Chalk paint is commonly waxed after application to increase the durability and strength of the finish. But how long should you let the chalk paint dry before waxing?
In optimal drying conditions and at room temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, chalk paint will dry enough for wax in 24 hours. However, when the drying conditions aren’t very favorable, you must let the coating dry for at least 3 days before waxing.
Its dry time also depends on the surface type, the thickness of the coat, and the number of coats applied. To know for sure how long to wait, check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Chalk Paint Dry Time
It takes chalk paint 15 minutes to dry to touch, 30 minutes to dry enough for a re-coat, and 24 hours to fully dry (cure). Before you can wax chalk paint, the coating must fully dry (cure). So, you must wait up to 24 hours.
Its cure time is different from its drying time. When a finish dries, it means the water in the coating has evaporated. But, when the finish cures, it means the particles have solidified.
Chalk paint is water-based that contains a high amount of water and colorants or pigments. Its simple formula means that the paint dries faster than many other types.
Chalk paint dries to touch about 15 minutes after it was applied but this is known as surface drying. Surface drying is when the top layer is dry and can be touched. You can speed up its drying time by applying thin coats or by increasing the evaporation rate of the solvent.
How To Know If It’s Dry Enough?
To know if chalk paint is dry enough for waxing, you need to inspect the finish. When the coating is dry, textured, chip-resistant, and hard, then it is dry enough for waxing. It is at this stage that the coating has reached its peak, this usually takes 24 hours.
You can also test the finish by wiping it with a cotton ball. If you notice paint film on the cotton ball, then the coating isn’t dry enough.
Denting the coating on purpose is another way to figure out if it’s dry. To do this, press your finger on the coating. If you notice a dent where you pressed, then the coating is still wet.
Here are other signs that show that the coating is dry:
1. It’s Dry and Textured
If the texture of the coating is dry and textured, it has reached its peach and can be sealed. The coating will feel smooth but rough at the same time; almost giving off a powdery feel.
If the coating is still wet, it won’t feel textured. When you swipe the coating with your fingers, your fingers won’t glide across smoothly and you might even notice chalk paint film on them. This tells you that you need to wait a bit longer.
2. The Color Has Fully Set
Chalk paint has 3 color variations from when it s applied to when it is cured. When the coating is still fresh, the color will look shiny and lighter than it’s meant to be.
When the coating gets dry, its color will feel deeper than it’s meant to be, but when the coating cures, the color will fully set. At this stage, the color of the paint will be the same as the color you picked in the color chart.
What if You Wax Too Soon?
If you wax chalk paint before it dries, the finish will be ruined. You’ll notice that the wax will not dry and will turn sticky. In some cases, the wax might surface dry and later chip off the surface.
You must always wait until the coating fully dries before you seal it. The reason for this is to allow the solvent to fully evaporate and to allow the paint particles to solidify.
When the paint is drying, the solvent or moisture is gradually evaporating till it gets to a stage where there is no longer any moisture in the coating and you can seal it.
But if you wax too soon, there will be leftover moisture in the chalk paint. The leftover moisture will become trapped between the paint and the new wax coat. When this happens, the chalk paint and the wax will not dry because the trapped moisture will continue to dampen both coats. This will cause the entire finish to turn sticky.
Sometimes, the sealant will dry – this is when only the top layer dries but the undercoats remain wet. In this case, the finish will start to chip or peel off until the finish turns blotchy.
Related Read: Sealing Chalk Paint
If You Wait Too Long:
If you wait too long before waxing your chalk paint, the coating will be riddled with scars and deterioration. This is because chalk paint isn’t durable and leaving it unsealed for too long can cause the finish to develop scratches, dents, or get damage. If the coating is exposed to constant water, it will get washed off.
The main reason for sealing it a day after the application is to protect the finish from different elements. Unlike oil-based paints and sealants that have strong and moisture-resistant finishes, chalk finish is neither water-resistant nor strong. This is why you have to seal it.
Is Sanding Necessary?
You don’t have to sand the chalk paint before sealing it if you are working on a fresh coat. This is because the wax will stick to it even without sanding. Also, sanding the fresh coatings can remove parts of it and lighten the color since chalk paint isn’t very durable.
However, if the chalk paint is old or has been left unsealed for weeks, it’s best to sand it before sealing it. In this case, sanding is done to remove the dust nibs and dirt that have accumulated on the coating while it was left unsealed.
Also, if the finish has an existing top coat or sealant, you need to sand off the sealant with medium-grit sandpaper before applying wax. If you don’t sand, the wax will not stick.
Though sanding isn’t always required, scuffing the chalk paint with 400-grit sandpaper will make the wax coat stick better.
In summary, the chalk paint coating must fully dry (cure) for 24 hours before you can seal it with wax. If you seal it too soon, the finish will turn sticky since the sealant won’t stick over a wet coating. If you take too long to seal it, the finish might get damaged by different elements since chalk paint isn’t durable.
Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,