How to Seal Chalk Paint? (With 5 Different Sealers)

Water-based paints like chalk are sealed to reinforce the finish and protect it from scratch marks and water damage. So, how to seal chalk paint?

To seal chalk paint, sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper. After sanding the chalk paint, apply 3 coats of a chalk paint sealer over the chalk paint.

However, the sealer will alter the appearance of the finish. So, it’s best to use a sealer made for chalk paint. 

Does Chalk Paint Need A Sealer?

Applying a sealer over chalk paint isn’t mandatory, but it’s recommended. The sealer makes chalk paint more durable and resistant to moisture, dents, and other factors that can ruin the finish. 

Chalk paint is a water-based paint that doesn’t have a glossy topcoat, so the paint isn’t durable. In addition, the absence of a glossy top coat makes chalk paint prone to early chipping and paint damage. Especially if the finish is exposed to heavy use, contact friction, or daily wear and tear.

A sealer will protect the chalk paint from damage. However, protection isn’t the only reason for sealing chalk paint. Here are other reasons painters seal chalk paint after its application:

  1. Gives a Reflective Finish – Chalk paint, when dry, is dull, but applying a sealant over the finish can make it glossy.
  2. Protect Chalk Paint From Stains – Coffee, water rings, dust, and grime can affect the chalk-painted item. But, a sealer coat prevents this from happening.
  3. Makes Chalk Paint Waterproof – Chalk paint is prone to water damage, especially outdoors. Sealing the chalk with a sealer coat protects it from water damage.
  4. Some sealers offer weather protection – If the chalk paint is used outdoors, an exterior sealer coat will prevent discoloration from UV rays and mold growth.
  5. Sealing chalk paint saves time – Instead of repainting and touching up an unsealed chalk paint, the sealer protects the paint and doesn’t allow the paint to get ruined. 

Chalk Paint Dry Time Before Sealing

Chalk Paint Dry Time Before Sealing

Chalk paint must dry 2-4 hours before sealing. This allows paint particles to dry enough to support a top coat without the risk of bleeding-through or tannins stain. However, if you apply chalk paint in cold or humid conditions, you must wait 48-72 hours before sealing it.

Chalk paint must dry (or cure) before you apply a sealer. Chalk paint dries when the solvent (water) has evaporated, and the paint particles have become hard. Since chalk paint uses water as its solvent, it dries faster than most paints. 

If you seal chalk paint before the paint dries, you will ruin the finish. That’s because the paint is still wet, and a sealer won’t stick to wet paint. If you apply a sealer over wet chalk paint, the sealer will peel off, and the finish will turn sticky. Also, the paint underneath the sealer will bleed through. To fix this, you must strip the entire finish and re-paint it.

Also, before applying a sealer over chalk paint, you must sand the finish. If the chalk paint isn’t dry, the sandpaper will get clogged by the wet paint residue making the entire finish messy. This will ruin the finish. That’s why it’s recommended to wait 2-4 hours for chalk paint to dry before sealing it. 

How To Seal Chalk Paint?

It’s easy to seal chalk paint, but for best results, you need the right sealer. You can use different types of sealers over chalk paint, but each sealer gives different results and has a different application method. 

Sealers To Use Over Chalk Paint

So, to make this guide even more helpful, we have compiled a list of the top 5 sealers that can be used on chalk paint. Including the pros and cons of each choice to make your decision easier. These are:

  1. Wax
  2. Chalk Lacquer
  3. Polyurethane
  4. Varnish
  5. Wood Glaze

Let’s examine these sealers one after the other.

1. Use Wax

Wax is the best sealer to use over chalk paint. That’s because wax and chalk paint have a similar rustic appearance. 

You can apply wax over chalk paint by rubbing it with a lint-free cloth or using a wax brush repeatedly until you are satisfied with the finish.

However, wax is thick and will deepen the color of the chalk paint (once it dries). It takes wax 2 weeks to cure over chalk paint. This means you can’t use the furniture for 2 weeks after applying chalk paint. Once the wax cures, it forms a tough layer that protects chalk paint from scratches, dents, and moisture. 

