Choosing the right furniture to chalk paint can make all the difference. Chalk painting is a great option to update old pieces, give life to torn or battered furniture, and flip to create an additional income stream. Below are a few tips to picking out furniture to chalk paint, specifically for beginners.
Tips to Picking Out Old Furniture to Paint
If you’re just getting into chalk painting, it can be hard to identify what piece of furniture you want to chalk paint. Going for a large, antique, beveled or carved piece, with a lot of required fixes probably isn’t your best bet. Instead, look for something a little easier.
As with any new endeavor, it’s important to start with something easy. Pick a piece of furniture that is simple, with clean lines, and a “not so beat up” exterior. For instance, choosing a side table that has straight lines instead of carved edges would be much easier to paint.
It’s also important to make sure the piece you choose is small. This gives you some idea of how far the chalk paint you’re using will go. These simple, small pieces are perfect to start with and offer a great base in understanding how chalk painting works.
Pick Out a Quality Piece of Wood Furniture
Although pretty much anything can be painted with chalk paint, it’s always wise to choose pieces that are made with 100% wood. Wood retains value better than particle board or other types of pressed or processed furniture. Chalk paint also adheres to wood better than other surfaces.
If you’re going to invest in the time and money of chalk painting, you might as well make sure that you’re painting quality pieces. Make sure to check the wood for wood rot, cracking and chipping. You’ll also want to make sure that the piece you choose is sturdy. Wood can always be re-enforced, but unless you know how to do this, it’s better to find something that is already solidly stable.
Stay Away from Real Antiques
I know this is more of a personal preference than anything, but real antiques are worth a lot more money “as is.” Unless the antique is beaten up beyond restoration, it’s wise to keep the real antiques as they are so that they retain that value.
Remember, many people will claim they are selling an antique. To be considered an antique, the furniture piece must be at least 100 years old. There are a number of additional requirements, which you can find here. The smartest thing to do is to research the piece you have in order to find out if what you bought (or are going to buy) is actually an antique, or just something old.
Check the Price Tag
Before investing in a $200 buffet you plan to give a beautiful, chalk-painted makeover. Consider the investment you’ll have to throw into this one piece of furniture. Chalk paint, although easy to use and overall awesome, is relatively expensive compared to other paints. You also need to invest in wax, hardware, brushes, and any other additional add-ons you’d like to make on this potential project (i.e. antiquing wax, drawer liners, sandpaper, etc.)
The overall cost of the project may be much higher than you anticipated. I try and keep the cost of the initial price to max out at $100. I do my best to find pieces of furniture at garage sales and thrift stores for the best pricing. Also, keep an eye out on apps like Nextdoor, where people give furniture away for free.
Another thing to consider is the value of your time. Chalk painting is a process, and the bigger the piece, the longer the process. Make sure you aren’t cutting the value of your time short. Remember, if you’re upcycling a piece of furniture for yourself, or for-profit, there is nothing more valuable than your time.
Where to Shop for Used Furniture
So where can you find these high-quality pieces of furniture at a low price? There are plenty of places to look.
I find some great deals on furniture here. However, there are also a lot of posts where people charge way too much for their furniture. When you find a great deal, the catch is that you must be willing to drop everything and pick it up immediately. This is very inconvenient for me as I have 4 small children and a crazy schedule.
Estate Sales and Auctions
If you’re looking for high-quality furniture, this is the place to go. Auctions are more likely to carry real antiques, but there are still deals to be had. The prices at these sales may be higher, but there’s no harm in looking. Everything usually needs to be liquidated. This means if you’re the only person interested, you’ll be getting a great price.
These are usually my go-to places to find furniture. The price is set, it’s usually pretty low and you can buy it right there. The only drawback is that thrift stores also carry a lot of junk. You have to go frequently to find the best deals when shopping at thrift stores.
If you’re looking for the best price, garage sales are going to be your best bet. People are trying to basically give their stuff away at garage sales. Take advantage of the awesome deals you won’t find anywhere else and check out my great tips for shopping local garage sales.
Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade Groups
These are very similar to Facebook Marketplace in that it’s hit and miss. Many people think they have “antiques” and overprice their old junk. Sometimes, however, you can find amazing deals. Once again, you’ll need to be ready to stop at a moment’s notice and go pick up the furniture immediately.
Getting started with furniture painting can be a fun endeavor. Be sure to be intentional when purchasing old pieces as it can truly affect the outcome of the painted piece.
Want more chalk painting tips?
