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How to Chalk Paint Coffee Tables in Just a Few Easy Steps

If you have a coffee table that you want to revamp, revive or revitalize and are not sure how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. As one of the most used pieces in your living room, choosing the best look to update the well-worn piece could be simpler than you think. Chalk paint coffee tables are becoming a growing trend in not just the farm house décor scene.

This trend is popping up in other design schemes all the time, and we would love to walk you though some steps to creating a chalk paint coffee table you will love for years to come.

chalk paint coffee table

Choosing chalk paint for a coffee table

Coffee tables are inevitably a focal point when gathered in a room, and treating the table can be a relatively easy way of revamping the look and feel of your piece. And chalk paint makes completing your project even easier. In most instances, you will only need to clean the piece with mild soap and water to remove any dirt, debris, and dust from the table. Because it adheres to just about any surface, chalk paint doesn’t usually require sanding prior to use, though in some instances light sanding may be required.

As with anything, you will want to do a little bit of research first to find the best chalk paint for your coffee table project. There tend to be subtle differences between brands, so you want to make sure you are getting the right paint, in the right shade, that will provide the right coverage for you.

Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is the original chalk paint and comes in a variety of colors. It also has a rich matte finish and good coverage.

Retique It Chalk Finish paint has a silky appearance and is best suited to use with wood. It is a thick paint and may tend to clump. It does come in a wide range of colors.

Rust-Oleum chalk paint is suited to just about any surface and gives excellent coverage. It is only available in a limited range of colors, though.

When you choose the color for your chalk paint coffee table, you need to look at the whole room and decide what you want to achieve by painting the table. Do you simply want to revamp the table itself, because of wear-and-tear? Or do you want to rework the table to create a focal point for the room?

If your aim is to redo the table so that it has a new look and will be protected, then you should possibly choose a more natural, or even darker color. Of course, if you want the table to blend in with the look and feel of the room, then choose a color that will match or contrast with the color scheme.

And if you want to create a focal point with the table, then choose a bolder color that contrasts with the colors of the room. For example, a dark blue, or even deep red coffee table can contrast effectively with a room that is predominantly white.

Painting the coffee table

We’ll walk you through, step by step, how to create a gorgeous chalk paint coffee table below.

Preparing the surface

Chalk paint has been specifically formulated to be able to adhere to just about any surface, so there is really no need to do much preparation of the surface. However, it does depend on how old the coffee table is that you want to paint and what condition it is in.

If the coffee table is relatively new, then it should only be necessary to dust the table to get it ready for painting. Make sure that you dust under the table and all around the joints of the legs to the top.

If your table is slightly older and may have picked up a little dirt over the years, you will want to do a little cleaning before painting. In this case, you’ll need to wash the table thoroughly before you paint it. You can do this with some mild soap and warm water, which will help to get rid of any dirt or grime on the table. When the table has been washed, leave it for at least a day to dry completely.

cleaning furniture before painting

Getting rid of old paint

Generally speaking, chalk paint doesn’t require any prep outside of cleaning. But, there are always exceptions to every rule and here is an instance that may require a little more prep work beyond just a quick wash or wipe.

If the coffee table you want to revitalize has already been painted, it will need to be washed and then you can go ahead and repaint it with chalk paint on top of that.

However, if the coffee table is quite old and the paint has begun to peel at all, it is going to be best in the long run for you to remove the paint and expose the wood underneath before repainting it. If you are going for the shabby chic look, where chipped paint is what you want, then feel free to skip sanding here as well.

Removing paint

If you prefer to remove the old paint completely, there are a few extra steps you need to take in order to create that fresh canvas to work with.

Removing old paint is not quite as simple as scraping away at the places where the paint is peeling and then sanding them to make the areas smooth. If you are going to remove the paint, and essentially strip the whole coffee table, so that you can begin again with the fresh paint, then follow these steps.

To remove old paint from a coffee table, you will need:

  • A putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint stripper
  • Paintbrush

Paint stripper is either chemical or organic and has been specifically developed to cause the old paint to swell and stop sticking to the surface.

To remove the paint, you should do one smaller section at a time. Paint the first smaller area with the paint stripper. Allow it to sit for at least half an hour on the paint. You should be able to see bubbles begin to form in the paint.

Take the putty knife and gently scrape the paint where it has begun to bubble. You may need to press a little harder in some areas, but take care that you don’t spread too hard and scrape the wood below the paint.

When the old paint is stripped from one section, then move onto the next small section.