But, chalk paint must dry for 24 hours before applying wax.

Here is a step-by-step guide to applying wax over chalk paint:

  1. Sand chalk paint with fine-grit sandpaper.
  2. Remove dust using a dust cloth or vacuum.
  3. Prep the wax sealer in an open container.
  4. Wipe the wax over the chalk paint using a lint-free cloth. Work in sections and cover every area of the wax.
  5. Leave the first coat to dry for about an hour and repeat step 4 until you are satisfied with the finish.
  6. Wipe off excess wax on the chalk paint with a cloth.
  7. Leave the wax to dry for 24 hours before polishing or buffing.
  8. Leave the wax coat to cure for about 2 weeks before subjecting the painted surface to regular use.

Pros

  1. Wax compliments the rustic appearance of chalk paint.
  2. It deepens the color of the chalk paint.
  3. It hides imperfections and blemishes on the chalk-painted surface.
  4. Wax is water-resistant.

Cons

  1. It takes wax a long time to cure.
  2. You need to occasionally touch up and re-apply wax because it doesn’t last very long.

2. Use Lacquer Sealer

You can use a lacquer sealer over chalk paint. Unlike wax which deepens the chalk paint color, lacquer is a clear sealant that highlights the color and texture of the chalk paint.

Lacquer offers more protection than wax does. That’s because lacquer has resins and additives that protect the surface underneath from marks and chipping. Lacquer also dries fast and can be applied with a bristled paintbrush. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to applying lacquer sealer over chalk paint:

  1. Sand chalk paint with fine sandpaper. 
  2. Remove dust and wipe the chalk-painted surface.
  3. Chalk paint should be smooth because lacquer won’t hide any spot or blemish. 
  4. Stir the lacquer using a paint mixer until you have even consistency.
  5. Apply lacquer using a bristled brush and wait for 2 hours to dry.
  6. After 2 hours, buff the first lacquer coat with 400-grit sandpaper and reapply a second coat.
  7. Wait 24 hours for the lacquer to cure. 

Pros

  1. Lacquer dries fast (15 minutes at room temperature).
  2. It will last for years before there is any sign of damage. 
  3. Lacquer is water-resistant.
  4. You can use it from the container.
  5. It is formulated with UV blockers. 

Cons

  1. Moisture and contaminants can affect and ruin a lacquer finish.
  2. Lacquer can develop bubbles, paint pimples, fish-eye, and orange discoloration if it isn’t applied correctly. 

3. Use Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a sealer made by mixing different sealers, additives, resins, and solvents. If applied over chalk paint, polyurethane will form a thick, glossy, and durable top coat. 

There are two types of polyurethane; water-based and oil-based. Water-based polyurethane is used over water-based paints, such as chalk paint. It dries fast, is easy to apply, and requires only 2 coats to cover a surface.

On the other hand, oil-based polyurethane is used over oil-based paints, such as enamel. The oil-based polyurethane tends to turn yellow and can affect chalk paint. But, for outdoor items, you must use exterior polyurethane as it protects the surface more than water-based poly.

Here’s how to apply polyurethane over chalk paint:

  1. Sand the chalk paint with fine sandpaper.
  2. Remove dust using a vacuum.
  3. Depending on the type of polyurethane, you’ll be required to shake or stir the polyurethane.
  4. Apply the first coat of polyurethane by using any appropriate applicator method.
  5. Allow the first coat to dry for about 2 hours and then buff with 400-grit sandpaper.
  6. Apply the second polyurethane coat for added durability.
  7. Leave the polyurethane to cure.

Pros

  1. Polyurethane is easy to apply and can be applied with a roller, spray gun, or paintbrush.
  2. Polyurethane protects against all types of scratches and dents.
  3. Water-based polyurethane doesn’t turn yellow.

