How to Chalk Paint a Desk

9 Materials
4 Hours

I want to share with you all a desk makeover! In this makeover I will show you how you can use chalk paint to paint a desk! You can take your old outdated desk and make it look new and beautiful! Let’s begin!

Before photo! Lets clean!

Begin with a clean surface. This desk was pretty dirty. LOTS of dirt and dust had collected on this desk over time. I cleaned the desk with a mixture of vinegar and water. I also had our kiddos help! :)

Clean Desk with Vinegar and Water

Supplies to Chalk Paint a Desk

  • Chalk Paint (I Used Annie Sloan's Old Ochre!)
  • 2" Chip Brush
  • Annie Sloan Clear Finishing Wax
  • Wax Brush
  • Sander
  • 220 Grit Sandpaper
  • Annie Sloan White Wax
  • OPTIONAL: Annie Sloan Dark Wax
  • OPTIONAL: Salvaged Wood

Once desk is clean you are ready to begin! We Sanded the top of our desk with 220 grit sandpaper. The top of the desk was very worn so sanding was easy!

Sand Top of Desk

After you have a sanded smooth surface you can apply white wax. We used Annie Sloans white wax and applied it with a shop towel. You just want to add enough was until the surface feels smooth. 

Wax is durable and a great way to add a finish to a sanded wooden surface! 

After the top of your desk is finished you are ready to paint! I used Annie Sloans Old Ochre for this desk.

Begin to Paint Desk!

You will want to brush the paint on the desk in smooth even strokes. This desk took about 2-3 coats of chalk paint in some areas. Make sure that you can not see any of the original finish through your paint. Once you can not see any of the wooden part of your desk you know you have enough coats of paint on your desk.After your desk has been painted with chalk paint you are ready to seal your desk! We used Annie Sloan’s clear wax. Dip your wax brush into the wax and begin to work the wax into your chalk paint. Be careful not to add to much wax. You can wipe off excess wax with a shop towel.OPTIONAL: Our desk as you can see was missing the roller thing on the inside of the desk (leave a comment below if you know what that thing is called!) Someone had removed it. We decided to cut a piece of wood that we had in the garage (salvaged from a friends burn pile!!) and make that space into a shelf!

ALSO OPTIONAL: Our desk had the top of one of it’s drawers broken.  Rather than trying to cut a new piece of wood and trying to make it fit perfect we used the remainder of the salvaged wood we had from the shelf to place over the drawer! I purchased longer screws so that they would go through the salvaged wood and we could place our hardware on the outside of the drawer! We were excited and thought it coordinated well with the shelf! 

Salvaged Drawer Close Up

The above picture is the hardware attached to the drawer with salvaged wood! I also added Annie Sloans Dark wax to the salvaged wood and around the hardware!

Completed Desk!

Do you like our desk makeover? I would lOVE to hear! Leave a comment below! We were super excited to fix our broken drawer problem!

To learn how to paint over a laminate furniture desk CLICK HERE! This is one of my most viewed posts!

CLICK HERE for how to distress your furniture! Learn a secret the pro’s aren’t telling you!

Resources for this project:

Annie Sloan Old Ochre
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • Pete Harris Pete Harris on Mar 18, 2021

    I have a desk that is covered with formica. Can I follow your process and expect a similar outcome? Or should different materials be used? One drawer was broken and poorly repaired. Is your process opaque?

  • Rue Martinez Rue Martinez on Mar 18, 2021

    I have never heard using wax before applying chalk paint. Is the base coat of wax taking the place of using a varnish 1st so the tannins don’t come out?

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Mar 19, 2021

    My father-in-law has been trying to convince me to take/keep his old roll top secretary desk. I've been relucate to take it because I have no need for the rolling top, sides, or built-in accessories under rolling top. My vision for a desk is something with a lot of surface area and no sides on top. This way if I wanted to sew or cut fabric it's more doable. My question is their a way to remove all the bells and whistles off the desk?


Join the conversation

5 of 38 comments
  • Chris Keating-Ingelse Chris Keating-Ingelse on Mar 18, 2021

    I love the salvaged wood drawer front! Gives it a fun, quirky feel! Bravo!!!

    • Megan Megan on Mar 19, 2021

      Aww!! Thank you SO much!! So thankful to hear that you like it!!

  • Julie R. Julie R. on Mar 18, 2021

    The rolling part of the desk top is called a tambour (sp) or tambor.

    • See 1 previous
    • Megan Megan on Mar 19, 2021

      Ah! That is awesome to hear it's official name!! Thank you!!