Is Chalk Paint Waterproof?

You’re interested in using chalk paint, but the piece is going to be outside or where water could get on it. Is chalk paint a good choice for furniture that will get wet?

Chalk paint is water-resistant. It needs a sealer of lacquer if the surface is exposed to water. It is not waterproof and should not be used on surfaces that are in constant contact with water.

This article will assist you in learning more about chalk paint, what it is, and where to use it. Read on to learn why chalk paint is water-resistant and when a lacquer is recommended.

Is Chalk Paint Waterproof

Is Chalk Paint Waterproof?

Chalk paint is not waterproof, but that does not mean it can’t be used outdoors. Remember, waterproof is not the same as water-resistant. An object that has been made waterproof cannot easily be damaged by water. A water-resistant object can resist water up to a point. That’s why your cell phone can get wet in a rain shower and work but will be useless if it falls in the water.

It’s better to ask what are you painting and where will it be?

  • Furniture or surfaces that are indoors and might get an occasional water spill can be left unsealed or sealed with wax.
  • Surfaces outdoors that will get water may need to have a lacquer or sealer applied, depending on what and where it will be used.
  • Anything that will be submerged in water will need to have a lacquer, varnish, or shellac.

What Is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is neither the paint that goes on chalkboards nor the chalk kids use when they draw on sidewalks or driveways. The chalk that kids use to draw is typically made from ground limestone. Chalk is also used to lower acidity in soils, and it even sneaks into your toothpaste.

Chalk paint, however, is a water-based paint invented by British artist, Annie Sloan. The chalk refers to the paint’s matte finish, not to what the product is made from. Since Sloan created her trademarked paint, other manufacturers have developed their lines. Instructions for making chalk paint are also available online.

The original can only be bought from the Annie Sloan website or through independent shops, or stockists, as they are called. Finding the nearest store is as simple as going to the site’s stockists page and entering your zip code.

Why Use Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint is commonly used to paint furniture. You can use it to create texture or thin it out for a smoother surface. Also, you can easily create a distressed look on a piece, giving it an old-time charm.

However, you are not limited to furniture. Other uses include patio furniture, floors, and even whole houses.

Many DIYers love using chalk paint because it:

  • does not require priming or sanding before being applied
  • drips less due to its thick consistency
  • is easy to clean brushes and tools with water and soap
  • doesn’t require furniture to be stripped before you paint it
  • can be used on practically any kind of surface — wood, metal, concrete, and brick for example.

The original chalk paint is expensive, currently around $40 a gallon. Other manufacturers have created “chalked paint” or “chalky paint.” Behr’s, for example, calls its paint “Chalk Decorative paint” and Magnolia Home uses the phrase “chalk style paint.” These paints work like the Sloan brand but are much cheaper.

If you are interested in comparing them, you can find plenty of comparison videos on YouTube, such as this one by Christina Muscari of Pretty Distressed.

Can You Use Chalk Paint for Your Outdoor Furniture?

If you want to refinish outdoor furniture without stripping off the old paint, you are in luck. Chalk paint cures well, and can be used for outdoor furniture without fear water will ruin the paint. Whether you protect the surface with varnish or sealer depends on its orientation.

Lacquer Is Not Needed on Outdoor Furniture

If the inventor of chalk paint says that a sealant is not needed for outdoor furniture, that should settle it, right? On the Annie Sloan website, it clearly states that the paint can be used “indoors or outside, on just about any surface.”

If only it were that simple.

Although light, especially UV rays, can damage paint, water does far more damage. How can people paint their porches, houses, even a vault using Chalk Paint, and expect it to hold up without a lacquer?

It has to do with whether the surface is vertical or horizontal. If what you are painting will be vertical, or standing, then lacquer is not needed because the water will be running off. However, anything horizontal should have a coat of lacquer because the water will pool.

Annie Sloan even uses lacquer for sealing an outdoor bench. Although the bench will not be immersed in water, water could remain on it for an extended time. Check out the video as she demonstrates how easy it is to use the lacquer on a small outdoor bench.

You Should Use Varnish When Painting Horizontal Surfaces

Use varnish on outdoor surfaces if the possibility exists that water may sit on the surface. If you paint a house, you do not need to use a lacquer because water will run off the house. The same thing is true for brick walls.

However, if the surface is horizontal, or you will be touching it frequently, apply a lacquer. You want one that has UV protection in it to protect it against UV rays.

Also, make sure that you cover all surfaces of a piece to prevent water damage. If you don’t paint the underside of a bench, it could easily get moisture damage.

Do Don’t
  • Use two coats of lacquer to be sure that the entire piece receives coverage
  • Paint when you have several weeks of warm weather.
  • Seal metal furniture that has rust before you paint it.
  • Paint when rain is forecast. You want the paint to dry before it rains.
  • Do not sand—you should not have to prime or prep the surface except to clean it.

Remember: The lacquer is water-resistant, not waterproof. Do not expect it to last if you use it to paint a surface that will be immersed in water.

Use a Spray Painter to Save Time

When painting outdoor furniture, especially something like a wrought iron table, consider saving yourself a lot of time by using a paint sprayer, such as the REXBETI Ultimate-750 Paint Sprayer. The lightweight sprayer kit includes three nozzle sizes as well as three spray patterns.

Another handheld paint sprayer, the AOBEN Paint Sprayer, is another option. It includes a 4th nozzle if you want more flexibility over how much or little you thin your paint.

Pro Tip: Never use wax on outdoor projects because the heat will melt the wax.

Bottom Line

If you like the look of chalk paint but were worried that it couldn’t handle water, don’t worry. You may need to apply a seal of lacquer if the surface could experience standing water—such as a bench, tabletop, or brick patio. If you plan to paint a wall, then the chalk paint will do fine if it has time to cure properly.

Remember, you want to remove peeling paint and rust before you use chalk paint to prevent it from flaking off. Make sure you clean the surface, give it two coats, and keep it from getting wet until it has had time to dry. That way, the paint will be able to cure, and you will be able to enjoy your handiwork for many years.