How to Seal Chalk Paint?


We get a lot of calls about chalk paints, usually from people who want to know which products are best for finishing chalk paint or sealing it. Although we don’t sell the paints themselves, we do stock the products to finish them. So we thought it’d be a good idea write about chalk paints, how to use them and what’s the best way to make sure your project stays looking great.

Chalk Paint Project
Chalk Paint Project – from

About sealing chalk paint

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint gets its name from the lovely velvety matt finish it provides. It’s brilliant for decorating indoor and out, including furniture, walls, ceilings and even floors. It’s eco-friendly, containing extremely low volatile organic compounds (V.O.Cs) which have virtually no smell, and there are several manufacturers to choose from.

Shabby Chic furniture piece using chalk paint and fiddes wax
Shabby Chic Finish using Chalk Paint and Fiddes Wax

How to use chalk paints

Chalk paint is remarkably versatile. It sticks to more or less any surface including wood, concrete, metal, matt plastic and even ceramic. It dries super-fast, making it very easy to use. And it’s perfect for achieving decorative finishes like lime washes, antiquing and shabby chic looks, all of which means it’s extremely fashionable right now in interior décor circles.

Chalk paint is easy to work with. You rarely need to do any preparation. There’s no sanding or priming required, which is good news for those of us who love instant results! The colours are stunning – Autentico, for example, manufactures 130 different colours inspired by vintage décor styling. And you can even mix the paints together very easily to create your own unique colours.

It’s water soluble which means you can add water for a smoother surface, thicken it by leaving the tin open, and even add more water to transform it into the perfect product for creating beautiful lime wash effects; for example, bringing out the grain in oak. You can use more or less any kind of brush too, creating everything from a dead flat to a heavily textured finish.

You’ll find a couple of handy videos about how to use chalk paint here, there are also a number of other great video tutorials on how to use chalk paint on YouTube.

Which products for sealing chalk paint do we recommend?

You can leave your finish as it is, of course. But how do you seal chalk paint? If you’re into creative paint effects or want to give the surface a lovely sheen, here’s what we recommend…

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish is wonderful stuff. It is designed to nourish and protect wood, whether it’s raw wood or has an existing finish like a water-based stain, solvent-based stain or French polish. It can also be used on top of a matt or satin varnish, lacquer and oil to increase the sheen level and provide a more traditional wax appearance. It’s ideal for any kind of interior wood and goes over chalk paint like a dream.

When might you use it? Say you’ve painted a bedside table with chalk paint and you want a shabby chic finish. Because the product comes in a range of colours, you can use a dark colour like Jacobean over the chalk paint, bringing out the patina and texture of the surface and making a feature of scratches and dinks for that classic shabby chic look.

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish
Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

Manns Classic Wax Polish

Manns Classic Beeswax Polish is such a treat to use, giving a beautiful sheen to chalk paints and acting as a protective layer. It’s a clear wax polish formulated to enhance surfaces by penetrating deep into them, helping to nourish and protect the finish. When you let it dry and buff it gently with a soft cloth, you get the most beautiful sheen.

Also see our full list of Wood Furniture Wax & Wax Polishes.

It’s worth mentioning that when applying a clear wax or varnish over chalk paint, it will likely alter the chalk paint colour to some degree. This is especially so with white finishes. Applying a clear coat over a white finish tends to make it turn yellowy, giving it an aged or Victorian look. Whilst this suits many down to the ground who are looking for an aged look, it’s not to everyone’s taste. For this reason, a test area of the base-coat and clear top-coat is highly recommended before starting any project.

Alternatives to Traditional Chalk Paints

Chalk paints are all the rage and massively popular with interior designers and shabby chic furniture makers who love the pastel colours and flat matt finish they produce. That said, there are some great alternatives that produce the same chalk paint finish but with better durability, meaning that it’s not necessary to seal them with a wax, polish or varnish. Our top recommendations are Ronseal Chalky Furniture Paint and Earthborn Eco Chic Paint. Both products do a great job of achieving that desirable chalk paint finish, but without the need to seal them afterwards.

Earthborn also produce a range of other eco friendly clay paints that are are suitable for furniture and other interior projects.

Need our help with your painting project?

Need our help with your painting project?