In the harder-to-reach areas of the coffee table, it may be necessary to let the paint stripper sit for a little longer than on the flat areas. Firstly, use a smaller brush to get into these areas. Then, use a small, flat tool to work the paint off in these areas.

When all the old paint has been stripped off the whole table, take medium sandpaper and sand the whole table gently, to remove any tiny remnants of the paint and to smooth any possible uneven surfaces.

Painting process

To paint the coffee table, you will need:

  • A medium paintbrush (preferably with natural bristles)
  • A small paintbrush (also with natural bristles)
  • A small roller (for larger tables)
  • A can of chalk paint in the color you have chosen.

The amount of paint you need will depend on the size of the table. With a small or medium-sized table, you are unlikely to need more than one liter of paint, presuming that the paint you are using is not very thick and will spread easily over the surface. Some manufacturers’ version of chalk paint is thicker than others and will not go as far. It can also tend to clump, so choose your chalk paint wisely.

chalk paint supplies

Painting the table

Begin by painting the underside of the coffee table.

Turn the table upside down on its top. Paint as much of the underside of the top of the table with the medium brush as possible. For the corners and around the legs, you will need to use the smaller bush.

Try to keep your strokes even. This may not be easy, especially if you are painting a small table. Don’t dab the paint on anywhere, or it will interrupt the smoothness of the painting.

Cover the whole underneath section and the legs of the table with one coat of chalk paint and leave it to dry. Some chalk paints only require one coat, so be sure to let your first coat dry completely before deciding whether you need a second coat.

When the underside of the table is completely dry, turn the table over and work on the top. It will be easier to paint this with long, even brushstrokes using the medium brush. If the edges of the table are beveled in any way, use the smaller brush to get the paint into every corner.

Once again, don’t dab with the brush. Keep your strokes smooth, even when they are short.

Distressing the paint

Once you have finished painting the whole table, you have the choice of distressing it or not. This will depend on the look you desire for the finished table.

If you want the chalk paint coffee table to remain a solid color, then don’t distress it and go ahead and finish off the painting. If you want to create a vintage or shabby chic, look for the table, then take some sandpaper (preferably a medium grain) and sand down some parts of the table. You should usually do this on the edges and corners, that would be scraped and worn by everyday usage.

distressed chalk paint coffee table

Finishing off

The final finish of a chalk paint coffee table can simply be the raw painted surface, or you can seal the paint. To do this, you can either use wax or a liquid sealant.

The best wax to use is chalk paint wax, which was developed to seal off a chalk paint project. You can also simply wax the table thoroughly with furniture wax. You can also paint it with a liquid sealant.

The chalk paint wax or liquid sealant will protect the paint and the table from scrapes and general wear and tear. It will also make the surface more water-resistant.

Because chalk paint is quite soft, it can be scraped or worn quite easily, so sealing the table is possibly the best thing to do.

Some creative ideas

Let the color of the chalk paint coffee table become the feature that you draw through into the whole room. Choose a strong more natural color, such as a deep green; or choose a bright color, such as a yellow. Accessorize the room with the same color. This means introducing throw pillows on the couches and chairs in the same color. You can also use the same chalk paint to paint smaller incidental tables in the room.

In a room that has a darker feel and look, it would be effective to paint the coffee table with a gentler, more neutral color, such as a light brown or cream. Keep the color of the chalk paint coffee table lighter, or it will create a very dark feel to the whole room.

You can also be very creative with your chalk paint coffee table to create a modern and funky look. Choose to paint the table in two colors: one for the top and another for the legs. These colors could be as contrasting as red and yellow, or similar, such as two shades of blue. In the case of the more funky look, you can then accessorize the room in the same color/s.

In short, you can give your chalk paint coffee table whatever look you desire. All you have to do is use your imagination to achieve the desired look.


Do I have to seal my chalk paint coffee table?

The short answer is no, you don’t HAVE to seal your table. HOWEVER, we don’t recommend skipping this process.

Sealing chalk paint will protect the paint and make the finished table more durable. It is not always necessary to seal the paint, especially if you want to keep the matte, soft, chalky look.

Does a chalk paint coffee table need to be distressed?

Chalk paint is a soft paint and can be distressed quite easily. However, there is no need to distress the paint, unless you are going for a shabby chic look for your chalk paint coffee table.


Creating chalk paint coffee tables is the perfect opportunity for you to be creative and practical at the same time. Use your imagination when it comes to choosing color, so that the table will contrast or blend with the room it is in. Seal the table to make sure it is durable. This will help to create the perfect chalk paint coffee table for your home.

white chalk paint coffee table with gold accents