How To: 7 Easy Steps to Refinishing Old Furniture Without Sanding Using Eco-Friendly Chalk Paint | Before & After: Old Dresser to Media Center

I may or may not have a barn stall full of hoarded furntiure waiting to be re-finished. I can’t help myself! I see pieces at garage sales and can immediately envision how beautiful it could be with a little love in the form of a can of chalk paint.

My favorite way to refinish furniture is with Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. It’s an incredibly quick way to breathe life into an old piece that is relatively foolproof. In fact I can usually completely finish a piece of large furniture in one evening and have it set up in its new home by the next morning!

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The beauty of chalk paint is that you don’t need to sand or strip your furniture before you paint. It sticks to nearly any surface. I’ve painted plastic mirror frames, antique wood tables, varnished chairs, and on and on. It has amazing bonding qualities without the chemicals. For the prep, really the only thing you need to do is fill any noticeable holes or dents. I skip over all the tiny nicks because the paint and wax tend to fill them in nicely on their own.

But I should be clear that if you’re looking for a perfectly glossy and smooth piece of refinished furniture in the end then chalk paint is not for you. This is a product that gives you the look of hand painted French furniture with a velvety, matte finish. Until you’ve felt it, it’s hard to explain! Lovely comes to mind. Yes, it’s lovely. Lovely, french inspired, heritage handpainted goodness. Nothing glossy. Nothing mass manufactured.

So! Want to re-create the pretty piece like I did above? Here’s how I re-finish furniture.

1. Preferably, start with something old. My most recent find was this 50 year old dresser from a garage sale. Look for lots of character with a vintage antiquey feel…it’ll paint up beautifully.

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I bought this dresser for $30, helped my husband strap it to the trailer then promptly stored it in my barn for a month while I decided on a paint color. Oh, the choices!

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See all the nicks in this old dresser? I didn’t fill any of them. There were a few gouges on the top that I filled but that’s it. Chalk paint is so eaaassssy.

2. When you’re ready, grab your paint and paintbrush. I went with Annie Sloan’s Provence. It’s a beautiful turquoisey shade that changes with the light. My absolute favorite! Provençe is based on all those beautiful shutters and doors you’d see in the South of France.

One can of chalk paint is around $50 but it’s true when they tell you this small can will cover a few pieces of furniture. This dresser used 1/3 of the 1L  can. Maybe a little less.

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Now, the paintbrush. Don’t spend a lot of money on one. I did the first time…it was a $25 “chalk paint” paintbrush and it shed bristles like crazy. I was so disappointed. My favorite brush that I use now is a $4 synthetic brush from Lowe’s. It never sheds and doesn’t leave crazy brush strokes.

3. Remove the hardware and fill any major nicks/scratches/dents with putty and sand your putty job smooth. Again, I didn’t fill any of the little nicks in this dresser because the paint and wax does a great job of smoothing them out and honestly it’s an old piece of furniture. I don’t mind the extra character at all! I was also re-using the original hardware so I didn’t fill the holes or the dents that the hardware left once removed.

4. Start painting! I was in the groove with my paintbrush, John Mayor and a glass of wine.  Discolored evening iphone pics will have to do  ;)

Top: first coat. Bottom: second (final) coat.

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“They” say that most furniture will only need one coat of chalk paint. I’ve never had this experience with all the pieces I’ve done…maybe because they’re usually very dark wood to start with and I tend to stick with lighter chalk paint shades? Not sure, but I always have to do two coats. Chalk paint dries within minutes, so by the time you paint the fronts of a few drawers the first one is ready for a second coat. Paint second coat and let it dry for 30 mins or so.  It’ll feel cool to the touch if it’s still wet.

5. Once dry if you notice any deep brush strokes or drips simply (and gently with very little pressure) sand them out with a fine sanding pad. It’ll smooth out really quickly and come off like chalk dust.

