6 Common Chalk Paint Problems (& Fixes)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Chalk paint is easy to apply and has a fast dry time. But, its thick flow means that you can face some problems while applying it. We have discussed the common chalk paint problems, why they occur, and how to fix them. 

1. Cracking Chalk Paint

Chalk paint will crack if you don’t clean the surface before applying it. If the surface is dirty, the dirt will prevent it from adhering well, and this can make the finish crack.

Chalk paint cracking happens if you apply thick coats and the coats dry too fast. This means the particles don’t have enough time to harden properly, so the finish cracks. So, it’s advised to thin it before applying it to avoid cracks.

To fix a cracked chalk paint finish, remove the cracking paint and re-apply the paint. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Use a paint scraper to remove all the cracked paint from the surface.
  2. Use medium-grit sandpaper 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 using water.
  6. Apply the paint and leave to dry
  7. Distress the finish (optional).

2. Streaky Chalk Paint

Chalk paint will look streaky if you don’t use enough paint or wax while sealing it. That’s because too little wax can’t properly cover the surface, causing it to get streaky. Not enough paint will also reveal brush or roller marks, making the finish look streaky. 

You can fix streaky chalk paint by applying more paint or by sanding it and then re-applying it. If a sealed paint (with wax) is streaky, apply more wax.

To fix steaky chalk paint by sanding:

  1. Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the coating.
  2. Remove the dust.
  3. Touch up the surface by applying 2 coats of chalk paint. 
  4. Allow the finish to dry before using the surface. 

3. Chalk Paint Brush Marks

Chalk paint will develop brush strokes if you press the paintbrush into the surface while applying the paint. This will cause brush marks and dents in the finish. Also, if you apply thick coats, the finish will have brush strokes. This is because thick coats are harder to control and apply.

Using the wrong type of paintbrush can also leave brush strokes behind. You must use a thin synthetic bristled paintbrush to apply chalk paint. If you use a tightly-packed or rigid paintbrush, you’ll create brush marks in the finish.

To prevent brush strokes, use the right paintbrush, and don’t press the paintbrush while applying the paint. You can also thin the chalk paint to reduce the chances of brush marks.

To fix or remove brush strokes, sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper and touch up the finish with 2 more coats.

4. Chalk Paint Bubbles

A chalk paint finish will develop bubbles if you don’t stir the paint properly while thinning it. To thin chalk paint, you must add water and stir the mixture. However, if you stir too hard, you will create air pockets in the coating. These air pockets will create bubbles once the finish dries. 

Also, chalk paint bubbles can develop if you apply it over a fresh porous surface. That’s because porous surfaces have air-filled pores, and once the finish dries, the trapped air can cause bubbles to appear. To prevent a bubbled finish, apply a primer or seal the pores to prevent a bubbled finish.

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

To remove bubbles from a chalk paint finish, sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper and apply 2 more coats of paint.

5. Stained Chalk Paint

Fresh wood contains oils and tannins, so if you apply chalk paint over such wood, the tannins and oils will bleed through and cause brown (or stained) patches on the finish. Also, the stains can bleed through the finish if you apply it over a stained (dirty) surface.

To prevent bleed-through, seal the surface with stain-blocking primer before applying chalk paint. 

To fix a stained chalk paint, remove the entire finish, clean the surface, apply a stain-blocking primer, and then re-apply chalk paint. You can’t remove bleed-through stains from the finish without removing it.

As a temporary fix, apply more coats of chalk paint to cover the stained spots. However, after a while, the stains will bleed through the new coats too. 

6. Sticky Chalk Paint

Chalk paint can get sticky if you seal or re-coat it too soon. Before applying a new coat, you must wait 30 minutes for the chalk paint to dry. If you don’t, the new coat won’t stick, and the finish will turn sticky. The finish can also turn sticky if you apply too much wax over it.

You can fix sticky chalk paint by removing excess paint and allowing the remaining paint to dry. You can also increase the heat around the coating to help it dry faster. 

If the finish is sticky because of too much wax, damp a rag with mineral spirits and wipe the excess wax and allow the remaining to dry. 

Final Words

Overall, chalk paint problems are usually not a big deal. There is usually a quick fix to solve the problem. But in most cases, the best way to fix the chalk paint problem is to remove it, prep the surface, and apply new coats. This would also ensure you get a smooth and fine finish.

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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