Knowing how to keep chalk paint from scratching is essential to the lifespan of the painted furniture pieces. Chalk paint finishes are beautiful and offer the fastest way to achieve a natural patina on wood furniture.

However, the chalk paint finish is susceptible to all sorts of damage because the paint is highly porous.

Read to the end of this article to find out all you need to know about keeping chalk paint from scratching. We’ve also recommended some of the tried-and-tested top coat sealers you can use to keep the painted surface intact.

Let’s get started.

How To Keep Chalk Paint From Scratching

The most effective way to prevent chalk paint from scratching is by applying a polycrylic or polyurethane liquid topcoat. Still, you can opt to apply finishing wax over chalk-painted surfaces. However, liquid finishes offer the most scratch-proof finish, unlike wax finishes.

What to Consider Before Applying Topcoat to Chalk-painted Furniture

A top coat sealant will protect your chalk paint against elements like moisture, heavy traffic, and streaky fingers. But before applying a top coat, consider the type and size of your chalk-painted piece of wood.

That way, you can estimate the amount of product you need to cover the surface. Also, consider the intended function of the surface and the amount of traffic it will get.

For example, a coffee table with high traffic requires a liquid sealer. On the other hand, a dresser with less traffic can do with a finishing wax topcoat sealer.

Also, consider the color of the chalk paint used on the furniture. Finishes like Polycrylic tend to have a milky appearance and might leave a cloudy hue over black chalk paint. While oil-based polyurethane has an amber tint and might yellow a white paint.

Scratch Resistant Topcoats and Sealers for Chalk Paint

By now, you know all too well that chalk paints aren’t the most durable of paints. Therefore you need to apply a scratch-resistant top coat and sealers to keep the paint intact and have your furniture in tip-top shape.

The scratch-resistant top coats in this category can either be liquid finishes or finishing waxes. This section will look at some top coat brands that will help you protect that gorgeous piece of furniture after painting it with chalk paint.

Let’s begin with liquid finishes!

Liquid Finishes

The liquid finishes you can use are either polycrylic or polyurethanes (both oil and water-based).

What you need to know about liquid poly finishes

Poly topcoats are durable liquid finishes and offer unmatched protection for your painted piece of furniture. They can withstand daily wear and tear, heavy traffic, and water and weather damage.

Apply poly finish only after the final coat of chalk paint dries up. Using a sprayer, bristle, or foam brush, you can also apply poly.

You will also need to use the polys in a well-ventilated space and consider wearing protective gear, especially for the oil-based variety. Generally, you will only need about 2-3 light coats for a sturdy finish.

Poly finish topcoats offer a variety of sheen levels, from the matte, glossy finish, to the satin finish coat.

Let’s now take a look at different liquid finish options.

1. General Finishes High-Performance top coat-Flat

General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Flat
6,445 Reviews
General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Flat
  • Do not apply clear topcoats over bright white paint, as yellowing may occur due to a reaction to the substrate. Light color paints may also experience yellowing due to topcoat application, but it will less noticeable.
  • The hardest, most durable consumer polyurethane top coat on the market today
  • Dry Time Between Coats is only 1 to 2 Hours
  • Interior use only

General finishes is a household name in the world of wood finishes. This particular General finishes high-performance top coat- flat is the hardest, most durable water-based polyurethane.

This poly topcoat is self-leveling so that it won’t show brush strokes and guarantees a smooth surface.

You can apply this water-based polyurethane over chalk paint using a roller, foam brush, a paintbrush, or a spray gun. It has less toxic fumes and cleans up easily using soapy water.

To create a more scratch-resistant finish on your chalk-painted piece, apply 3-4 coats. The drying time ranges between coats is 1-2 hours, and 24 hours to properly cure.

What We Liked Most

  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable

What Could Be Improved

  • It May turn yellow when applied over white chalk paint



2. Minwax Polycrylic protective finish

Minwax 611114444 Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish, Clear Ultra Flat, 1 Quart
22,784 Reviews
Minwax 611114444 Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish, Clear Ultra Flat, 1 Quart
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish protects and adds beauty to your interior wood projects, including woodwork, furniture, doors and cabinets. The clear top coat protects against scratches, spills, dirt and more.
  • CRYSTAL CLEAR FINISH THAT LASTS – The crystal clear finished offered in this protective coating is ideal for use over all Minwax Oil-Based and Water-Based Stains and colors, as well as all wood species including light woods like maple, ash and birch.
  • ULTRA FLAT SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with ultra flat clear varnish. It protects the natural beauty of the wood and offers an ultra flat, barely-there sheen for a natural, on-trend look. It’s non-yellowing, non-ambering and low odor.
  • ULTRA FAST DRYING – Get more done with this protective poly coating. It’s a fast-drying clear coat, which allows for quick recoats after 2 hours, letting you get projects done faster. Be sure to apply with a high-quality synthetic bristle brush.
  • EASY CLEAN UP – This water-based wood finish allows for easy soap and water clean-up, so you don’t have to stress about spills and big messes.

Minwax polycrylic protective finish is the best product for top coat protection on your painted piece. In addition, this polycrylic finish is extremely scratch-resistant.