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6.  Waxing time! Wipe off any dust with a soft dry cloth and start smoothing on a thin layer of wax. I use Annie Sloan’s Soft Clear Wax. It has the consistency of soft margarine so it is easy to apply, is completely colourless but it does have a little bit of an odor. In the past I’ve used poly as a protective coat instead of the soft wax and much prefer the wax. The poly yellowed and didn’t protect against stains and wear as well as the wax does. Waxing is pretty straight forward…you don’t need to slather it on really thick, just enough to give it a thin coat. Your paint will darken underneath but don’t freak out, it all comes together in the end. Let the wax dry then grab a soft dry cloth (like a piece of flannel or old t-shirt) and start buffing out the wax. You’re done when your cloth glides smoothly and you notice a slight sheen. Or when your arms are killing you and you’re sweating from all the buffing. Yay for creating pretty furniture AND getting a workout out of it!

DSC 08191 How To: 7 Easy Steps to Refinishing Old Furniture Without Sanding Using Eco Friendly Chalk Paint  | Before & After: Old Dresser to Media Center

7. Let your piece sit overnight (or longer to be sure) so the wax can cure nice and hard then re-attach the hardware. I’m not good at waiting. I finished this at 10pm and there was a TV sitting on top of it by 9am the next morning.


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I’ll share how it looks in my living room as a media center once I get a second coat of white paint on my walls this weekend!

Have you used Chalk Paint before? If not, do you have questions about it? Please let me know in the comments below!


About Amanda

Amanda Robinson is the eco-chic, green living, fitness loving mom behind Natural Mommie. Since early 2009, Amanda has been the source for moms to learn how to bring more balanced green beauty, eco-friendly, sustainable, organic products into their lives without being too “crunchy” or “granola”. Amanda is passionate about wellness and inspiring moms to make more eco-friendly and healthy choices without having to give up their hip mama selves and trade in their stilettos for Birkenstocks. She can often be found sipping green tea, behind her camera, diy’ing, instagramming, in the middle of a workout, chasing her two little boys around her farm or with her nose in an ingredients list in efforts to help other moms become more aware of what is really in the products they buy.


  1. I read the entire tutorial from start to finish and decided at some point towards the end… I’m simply going to come to your house and steal this piece. Seriously, it’s stunning.
    Lena @ Listen to Lena recently posted..FAB Deal Alert: Disney on Ice, Princesses & Heroes

  2. Pretty!!

  3. Jacquelynne Mann says:

    Hey, where did you get that chalk paint?

  4. Hi! Did you do anything with the hard wear? It looks a little darker or is that just from the contrats?

    It’s looks great, thanks for the tip!

    • Hi Camille! I’m not sure what you mean by “do anything with the hard wear?” And darker in contrast to what? I think my instagram pic showed up lighter than the ones in this post. The pics here are pretty true to color. It’s a dark turquoise/robin’s egg blue.

    • Okay, so now that I’ve had an extra cup of coffee LOL Camille, no, I didn’t do anything with the hardware. It looks a little darker in the after picture because the photo was taken inside. The before picture was outside and coupled with an instagram filter :) I love keeping original hardware when I can because it’s one less step but they don’t always look the best. In this case I really liked the character of this hardware. It’s actually two pieces which surprised me! The plate is separate from the pull and together they look fantastic!

      • Hahaha! Thank you very much! It wasn’t just your lack of coffee.. it was my misspelling ;-)
        I spray painted some drawer pulls in gold this weekend and it came out beautifully, although it is not eco-friendly, it is cheaper than buying new or vintage…
        Thanks again.

        • Oooh I bet they’re pretty. I sprayed the pulls on my bedroom dresser and was really impressed with how they came out! I thought they’d look cheap but they don’t!

  5. Nice!
    Where did you get your chalk paint from?

  6. Jennifer T. says:

    I really want to try chalk paint but I’ve never seenany tutorials on how to keep that distressed look. I like those old layers of paint showing through. Are you limited to the colors made by the manufacturer, i.e. Annie Sloan’s colors?

