If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ve likely seen some pictures of our newly renovated living room/dining room. We stripped wallpaper, painted walls, removed carpet and refinished the floors. After the larger tasks were done, I started redecorating and taking care of some of the smaller projects to help make this room complete.

We have a dining set that’s been around since my childhood, and while I loved the design, I wasn’t so fond of the darker cherry stain! I want to keep the living room space light and airy, and the dining set just wasn’t working with that vision. I decided to chalk paint the entire set, and here’s how I did it:

Supplies Needed:

  • Chalk paint in your desired color (for my dining set I used Amy Howard’s Bau Haus Buff)
  • Water-based polycrylic (I use Minwax Clear Satin)
  • Chalk painting brush
  • Sandpaper (180/220 grit) if you want to distress your pieces
  • Drop cloth

The first thing you want to do is give the chairs and table a very thorough cleaning with a degreaser (all purpose cleaner is fine) and allow them to dry completely. Dust and grime will prevent the paint from adhering well to the surface. Make sure to shake the paint can well, to prevent settling at the bottom.

Dining Room Chairs Before Chalk Paint

Start with your first coat of paint and coat until you achieve your desired finish. If you are using a lighter color on a darker stained piece of furniture, you may need to do quite a few coats. The good news is that chalk paint dries quickly! When you are satisfied with the look of your chairs and table, you need to decide whether or not you want to distress them. I wanted a distressed look to blend into our older home and also because my 3 boys can be really tough on things! I figured distressing them would help any other nicks blend in. 🙂

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Chalk Painting Dining Chairs
Chalk painting of the dining room chairs in progress!

If you choose to distress, take the sandpaper and lightly go over any areas that would normally get distressed like the edges of the chairs or other decorative areas (see picture below). When you are done distressing, make sure to dust off all of the paint that has been sanded off with a damp cloth and let the piece dry completely before applying the polycrylic.

Chalk paint and a newly upholstered cushion makes this chair look brand new!
Chair Chalk Paint Distressed
Distressing the chair after chalk painting helps bring out details in the woodwork.

I recommend 2-3 coats of polycrylic depending on how much use your dining set will get. I did 2 coats for mine since we don’t use it every day– only on special occasions. You can always add another coat later if you change your mind! I recommend letting the furniture sit unused for a few days to give everything time to cure. If the fabric on your chairs is outdated, it’s super easy to reupholster the cushions.

Chalk paint can be used to breathe new life into so many different pieces of furniture and accessories. I’ve even used chalk paint on my wicker porch furniture— it turned out beautifully!


Update your dining set on a budget with chalk paint

Jessica Morrison

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