topcoats for chalk painted furniture

How to Keep Chalk Paint from Scratching Up Easily

In Tips by Jamie P.

When I use chalk paint on furniture I know that it might not be the most durable paint option. Typically I will pick up an interior satin enamel paint because I know a satin finish provides great durability on furniture. When chalk paint isn’t properly protected and sealed it can chip and scratch pretty easily. So what’s the best way to keep chalk paint from scratching?

Applying a liquid topcoat is the best way to keep chalk painted surfaces from scratching. Although wax is a popular choice for chalk painted surfaces, it doesn’t provide a scratch-resistant surface as liquid finishes do.

Sealing chalk paint isn’t required but I highly recommend it or you will begin to see chips and scratches on the surface quickly. Chalk paint is not very durable. Deciding on a topcoat that will prevent scratches can be difficult if you are new to chalk paint, the best way how to keep chalk paint from scratching is to use the most scratch-resistant topcoats. Let me guide you through the most scratch-resistant topcoats for chalk paint below.

Scratch Resistant Topcoats and Sealers for Chalk Paint

Liquid Finishes

General Finishes High-Performance Flat – Most Scratch Resistant Pick

General Finishes is a known name in the painting world. They create some pretty amazing products that are meant to last a long time. But the reason we are talking about them today is that the General Finishes High Performance Water-Based Topcoat is the most scratch-resistant when used on chalk paint. It is a polyurethane finish, and it is a liquid product. This means it is applied using a paintbrush, foam brush, roller, or it can be put through a sprayer but that’s not the average joe kind of way.

It is best to apply 3-4 coats of this General Finishes product. It will create an extremely durable scratch-resistant finish that you won’t have to worry about scratching your chalk painted pieces. It’s known as the most durable consumer polyurethane topcoat for furniture projects on the market and has been proved in many different tests found online over the years.

If you want to give General Finishes High Performance Flat a try check out its latest price here on Amazon.

Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

A huge tip for finishing chalk paints with a liquid finish is to use Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. It’s a good idea to use Polycrylic on chalk painted surfaces because they are less likely to yellow, especially compared to an oil-based polyurethane. Polycrylic is super easy to deal with because of its water-based formula, just some hot water to clean and it comes off in no time. Plus it is not near as smelly and toxic like polyurethane finishes are.

Although, the application is known to be a little bit more maintenance to apply evenly when compared to polyurethane, in the correct temperatures and using a high-quality brush you can get an even finish pretty easily. With a brush, move across the entire surface back and forth to prevent uneven brush strokes. Apply lightly and let the finish level on its own. Use a 220 grit sanding sponge in-between coats for the ultimate smooth finish.

When using Minwax Polycrylic on chalk painted surfaces I recommend the “Clear Ultra Flat” finish because it suits chalk paints best.

If we are to consider how scratch-resistant this Polycrylic I would put it high on the scale. After being tested, polycrylic finish is extremely scratch-resistant and would take more pressure to scuff up the surface than finishes like wax. I would put it right behind General Finishes High Performance Flat.

If you are interested in Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish find the latest price by clicking here on Amazon.

Dixie Belle Paint Company Gator Hide

Dixie Bell Paint Company has a few finishes that are popular on chalk painted furniture projects. But today we are talking about durability and the ability to resist scratches. Gator Hide by Dixie Bell Paint Company is an extremely durable option. It’s designed for outdoor use, kitchen cabinets, tabletops, countertops, and more! This means your piece of furniture will have more than enough protection when using Gator Hide.

This product is designed to be a water repellent surface and that’s its main focus. It does provide great durability against scratches but doesn’t compare to both the General Finished High Performance or Minwax Polycrylic.

Gator Hide is a water-based poly-acrylic formula, its great in high traffic areas like the kitchen where people are likely going to spill and rub against certain surfaces. Apply 3-4 coats for the most durable finish.

If you are interested in Gator Hide check out the latest price here on Amazon.

Rust-Oleum Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint Clear Topcoat

Rust-oleum carries a large selection of chalk paints and they have grown their selections over the years. They also have a great finishing product called Rust-Oleum Chalked Matte Clear Topcoat that is pretty decent. It holds up against scratches really well, plus it’s affordable for the amount you get. The reason why someone wold choose a liquid finish like this over wax is because of how simple it is to apply. Grab your brush and lather it on equally over the full surface. When dry just sand between coats and re-apply.

