The chalk paint trend was massive. Suddenly, DIYers around the country were coating everything in sight with it. But what if you get a piece of furniture and don’t like the chalk paint finish? What if figuring out how to remove chalk paint is plaguing you?
Chalk paint became ridiculously popular for a few reasons. It usually requires little prep, primer, or sanding. Plus, it dries fast, blends well, distresses with ease, and produces a lovely matte finish.
But that doesn’t mean everyone likes it. If you don’t, that’s okay; you can remove it.
The best way to remove chalk paint is:
- Remove the wax
- Scrub remaining surface paint off with a sponge
- Use steel wool to remove more paint residue
- Rinse and dry
- Sand away stains
- Use an engraving tool to get paint in hard to reach areas
- Sand the entire surface
- Clean the surface
The process of removing chalk paint is fairly simple, though it can be a little labor-intensive. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove chalk paint, including everything you need to get the job done right.
How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood: Step-by-Step Guide
1. Gather Your Materials
Before you start trying to remove chalk paint from wood furniture, it’s smart to get all of your materials together. Why? Because you can make sure you have everything you require, eliminating the need to head to the store halfway through your project.
Here’s a quick checklist for removing chalk paint from wood:
- Eye protection
- White mineral spirit
- Steel wool (fine and ultrafine)
- Sandpaper (240 grit)
- Hand sander
- Engraving tool with a sanding head
- Lint-free cloths
- Bucket of water
- A warm, sunny day
The reason sunshine and warmth are important is you want to make sure the water you apply dries quickly. Wood and water don’t always mix if that H2O is allowed to sit. But, with the help of a nice day, the chances of that happening diminish greatly.
2. Remove the Wax
Before doing anything, you want to put on your gloves, respirator, and eye protection. White mineral spirits can be harmful, so safety first.
Most chalk paint furniture has a coating of wax on the paint. Wax protects the surface, so it’s a common step when a person uses chalk paint on wood.
You need to get through the wax to reach the chalk paint below. Apply some mineral spirits to a lint-free cloth, and work the surface. Use a circular motion as you rub, reapplying white mineral spirits whenever the cloth gets a bit too dry.
As you work, hose off the piece with water regularly. Keep rubbing until the paint starts to come off in several places.
3. Grab a Sponge and Scrub
Chalk paint isn’t particularly durable, especially in comparison to many other painted finishes like lacquers. That means you’ll be able to get nearly all of the paint removed with relative ease.
Begin by taking a sponge and dampening it with white mineral spirits. Next, choose a section of the painted surface and start scrubbing.
Apply steady pressure, but don’t try to scrape with the sponge. Let the mineral spirits do at least some of the work.
After scrubbing a section for a bit, rinse it with some water. Also, rinse your sponge off between areas, ensuring paint build-up isn’t diminishing the sponge surface’s texture.
Then, continue working around the piece of furniture. You want to get as much of the paint off as possible, so it does take a bit of elbow grease. But the whole process usually goes much faster than you’d expect.
4. Use Steel Wool for Stubborn Spots
Once you get the bulk of the paint removed, you’re going to see some spots where the chalk paint made its way into the grain. At times, even the rougher side of a sponge isn’t going to get to it.
When you see that, shift over to steel wool. Again, you want to apply steady pressure, but not enough to gouge the surface.
When it doubt, work slowly and methodically, using gentle pressure. While it may mean having to do more passes, you can make sure that the wood is preserved.
In many cases, steel wool will handle all of the remaining paint. But, if it doesn’t, don’t panic. This isn’t the final refinishing step. Just get as much as possible.
5. Rinse and Let Dry
After you’ve conquered the stubborn spots, it’s time for a bit of a cleaning. Use fresh water to rinse off the surface, ensuring any paint residue is handled.
Next, take a lint-free cloth and dry the surface. Remove as much moisture as possible, paying special attention to any nooks and crannies you may find.
Then, let the piece sit in a warm, sunny spot. Exactly how long it will take may depend on how nice the day is, the shape of the piece, relative humidity, and a few other variables.
Worst case, check the piece once an hour if you’re hoping to finish the project on the same day. If not, let it dry outside until the sun starts to set. Make sure the furniture is sheltered from the elements overnight, such as by placing it in a garage or shed, bringing it indoors, or setting it on a covered deck, porch, or patio.
6. Sand Away Stains
If there are still spots where you can see paint, it’s time for some sandpaper. You can use a hand sander or handle the entire process by hand, whichever works best for you.
As with the other steps, it’s all about steady pressure that isn’t too aggressive. After all, sanding removes part of the wood, so you want to be cautious to avoid unintentional damage.
Usually, 240 grit sandpaper will do the trick. As you work, sand with the grain. Continue sanding until all of the paint on the larger surfaces is removed.
7. Grab an Engraving Tool to Get Hard to Reach Paint
If your wood furniture piece has some ornate designed, layered trim, or other intricate aspects, there may be paint trapped in the crevices. Luckily, with an engraving tool (like a Dremel) and a sanding head, you can reach those spots.
This is another step where caution is crucial. If you don’t have much experience with engraving tools, it’s easy to underestimate their power.
After attaching the sanding head, start on a crevice that will be hard to see once you finish the piece. This will let you get a feel for the process, including the amount of pressure you need to apply and how quickly you need to move.
Work your way around the piece, using the sanding head until the last bits of paint are gone. How long this takes depends on the complexity of the design, so plan accordingly.