For more information about chalk and other paints, contact our team of resident experts who are always on hand to help with project advice and product recommendations. Alternatively, see our wood paints FAQ page which covers many of the most commonly asked questions about wood paints.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your project pictures with us and our followers, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great blogs that discuss working with paint

  • How to Paint New Wood
  • All About Fence Paint: How to Create Something Special
  • How to Remove Paint from Wood

    1. I painted a wooden table and chairs with chalk paint and then applied the wax. Can I put some kind of waterproof sealant on it so I can use the set on my screened in back porch?

      • Hi Kenny,

        Wax can be applied over any finish at all but nothing can be applied over wax apart from from more wax. If you attempt to apply anything apart from wax it won’t adhere as wax is such a soft coating.

    2. Hi, there! I am thinking of painting an antique wardrobe with chalk paint. Since the wardrobe has a very strong and glossy varnish, I wanted to ask you if only a shellec primer (no sanding) will do the trick before applying the chalk paint. Thanks in advance!

      • Hi Mara,

        As with almost any pre-painted or varnished surface, a little light sanding will probably still be required. This is to ‘key’ the surface so that the chalk paint can adhere or bond with the old finish. It depends on what brand of chalk paint you are using but it is worth double checking to see what their recommendation is. It may be possible to paint straight on to the surface or they may recommend that the surface is keyed and/or primed first. Advice can vary from one brand to another so please check with the manufacturer of the chalk paint that you plan to use.

        Always do a test area to assess adhesion and final finish before starting any project.

        Good luck with your project.

    3. Hello
      We have just repainted some panelled wood with GraceMary chalk paint. (It had previously been decorated with a similarly coloured product). The surface had been cleaned and lightly sanded. After 2 coats it looked well, evenly covered and with a flat appearance. After several days of allowing it to dry, a coat of Polyvine wax finish (satin finish) varnish was applied by brush, and the result is very streaky and blotchy indeed with some distinctly lighter patches. Unsure whether to recoat with paint, as a second coat of varnish seems unlikely to help at this stage. Any advice would be appreciated.
      J Morris

      • Good Afternoon Judith,

        Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. I am not familiar with the Polyvine Wax Finish Varnish, although I am aware that it can be mixed with paints I am not sure about application over the top of the paints. It may be worth contacting Polyvine directly to see if they have any advice on what the reason may be for the result you have achieved.

        I am sorry I could not be of more help on this occasion.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    4. Hi,

      Hoping you can help.

      I have sanded and painted a pine rocking chair with chalk paint and i’m Wondering whether to seal it or leave it as is.

      What would you recommend?

      Thanks in advance

      • Good Morning Joe,

        Chalk paint is great for refreshing and adding colour to an item, its is very limited in it protection however. You are able to apply wax or varnish to chalk paint, wax will add some sheen to the surface but give a moisture repellent finish that will help prevent staining. Wax is also limited in its level of protection but it can be reapplied whenever you feel that it is needed.

        Varnish is a far more durable finish and will protect the chair from marks, stains and spillages. Manns Extra Tough has a range of sheens from Matt to Super Glossy. I would advice care when applying a varnish over a chalk paint as over working the varnish can pull the paint. Spray application is the better option and will give an all over even finish.

        Test areas are always recommended as these top coats may change the finished colour slightly.

        I hope that helps and if you need any further advice please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page or call and speak to one of our friendly team on 01303 213838.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    5. Hello!!
      I have a problenlm with chalk paint (and I’ve tried a few brands!) but I don’t know if it has something to do with the sealing…
      So you all say that chalk paint doesn’t need any sanding but I’m finding it hard to believe because almost everytime I paint something without sandind (and i had quite a few projects already) what happens is that everything seems perfect….until (after the wax, of course) i scratch, even gently, my nail finger and the pait comes off.
      Sometimes this doesn’t happen. But few times. Most of the times it doesn’t take much to get the paint off, even though it is sealed with lacquer or wax.
      I do clean the furniture before painting and all…but it just doesn’t work.
      So, what am I doing wrong?
      I want to paint my bedroom door and I’m affraid that later the paint will come off…

      • Good Afternoon,

        Thank you for your enquiry. It could be that the paint needs a little help with adhesion to the surface that you are applying it to and this can be done with a light sand or even a more intense sand. This will give the surface a key and aid adhesion. Good preparation is the key for any project to be successful, even with chalk paints.