- Chalk Painting for Beginners
- How to Care for Chalk Paint Brushes
- How to Use Antiquing Wax
- How to Use Wood Filler
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Hoang vi Fessenden says
I’ve never thought to use chalk paint thanks for the idea!
I’ve only chalk painted one item – and had my mind set on what I wanted to create so I knew what I was looking for. I had so much fun doing it I would love to do it again – just didn’t know where to start! Thanks for sparking the creative thoughts for me – might have to start looking again for that next piece!
I’m so happy you had a great experience painting. If you choose to do another project, please let me know how it goes!
Haley Kelley says
OMG this is a great post! Love chalk paint but never even thought of this!
Amy Irvin says
Interesting! Your site is beautifully designed.
This looks like a fun project! I’ve never tried painting with chalk paint before. That high chair is adorable. It makes me want to give it a try!
If you decide to try it out, please let me know how it goes! Thanks for reading!
I had no idea chalk paint same in colors other then black! Or that you could paint furniture and things with it! Wow! THANKS! I have some items that need a facelift. I appreciate you sharing your tios!
Thank you! It comes in a ton of colors! If you have an interest, you should try it out!
The WOLFe Pack says
I wish I had read this before I refinished a dresser. It would’ve been perfect in chalk-paint!
There’s always more furniture out there! Thanks for reading!
Suzan | It's My Sustainable Life says
Love chalk paint & have used it on many pieces. I love pieces that have unique details that can be highlighted & brought to life. You have created a thoughtful list for many newcomers to using chalk paint!
Thank you! I love unique details too, and all the fun stuff you can do with those details! I appreciate the supportive words!
Beth Balberchak says
I love upcycling! Thanks for the ideas. Now, I’m off to read your article about the painting process. 🙂
Thank you! I hope you find both articles helpful!
I love re purposing furniture. Antiques are crazy expensive, so I agree with you there on staying away!
Thanks! Antiques are also so pretty, I feel bad painting over them!
Thanks for the information. Chalk painting is something I have been wanting to try. I am not a very crafty person, but have been trying my hand at a few things over the last few years. I’m getting better at little things that aren’t to complicated. I will have to start looking for an item to try out chalk painting
No time like the present, right? Try out something cheap or free and see how you like it!
I’ve never seen this before! What a beautiful idea for old furniture.
Leigh Ann says
This looks like such a fun project! I love your tips on where to find pieces to use.
Lisa Manderino says
I love the chalk paint distressed look! I have done a couple of pieces, I’m think my banister is the next project!
I’d love to know how your banister goes! I was also considering painting my banister!
This is really interesting I would never have thought about chalk paint . But it sure looks awesome.
Tricia Snow says
Awesome tips thanks!
Of course! I hope you found it helpful!
Melissa Jones says
That actually looks like so much fun!!
It is! Thank you for reading!
I never heard of chalk paint before. I’ve wasted a lot of furnitures when we moved around. This is a great money saving tips . Thanks for the info!
This is a great article! I love doing these kinds of projects. My boyfriend hates it because I always make him go pick up the furniture from the most random places. He just shakes his head at me and says okay. It’s a great stress reliever for me. Being able to focus on a project like this eases my mind. You had some great tips and advice. You even gave me a couple more ideas for my own projects so thank you!
Lol! I feel you! My husband hates when I ask him to help me pick up yet ANOTHER piece!
I’ve never chalk painted anything, and I certainly never thought of chalk painting anything other than a room! Great ideas!
T.M. Brown says
Oh, wow – what a gift to have! Great work….not my style, but I do have some friends who would love to read this post, so I’ll be sure to share it with them!
Chalk paint is the best! I had an pantry cabinet at my last house and painted the back of it with chalk paint. It was my favorite place to draw little seasonal greetings or love notes. I agree though, start with something simple and easy. Fortunately my project was just a large rectangle, but I’d love to do some more chalk painting in the future. Thanks for the tips!
Thank sounds awesome! Thanks for reading!
I’ve always wanted to try using chalk paint to do a flea market flip. Great job!
Karla Petersen says
This was fun. I learned something new today. I have never heard of chalk paint, so I went and looked it up and saw some amazing pieces. I might start with something really small… maybe the little glass front jewelry box that my mom gave me (it looks like a miniature china cabinet, but has hooks for necklaces, etc. It’s wooden and just a plain medium brown. On to a new craft for me. 😉
Thank you! I’m glad I could help you discover something new!
Ruth Iaela-Pukahi says
Very interesting read! Never heard of chalk painting furniture before. Your end results look amazing.