6 Common Chalk Paint Problems (& Fixes)

| Updated on
Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Chalk paint is an easy paint to apply as it dries fast, has a chalky finish, and has good adhesive qualities. However, sometimes you can face problems before, while, and after applying chalk paint.

1. How To Fix Cracking Chalk Paint?

To fix cracking chalk paint, do the following things.

  1. Use a paint scraper to remove all the cracked paint from the surface.
  2. Use medium-grit sandpaper (100-grit) to sand the surface.
  3. Vacuum and clean the surface.
  4. Apply 2 coats of water-based primer and leave to dry.
  5. Thin chalk paint with water in a ratio of 1:3 (1 part water to 3 parts paint).
  6. Apply the thinned chalk paint and leave to dry
  7. Distress the finish (optional).

Chalk paint finish cracks if you don’t prep or clean the surface, you over-thin the paint before applying it, or the paint coatings dry too fast.

A dirty or dusty surface will prevent the paint from adhering properly, leading to a cracked finish. If you over-thin the paint, the coating will have more water and won’t cover the surface properly, leading to a split finish.

If the paint coats dry too fast, the paint particles won’t harden or bond naturally, so the paint finish will crack after a while.

2. How to Fix Streaky Chalk Paint?

To fix streaky chalk paint finish, do the following things.

  1. Use fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit) to sand the finish.
  2. Remove dust after sanding.
  3. Touch up the surface by applying 2 coats of chalk paint. 
  4. Allow the finish to dry.

If a sealed chalk paint finish looks streaky, remove the entire finish and re-apply it, or try applying more wax coatings. However, applying more wax coatings won’t fix the issue if the paint underneath is streaky.

The chalk paint finish looks streaky if you don’t use enough paint while applying it, if you over-thin the paint, or if you use the wrong or low-quality application tool.

3. How to Fix Chalk Paint Brush Marks?

To fix chalk paint brush marks, do the following things.

  1. Clean the finish with a lint-free cloth.
  2. Sand the finish with extra fine-grit sandpaper (440-grit).
  3. Re-clean the finish.
  4. Apply 1-2 thin chalk paint coats.

If the extra fine-grit sandpaper (440-grit) doesn’t remove the paint brush marks, use fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit). Don’t use coarse or medium-grit sandpaper as it can remove the entire finish.

Chalk paint develops brush marks (or strokes) if you press the paintbrush too hard while applying the paint, if you use the wrong type or low-quality paintbrush, or if you apply thick coats.

If you press the paintbrush too hard while applying chalk paint, the brush will create small dents on the finish and cause brush marks.

The wrong type or low-quality paintbrush will leave brush strokes behind — use a thin synthetic bristled paintbrush to apply chalk paint. Don’t use a tightly-packed or rigid paintbrush as it will create brushmarks.

Chalk paint thick coats are hard to control and apply and will develop brush marks if you aren’t experienced enough.

To prevent chalk paint brush strokes, don’t press the paintbrush hard while applying the paint, use the right type of paintbrush, and thin the paint.

4. How to Fix Chalk Paint Bubbles?

To fix chalk paint bubbles, do the following things.

  1. Sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit).
  2. Clean the finish to remove dust.
  3. Apply two (2) chalk paint coats. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one.

Chalk paint finish develops bubbles if you don’t stir the paint properly before applying it or while thinning it, if you apply the paint over a fresh porous surface without a primer, or if you the wrong type of application tool.

If you don’t stir chalk paint properly before applying it or while thinning it, small air pockets will develop on the paint and create bubbles on the finish. This happens if you stir the paint or shake it too hard.

A fresh porous surface has large pores that are filled with air — the air trapped in the pores will develop bubbles once the finish dries if you don’t apply a primer or washcoat before applying the chalk paint.

A finish will also develop bubbles if you apply it with a roller or foam brush instead of a thin synthetic-bristled brush.

5. How to Fix Stained Chalk Paint?

To temporarily fix stained chalk paint, do the following things.

  1. Sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit).
  2. Clean the finish.
  3. Apply more chalk paint coats until the stained spots are covered.

However, the stained spots will re-appear after a while and stain the new coats, too. The best way to fix stained chalk paint is to remove the entire finish, clean the surface, apply a stain-blocking primer, and re-apply the chalk paint.

Chalk paint will develop brown stains if you apply paint without a primer over fresh wood surfaces that contain oils and tannins. The wood oils and tannins will bleed through the paint and create brown patches on the finish.

The paint finish will develop brown stains if you apply it over a dirty surface without cleaning or sanding it.

To prevent chalk paint from staining or developing brown patches, use a stain-blocking primer or apply a washcoat before applying the paint.

6. How to Fix Sticky Chalk Paint?

To fix sticky chalk paint, do the following things.

  1. Remove the excess paint from the surface.
  2. Allow the remaining paint to dry.
  3. Use a hairdryer over the paint coating to increase the evaporation rate of the solvent and make the paint dry faster. Don’t use the hairdryer for more than 5 minutes as it will cause the paint to dry too fast and develop cracks.

To fix sticky wax over chalk paint, do the following things.

  1. Remove the excess wax from the finish.
  2. Damp a rag with mineral spirits and wipe the finish with the dampened rag.
  3. Wait 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the mineral spirits residue and allow the remaining paint to dry.

Chalk paint finish turns sticky if you re-coat the coating too soon, if you apply a thick coating, or if you apply too much wax over it.

If you re-coat the paint too soon before the existing coating is fully dried, the solvent of the existing coating will prevent the new coating from adhering or drying. A new coating will also slow down the evaporation process of the existing coating solvent and cause the finish to turn sticky.

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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