If you are interested in Rust-Oleums Chalked Protective Clear Topcoat see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.

Finishing Waxes

Wax is the most popular choice when using chalk paints, it gives a nice matte finish which is why it’s great because it matches nicely with various chalk paints. But the real question is does it prevent scratches?

To prevent scratches on chalk paint when using finishing wax you must allow it to properly cure. Wax will be dry to touch in 30 minutes but it can take 2-3 weeks to fully cure to a hard scratch resistant surface.

Wax is extremely durable against scratches when fully cured, but before reaching its cure date, it is extremely susceptible to scratching. Wax is basically a paste that hardens when in contact with oxygen, but it will not fully harden during day one of the application. Like I mentioned above, it will be ready to be touched in 30 mins but expect many days before it’s fully hardened and cured. And remember wax should be buffed after applying, this creates a solid surface that will become even more durable when cured.

The curing process for wax can vary based on temperatures and humidity, but it is highly recommended to let your piece cure in a relatively dry space with temperatures between 65 to 80 degrees F (18 to 27 C). To reach a cured state, it will take the waxed furniture in such conditions anywhere from 7 to 21 days. After this time frame, the waxed piece will be much more durable and the chalk painted surface will be protected from scratches.

You can apply multiple coats of wax and it’s recommended that you do. Although 2 coats of wax doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more durable against scratches it just means that over time it will last longer. Finishes can go through normal wear and tear especially wax. So applying an extra layer will increase the longevity of the finish, and if the piece is regularly touched/used on a daily basis you should definitely apply 2 coats. I typically buff the wax and then apply my second coat the next day.

If you are having problems with blotchy wax read here. Some people ask if you can seal over wax and the answer is no. Wax is and should always be last when using it. It works the same with gilding wax, just let it cure and harden.

Lastly, keep in mind that wax is not the most durable finish for chalk paint, but it is the most popular. If scratched above the painted surface it can easily be re-applied which still makes it a potential option. It can be cost-effective because it lasts and goes a long way. A 500 ml can typically lasts for 2-3 gallons of paint, while some spray finishes will need to be purchased for each project.

Recommended Finishing Waxes for Chalk Paint?

Minwax Paste Finishing Wax

The most popular finishing wax for furniture is Minwax Paste Finishing Wax, it may not be number one for chalk painted surfaces but overall it’s the top seller in all aspects. It’s a simple to use clear coat wax that works perfect on chalk painted furniture. Use the clear natural finish or the dark, your choice. It adds a light luster that is not shiny, and you can easily buff it by hand or use a drill buff brush attachment.

See Minwax Paste Finishing Wax’s latest price here on Amazon.

Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax – Most Durable Wax

The most durable finishing wax against scratches is Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax. Its hard coat consists of real orange oil and carnauba wax. It will leave a beautiful log lasting look to your chalk painted furniture. Use their clear option on chalk paint for the best results, it will harden making the surface water repellent and scratch-resistant.

See Howards Citrus Sheild Paste Wax’s latest price here on Amazon.


Videos to Watch

Christina Muscari is a Youtube famous furniture painter, she makes great videos on various painting products. In this video, she collaborated with Katie Scott, also a furniture painter on Youtube, and they tested a variety of topcoats. Christina paints white chalk paint on a tabletop and does a number of tests with different topcoats. See Christina’s here:

 

Katie did the same tests with other topcoats from the hardware store over a darker paint, see her video results here:

Final Thoughts

Finally, after going through the best topcoats for chalk painted surfaces it’s pretty easy to say that liquid finishes provide better resistance against scratches. Wax can be durable, but not nearly as durable as poly products.

If you are interested in similar chalk paint articles check out:

How To Get Chalk Paint Off Furniture

Using Rust-Oleum Chalked Coastal Blue Spray Paint on Furniture

Anyways, I hope my detailed guide has helped answer your questions on how to keep chalk paint from scratching easily. There are a number of ways to approach finishing a chalk painted project, so decide on what option is best for you and get finishing!

Good luck!