        Generally speaking Chalk paints are suitable for use on most surfaces, it is not a durable product however and it more about getting aesthetics. And getting the look that you want.

        For a more durable paint you could have a look at the Ronseal Chalky Furniture Paint it does not need sealing with a varnish or wax in the same way as chalk paint does.

        If you have any further questions at all please do let me know.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    6. Hi,

      I am painting a dressing table with Rustoleum chalk paint but when it’s dried if I rub my fingers over it it comes off. It’s like the paint is coming off.

      Any ideas why? Do I need to put something on top of it to seal it in? I thought you can just use the paint and it won’t come off.


      • Hello Maria,

        Have you applied it on top of an existing paint? Perhaps there has been a reaction. It could simply be the nature of the paint you have. Chalk paint, as the name suggest, is mainly made from chalk a powdery natural substance that gives the thick matt effect. For many people a sealer is required to add protection to the wood. You can use a varnish such as Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish to seal and protect the surface, care must be taken on application however to avoid pulling the paint.

        The most common option is to use a wax finish such as Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish

        Always try a test area first, I hope that has helped and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

        Kind Regards Samantha.

    7. Hello, I used chalk paint for the first time today – Rustoleum Antique White – and as the first coat has dried, it is tinged yellow. I can’t find any advice about this online! Could you please help? I’m painting a large pine built in wardrobe. The inside of the doors are absolutely fine, but they appear to have not been varnished with the stain that is on the outside. I think the chalk paint has reacted to the stain that was on the pine. Thankfully, I’ve only done one door so far (and only one coat) but I need to remedy it and avoid the other two doors and frame looking the same – nicotine stained! Is there a technique or product that you could recommend please?

      • Hello Samantha,

        If the paint has had a reaction to the existing finish then you will need to remove it before applying the chalk paint. Doing this will depend on the type of stain that you have on there. If it is a water based stain that is designed to give purely colour it could be removed by scrubbing with water.

        If it is a surface stain or varnish then you could have a look at using the Paint Panther Paint and Varnish Remover which is a gel like substance that makes the stain bubble up to be scraped off. Test areas are always recommended.

        Once you are back to bare wood then the paint can be applied and it is important to ensure that you stir it really really well. White pigments are the heaviest of all the colours and will sink to the bottom of the tin. Its also worth mentioning that applying a clear seal over the top will also result in a yellow tinge.

        I hope that helps and if you have chance its worth having a read of our Beautiful White Wood Finishes for Dreamy Interiors post to give hints about White Finishes.

        Kind regards Samantha.

    8. Hi I have spent days preparing an old pine kitchen dresser, masking out bits, making up my own chalk paint, painting and stenciling it. It looked fantastic then I needed to finish it by seLing it. I’d previously read online if you wax finish chalk paint then later want to change the colour etc it isn’t easy without stripping etc. So I bought a clear Matt varnish (it’s important to say we live in rural Spain’s not easy to buy some products). I’ve applied it to the top half of the dresser only so far. It’s a total disaster so very glossy. I could cry, is there any way I can move the varnish, perhaps with paint thinner and a rag or would I have to sand down and start again? Thanks in advance Lolly

      I forgot to say the colour is a very light grey. I’m worried about yellowing if I do redo the piece add a wax. How can I avoid that please? Lolly

      • Hello Lolly,

        I am sorry to hear that you have had a disappointing result with the varnish over the chalk paint. I would like to say there is a miracle cure for removing the varnish but ultimately whatever you do is likely to damage or remove the chalk paint also.

        Chalk paint is a great decorative finish but the durability is not great and so sealing it is required. Wax is common but again only suitable areas with limited use as it offers limited protection.

        When durability is needed then varnish is advised and to maintain that matt finish a matt varnish should be used. Due to the natural of varnish it could still have some reflective properties but the Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish is a good option and I have had many customer use it over chalk paint with success. Care must be taken if applying by brush or roller not to over work the varnish as this will pull the paint.

        To avoid the yellowing effect of a clear of white or pale grey you could add a minute amount of White Dye not more than 5% dye to varnish and this will help to reduce any yellowing, but it needs to mixed very very well and test areas carried out first.

        I wish you every success with your project and if you have any further questions I am here to help.

        Kind Regards Samantha.


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