    • You can mix any color together to create your own colors, you can layer, you can wax with clear wax or wax with dark wax to get the old brown/black patina look on the edges…it’s fantastic! Any places where you want to keep the original chippy paint you can rub over it with candle wax so that the paint won’t go over it.

      • Jennifer T. says:

        So, there’s no way to match color to swatch like a home improvement store does? You’d have to buy two or three colors and mix it up yourself by trial and error? I know the advantage to chalk paint is not having to sand but could you paint a wood piece and then sand edges and high use areas to reveal wood? Or does the candle wax really work? Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

        • All the colors come pre-made and then you can create your own colors by mixing. SO if you’d like a lighter turquoise you would just add a few parts of “old white”. Here’s her color chart:

          • Jennifer T. says:

            Hmm, so if I was going for an avocado green, I would have to mix possibly three paints. I want something more green than the Versailles. I think (here in the States), there may be some competitor chalk paints on the market. Annie Sloan’s paints are around US $50 a jar. I have a piece that’s a dark wood that was painted an antique white and the edges are distressed revealing the original wood. I just don’t like the antique white because it disappears on the wall it’s in front of. And, there are some stains on that painted layer :(

          • Another option if you’re not finding the color you want already pre-made…you could always expermiment with making your own chalk paint with the latex color that you’re wanting to paint with. I’ve seen a few tutorials but I’ve never tried it myself! It involves latex paint, plaster of paris and/or calcium carbonate I believe.

            There’s also Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. I’ve never used it myself and it’s a different sort of product but you might find the color and acheive the chippy look you’re after.

        • Oh, and yes! You can sand the chalk paint to reveal whatever is underneath. It sands off like chalk dust with a very light hand. The candle wax would be great if you were painting over another color that you want to reveal. If you sanded, you might accidentally sand off the color beneath…the wax would work to preserve the underneath layer.

  7. Doreen Lamoureux says:

    I love that colour. What a gorgeous piece.

  8. Oh my gosh Amanda, this is SO gorgeous! Isn’t chalk paint so great?!
    Jo-Anna recently posted..Easy and Cozy Entertaining at Home

  9. So, you just paint this right over the old coat/stain/lacquer? No sanding off the old stuff?

    I have never heard of this before- and now I am eyeing a few things in my house! Oh lordie…

    • Yep, right over top! No sanding necessary. It’s fantastic. IF you’re not convinced you can give it a quick wipe with a sanding sponge. I did the first time I used chalk paint because I didn’t believe it!

      • Awesome! I am thinking of doing my kitchen table and the cabinets in the kitchen now!

        • The gal I buy my paint from painted her kitchen cupboards with Annie SLoan Chalk Paint. There’s a few blog posts out there showing befores & afters for cupboards. They turn out really pretty!

          • Does chalk paint work well for painting a kitchen table and chairs? Do you have experience? How will it hold up with the heavy use and will it wipe odd easily? Also, just to confirm, it works well even on surfaces that are very glossy? Thank!

  10. First, it is gorgeous! Second, possibly silly question, but what about dusting furniture that’s been waxed? Seems like the dust would stick to it, or the dusting cloth would lint it up… Loving the idea of chalk paint, but I don’t have a good track record with painting furniture and it being the end product I expect! ;)

    • Thanks Amy! The wax isn’t like a wax texture that you’re thinking…it’s hard to wrap your head around it being a durable, hard finish but it really is. The wax feels somewhat tacky before you buff it. Once you buff it, it becomes smooth and hardens to a protective coating. Something like a dining table would need a new coat of wax once a year or so just for maintenance. I had a horrible track record of painting furniture too until I started using Chalk Paint. It really is fool proof!

