How Long to Let Chalk Paint Dry Before Waxing? (Explained!)

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 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 to the chalk paint, you should let the paint dry for at least 3 days before waxing.

The type of chalk paint and surface also determine how long to wait before waxing the chalk paint. To know for sure how long to wait before waxing a chalk paint, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions.

This post reveals all you need to know about waxing chalk paint including expert tips to know when your chalk paint is dry enough to be waxed. Let’s dive in.

How Long Does Chalk Paint Take To Dry?

How Long Does Chalk Paint Take To Dry?

Chalk paint takes a few minutes to dry to touch but you should wait about 2 hours before recoating the paint. However, for wax or any other type of sealant, you need to allow the chalk paint to cure. The cure time of chalk paint is different from the dry time and though chalk paint dries in 2 hours, it takes 24 hours for the paint to cure before wax can be applied.

When the chalk paint dries, it means the water in the paint has been evaporated. But, when the paint cures, it means the paint particles have solidified and become hard. Chalk paint is a water-based paint that contains a high amount of water and paint color or pigments.

The simple formula of chalk paint means that the paint dries faster than many other paints. Chalk paint dries to touch about 30 minutes after the paint was applied but this is known as surface drying. Surface drying is when the top layer of the chalk paint is dry and can be touched.

It takes a few more minutes, usually about 2 hours for the chalk paint to fully dry enough for a recoat but for a top coat or sealant like wax, the chalk paint needs at least 24-hour dry time.

You can speed up the dry time of chalk paint by applying the paint in thin coats, under proper drying conditions, and by thinning the paint before application.

How To Know If Chalk Paint Is Dry Enough For Waxing?

How To Know If Chalk Paint Is Dry Enough For Waxing?

To know if chalk paint is dry enough for waxing, you need to inspect the chalk paint. When the chalk paint is dry, textured, chip-resistant, and hard, then it is dry enough for waxing. It is at this stage that the chalk paint is said to have reached its peak and it usually takes chalk paint at least 24 hours to reach this stage.

You can also test the chalk paint by wiping it with a cotton ball. If you notice paint film on the cotton ball, then the chalk paint isn’t dry enough for waxing. Denting the chalk paint on purpose is another way to figure out if the chalk paint can be waxed.

To do this, press your finger on the chalk paint. If you notice a dent where you pressed the chalk paint, then it’s not dry enough for waxing. When the chalk paint is ready to be waxed, you wouldn’t be able to dent the chalk coat because it would have become hard and strong.

Here are other expert signs to know when your chalk paint is ready to be waxed:

1. The Chalk Paint Will Be Dry and Textured

The first sign that your chalk paint is dry enough for waxing is the texture of the chalk paint would change. When the paint is dry enough for wax, the texture will feel dry, smooth, and textured. When you swipe your fingers across the chalk paint, your fingers will glide smoothly across.

The chalk paint will feel smooth but rough at the same time; almost giving off a powdery feel. This tells you that the paint has cured and can be waxed.

If the chalk paint hasn’t cured, it won’t feel textured. When you swipe the paint with your fingers, your fingers won’t glide across smoothly and you might even notice chalk paint film on your fingers. This tells you that you need to wait a bit longer before waxing the chalk paint.

2. The Chalk Paint Will Feel Hard and Strong

When chalk paint is wet, it will feel damp and sticky. This tells you that the finish is not even dry enough for a recoat let alone wax. When the chalk paint gets dry, the finish will not be sticky but it will feel soft.

If you drag your fingernail over dry chalk paint, you’ll notice scratches on the paint. This tells you that the finish hasn’t reached its peak but when the chalk paint gets hard, it can be waxed. At this stage, you won’t be able to dent or scratch the paint with your fingernails because the chalk has reached its peak and can be waxed.

3. The Chalk Paint Will No Longer Smell

When chalk paint is wet, it will give off a chemical smell because the solvents are still present and active. But, as the paint begins to dry, the smell reduces until the chalk paint cures and it doesn’t smell anymore. When the chalk paint doesn’t smell anymore, it can be waxed.

4. The Chalk Paint Color Has Fully Set

Chalk paint has 3 color variations from when the paint is applied to when it is dry enough for wax. When the chalk paint is fresh, the color will look shiny and lighter than it’s meant to be.

When the paint gets dry, its color will feel deeper than it’s meant to be but when the chalk paint cures, the color will fully set.

At this stage, the color of the chalk paint will be the same as the color you picked in the color chart. When the color is fully set, the chalk paint can be waxed.

What Happens If You Apply Wax Before Chalk Paint Dries?

What Happens If You Apply Wax Before Chalk Paint Dries?

If you apply wax on chalk paint before the chalk paint dries, the finish will be ruined. When this happens, 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.

Painters always advise DIYers to wait until the chalk paint has fully dried before waxing. The reason for this is to allow the solvent in the chalk paint to be fully evaporated and to allow the chalk paint particles to solidify before wax application.

When chalk paint is drying, the solvent or moisture in the paint is gradually being evaporated till it gets to a stage where there is no longer any moisture in the paint and you can wax. But if you wax too soon, there will be leftover moisture in the chalk paint.

The leftover moisture will become trapped between the chalk 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 wax will surface dry – this is when only the top layer of the wax dries but the undercoats remain wet. In this case, the wax will start to chip or peel off until the finish turns splotchy.

What Happens To The Chalk Paint If You Wait Too Long To Wax it?

If you wait too long before waxing your chalk paint, the chalk paint will suffer scars and deterioration. This is because chalk paints are not very durable. Leaving the chalk paint too long before waxing it will expose it to factors that can cause scratch marks, dents, and paint damage.

The main reason for waxing chalk paints a day after the application is to protect the chalk paint. Unlike oil-based paints and sealants that have strong and moisture-resistant finishes, chalk finish is neither water-resistant nor strong.

This is why painters often recommend wax or polyurethane on the chalk paint after application to protect the chalk finish. If you leave the chalk paint for too long before waxing, the chalk will suffer scars and paint damage.

Do You Have to Sand Chalk Paint Before Applying Wax?

Do You Have to Sand Chalk Paint Before Applying Wax?

You don’t have to sand the chalk paint before applying wax if you are working on a fresh coat of chalk paint. This is because the wax will stick to the chalk paint even without sanding. Also, sanding the fresh chalk finish can remove parts of it and lighten the paint 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 applying wax. In this case, sanding is done to remove the dust nibs and dirt that have accumulated on the chalk paint while it was left unsealed.

Also, if the chalk paint 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 off the existing sealant, the wax will not stick.

Though sanding isn’t always required before applying wax on chalk paint, scuffing the chalk paint with 400-grit sandpaper will make the wax coat bite and stick better.

Final Words

In summary, chalk paint should be left to dry for at least 24 hours before waxing. This is because the chalk paint needs to cure before wax can be applied. If the drying conditions aren’t too favorable to the chalk paint, it’s best to leave it to dry for 3 days before waxing.

You shouldn’t wait more than a week before waxing your chalk paint, especially in high-traffic areas. This is because leaving the chalk paint unsealed or unwaxed for too long will cause it to suffer scars and paint damage.

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