8. Sand the Entire Surface
Once all of the paint is gone, give the entire piece a once over. This will let you even out the surface and increase the odds that you’ll spot an area you may have missed.
Additionally, it ensures the surface is ready for refinishing. Once done, you’ll be able to use any standard wood finishing approach.
9. Clean the Surface
With the sanding complete, it’s a good idea to clean the surface one last time. Grab a fresh lint-free cloth, a bit of white mineral spirit, and wipe it down.
Once the piece is fully dry, you’re done. Now, you can refinish it however you’d like.
How to Remove Chalk Paint from Glass – A Quick Guide
Whether you’re dealing with a mirror, picture frame, or table insert, removing chalk paint from glass is pretty simple. All it requires is one simple tool and elbow grease.
So, what do you need to remove chalk paint from glass? You need a razor blade.
Not the kind you shave with, mind you. Instead, you want to get a straight razor.
While you can technically just grip the non-sharpened side of the blade, that isn’t the smartest move. If you go for a razor scraper tool instead, you’ll get a nice handle. Your grip will be significantly better, and it’s much more comfortable to use.
Once you have your razor scraper, hold the blade at a 45-degree angle to the glass surface. Apply steady pressure, and push the blade through the paint.
This is a great approach for cleaning up drips, edges, and spots that can occur if you don’t remove the mirror or glass before applying chalk paint to a frame or piece of furniture. However, if you need to clean an entire surface, using a razor blade scraper could take forever. In that case, consider getting a larger wall scraper instead.
How to Remove Chalk Paint from Carpet
Whenever you paint, errant drips are always a possibility. If some chalk paint lands on your carpet, you may be tempted to panic. Don’t.
Removing chalk paint from carpet is possible. It’s water-based, which makes the process easier. You just need the right tools and cleaners, and a little bit of know-how.
Here’s an overview of how it’s done when the paint is wet:
- Blot, blot, blot
- Use warm water and dish soap mixture
- Keep blotting, working from the outside in
- Use paper towels to soak up excess moisture
- Once the stain is gone, let dry
Here’s a step-by-step look at how to remove chalk paint from carpet.
1. Gather Materials
Before you start trying to remove chalk paint from the carpet, you’ll need to gather a few items together. Here’s a quick checklist of what you need to remove chalk paint from carpet:
- Clean rags (several)
- Steamer (optional: for dry stains only)
- Mild liquid dish detergent
- Warm water in a bowl
- Paper towels
Optional Step: Prepping Dry Chalk Paint Stains
If you don’t spot the chalk paint on your carpet until it is dry, you can still take care of the stain. Chalk paint is water-based, so you can essentially rehydrate it.
Often, the easiest way is with a handheld steamer. By steaming the stain, you can rehydrate and soften the paint, allowing you to clean it up. With this approach, you can monitor your progress and don’t have to saturate your carpet to rehydrate the stain.
Alternatively, you could use a clothing iron with a steam function, placing a towel or rag between the stain and the iron. Then, you essentially iron the towel, as the steam will work through the material. However, the paint could seep through the towel, so you do risk the iron coming in direct contact with the paint, which could ruin it.
Additionally, since you can’t see as you work, you may smear the paint accidentally as it softens. It’s also possible to press the paint into the carpet fibers due to the weight of the iron. That’s why this option isn’t ideal.
After choosing your approach, steam the paint until it rehydrates and softens. Once the paint is prepped, start with step two.
2. Blot to Remove the Excess Paint
Your first step is to remove as much of the excess paint as possible. To make sure you don’t spread the chalk paint around or force it deep into the fibers, grab some paper towels and blot, don’t rub.
Start at the outside of the stain and blot toward the middle. If the paper towels get too damp with paint, throw them away and get new ones.
3. Create Warm Water and Soap Mixture
After blotting away the excess paint, add some mild liquid dish detergent to your bowl of warm water. Mix it a bit, then grab a rag.
4. Apply Soap and Water Mixture
Dip a slightly gathered up corner of a rag in the soap mixture. Don’t wring it out; you want it to be wet, not damp.
5. Continue Blotting
With your soapy cloth corner, continue blotting the stain. Start from the outside, and slowly work your way toward the center.
If the section of the rag gets dried out, dip it in the soap mixture again. If it’s too covered in paint, move to a different spot on the rag or grab a new one.
Keep an eye on your soap mixture too. As you continue dipping, some of the paint will transfer into the bowl. If it starts to build up, pour out that water, and make a fresh batch of the soap mixture.
6. Soak Up Excess Water with Paper Towels
As you work, moisture is going to build up in your carpet. Once it starts to accumulate a bit, grab some clean paper towels and blot with them. They will soak up some paint and water, helping with the cleaning process and reducing the moisture level.
7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 Until Stain is Gone
Continue repeating steps 5 and 6 as needed. You want to keep working until the stain is no longer visible, and any paper towels you use to dry the stain don’t show any signs of paint.
8. Let Carpet Air Dry
After the final blotting, you can let the carpet air dry. Usually, that will take no more than a couple of hours.
Ultimately, it is possible to remove chalk paint for a variety of materials and surfaces. The methods above can handle most situations, allowing you to get rid of chalk paint with relative ease.
I hope you enjoyed all of the how-to instructions above. If you have any tips that can help people remove chalk paint from other surfaces or materials, head to the comments section below and share them. And, if you know anyone who is struggling to get rid of chalk paint on furniture, glass, or carpet, feel free to share the article. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.