I often get asked what furniture painting products I recommend, and what I believe the best furniture paint is. I’m also asked to compare chalk paint vs latex paint, and why one might be better than the other. I thought I would just break this down in a blog post for you.
If you haven’t checked out my furniture painting tutorial, that’s a good place to start as I walk you through the process step by step, and share how to get the most professional looking finish possible.
Chalk Paint vs Latex Paint
Let’s compare chalk paint and latex paint. First of all, I’ll start by saying it’s mainly all about preference and what type of finish you’re going for. Each type of paint has pros and cons, and each works better for certain aesthetics. My preference is latex paint, because I like a more modern finish. But let’s break them both down so you can determine which might be the best fit for you.
First of all, Annie Sloan created chalk paint so any other brand is typically referred to as “chalk finish paint.” But we will just talk about that general category of paints rather than focusing on a specific brand. Also, it is NOT chalkboard paint. It’s a totally different thing, and that tends to confuse some people.
Chalk finish paint is a decorative type of paint known for its matte finish and chalky texture. It is typically sealed with a wax or varnish, and because of its consistency, it’s a great type of paint to use for that vintage, aged, antique look. It’s easy to distress and the matte finish lends itself well to that weathered or farmhouse aesthetic. If that’s your jam, then this is your go to paint.
One of the pros of chalk finish paint is that it doesn’t require prep work. You just slap it on, which is extremely convenient. It’s also thicker so drips aren’t as much of an issue as with latex or other types of paint, and it goes on smooth even on previously painted pieces of furniture.
It’s also water-based, which is nice since it makes for easier cleanup and fewer fumes.
While this type of paint does tend to have a bit more texture to it, you can sand it smooth and depending on how you apply it you can get a variety of different looks with it. There are a lot of different brands that make this type of paint nowadays, so its easy to find.
Cons: Matte finish paint is generally harder to keep clean. The glossier the finish, the easier it is to wipe down and maintain. However, as long as you seal it properly this shouldn’t be a huge problem. It also tends to be a bit pricey.
There are also fewer color options than latex paint, although some brands do have a decent range of shades.
Latex paint is also water-based, which is great for easy cleanup. It’s also available in thousands of colors and multiple finishes. This is my go to paint (I’ll list my favorite products at the end of this post, but you can also check out this post to see my process.)
It dries quickly, is long lasting, and relatively affordable.
It comes in the following finishes: matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. The glossier the sheen, the easier it is to clean. Also, each sheen will give you a distinctly different look. High gloss tends to look more modern than matte finish. (Although I don’t recommend matte finish for furniture because as I mentioned, it is harder to keep clean.)
I almost always use semi-gloss paint on furniture, although on a few occasions I’ve used satin.
It’s also available in low-VOC and zero-VOC formulas, which is safer for the environment and for us.
Cons: It requires more prep work than chalk finish paint, so it’s a bit more time consuming. You do have to sand and prime before painting, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did as it gives you a smooth, professional looking finish.
You will often need more coats than chalk finish paint. While you can generally get away with 1-2 coats of chalk finish, with latex you’ll need 2-3. Thin coats are better than thick coats to get a smooth finish.
My Go To Products
These are the products I use when painting furniture:
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- Sanding block
- Tack cloth
- Foam Paint Roller
- Angled Brush
- Paint (I usually buy a quart if I’m just painting furniture with it) My favorite is Behr Marquee which you can find at Home Depot. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams are also good.
- Furniture Paste Finishing Wax
- Cotton Cloth
- OR Polycrylic (instead of furniture paste wax)
If you want to go the chalk finish paint route, then I recommend these products:
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