Hi Janice! Even though they say you can just start painting, my experience is that a good prep will help your piece last longer. I always clean the surface well, especially if there is any wax or dirt. After it dries completely, I sand or strip/and sand depending on the finish. You want to remove as much surface as possible. Wipe it down carefully to remove any dust and residue. If there was a stain finish, I like to put a coat of sealer on, so nothing bleeds through. The first coat usually doesn't look great, but, the second coat usually looks much better. Chalk paint can be mixed with other water base paints, and I often make a shade or color I want by doing that. You can water it down a little if you want more of a washed look. I like to put a water based clear sealer on to protect the finish. Some people wax it, but it depends on how much you need to protect the surface. There are lots of tutorials online to help you get started. I learned a lot from YouTube videos.