DIY Black Chalk Finish Paint

How to give vintage and antique furniture a new look with DIY Black Chalk Finish Paint.

While the trend in furniture for the past few years has seen a return to wood stains and bleached wood, 2023 is starting to see people going back to painted furniture pieces. In my opinion, black painted furniture is classic and stands the test of time.

Antique high boy chest of drawers before sanding.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure for full details.

This was a paint project I did for a friend and didn’t have any great pictures of it in the home after it was finished. I had taken the photos in my garage and in the back of the truck before delivery.

This was an entire set…bed, chest of drawers, dresser, mirror, and side table.  So I had to get my sister to help with this or I would have been working on it for a month.

Antique high boy dresser before sanding.

Painting wood furniture, especially vintage or antiques is not for everyone. I have zero issue doing it. There is no reason you should have to live with a piece you don’t love. It’s all wood and can be stripped if you change your mind.

For this job my friend wanted the furniture painted black and she wanted it distressed. I already had a can of Glidden Duo paint in Onyx Black that I knew was the perfect shade of black so I decided to make my own paint.

I have had people mention to me they heard you should not make homemade chalk finish paint with a paint + primer but I have done it a few times and I haven’t had any issues.  If you are worried about mixing your own paint, Annie Sloan has a great black called Graphite. If you would like to try your own, here is what I did.

Homemade Chalk Finish Paint Recipe

First step is to mix the Plaster of Paris with the cold water.  It will have lumps so make sure you stir until they are all gone.  It will be the consistency of skim milk.  Then add the latex paint.  Again, mix together until completely combined.

I don’t usually sand when I use a chalk finish paint because it is not required. However, this was such a big job and the furniture had been in storage for years so I wanted to make certain the paint would adhere.

Older stains and oils can bleed through paint. Because I was using black I would have more than likely not noticed if it did happen. Being safe and doing the prep work was the choice for me.

Sanding antique dresser before painting it.

After we cleaned off all the dust, we painted! Choose quality paint brushes and you will be much happier with your makeover. Depending on the type of finish you want your painted furniture have you may want to use a paint sprayer.

Use paint brushes when you are going to wax seal a piece. This gives it more depth in my opinion.

Once the chalk paint has dried it’s time to distress. Using a 220 grit sandpaper is best for chalk paint. It allows you to remove paint in small amounts. This was not a full distressing project. We were going for a more natural wear look.

The best way to do this is with a sanding block because they are easy to control. Sand areas around the edges of the piece. The drawers, corners, places that would be touched naturally more often.

Then it all got waxed. I used Annie Sloan clear wax. This wax is not as easy to work with as some other brands but it has an amazing finish and holds up very well.

Furniture Wax Tip!

The trick to getting the best finish when waxing over chalk paint, especially Annie Sloan wax, is to apply in a small amount. Applying a thick layer is very hard to buff. This will cause a sticky finish that doesn’t buff to a good shine.

DIY Black Chalk Finish Painted Dresser in black.

It is probably my favorite painted furniture I’ve ever done.

I decided not to restore the furniture hardware but instead leave in it’s original state because it looked so great with the black.

Black painted furniture loaded in truck for delivery.

My love for black paint is seen all through out our home from our black bathroom painted walls, to our black painted fireplace tile. If you are looking for the perfect warm black to try, my favorite is Sherwin Williams Black Magic.

Other projects with chalk finish paint

Mantel Makeover


Coffee Table Makeover

Coffee Table Makeover-Homemade Chalk Finish Paint


  1. Do you have a photo of the bed? I have these from my grandmother – dresser, 2 chest of drawers and dressing table. The bed and dressing table still were out in storage and lost or damaged. I’ve never seen them but would love to know what to look for to add to set.

  2. Any chance you remember what latex paint /color you used? I love the color you got!

  3. Just bought rustoleum chalked charcoal paint but it isn’t black like I thought. I’m going to mix your chalk paint with black but my question is, can I use the rustoleum chalked matte clear topcoat instead of waxing? I’m redoing my bedroom furniture also .

  4. You will get some brush strokes. If you want a smooth finish try using a foam roller. I like the 6 inch ones made for kitchen cabinets. You will have to paint the details with a brush though if your furniture has any. I’d do that first then roll.

  5. Is there any issue with brush strokes left imprinted in the paint?

  6. These pieces look amazing! Ivery iced my own chalk paint with a Behr brand and after.mixing in the diluted PoP, it lightened my black paint to a deep dark charcoal color!? I did 2 coats and still…? The only difference is that I used warm water but I don’t really think it was that. Might you have any idea why I can’t get it to stay and deep black like the original? TIA, Jules

  7. I painted a small table with “my own” chalk paint. It lightened the original shade. Does plaster of Paris cause this?

  8. It may lighten the color some but not too terribly much. One thing about chalk paint though is that it is a dry chalky color and will darken a good bit when waxed! I would test it on a piece of scrap wood with was to see that it is the color you want.

  9. Hi Sonya, wow! Stunning result! I’m just starting out chalk painting and want to try something with the black finish. I decided to cut the recipe to a third (1/2 cup paint and whatever a third of a half cup worked out to for the plaster of Paris and water) for a practice run on an old coffee table. When I mixed them – it went grey and I’m worried this will happen if I mix the full recipe as well. How did you get it to stay black? Thanks!

  10. The only way to not see brush strokes is with a sprayer and you can certainly put chalk paint in your sprayer. Just add water to it!

