think white with ? inside! oooooh another surprise to look forward to! Hey what about using a side panel try white that I know you have and try a bigger area of blue first which if I remember you were considering?

  4. What a terrific make-over! I love the table – and what a find for twenty bucks! I like your paint technique – and I appreciate the finish NOT being chalk paint, which is a product of which I’ve never understood the allure (the feeling of it gives me the creeps LOL).

    Your dining room is so elegant and posh looking. And, as always, still very inviting and comfortable appearing.

    Nice job!

    1. Barbara Clark says:

      What a beautiful table, a great find for $20.00. You did a great job of restoring and painting. I love it.

  5. Cathy White says:

    Great post! Thanks for walking me through every detail! Not so intimidating anymore.
    Cathy White

    1. I’m so glad that you found it helpful Cathy! My best advice would be to take your time!

  6. Frances Hurst says:

    Your table is beautiful!!
    I have painted many pieces of furniture and never used chalk paint! I now use a Benjamin Moore product called Rust Scat which works very similar to cabinet paint. And I usually use semigloss to get a little more sheen than satin gives. That way I don’t have to use a clear sealer. Before that product came out I used semigloss latex. It works but is a bit more difficult I think.
    And using a roller works so well! Wish I had discovered that years ago. LOL It gives such a good finish and no brush strokes.

    1. Thank you Frances! I have seen that paint but assumed that it was formulated to inhibit rust on metal, so have never bought or used it for wood. Sounds like it’s worth a try!

  7. Lori Anderson says:

    I found a very similar table with 5 leaves and 6 chairs in a junk store for $100 for my daughter, it was in decent shape, just ugly and she said she didn’t want it. I knew she would after it was painted and the chairs recovered so onward I went. Painfully sanded, my husband learned how to recane chairs and did a beautiful job, I upholstered the seat bottoms and he sprayed the table and chair frames. It was ALOT of work and we spent way more than $20 but my daughter loves her set! Wish I had seen this post before we did all of that, we certain would have rolled the table, I may have to add some wax! Love your finished product and all of your posts, thanks so much for all of the great tips!

    1. First Lori…what a generous and loving thing to do for your daughter! Secondly it sounds like you guys did an amazing job, so pat yourselves on the backs! Next time do try a mini roller…they eliminate the brush strokes.

  8. Cheryl Melanson says:

    Beautiful! Great job. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I thank YOU Cheryl for stopping by!

  9. Your table is gorgeous! I love it. So many great painting tips.
    Hugs to you.

    1. Thank you on both counts Renae and enjoy the rest of your week!

  10. Donna Marie says:

    Such a great job! You took your time, which I have a problem with (Lol) and it usually shows. I have a project ahead; painting cabinets which I painted about 20 years ago, that I don’t want to sand. What are my options, besides using chalk paint?

    1. It is time consuming to do correctly Donna Marie! If you are going to DIY the cabinets and not use chalk paint you need to use a degreaser and honestly I would recommend light sanding. Then prime, allow to dry and paint. Use a roller as I mentioned on the doors, or a sprayer as the pros do.

  11. Donna Marie says:

    We have a sprayer, but I like using a roller. Thanks for your answer!

  12. I am drooling with envy…the entire dining set is stunning!!! Thanks for sharing and for the step by step process…..

    1. Thanks Susan…I am loving the look and my home is always a work in progress!

  13. I just used Kilz Chalk paint to paint my bed because I need it to dry fast and I didn’t want to sand. That is some good chalk paint but I like other paints better. Your table is gorgeous. I love how it turned out.

  14. Absolutely Beautiful!! I love everything in your room! Thank you for sharing your ideas and talent! Your posts are a wonderful inspiration!!

    1. Thank you so much Jeanne…I appreciate you being here!

  15. That table is stunning! Question – can you paint over chalk painted chairs? If so, do you need to sand them? Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I would just prime, but you could just lightly sand first depending on the texture.

  16. Must I sand to paint over chalk paint? Should I use a primer?
    Appreciate you going into detail when you give a tutorial.
    Thank you!

    1. There’s quite a bit of detail in the post, and if you hover over the blue links you can click on them for more painting posts. It depends if you’ve waxed them and if so, I’d sand and then prime. If not, you’re probably okay without sanding, but I’d still prime. Hope this helps.

