Can You Chalk Paint a Dining Table?

Chalk Paint Dining Table

Chalk paint is one of the most popular do-it-yourself renovations available for home remodeling. Chalk painting is simple and can drastically change the look of your rooms or furniture. Chalk painting side tables and dressers are popular home remodeling projects, but what about dining tables? 

Dining tables can be painted with chalk paint just like any other type of furniture, as long as it is sealed using a chalk paint sealing wax or top coat sealer. Chalk paint can be used to give a dining room table a distressed appearance. A solid coat can also be used for a colorful modern look. 

If you’ve never used chalk paint on furniture before, chalk painting your dining room table can be an intimidating plan. But following the right methods can help you end up with a good result, even if you’ve never painted furniture before. Read on to learn more about the process of chalk painting a dining room table. 

Using Chalk Paint on Dining Room Tables

Chalk paint may show up more commonly in other types of furniture, but it is still a good choice for fixing up a dining room table. Whether you want to revamp your table to fit into a new interior design or you want to rescue something you found at a yard sale, chalk paint is a versatile tool for making it the focal point of your dining room. 

The major concern with using chalk paint on a dining room table is that a dining room or kitchen table endures a lot more daily use than other pieces. Rubbing and lying objects on the table can potentially wear down a chalk paint job over time. 

For refinishing a dining room table, chalk paint has many versatile qualities. Here are some of the reasons chalk paint has become so popular for use on wooden furniture like tables and chairs: 

  • It is commonly available. While chalk paint may be a relatively new trend, it is now easy to find in most home improvement stores. This makes it an easy tool to work with in any room. You won’t have to worry about sourcing a specialty material.
  • It comes in several colors. Chalk paint colors tend to be pastel or neutral colors, but there are plenty to choose from. Home improvement stores such as Lowes and Home Depot can tint a white chalk paint in the color of your choice to match the rest of the décor in your home.
  • It can be made at home. Even if chalk paint isn’t readily available at your local hardware store, homemade chalk paint can be mixed easily using by taking a base coat of paint and adding baking soda, Plaster of Paris, or calcium carbonate.
  • It gives décor a worn, cozy appearance. Chalk paint is a great addition for rustic interior design schemes such as farmhouse chic or bohemian. Gentle distressing or antiquing can give the furniture a lived-in and sophisticated look, even if it’s cheap or brand-new.
  • It’s easy to apply. There are no specialty tools or techniques necessary for using chalk paint on furniture. While chalk paint should ideally be sealed for longevity and looks, this is not a complicated process to complete.
  • It allows you to keep your furniture. Got a new furniture set or design scheme, but your dining room table doesn’t match? Chalk paint lets you give your table new life rather than forcing you to buy new furniture to complement your new interior. 

There are tons of good reasons to try out chalk paint on a dining room table if your current table is looking a little drab. It’s also a good way to upcycle cheap or secondhand tables into something worth displaying in the dining room. 

How to Prepare a Dining Room Table for Chalk Paint

Before you lay a brush on your dining room table to add chalk paint, you’ll need to prepare the table. Prepping the dining room table correctly before painting can help prevent problems such as:

  • Paint peeling
  • Uneven coats
  • Debris trapped in the paint
  • other issues

These are a few of the things you need to do before applying chalk paint to your dining room table (Source: Country Living): 

  • Clean the table. Dining room tables can build up a layer of dirt, dust, sugary drinks, and grease from being used for dining. Every part of the table (including the legs) should be thoroughly cleaned to remove this layer. A damp microfiber cloth can be used to wipe down the entire table. Another dry cloth should be used to immediately dry the wood.
  • Sand the table. Most dining room tables come with a clear, glossy topcoat that protects the wood. This finish will keep paint from grabbing the wood, so it has to be scuffed up. If the surface of the dining room table is unfinished or rough, sanding may not be necessary. Sanding can be performed with medium-grit sandpaper. Wipe away any sanding residue.
  • Prime the table. Priming a table before painting it allows the paint to stick to the table more easily. It also helps prevent bleeding. Priming is a good idea when you’re chalk painting wooden dining room tables that are high in tannin, such as cedar, mahogany, fir, and redwood. Shellac-based primers are the best choice for pairing with chalk paints. (Source: Rustoleum)

After you have cleaned, sanded, and primed the dining room table, let the primer cure completely before you begin to paint it. The table should also be sanded lightly between coats of primer to keep the table surface smooth and even. It’s better to use your fine-grit sandpaper for this part of the sanding process to avoid taking off too much primer or paint. 

Supplies for Chalk Painting a Dining Room Table

Chalk painting projects are popular in interior design because they require relatively few materials in comparison to other projects. This is a checklist of the materials you’ll need to pull off a chalk painting: 

Chalk painting may require many supplies, but skipping any of them will reduce your chances of a successful chalk painting job. 

Can You Use a Machine to Sand a Dining Room Table?

An orbital or belt sander can be used to sand a dining room table before adding primer and chalk paint. However, you need to be careful not to scratch or gouge the surface of the table. These kinds of defects can show out more prominently after a chalk paint job. If you’re unfamiliar with your sander, practicing on a separate piece of wood before taking it to the table can be a good idea.  

How Much Chalk Paint Should I Buy for a Dining Room Table?

A quart of chalk paint is capable of covering 150 square feet, which should be more than enough to cover most dining room tables, even with multiple coats. (Source: The Purple Painted Lady

You’re not likely to use even half of a quart of chalk paint to finish off a standard-sized dining room table. So, choosing a few other pieces of furniture to paint can help finish off the paint and can give the room a more cohesive look. 