Polycrylic clear ultra-flat finish topcoat works perfectly on chalk paints without turning yellow. It also is non-toxic and has a low odor, unlike oil-based polyurethane.

This Polycrylic is a self-leveling and fast-drying clear coat; you can recoat in 2 hours and its cure time is in 24 hours.

It’s easy to clean up with hot soapy water and soap since it’s water-based. You need to lightly sand with 220grit sandpaper between coats; you’ll need a couple of coats for a sturdy finish.

What We Liked Most

  • Durable scratch-proof finish
  • Fast drying
  • Easy cleanup
  • Non-yellowing

What Could Be Improved

  • Requires sanding between coats

 




3. Dixie Belle Gator Hide -for extra protection

Gator Hide by Dixie Belle Company is another great option when we talk about durable products that can resist scratches.

Gator hide is a water-based poly-acrylic formula designed for outdoor use and heavy traffic areas indoors. It’s super tough and is primarily designed to repel water, a lot like gloss paint.

This product works great on chalked table tops, kitchen cabinets, countertops, and more, offering maximum protection.

Although it doesn’t compare to General Finishes High Performance or Minwax Polycrylic, it works great in high-traffic areas and provides resistance to scratches. 

Use a Dixie Belle blue sponge applicator to apply Gator hide formula. First, ensure the sponge is dry for a smooth and even finish. Next, apply a couple coats of Gator’s hide for a more durable finish.

What We Liked Most

  • Water repellant
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Great for outdoor use

What Could Be Improved

  • Requires multiple coats



4. Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint Clear Topcoat

Sale
Rust-Oleum 287722 Ultra Interior Chalked Paint 30 oz, 30 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Clear Matte
33,546 Reviews
Rust-Oleum 287722 Ultra Interior Chalked Paint 30 oz, 30 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Clear Matte
  • Use on a variety of interior surfaces like wood, metal, ceramic, canvas and easily distress to create a vintage look
  • Low-odor/VOC formula allows for easy clean up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in just 30 minutes and covers up to 150 sq. ft.; one-coat coverage allows projects to be completed easily
  • Excellent adhesion and easy application with minimal prep
  • Protective topcoat that dries to an ultra-matte velvety, smooth finish

Rustoleum chalked paint matte clear top coat is a great finishing product that protects against scratches. This protective liquid finish is affordable and easy to apply to your chalk-painted surface.

You can use a Rustoleum chalk paint top coat on various interior surfaces as it has a low VOC. It also cleans up easily with just soap and water.

You can apply it with minimal preparation, and it has excellent adhesion. The protective top coat dries into an ultra-matte velvety, smooth finish in just 30 minutes.

This product is also available as a spray top coat that makes it easy to coat every inch of furniture, especially ones with intricate designs. Although durable, it can be challenging to achieve an even surface.

What We Liked Most

  • It has an aerosol option for easy application
  • Easy to apply
  • Easy cleanup

What Could Be Improved

  • It can be challenging to achieve even coats



Finishing Waxes

Finishing waxes are often paired with chalk paints to protect the surface while retaining the matte-like finish of chalk paints. You can choose from multiple options, but here are the ones we recommend.

What you need to know about finishing waxes

Finishing wax is a popular choice, often paired with chalk paints. It blends and matches well with most chalk paint brands. Wax can have a nice matte finish, but you can buff it to bring out some luster.

Wax finish is a paste that hardens when it comes into contact with oxygen. It dries to touch in 30 minutes but takes 2-3 weeks to cure fully into a hard, scratch-resistant surface.

The curing period varies depending on the number of wax layers, temperature, and humidity. Wax finishes can be either clear or dark, and you can use whichever you want, depending on your desired effect.

If you intend to use dark wax, begin with a clear coat first, then follow with the dark. Wax is unsuitable for high-traffic areas because it’s not the most durable option.

It also melts easily upon contact with heat; therefore, avoid using it on coffee tables or kitchen countertops.

Let’s take a look at the top finishing waxes for chalk paints.

1. Minwax paste finishing wax

Sale
Minwax 785004444 Paste Finishing Wax, 1 lb, Natural
  • Minwax Paste Finishing Wax protects and adds hand-rubbed luster to any finished wood surface.
  • It is recommended for furniture, antiques, woodwork, cabinets, doors, paneling and accessories that do not need a hard protective coat of polyurethane.
  • Leaves nice polished look to any finished wood surface

Minwax paste finishing wax is a clear coat that is easy to use and is perfect on chalk-painted furniture. You can leave it matte or buff using a soft cloth or an attached drill buff brush to bring out a gentle sheen.

This wax is easily accessible online and in physical hardware stores or home depot. When it’s completely cured, it’s water-resistant. It also cures into a hard finish that will protect the chalk paint from moderate scratches and daily wear and tear.

It applies easily, and you can always reapply wax to cover scratches or refill spots that melted from exposure to high heat. In addition, this clear wax won’t alter the chalk paint color; but instead, enrich the paint color.