  11. I am wanting to use chalk paint on my kitchen table and chairs, do you think that it will be suitable for that? I’ve only ever re-painted dressers, never done kitchen furniture before and I’m at lost on how to do it to make it durable enough for wear. Any advice would be great. THANK YOU!

    • Laura my dining table and chairs are painted with chalk paint and they’ve held up amazingly well. I’m going to be writing a before & after on them too. The only thing is, you have to use the wax as your protective coat and not poly. Poly on my table and chairs was awful. Stains soaked through the poly layer (even though there were 3+ coats!) and it just wasn’t as durable as wax. I ended up having to repaint over the poly with a new coat of chalk paint followed by two coats of wax. My table could use a few touch ups here and there…afterall NO table finish can hold up to a screwdriver being stabbed into it LOL

  12. Great! So glad to read that. Yay, so excited to start on them now. I’m looking forward to seeing your before & after on that. Thanks so much.

  13. Wow, that came out beautifully. Excellent eco-friendly solution. No need for sanding means you save quite a bit of time as well.

  14. That looks absolutely GORGEOUS! And in my favorite color too. You are so creative and inspiring! I love these kind of DIYs.

  15. That color is just amazing!!!! I super like it!! I really love do it yourself task and painting on my furniture’s is just what I love doing. Thanks for sharing this! I have learned new things today and I will check out for that color and will try on my table.

  16. This piece is gorgeous! Can the chaulk paint be used over polyurethane without sanding? Also, how much does the wax cost? Thanks! Rita

    • I’ve chalk painted over poly but it never hurts to give it a light run over with a sanding pad really quick just by hand. The wax costs around $50 and I’m still not through my can yet after doing a dresser, tables, dining table, chairs and a dresser.

  17. What did you use to apply the wax when you first put it on? (Before the buffing/ polishing step.)

  18. I’ve had my first go at chalk paint today, but not too successful I’m afraid. I painted the 2 pedestal legs of my dining table and my next project is a large dresser, so I need to get the technique right before I mess that up too! I did 2 coats of Annie Sloan paint on the pedestals, but as I painted the paint seemed to dry out and cause ‘balling’ and a really rough texture. Any suggestions? Should I have watered it down? Thanks.

    • Sorry I didn’t see this until now, Susan! Was your paint really thick? I’ve never had what you’ve described happen to me before. Your coats don’t have to be super thick, so if it doesn’t feel workable and liquidy then I would say you probably needed to add a little water. I usually pour my pain into a little Tupperware container and add a tsp of water til it feels right. If it’s too watery you can always add a little more paint to your container. My paint usually takes about 5-10 minutes to dry. I hope that helps?

  19. Aisha Abubakar says:

    Hi Amanda. Really loved the dresser, was a bit sceptical at the beginningas the dresser really looked like it needed a bit of work, but by the time I got to the end I was writing up a list. I got this antique 54 year old dresser for my 7year old lady at an auction shop, who is insisting on pink or white, so I am getting to work this weekend. But what do I use to apply the wax for a fine finish?

    • Hi Aisha! Yes, it was in rough shape, but that’s the beauty of chalk paint! I did do a small amount of puttying, but left the hundreds of little nicks and scratches alone. I couldn’t be bothered ;P To apply the wax I just use a piece of flannel or an old t-shirt. I know many have great success with using the brush specifically made for waxing but I haven’t tried it yet myself. Have fun with your before & after!

      • Aisha Abubakar says:

        Hi Amands. And thanks. We could not wait till the weekend though! Painted it this evening, not till we’ve slapped the firdt coat did I remenbet my before picture. Look foward to showing off my before and after waxing. Did’nt know I could add water to the paint! Will wax tomorrow.

  20. Suzanne says:

    Hi!! Looks amazing and I love it. Just wondering if you’ve had any experience in using chalk paint and the wax for a kitchen table. Would it hold up well to the wear and tear? I’m wanting to change up my table but don’t know where to start!!