How to Paint a Dining Room Table with Chalk Paint

Once you’ve cleaned, sanded, and primed your dining room table, the next step is to paint it. Chalk paint can be sourced commercially, or it can be mixed by hand. Using homemade chalk paint is usually a better option if you’re planning to paint multiple pieces of furniture. Commercial chalk paint can be relatively expensive compared to other types such as latex. 

Chalk paint is applied similarly to any other type of furniture paint or stain. Remodelers can benefit from using a natural-bristle paintbrush over more common artificial bristle brushes. This is because artificial bristles can give the surface of the chalk paint a scratchy and uneven texture. 

Here are some tips for using chalk paint on your dining room table: 

  • Make sure to shake your chalk paint well and stir it with a stirring stick to make sure that the composition of the paint is even throughout before you start using it.
  • Paint the dining room table using long, smooth strokes. Keep in mind that chalk paint dries very quickly compared to latex paint or other types, so you need to work quickly.
  • A small foam roller can be used to paint areas of the dining room table that may be difficult to paint evenly with a brush. Alternately, getting several natural-bristle paintbrushes of varying sizes can give you some options for getting into those tight nooks and crannies without drips and runs.
  • While painting, run your brush or roller along with the grain of the wood. Chalk paint dries quickly, so the top of the dining room table should be painted all in one go from one side to the other without allowing a stripe of paint to dry. This will help keep the paint even throughout the project. 

Since chalk painting has to be done relatively fast, it’s a good idea to get all of your painting supplies gathered ahead of time rather than try to scramble and collect them as you go. It’s also a good idea to put down some kind of protective barrier between the table and the floor to prevent any paint drips from splattering or dripping on it. 

How to Add Finishing Touches to a Chalk Paint Table

After a dining room table has been painted, there are a few ways you can lean into the shabby chic aesthetic if you want the table to look distressed. Here are two ways you can make your chalk paint table match a farmhouse or shabby chic aesthetic: 

  • Distress the table. You can distress your dining room table’s paint job by taking sandpaper and sanding the table down to the bare wood along places where the table would take natural wear and tear. This includes areas such as the trim and edges.
  • Add an antiquing stain. An antiquing stain can be used over chalk paint to help give the dining room table an older appearance. The stain should be applied in a thin layer over the chalk paint before wiping most of the excess away, leaving stain primarily in the recessed areas of the table. It’s also a good idea to brush some antiquing stain into distressed edges. 

Chalk paint is closely associated with distressed furniture since it’s used to help upcycle older furniture, but you don’t necessarily have to distress your chalk painted table for it to look good. A smooth coat of undistressed chalk paint can add color and depth to an older table without making it look old. 

How to Seal a Chalk Paint Dining Room Table

After a dining room table has been painted with chalk paint, give it a chance to dry. It’s important for the table to dry between coats as well. When enough coats have been applied, it’s time for the table to be sealed. 

Sealing is a crucial step in painting any piece of furniture with chalk paint, but especially a dining room or kitchen table. These pieces of furniture endure daily use that can cause the paint on the table to be damaged very quickly without some kind of protection. 

Polyurethane brush-on sealer can be used on darker colored chalk paint tables. The only problem is that this type of topcoat has a tendency to yellow with age. For white or off-white chalk paint applications, a furniture sealing wax is a much better choice. This sealing wax can be used on darker-colored tables too.  

Adding a wax or sealer helps give your furniture a smooth appearance. Sealing also makes it much easier to wipe the furniture down without causing damage to the paint. 

Common Mistakes when Chalk Painting 

Chalk painting is a pretty simple process. This is why it has become so popular with people who have never remodeled a piece of furniture before. However, there are also mistakes you can make while chalk painting a dining room table that may ruin your final result. 

Below you’ll find some common mistakes that people run into while chalk painting and how you can help solve them to save your table. (Source: Lost and Found Décor)

Too Many Brushstrokes in the Paint

While some DIYers like the look of brushstrokes in chalk paint, this is not a suitable result for everyone. Brushstrokes in chalk paint are usually the result of thick paint. Thinning the paint with a little water can help reduce the impact of the bristles against the surface of the table. Keeping your paintbrush damp by misting it with water before applying paint can help keep paint flowing and fluid. 

The Chalk Paint is Too Gritty

Some homemade chalk paint ingredients such as baking soda leave a much grittier, textured appearance and feel than others. If the homemade chalk paint you have is too gritty, it’s a good idea to try a different homemade chalk recipe with calcium carbonate dissolved in warm water. This will result in a smoother finish. You may also want to reattempt the project with a commercial chalk paint.  

The Furniture Looks Unfinished

Adding too much distress to the furniture while chalk painting can make the entire project look messy and half-baked. It’s nice to add slight wearing here and there, but too much distressing can make your furniture look like something that needs to be on the side of the road. Keep in mind that less is more when you’re adding secondary touches like antiquing stain and distressing. 

Busy Designs Look Tacky

Unless you’re painting a piece of furniture for a small child, contrasting colors of chalk paint or busy design can make a table look cheap. For dining room tables, it’s a better option to either paint the table in a single color or paint the legs and leave the tabletop natural. 

Stain is Bleeding Through the Chalk Paint

On lighter chalk paint pieces, wood stain can quickly begin to bleed through. This leaves the furniture with a pinkish or brownish tinge that is unattractive and unwanted in most designs. To prevent this, prime your furniture carefully or seal wood furniture with a clear shellac before you begin painting with chalk paint. Adding additional coats can also help to prevent bleed-through. 

The problems above can make a chalk paint job look amateurish. This is one of the reasons many people can be put off by the chalk paint decor style without ever seeing a good example of it. Following the right process and taking the time to do finishing steps such as sanding and sealing make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your final product. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know everything you need to know about chalk painting a dining table. We hope that this guide will serve as an all-in-one guide for your chalk painting needs!


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

Related Posts