What kinds of specialty paints are out there, and what DIY projects can we use them for? We did some research, then found chalk, chalkboard, whiteboard, and magnetic paints and put them to the test. Read on for the details.

Chalk Paint

Not to be confused with the chalkboard paint. Chalk paint is an ultra-matte paint that gives a chalklike finish. It’s sometimes called “chalked” or “chalky” paint and is most often used as one ingredient in the process of giving furniture a distressed, vintage look—but it can also be used alone to achieve a matte, velvety finish.

Prep work

Chalk paints adhere well, so a primer generally isn’t needed. No stripping, sanding, or priming is needed, but the surface of whatever you’re painting should be clean and dry. If your piece has a dark stain, it’s possible that the stain will bleed through so you should test a small patch before you paint the whole piece. Apply a sealer if it looks like there’ll be a problem.

We like Americana Décor (they used Carbon in the picture above) but there are lots of good options.


Use a brush or roller to apply chalk paint. Most times you’ll only need one coat. If you do decide to use a second coat chalk paint dries quickly so you’ll only need 30 minutes between coats.


Additional finishing is necessary, but it will help protect the surface. Try a cream wax (reapply it regularly if the item is heavily used) or a matte varnish for a more durable finish.If you want a distressed look, wait about 30 minutes after applying, then simply wipe portions of the surface with a damp rag until you’re pleased with the look. If the top coat isn’t coming off well (you probably waited too long), try fine-grit sandpaper. If you want to get fancy, you can layer several colors of paint, and distress parts of the top layer so the colors below peek through.

Next: Chalkboard Paint