Chalk Paint vs Latex Paint (What’s The Difference?)

Chalk and latex paint are both water-based and have similar features. But, what’s the difference between these two paints?

Chalk paint has a distressed vintage finish, while latex paint has a dry textured finish. Also, chalk paint is made of water, colorants, and layers giving it a more colorful finish. Latex is made of water, colorants, and rubber which increases its flexibility. 

Latex is more durable because of its flexibility. During temperature changes, its coating contacts and expands, this makes the paint last longer. 

Chalk Paint

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint is a new paint designed by Annie Sloan. The paint is gotten by adding colorants, water, binder, and plaster. This formula gives the finish different characteristics. 

Since chalk paint is water-based, the paint dries fast. But, because of the plasters in the paint formula, the paint dries faster and better than most paints.

This paint uses Plaster of Paris (P.O.P) and Gypsum as its plasters. The plasters give it good adhesion, making it a self-priming paint. This means it doesn’t need a primer before applying it. 

It has a dry finish that can be distressed to look aged or vintage. You must sand it after drying to get a distressed finish. However, because of its simple formula, the paint isn’t durable or water-r+esistant. So, you must wax (or seal) it to make it durable enough to withstand moisture or water. 

Latex Paint

What is Latex Paint?

Different brands manufacture it differently, meaning latex paints might have differences from each other. But, the main components of all brands are paint pigments (colorants), resins, limestone, and synthetic latex. 

Latex paint will last long on indoor surfaces, but for outdoor surfaces, you need to seal it. Due to its formula, the paint is flexible. This means it will contract and expand based on temperature changes. This elasticity means the paint will last longer. However, latex paint can reveal brush marks. 

Latex Paint vs Chalk Paint

Here is a chart to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both types of paint:

Latex PaintChalk Paint
AdditivesSynthetic LatexPlasters
The finishSmooth and colorfulDry and chalky
Weather resistanceGoodPoor

The Paint Formula

Chalk paint and latex have a similar formula. The difference is the additives on the coating, latex paint uses synthetic latex while chalk paint uses plasters. This difference in additives gives both paints unique features.


Latex paint is more flexible than chalk paint because it contains synthetic latex in its formula. Its paint particles can move (contract and expand) based on temperature changes. This makes the paint more durable. 

On the other hand, chalk paint isn’t elastic or flexible. Instead, it’s more rigid and doesn’t move on the surface. 


Latex paint is more durable than chalk paint because of its flexibility. If the temperature changes, the paint expands (or contacts) without discoloring or fading. During cold weather, it contracts and prevents moisture to settle or penetrate its surface (to a degree). 

Since chalk paint isn’t flexible, the paint is more prone to cracking or peeing off. This means it’s not durable and shouldn’t be used on outdoor surfaces. 

However, compared to other paints, latex and chalk paint aren’t as durable. For outdoor surfaces, you must seal both with a waterproof sealant or they won’t last long. Use water-based polyurethane to seal latex paint. For chalk paint, use wax. 

Paint Bonding

Chalk paint sticks to more surfaces than latex paint. That’s because latex paint doesn’t stick well to glossy finishes (or oil-based paints). However, their adhesion qualities are the same. This means on bare wood both paints stick the same. 

Paint Cost

Chalk paint costs more than latex paint. Plus, you must seal it with wax which increases the expenses.

The Finish

Latex paint provides a silky and colorful finish. The finish is smooth and it’s rare to feel paint dust or grain, 

Chalk paint provides a matte and flat finish with a chalky feel. The finish doesn’t feel glossy or smooth, it feels dry. You can also distress it to get an old and vintage finish. 


Latex paint is more weather-resistant than chalk paint it is more flexible and prevents (to a degree) water from penetrating its coating. However, if exposed to constant water it will get washed off. 

On the other hand, chalk paint isn’t flexible and can’t withstand water well. If exposed to minimal water, it can get washed off. 

You must seal both paints for outdoor usage as they aren’t durable enough to withstand outdoor elements. 

Which One Do You Need?

Here are a few things you need to consider before choosing chalk or latex paint:

  1. Budget – If your budget is low, use latex paint because it’s cheaper. Chalk paint costs more and you have to seal it with wax (which is expensive). 
  2. Finish Type – If you want a dry, matte, or distressed finish, use chalk paint. Latex paint has a smooth finish. 
  3. Experience – Both paints are easy to apply, but chalk paint is easier and reveals fewer brush marks. Also, you can distress it (by sanding) so it’s ideal for beginners. 

Final Words

Chalk paint and latex paint are two water-based paints with similar features. But, they do have some differences. For instance, latex paint is flexible, while chalk paint isn’t. Chalk paint has a matte or distressed finish, while latex paint doesn’t. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

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.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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