how to seal chalk paint for outdoor use

How to Seal Chalk Paint for Outdoor Use?

In Tips by Jamie P.

There is something about chalk paint that catches the eye. It creates a unique look when applied to furniture that “normal” paint might not be able to do. Now you are wondering if you can take the chalk paint outside and what is the best way how to seal chalk paint for outdoor use?

I decided to investigate and here’s what I found:

To seal chalk painted surfaces for outdoor use you need to apply an exterior topcoat finish that helps protect it from UV rays along with moisture. The best products to apply over chalk paint outdoors are exterior polyacrylics and exterior varnishes.

There are many different products that you can choose from to seal your chalk painted pieces for outdoor use and I will list them below. It is important to apply products that are designed for outdoor use or your furniture will likely see weather damage sooner rather than later.

 How to Seal Chalk Paint for Outdoor Use?

The steps to seal over chalk paint for outdoor use are fairly easy. You need to apply the exterior topcoat you have chosen, if you are still searching check the list of the best options I have researched below.

Most of the sealing options, the ones that provide better outdoor protection, are liquid finishes. This means they are in a can or a bottle of some sort, not a spray can. These sealers should be applied with a brush, sponge, and rarely a spray gun, if using a spray gun proper thinning would be required. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend a spray gun for most of these products anyway. Try to stay away from spray paint cans that spray sealers too, they work but your best bang for your buck is the liquid versions and they will work substantially better in protecting the furniture.

If you want to know the process of how it works and applies here’s a detailed step by step list.

10 steps on how to seal chalk paint furniture for outdoor use:

  1. Wait until chalk paint is completely dry.
  2. Once dry, wipe with a lint-free rag to ensure to dust is off the surface.
  3. Shake or stir sealing product and prepare your applicator by damping it with little water.
  4. Add sealer to the applicator and begin moving across your chalk painted surface.
  5. Move your brush or sponge across the entire surface in one movement.
  6. Apply sealer over everything to weatherproof chalk painted furniture for outdoors.
  7. Wait until it dries.
  8. Lightly sand using 220 grit sandpaper between coats.
  9. Apply 3-4 coats, more depending on sealer and weather in location.
  10. After the final coat let it dry and cure for ultimate outdoor durability.

Following these 10 steps will ensure you get the best performance for outdoor weather-lasting durability. Chalk paint unfinished will not last outside for long, the paint will peel and the wood will likely suffer various natural damages. You do not want mold and mildew build-up, water damages, or sun UV damages, sealing the project with the proper sealers will prevent such issues. Trust me!

Let’s take a look at the best sealers for chalk painted furniture for outdoor use below. After using and researching such products, these are the best and easier to use 4 options.

Best Outdoor Sealers for Chalk Painted Surfaces

1. Gator Hide by Dixie Belle Paint Company

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Gator Hide is a clear coat poly-acrylic formula that you apply with a brush or a sponge. It is specifically designed to seal chalk paint for exterior use and much more. Its durable topcoat formula is famous for a number of reasons, because of its water repellent and durable formula you can use it in the kitchen on countertops and cabinets, and also tabletops. But that’s not why we are here, how does this work to seal exterior furniture?

Gator Hide is a go-to option when sealing an outdoor piece of chalk painted furniture. It is super easy to apply, you grab a brush or sponge and apply 3 thin layers. I would do 4-5 if you want extra outdoor durability. This will make your piece waterproof and touch against scratching and consistent traffic. However, a few cons I would consider are the other damages outdoor furniture can have.

Are there any cons when sealing with Gator Hide?

The only con that I can think of after researching Gator Hide is there is no mention of UV resistant ingredients. Of course, adding multiple coats will provide some level of UV protection, but Dixie Bell does not mention if it actually includes such properties. So be aware of this because it could potentially harm the color of your furniture over a long period of time.

2. Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax

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This is the most popular outdoor finish for furniture over stains, when used over paint make sure it is completely dry before applying. People throw this stuff on everything in the outdoor space. Helmsman Spar urethane is a clear coat product that will create a protective barrier against rain and moisture, provide protection in all seasons, has UV blocking ingredients that protect the sun from fading your furniture.

I have used this spar urethane on an outdoor wooden sofa before and I know it creates a super durable and water barrier surface. At first, it almost feels rubbery but when it cures its pretty tough stuff. It will handle the wear and tear from outdoor traffic and weather.

Over chalk paint, it will create a great level of protection, but it will remove its chalky finish look. Your best choice is to use the satin finish option to reduce such an effect. The biggest downside is even though the product says it’s a “clear” finish when applied over white paint it can look a bit yellow. Clean up can be difficult to, I recommend a $1 plastic drop cloth wherever you work and throw it in the garbage when you finish. It will be hard to remove off the deck if not…

Besides the cons, this is a great pick to weatherproof your furniture for years. If you are not looking for the cleanest look but a long-lasting weatherproof piece I recommend this product. It will work best if you plan to leave the furniture out in the winter all year round, especially compared to others on this list.

3. General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Topcoat

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Another well known high-quality product in the painting furniture space is General Finishes. Their Exterior 450 Water Based Topcoat is known to be durable and long-lasting. The only thing to watch out for is yellowing over white and light-colored chalk paints. Other than that you have UV protection, internal mildewcides, water-resistant, and over extremely durable to touch.

Many users choose this over other exterior poly-spar varnishes like Helmsman, but I feel it would require a personal preference.

Another plus is that it is water-based making clean-up a much easier task. Use warm water and soap, its that easy.

Can I use Finishing Wax On Outdoor Furniture?

Common finishing waxes for interior painted surfaces should not be used on outdoor furniture because they are not designed to handle the natural wear and tear. Finishing wax is not fully weatherproof like exterior finishes are designed to do.

Furniture waxes like Minwax or chalk paint waxes are designed for interior protection only. They aren’t even considered the most durable interior topcoat so they certainly are not recommend for outdoor use. Wax will help keep the surface water-resistant, but since the durability isn’t super high, common traffic such as dining and sitting will scratch the surface quickly. These areas would then be prone to water damages.and in no time, mildew would become an issue as well.

Looking at UV resistance in wax, there is absolutely nothing, your outdoor furniture will fade and grey fast. I am recommending that you avoid wax at all costs when looking for an exterior finish.

Final Thoughts

Chalk paint can be sealed for outdoor use, it’s a water-based paint, making spar varnishes, polys, and others easily able to adhere to the surface. Picking one of the options I had researched will work for your outdoor surface, be aware of the weather and your location. If you live in areas with rough rain and snow consider using spar urethane. If you don’t, then you have a little more leeway to use Gator Hide and the Exterior 450 Topcoat.

Goodluck sealing your chalk painted surface for outdoors!