  17. I love your blog!!! What paint would you use to paint kitchen cabinets? What white fir white ones? Thx

  18. Your dining room is gorgeous. Thank you so much for the detailed information on painting. I have learned so much from your post. I appreciate you taking time to post.

  19. Awesome helpful guide to painting furniture! Chalk paint around here is hard to find and it’s very expensive if you have a large piece to do.
    The table looks great! Your right about people aren’t staring up close at your final paint job. I so don’t see what others have missed around our home until I go to re-paint the wall/trim..etc…

  20. I love white furniture and you did a great job. I’ve painted a few pieces in the past few years. The owner of the local BM store suggested I use Aura waterborne interior paint and primer in pearl and indicated there was no need to add a sealer. Do you always do a sealer coat? I also just painted a couple of night tables but was unable to get what I needed at BM due to some shortages. I ended up using HH Beautitone’s trim & door pearl which is urethane enhanced. The tables painted up beautifully in a deep blue. Do you think I should seal the tops? The tables are in our guest room which gets used about 5 or 6 times a year.

    1. I don’t always seal tops Char and this case I wouldn’t bother.

  21. Great tips I love painted furniture. I paint everything wood, glass, plastic anything. When I get tired of something I just paint it.

    1. Thanks Miki…and the power of paint is truly amazing!

  22. Fantastic results, excellent tutorial! Thank you!

  23. Love your blog! Wonderful transformation and so refreshing. Can you tell me where you purchased the white vases holding the peonies?

  24. Katherine says:

    I have a kitchen table I’d like to paint like this, but I’m worried how it will look over time with it being used daily in a family with kids. Is this finish scrubbable?

    1. I’m not sure that this type of finish would take a beating Katherine. Most painted surfaces would likely get scratched with young kids over time.

  25. First off… love this blog. And you must have read my mind and needed information on how to paint a piece I have had for decades… yes decades. It has moved with me from my first apartment, to a storage unit, to my second apartment and now my house about 11 years ago. It is a large pine tv unit that I use now for handbags… yes I have that many, don’t judge me… to hanging jewelry on the inside doors. Life saver!! But, with our recent master bath and our bedroom redo it no longer fits with the decor… but cannot get rid of it. When I looked for a new piece… $2000 and UP is not in my budget. Not after doing a marble bathroom… yikes! That went completely over budget!! So paint it I will. Since I am looking to give it some depth on the corners, do you have any suggestions for a wax to use? Anything would be appreciated. It has some nice curves like it’s owner my husband says 😉

    1. Thank you for reading the blog Pat, I do appreciate each and every reader! Sounds like a worthwhile piece to rescue for personal storage indeed. I have used this wax for decades! It’s all natural and comes in tinted forms as well as clear. https://amzn.to/3Sha7QH

  26. My only gripe with BM Advance is that it can nick and chip easily. I painted my vanity with it and would not use it again. I had read reviews that this was a problem but hoping it wouldn’t be for me. Maybe putting the poly acrylic over it would prevent it? Glad you’re happy. What a great find and fun project

    1. Hi Nanci. I haven’t had an issue personally with BM Advance and my biggest tip is to let it cure for at least a week after painting to give the paint a stronger bond. That being said, yes…I would touch up your vanity and then seal it.

  27. I love the lushness of your dining room…..the mirror is gorgeous. Thanks for the lessons on painting furniture.

    1. Thanks much Marcia and I’ll be sharing more of the dining room shortly as our kitchen renovation has just been completed!

  28. That dresser is gorgeous, I love it so much. I have had great luck with Advance paint. It’s thin and often takes 3 coats, several days between coats and has to cure 30 days before we can use the furniture in an area with 50% humidity. But, the first time we used it was on a dresser in our kitchen for the coffee station, microwave and toaster. Once, when I was descaling the coffee pot, I forgot to place the carafe, and hot vinegar poured all over it. That dresser took a beating and still looked great. I did run one coat over the top when we moved as the new owners wanted it. I couldn’t believe how well it held up, so that’s all I use now, although my husband thinks I’m over the top. I have never sealed it, however. That roller is the way.

    1. Great tips Nancy and I too have found that with enough drying time BM Advance is bullet solid! Enjoy your week and thanks for reading.

  29. do you think this or chalk paint is better for a table that kids will be using for arts and crafts etc? what do you think is tougher? i guess chalk paint you can continuously touch up?

    1. If it’s for a crafting table Sara then chalk paint is probably best. As you mentioned, it’s easy to touch up on a regular basis as necessary.