  11. Beautious! I have done small pieces with Chalk paint – and love it. BUT I need to redo my dining room table- i am trying to save it after my house fire. I am NOT a fan of BRUSH STROKES – so the top of the table literally is stopping me from starting the project. so i ask — did you BRUSH this on- and if so, can you see the “start-stop” of the paint? Can you take a photo of the top – or any large surface area where you would have to blend the strokes? My other option is to use my sprayer but i won’t be able to use chalk painr in it. THanks for any reply from anyone!!!!

  12. Hi Sonya!

    I have just discovered your blog. Just love it!
    Please tell me what kind of brush do you use to paint the furniture?

    Thank You,

  13. I am happy that I came across your blog today, as I love to refurbish quality furniture. Your set came out beautifully, I’m sure your client was pleased with the outcome. I am interested in Paris Grey that was mentioned. Do you know who makes it? Again, kudos; you really did a beautiful job.
    This is when I sort of wish our home wasn’t “done”, but after 48 years of marriage, we have pretty much finished our decorating, and have no room for any “new ideas” unless it is a project like yours, refurbishing we already have! It is nice to be all cozy and
    “Finished”, but I love decorating, and the ideas keep coming, with no more room! Oh well, I do enjoy seeing new ideas, and if my
    Kids need any help or advise, I keep a file for just that sort of thing, and your beautiful project was added to that file! Thank you for such good advice. Experience is a wonderful thing, and I love to read what people are doing with old furniture!
    So thank you again!

  14. So glad you found me! I don’t know the age of the furniture but this was also the clients grandmothers. Sometimes if you have find the name and style of the furniture in a drawer or on the back you can google it and see some similar. This furniture was given new life with the black. It was gorgeous!

  15. Love this post. I came across it on Pinterest looking for chalk paint ideas. I was shocked to see the same style furniture I own! My parents were given what looks like the same set as you finished (slightly different drawer layout on shirt dresser) second hand in the early 1960s. Then it was passed down to me. Which I LOVE IT. such amazing quality. Rare to find in furnitire made these days. I know you mentioned this was for a client but I’m wondering if you know approx age of the furniture? I’d love to know more about how old mine actually is. Thank you for your post. Ironically im thinking of redoing my set for my daughter now.

  16. Yes, you can add more water. Even store bought Chalk paint thickens over time. I’ve added water to plenty of mine. I would make sure that you add enough water so that it will not thicken before you are done with this coat. Adding the water can ever so slightly change the color and you wouldn’t want that to happen half through painting a coat.

  17. love your black bedroom set. I used your homemade chalk paint recipe (sort of). I kept reading other ones saying to mix the Plaster to a pancake consistency so I probably only used half of the water and then mixed it in with my 1.5 cups of paint. It was a nice consistency of paint and covered very well for a first coat but fairly it quickly it started to thicken quite about before I finished. I added a splash of water to the remaining paint in my bowl. I’m assuming by the time I do the 2nd coat I will need to add more water still. Is this ok?

  18. Three options…1. Wax removes wax, so if you also have the clear wax you can go back over the dark and it will lift it off. 2. Sand it off 3. Paint back over it with paris grey.

  19. I put the antique dark wax by Annie Sloan over paris grey & it it makes it more yellow than i like. How can i remove it?

  20. I didn’t do any distressing before I painted. I sanded away some of the paint after the paint was dry, only in the areas that I think would get natural wear and tear.

  21. Your furniture looks wonderful. Can you tell me how you distressed the furniture prior to painting?

  22. So glad you found the post. Chalk type paint goes a long way. I painted 2 coats then distressed. You will need no more than a quart of paint to mix up your own.

  23. I stumbled across your post while searching DIY chalk paint as I prepare to paint my bedroom furniture. I have similar sized pieces (a dresser and tall drawers) as you posted and wondered about how much paint you used to complete this project and how many coats you did. Your furniture came out great! I hope to have the same results!

  24. Yes, you can use chalk paint on most anything. Distressing is all up to you, as little or as much as you like, so go for it. I have not tried the ultramatte. I almost ordered it for my kitchen cabinets but decided to stick with the soft touch varnish. I plan to try it though. Let me know how you like it if you decided to keep it.

  25. Uh..can I chaulk paint over the cheepie put-it-together-yourself wallboard/cardboard type furniture that comes from WalMart-type stores? Also is there such a thing as too much distressing? I did a solid birch dresser but I think it needs more distressing before varnishing it. BTW, have you tried the ultramatte? I picked it up but now I’m thinking I should get the soft touch instead. Advice please…

  26. Maybe after years of wear and you would like to buff up the shine but I have never had to do it. I have a piece that was painted a few years ago and still looks great. The wax gets better with time and hardens sort of.

  27. I’m about to paint my daughter’s bedroom furniture, but I keep seeing things about chalk paint that you have to rewax it every so often. I’m wondering if you know anything about that, and also how durable has it been on your furniture?

  28. Wow! I never dreamed of refinishing my bedroom set, but now that I have seen exactly ( I have the same exact set) what it could look like, I just might. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. This is beautiful! I just mixed some home made chalk paint too for the Cargo furniture set I made over. Loved how it came out as well as the savings over purchasing paint!

  30. I did by mine at the hardware store but thanks for sharing about the option at the craft store…I did realize they may be different! ~Sonya

  31. I make my own chalkpaint all the time almost the same way except I use warm tap water to mix with the plaster of Paris. It seems to dissolve the lumps so much better. Also, I learned the hard way…buy your plaster of Paris at the hardware section and not the craft section. It is smoother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *