How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood

Quick chalk paint removal guide.
How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood Image

Knowing how to remove chalk paint from wood can help you get rid of thick or excess layers of paint and splatters.

While applying chalk paint is fun, it can be an absolute nightmare to strip off if you don’t have the right tools and skills.

Thankfully, we’ve lined up four highly effective ways to remove chalk paint from wood without damaging the surface. 

Let’s dive right in;

Why Use Chalk Paint On Wood

Chalk paint is one, if not the only, paint that can give your wood an instant vintage, distressed country vibe. Applying chalk paint is straightforward compared to other types of paint. All you need to do is ensure the wood is dust-free before painting.

Other advantages of using chalk paint on the wood are;

4 Ways to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood

Depending on the surface size of the wood, you can use any of the following ways to knock off chalk paint.

  • Paint Stripper
  • Sanding
  • Heat Gun
  • Paint Solvents

While we’re focusing on how to get rid of chalk paint from pieces of furniture, and wooden surfaces, these tactics are also applicable on carpet, glass and even wall surfaces.

1. How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood Using Paint Stripper

Use this method to strip chalk paint from pieces of furniture, wood paneling, hardwood floor and kitchen cabinets.

Precautions

  • Opt for an eco-friendly paint stripper like the SmartStrip Biodegradable formula.
  • Wear your protective gear and work in a well-ventilated area. Paint stripper still consists of chemicals even though it is non-toxic.
  • Protect other surfaces from coming into contact with the paint remover – to avoid stripping paint from unintended surfaces. 

Tools and Materials for Removing Chalk Paint

  • Paint stripper
  • Plastic putty knife or scraper
  • Paintbrush
  • Gloves
  • Face mask 
  • Plastic sheet
  • Steel Wool scrubber pad
  • Soapy water
  • A bucket
  • Dry lint-free cloth(s)
  • Fine-grit sandpaper( 100 or 120)

Step 1: Buy all necessary tools and protective equipment

Assemble all the tools and materials listed above. Wear your protective gear and ensure the workspace is well ventilated. Finally, line the floor with plastic sheeting underneath the piece of furniture you want to work on to avoid messing up your workspace.

Step 2: Apply Paint Stripper

Apply generous coats of the paint stripper on your piece of furniture using your paintbrush. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended waiting time on the manual. As a general rule of thumb, leave the paint stripper to sit for about 30 minutes to one hour.

Step 3: Remove the paint using a putty knife or paint scraper

The chalk paint should be fluffy and a little creased now. Use your putty knife or scraper to lift off the loose old paint. Apply gentle but steady pressure to remove as much paint as possible.

Step 4:  Scrape away any excess chalk paint

Dunk your scrubber pad in soapy water and use it to scrub off the stubborn paint. It is okay if you don’t manage to scrape off all the paint from your wood. Remove the paint remnants using steel wool, scrubber pad and soapy water. Wipe with a damp cloth and repeat the process.

Step 5: Sand your Piece of Furniture to a Clean Finish

Let the furniture air dry thoroughly for about 12 to 24 hours. Sand it using fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out the marks from the scrubbing. Ensure no more chalk paint is lingering on your piece of furniture. Next, wipe off the dust using a damp cloth.

Finally, finish the now clean wooden furniture in your most desired way.

Bonus: If you are unsure what kind of finish to use, apply at least three coats of Danish oil to your wooden furniture using a lint-free cloth. This will bring out the natural tones of the wood while protecting it from unpleasant stains.

Related: How To Remove Sharpie From Wood

2. How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood by Sanding

Sanding is a natural way to remove chalk paint from wood but is time-consuming.

It works on both small and big projects such as wooded floors and large furniture.

Precautions When Removing Chalk Paint

Sanding exposes you to lots of dust. Therefore: 

  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seal off the vents and any other items you don’t want to be covered in dust. 
  • Ensure your workspace is well ventilated.
  • Replace the sandpaper as often as you can since it will get clogged with either wax or chalk paint. 

 Tools and Materials

  • Power sander
  • Sandpaper with different grit levels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Turpentine or odorless mineral spirits
  • Clean cloths
  • Face mask
  • Gloves

Removing Chalk Paint Step by Step

Step 1: Assemble all your tools and materials. Next, wear your protective gear and ensure the room is well ventilated. Also, clear the floor of any items that could stand in your way.

Step 2: Put some turpentine in a container. Dip a cloth in the turpentine and use it to rub on the chalk paint. The idea is to remove wax from the wood surface before you begin sanding. Get rid of as much wax as you can and allow the wood to dry.

Step 3:  Set up your sander with a coarse grit (60-grit) sandpaper to get to the thick layers of the chalk paint. Sand along the grain of the wood.

Vacuum as you sand to reduce the amount of loose dust lying around.

Step 4: Replace the sandpaper with a fresh one if it gets clogged with chalk paint. Continue to work on removing the old paint off of your wooden floor or furniture.

Step 5: Change the sandpaper to a finer grit one (80,100,120). Use a finer grit sandpaper once the layers of paint are getting thinner, and you can see the original wood tone beneath.

Use one finer grit sandpaper after the other to remove most of the chalk paint from the wood. It’s okay if the power sander cannot get to the paint between crevices on pieces of furniture or wood floor. But, as we said earlier, sand off as much paint as you possibly can.

Step 6: Vacuum all the loose dust from the last power sanding. Wipe the wood clean with a damp cloth.

Step 7: Use hand-held sandpaper to scrape off the stubborn paint from hard-to-reach areas. Alternatively, you can use soapy water and a scrubber or wire brush to scrape off the paint from these areas.

Step 8: Wipe the wood using a damp cloth to expose areas with more paint after every scrub.

Repeat this process until you are content with the results.

Step 9: Use another finer grit hand-held sandpaper and sand the entire wood once the wood is dry. This time, the goal is to achieve a smooth and even wood surface.

Step 10: Wipe the wood with a wet cloth to remove any debris. Wipe the wood using a clean, dry cloth to remove excess water and moisture. Let the wood air dry.

Also, clean your working space and your tools and materials.

Step 11: Finish the wood in the way of your choice, or you can apply Danish oil using a lint-free cloth in the meantime. That way, the wood stays moisturized. 

Related: How To Remove Latex Paint From Wood

3. How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood Using Paint Solvent and Elbow Grease

Just like sanding, this is another highly labor-intensive way of removing chalk paint from wood. If you have someone who can lend you a hand, tag them along.

Since chalk paint is water-soluble, you can use warm water for this procedure. Other great paint solvents include white spirits or mineral spirits.

 Tools and Materials

  • Scrubbing sponge
  • Steel wool
  • Lots of warm water, preferably a garden hose
  • Clean cloth
  • White spirits or mineral spirits
  • Danish Oil

The Steps to Remove the Chalk Paint

Step 1: Wet the paint with lots of warm water. The idea is to soak the entire wood with water for the paint to begin to loosen.

Step 2: Scrub the paint off using your scrubbing sponge. It’s best to work on a section at a time. Also, constantly dip the sponge in a bucket of water to let loose the paint buildup, and continue scrubbing.

Change the sponge and water as many times as you see fit. But, of course, cleaner water and a fresh sponge make the work a little bit easier.

Step 3: Wipe the scrubbed area with a wet cloth to expose the remaining stubborn paint.

Step 4: Scrub the paint further using mineral spirits or white spirits and steel wool. Mineral spirits are much stronger than water when it comes to dissolving the wood paint. Strip all the stubborn paint from your piece of wood.

 Step 5: Rinse off your wooden surface with water and get rid of the excess water using a dry cloth.

Step 6: Allow your wooden surface to air dry.

Step 7: Smooth out the wood using hand-held fine-grit sandpaper. You can also use a sander with fine-grit sandpaper.

Step 8: Wipe the sanded wood with a damp cloth and let it dry.

Step 9: Apply a minimum of three coats of Danish oil finish on the sanded wood using a lint-free cloth.

Some people have been able to remove chalk paint from wood by rubbing alcohol and steel wool and some elbow grease. Others have soaked the paint in white vinegar to scrub away the paint. In this case, I say choose your poison.

4. How to Remove Chalk Paint from Wood Using a Heat Gun

Using heat is a reliable method of getting paint off wood. You not only avoid toxic dust from sanding but also the harmful fumes from using a paint stripper.

This approach is best for stripping both thick and thin layers of chalk paint from a piece of furniture wood or glass.

If you don’t have a heat gun, a construction hair dryer would come in handy.

Precaution:

  • Wear heat-proof gloves, preferably made of leather and not plastic. 
  • Put on goggles or a face shield and ensure there is enough ventilation. 
  • Avoid heating the paint for too long too close to avoid scorching the wood or a fire breaking out. 
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Tools and Materials

  •   Heat gun or construction hairdryer
  •  Metal putty knife
  •  Fine grit sandpaper
  • Gloves
  • Face shield or goggles and a respirator
  • Clean cloth
  • Lint-free cloth

The Steps to Remove the Chalk Paint

Step 1: Hold the heat gun about eight to ten inches above the wood, at an angle of about 45 degrees. Apply heat to the painted surface. Work on a small section at a time.

Step 2: Use a metal putty knife to scrape the painted surface gently once the paint begins to wrinkle. That way, you don’t gouge the wood. Also, remember to scrape along the wood grain.

Step 3: Repeat the process for all the inches of the wood painted with chalk paint. Remove as much paint as you can.

Step 4: Sand the wood to remove any stubborn paint left on the wood and on hard-to-reach surfaces. Sanding is also going to help you achieve a smooth and even wood surface.

You can also choose to scrub the remaining paint off the wood using steel wool with mineral spirits or soapy water and a scrubbing sponge.

Step 5: Wipe off the paint residue and dust using a damp cloth. Allow the wood to air dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Finish the wood in whichever way you prefer. If you haven’t figured that part out, apply some Danish oil in three coats or more if you like to.

Step 7: Dispose of the debris appropriately and clean the workspace.

Removing Chalk Paint from Wood FAQs

How Do You Remove Chalk Paint Without Sanding?

You can remove chalk paint using either paint stripper, paint solvents, or heat gun. Apply the paint stripper on the paint; let it sit for about 30 minutes, then scrape it off with a putty knife. Heat the paint and scrape it off once it softens. Finally, scrub the paint with soapy water and steel wool.  

Read our guide on removing paint from wood without sanding for more in-depth information. 

Can Chalk Paint be Washed Off?

Yes, you can wash off chalk paint using a scrubbing sponge and some soapy water. First, wet the paint with water, then scrub off the paint using a sponge. Finally, wipe the residue from the wood with a damp cloth.

Final thoughts

Out of the methods we’ve discussed on how to remove chalk paint from wood, my go-to option would be using a paint stripper. Although all the methods involve some elbow grease, I find it relatively easy. Choose what works for you and pay attention to the safety precautions.

What to Do Next?

Now that you are well equipped with the know-how, tackle that chalk paint like a pro. Be sure not use the same methods on other types of paints. Take a look at this piece on how to remove acrylic paint from wood.

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