What We Liked Most

  • Protects against normal wear and tear
  • Water-resistant

What Could Be Improved

  • It easily melts when in contact with high heat



2. Howard citrus shield paste wax

Sale
Howard CS0014 Citrus Shield Paste Wax, 11-Ounces Neutral
982 Reviews
Howard CS0014 Citrus Shield Paste Wax, 11-Ounces Neutral
  • Citrus shield paste wax cleans with the power of real Orange oil, and protects with a strong, hard protective coating of carnauba wax
  • Use citrus shield to polish your furniture to a brilliant long-lasting shine
  • Manufactured in United States
  • Premium Paste Wax, Neutral
  • Use as a final finish, reconditioner, furniture wax or floor wax

Howard citrus shield paste wax is another durable top coat sealer for chalk-painted surfaces. This wax is made of carnauba wax that cures into a hard, water-repellent surface.

This real Brazilian carnauba wax is the hardest natural wax available on the market. When applied to chalk paint, it cures into a beautiful scratch-resistant surface.

Howard citrus shield wax is also made with real orange oil. Most users agree that the orange smell is pleasant and makes the wax fun to use.

What We Liked Most

  • It’s great value for money
  • It’s easy to use
  • Has a pleasant smell
  • Most durable wax

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s heat sensitive



3. Annie Sloan Clear Wax

We know that Annie Sloan is the founder of chalk paints. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Annie Sloan Clear wax is one of the best waxes on the market.

Trust Annie Sloan’s clear chalk paint wax to seal your chalk-painted surface from scratching. This clear wax enhances the depth of the chalk paint color and leaves it looking even more beautiful.

Once dry and properly cured, you can buff this wax to achieve a high sheen and stimulate its water-repellent features.

Annie Sloan’s wax is easy to use. Plus, you can always get other wax colors (dark, white, or black) to use on your chalked surface and bring out the desired effect.

What We Liked Most

  • Easy to use
  • Durable, water-resistant wax
  • Dries into scratch resistant

What Could Be Improved

  • Heat sensitive
  • Has a foul smell



Wax Application Tips

Apply wax with a bristle brush, then wipe and buff with a soft cloth. Always work on a small section and not the entire piece in one go.

Apply clear wax, and then follow up with the dark or black wax if you’re trying to create an aged or Ombre look. This will allow you to regulate the depth of the color the wax will impart.

Wax dries in as little as 30 minutes but takes up to 30 days for the waxed piece to cure fully before handling heavy use.

If you buff the wax too soon, you may end up with a gummy wax situation. But if you’re already in the thick of the sticky wax stretching over the entire surface, then you need to read our article for tips on how to fix blotchy wax on chalk paint.

Ensure that the chalk-painted surface is completely dry before you begin waxing. That way, you avoid messing up the finish and having to remove chalk paint from the wood.

Since waxed surfaces don’t last long, schedule regular maintenance so you can reapply wax and keep your surfaces looking nice.

FAQs

Does chalk paint scratch easily?

Yes, chalk paint finishes are naturally easier to scratch off than other paint varieties. This is because chalk paints are water-based, very porous, and generally have a weaker formulation. That’s why sealing chalk paint using liquid finishes, or finishing waxes is crucial.

Is chalk paint durable?

No, chalk paint is not durable, at least not on its own. It requires some form of protective sealant to make it durable. Wax is the most common protective companion for chalk paints. However, you can use liquid top coats for a longer-lasting chalk paint finish.

Does chalk paint chip?

Yes, chalk paint can chip and peel almost immediately. This is especially true if you start using the painted furniture before it has had time to cure adequately. But you can avoid that by ensuring the chalk paint dries and cures for at least 3-5 days before heavy handling.

How to keep chalk paint from rubbing off?

Use high-quality wax or poly topcoat sealer to keep chalk paints from rubbing off. Apply your preferred sealer on dry chalk paint and let it dry. Then, reapply subsequent coats and let them cure completely before using the painted surface.

Why is my chalk paint coming off when I wax?

Your chalk paint might be coming off because you waxed on wet or uncured paint. Alternatively, you may have used poor-quality chalk paint brands. Another reason could be that you only applied one coat of chalk paint or worse, that you used the paint on a wet surface.

Is there any chalk paint that doesn’t need wax?

All chalk paints share similar characteristics. They are porous, water-based, and prone to scratches, stains, flaking, and dissolving in water, among other forms of damage from its surrounding. Therefore, the only way it remains durable is if it’s coated with wax or a liquid finish.

Why use chalk paint for furniture?

Chalk paint provides the fastest and easiest way to distress furniture (natural patina). Chalk paint is also ideal if you’re painting furniture with an intricate design; it doesn’t require any preparation like sanding or priming.

How to remove scratches from wood

You can remove scratches on wood with coloring agents like paint and polish. You can also use fillers like crayons and oils like vegetable oil and olive oil to swell the food and fill the scratch.

Conclusion

If you’re ever wondering how to keep chalk paint from scratching, the solution lies in using finishing waxes or liquid finishes. The top coat you will use depends on how much traffic a chalked surface will get.

Liquid sealers are more durable and suitable for heavy traffic surfaces, while the wax will last longer on minimal traffic surfaces indoors. But, of course, your DIY chalk paint project will last a while only if it’s well protected.

Happy painting!

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