Cons

  1. Oil-based polyurethane turns yellow after a few months

4. Use Varnish Sealer

Varnish sealer can be used to seal chalk paint. Varnish is an oil-based sealer that forms a tough and glossy film over chalk paint. The tough and glossy finish of varnish protects chalk paint from moisture and stains and can withstand constant heavy use. 

It’s recommended to use varnish sealer over high-traffic areas such as floors, chairs, kitchen cabinets, and tabletops. 

Here’s how to use varnish to seal chalk paint:

  1. Prep the chalk paint.
  2. Thin the varnish with 10% mineral spirits.
  3. Apply the first coat of varnish with a bristled paintbrush.
  4. Leave the varnish to dry for 2-4 hours before recoating. In humid conditions, wait about 12 hours before recoat.
  5. Leave the finish to dry and cure. This can take up to 72 hours.

Pros

  1. Varnish is tough and very durable.
  2. It makes the chalk paint water-resistant.
  3. When dry, it provides a glossy finish that can highlight the chalk paint underneath.
  4. Varnish lasts very long (10-20 years)

Cons

  1. Not all varnishes are suited to outdoor use as it tends to discolor when exposed to direct sunlight
  2. Varnish is prone to dust build-up and can be difficult to clean without a solvent

5. Wood Glaze Sealer For Chalk Paint

You can use wood glaze as a sealer for chalk paint. Wood glaze is easy to apply, and it takes a few coats to archive a smooth finish. To apply wood glaze over chalk paint, use a paintbrush. But, you must wipe off the excess, so it doesn’t gunk up the chalk paint. 

When dry, wood glaze alters the chalk paint color and will either deepen or brighten the chalk paint, depending on the type of glaze you use.

However, wood glaze doesn’t offer good protection like other sealants mentioned here. So, you should use wood glaze for decorative and low-traffic surfaces. 

Here’s how to apply wood glaze over chalk:

  1. Prep the wood glaze by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Wipe and sand the chalk-painted surface.
  3. Apply two coats of wood glaze.
  4. Wipe off the excess wood glaze within an hour after application.
  5. Touch up with an extra coat of glaze.
  6. Let the wood glaze dry for 24 hours and buff or polish it with a polishing cloth.

Pros

  1. Wood glaze is easy to apply
  2. It will complement the appearance of the chalk paint
  3. It helps to highlight curves and carvings on the chalk-painted surface

Cons

  1. This sealer doesn’t offer much protection from scratches and dents. 

FAQs About Sealing Chalk Paint

Can You Leave Chalk Paint Unsealed?

You can leave chalk paint unsealed, but only for decorative and low-traffic objects or areas.

For instance, if you use chalk paint on your wall attachment, flower vase, or wall frame, you can leave the chalk paint unsealed because these objects wouldn’t see frequent use or friction. As a result, the chalk paint will last longer and preserve its finish.

But, you shouldn’t leave the chalk paint unsealed for high-traffic surfaces such as tabletops, chairs, or walkways. Doing so will cause the chalk paint to get ruined from spills, moisture, dents, friction, and dropped items.

Should You Sand Chalk Paint Before Sealing?

You don’t have to sand chalk paint before sealing if the chalk paint is still fresh and in good condition. However, if the chalk paint is old or has defects, you must sand it.

Sanding helps to remove imperfections on the chalk-painted surface and even out the paint so the sealer can sit properly. Sanding also promotes adhesion between the chalk paint and sealer coat. To sand chalk paint for sealing, you should only use fine-grit sandpaper.

What Topcoats Should You Avoid For Chalk Paint?

You should avoid water-based topcoats if the surface is placed outdoors. Water-based sealer doesn’t protect the outdoor surface as well as oil-based sealers. 

Final Words

Sealing chalk paint isn’t difficult and is a task you can take on yourself. However, you need the right type of sealer for chalk paint.

To seal chalk paint you can use wax, lacquer, polyurethane, varnish, or wood glaze. But, chalk paint must cure and you must sand the chalk paint before applying the sealer.

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