    • Hi Suzanne! Sorry I missed your question until now! My dining table has been chalkpainted and waxed for almost 3 years now. I put on a new coat of wax about every 6-12 months. I love the look and yes it holds up very well as long as you’re okay with the look of chalk paint and wax – it’s never going to be a super smooth “factory finish” or have a glossy poly look to it. It gets nicks and scratches but most of them you can’t really notice and if they’re really bad I simply touch it up with a little paint and wax and it’s good as new. Is your dining table solid wood or is it veneer?

  21. So I’m doing this soon and just wondering does the chalk paint go on white and then turn turquoise ? The first pics with first and second coat look white or do you paint it white first and them use Provence ?

    Thanks love this ! :)

    • Mostly just bad lighting with my iphone ;) but the first coat does look light doesn’t it?! The wax deepens the color quite a bit to make it true – similar to what you see when you first open the can. Have fun with your project!

  22. Hi there!
    I wonder….if I put more than one coat of wax on a finished product, will it provide added protection? Or will it take the original wax applied off? So many questions before I begin my first chalk paint project!
    thanks so much – lovin’ your work and insight.

    • Hi Tana – yep additional coats will definitely help protect it! I have a few coats on my dining table and recoat it throughout the year when I remember ;)

  23. This is GORGEOUS. I also have an assortment of old wooden furniture pieces I’ve been wanting to re-do but have been doing them the long hard way with regular paint. I REALLY want to test out chalk paint on my next projects – dresser and bed frame – but am afraid of royally screwing them up. Do you suggest I start with a smaller piece or is it pretty simple to pick up? I’ve heard the wax can be tricky to get the hang of…is that true?
    I love this colour you chose too, it’s always nice to see the completed project. I’m thinking of picking up a can of Provence and Pure White and just giving it a go.
    Last question…do you sand your really shiny pieces or do I need to bother?

    • Thanks Megan! It’s really difficult to mess up chalk paint – it’s unbelievably forgiving! Waxing isn’t as daunting as it seems either – you just can’t use too much or you’ll end up with a tacky finish instead of a velvety/matte finish. I don’t usually do any sanding before hand unless I’ve puttied and need to sand it down.

      How shiny are your shiny pieces? Is it a clear coat on top you’d be going over? It never hurts to give a quick rub with a sanding sponge :) Provence is such a pretty color!

      • The one piece is quite shiny but just a clear coat I think. I’ll probably do a light sand. I think I will give it a go and remember not to use too much wax:) Wish me luck! haha

  24. Love the piece above! I just bought an old kitchen table and chairs. It is a wood table with a gloss finish. Does it need to be sanded or will the chalk paint adhere to it with no problem?

  25. Love the piece above! I just bought a kigchen table and chairs that are wood with a gloss finish. Does it need to be sanded or will the chalk paint adhere to them regardless of gloss finish?

    • It would likely adhere – it even adheres to glass. Once you finish with wax it’s a very durable finish. However, I usually give my pieces a quick wipe over with a sanding sponge then dust off with a rag before I begin. Have fun with your piece!

  26. Hi-
    We are looking at painting a big cabinet, and I was dreaming of painting it solid, then painting a silhouette of a tree or branch across the whole thing in a slightly darker shade. Do you know if that would work with chalk paint–one color on top of the other before the waxing? Thank you for the inspiration and advice!

  27. I am not from where you are. Is there another brand of chalk board paint that you would recommend? Or a website maybe?


  28. Hi! Quick question: does the piece have to be old? Because I have some furniture that are between 5 to 10 years and I seriously want to get rid of the color on it. And am SERIOUSLY too lazy to sand and prime it.

  29. Penny Hawk says:

    Hi! Have a question. Is it also ok to paint right over stained furniture? (stained 14yrs ago)


  1. […] this one can of wax, I’ve finished waxed my dining table (twice), dining chairs, a dresser turned media center, an end table and the dresser pictured here. I still have about a third of a can […]

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