Chalk paint scratching easily?


I am painting my first chest with chalk paint. Since I am painting it black it is taking 3 coats. When the 3rd coat was still wet, I noticed a small hair and tried to barely scratch the hair up enough to grab it (my dog sheds!) and all three layers just easily scratched down to the wood. I have let each coat dry for 24 hours. I just wonder if it should have been that easy to scratch the 1st and 2nd coats. Will a poly topcoat take care of it, do you think? I had even cleaned it with TSP and lightly sanded it to avoid the paint being easily scratched.

  22 answers
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Aug 13, 2020

    Honestly, I always clean well (as you did), sand, and seal the surface before using chalk paint. I know they say you don't have to do prep for chalk paint, but, in my personal experience, your finish really depends on prep. Old finish can really be a problem with any paint adhering well. I usually use Kilz to seal the old surface and give the paint something to adhere to. Chalk paint requires sealing so it is protected from moisture. A water based sealer will work. I don't use wax, but, many people swear by it. You can do a couple of different things (or more). If my paint is coming off too easily, I strip it back off that area, at minimum. It usually means I didn't get enough of the old finish off. Sometimes it's one area and you can fix just that. If it's more, I strip it down, sand it, seal it and paint. I tend to wait between coats, lightly sand, and go to the next coat after wiping it down with a damp microfiber cloth. I have used tack cloth, but, I prefer the microfiber. I don't sand the final coat of paint. Then, after it's dry, I seal it with a clear drying water based sealer. You can pick your level of shine, staying matte like the paint, or going for a glossy finish. Enjoy the process. I've had my share of problems, but, you can learn and grow from it. There are some excellent posts on Hometalk. I have a few, using chalk paint if you click on the angel at the top of my answer. Good luck and stay safe!

  • I've sealed chalk paint with polycrylic and have had no problems.

  • Cindy Cindy on Aug 13, 2020

    Hi Susan. Sorry to hear about scratching the surface of your chest. It sounds like you did everything right to prepare it. Could you touch it up with a small paint brush and then seal it? Good luck Susan. I wish you well.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Aug 13, 2020

    Hello. I would look at your paint jar and review the directions there a cure time for your paint that suggested? Or a call to the manufacturer might be warranted. Very often chalk paint need several coats and then sometimes it’s sealed with polyurethane or a wax to seal depending upon the finish or luster you want.

    Some stylists even do like a little bit of distress or chipping- sanding a chalk painted furniture afterwards to let the undercoats keep peek through.

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  • I personally find the claim of no prep with chalk paint to be dependent on the surface. I never take a chance any more. I always sand the surface and add a primer first. I never have any issues this way.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Aug 14, 2020

    I have several items painted with chalk paint and it does scratch easily- we added the wax on some pieces and it helps some

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 14, 2020


    LIKE CHALK IT IS FRAGILE! You have to seal it with a coat of wax or other sealer. Otherwise paint over it with a satin finish paint. Best wishes.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Aug 14, 2020

    Since the hair took it down to the wood surface, it means the chalk paint is not sticking very well. Rather than re-do the entire piece, just touch it up with a small paint brush, primer, and then chalk paint. let it dry and apply the wax or polyacrylic, whichever you choose.

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Aug 14, 2020

    Hi! I have also applied poly over chalk and had no problems. I think the major issue was that the paint was only 24-48 hours old. I find that paint takes weeks to "cure."

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 14, 2020

    Not sure what your particular issue is but I have found that chalk paint, even finished with wax, scratches easily so I have steered clear of it.

  • Lori Williams Lori Williams on Aug 14, 2020

    Did you prepare your wood properly before painting? Light sanding and cleaning with a deglosser is necessary prior to painting.

  • Maura White Maura White on Aug 15, 2020

    Yes - prep work before you paint plus a wax finish will help!

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Aug 16, 2020

    It sounds like you needed to put a primer first or sand after each coat.

  • Baxter Baxter on Aug 17, 2020

    I have painted countless pieces of furniture and kitchen cabinets with chalk paint (lots in black) and never primed or sanded (unless to smooth out an uneven or damaged surface). I have also scratched the paint doing exactly what you described but all you need to do is touch up the scratched area until the scratch is well covered and blends in with the rest of the surface. Chalk paint will adhere more as it dries and cures. Distress as you like then wait a few days before applying Polyurethane. I always use a quality Polyurethane for protection and usually apply at least 2-3 coats, sanding in between coats for a smooth finish. Wax will not provide lasting protection over chalk paint, but if you like the buttery lustre finish that wax provides, just apply wax over the poly. Good luck!

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Aug 18, 2020

    Yeah I hate chalk paint :) I can never get a good finish

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on May 13, 2021

    Hi Susan, in my humble opinion, it's a myth that you don't need to do any prep work before painting something with chalk paint. Chalk paint is water-based and applying it over oil paint, glossy varnish, or any glossy, shiny surface will 9/10 cause it to peel off. There are some finishes and textures that are just not suitable for chalk paint and shiny, glossy finishes like veneer, glass, and metal need a lot of prep work first. Even if the piece isn't glossy, I always prep first since I have no idea what someone may have put on the piece or even what cleaning products they used. Some cleaning products leave an oily residue, which will mess up your finish. To prep, I like using 1 part white vinegar to two parts warm water with a teeny drop of dish soap. Wipe down all the surfaces with a damp rag and then sand to get rid of dust, dirt, or splinters.

  • Chalk paint is generally geared towards faux finishing uses such as scuffing, scratching, general aging and such but even so, most paint will scratch. Prep is key too. I realize that both those are too little too late so I'd suggest some light sanding of the area, repaint, and then seal with a water-based polyurethane. Next time, just a regular latex paint is sufficient, much less expensive and more durable than chalk types.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 13, 2021

    Use a sealer or wax to protect your chalk paint.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on May 15, 2021

    I used paint sealer for my desk and it has worked well. You have to make sure the furniture is sanded and free from any other paint before painting it with chalk then seal it with a paint sealer.

  • I have to say that I always prep before I use chalk paint, including sanding, and never apply it over shiny varnish or gloss paint. I also seal it with a water based poly sealer. I don't love wax finishes. I feel like they take forever to dry and even then are still subject to scratches.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Aug 16, 2021

    Yes it does

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Sep 29, 2021

    you need to wax after so it willnot