Painting over Chalk Paint or Wax

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With all the chalk painting and waxing rage I thought this may be a helpful post for all of you furniture painters who would like to repaint your chalk painted or waxed surfaces.

First step is determine if your chalk painted surface has been waxed.  I usually scratch the surface using a putty knife or a fingernail on several different areas on the piece to see if wax comes off on my putty knife or under my fingernail.

No Wax –

If you get no indication of wax on the surface you are ready to clean with TSP or Degreaser, scuff sand, wipe off your saw dust with a damp rag and start painting.  I recommend Fusion TSP because it is a great non-toxic version of the store bought TSP that needs to be applied with gloves and rinsed off after.

Note: Applying paint over chalk paint may require a little more sanding to achieve a smooth surface.  Chalk paint is very textured.  Just remember that any texture or flaws may show through your newly painted surface so you’ll want to sand accordingly.

Wax –

Removing wax from a surface may seem daunting but with the right tools it’s relatively easy.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

Scratchy Sponge

What’s next:

1)Pour a generous amount of Odorless Solvent or Mineral Spirits on your surface or pour onto the scrubby side of your sponge.

2)Take the scrubby side of your sponge and scrub the surface of your piece.  You should start seeing smalls amounts of wax ball up on the surface of your piece or on your sponge.  The amount is really depending on how much wax was originally applied.

3)After you’ve scrubbed the entire piece, let it dry.  After it’s dry use Fusion TSP or a Degreaser to wipe down the entire piece.

After your piece has dried make sure to test the surface to make sure all wax has been removed.  I take a fingernail and scratch several different areas of the surface to make sure I’m no longer removing wax.  If you find areas that still seem waxy follow steps 1-3 again on those areas.

If all wax has been removed the next step is to scuff sand the surface to smooth out any flaws or textures that you do not want showing through your final painted finish.  Make sure to wipe the entire piece down with a damp rag to remove sanding residue.

Now you are ready to paint! 

If you’d like to know the difference between Fusion and Chalk paint click here

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  1. I used old white paint and noticed my cabinet was bleeding through the paint. I quite liked the affect but when i applied a water proofing varnish the whole thing turned into a streaky dirty looking mess. Can i use a normal paint over the top or do i have to start from scratch. In this instance would a latex paint be best ?

    1. Hi Linsey – I’d recommend first cleaning them with a degreaser like Fusion TSP, then scuff sand the existing finish and clean again. If you’re painting your cabinets white and you know that they bleed thru the paint the only way to stop that is by priming with Zinsser Bin Shellac Primer. After you prime you wait 24 hours and paint with whatever paint you chose. I don’t recommend Latex for Cabinets. I painted my cabinets with Fusion Mineral Paint.

  2. Hello,
    My house walls are all wood shiplap. The previous owners of the house added what we think may be a wax to the surface. It is very sticky feeling to the touch and yellow/orange in colour and we’d like to try and paint some rooms. What would you recommend? I’m having trouble finding anything on how to do this!

    1. If it’s sticky I’d guess it’s wax. I’d recommend using a kitchen scrubby and mineral spirits to remove the wax. You may have to do it a couple of times if it’s thick. After the mineral spirits I’d clean with a degreaser like Fusion TSP.

  3. I have a piece of wood furniture with many curves, twists, nook and crannies. Actually not all that … but when one is sanding and cleaning to paint, it does seem that way! My understanding is that rather than strip the wood one can paint over it (after cleaning, etc) with chalk paint and be good to go. Is this correct?

    1. Susan, I always advise a good cleaning with a degreaser, like Fusion TSP, which does not have to be rinsed off and doesn’t interfere with adhesion. If you use another type of TSP or degreaser I’d advise rinsing the surface with water before proceeding. I also advise if you want your surface to be durable after painting that you do a scuff sand. A scuff sand doesn’t mean you have to sand every square inch. You are just giving your paint something to stick to. I have a post on prepping for a durable finish that you may want to read. I personally don’t believe there’s any such thing as a no prep paint, not if you want durability. Hope this helps.

  4. I chalk painted a dresser and waxed it. I’m not happy with the color and texture. I don’t think I’ve mastered waxing! I read about using an oil based sealer instead. Do I need to remove the wax first?
    Thank you!

    1. Yes, you would have to remove the wax before applying a sealer. Also, I would only apply an oil based sealer over a dark color. Oil based sealers yellow over light colors. Hope this helps.

  5. Hello there, I have some oak dining chairs which were upcycled for me with white chalk paint and then clear wax on top. They are chipping and feel rough. What are my option now? I would rather they were all smooth so would another layer of wax work. Or should I sand down and repaint it with a paint which is smoother perhaps with a gloss finish? I appreciate any help. Thank you

    1. Unfortunately now that they’ve been waxed you’ll need to remove the wax with mineral spirits. I’d recommend using a more durable paint, like Fusion Mineral Paint, that doesn’t need to be waxed. I never recommend putting wax on chairs. They get used and handled way too much. Wax wears off over time and isn’t durable enough. Good luck!

  6. I’m new to using chalk paint and wax. I had painted a piece of furniture with chalk paint and then applied the wax, after doing that I realized the top of the piece has far too many brush strokes for my liking, I tried sanding it with the wax on it and it smoothed things out quite a bit but obviously it changed the color as well, my question is can you reapply wax over sanded chalk paint and it will give it back it’s luster, or do I need to finish removing the wax and repaint?

  7. I painted a dresser with chalk paint and sealed it. I nkw want to change the color. The new color is a lighter color than what is currently on the dresser. Is thia going to be a problem? Do i need to sand it all off or just the wax?

    1. I would remove the wax as instructed in the post with Mineral Spirits, clean well with Fusion TSP and lightly sand to smooth the surface. After that, you’re ready to paint.

  8. I painted my banister with chalk paint and then used dark wax. I’d like to change the color though. I need to use mineral spirits before doing this? Is that correct?

    1. Yes ma’am. Use mineral spirits and a scrubby pad to get the wax off and then clean well with Fusion TSP or some type of degreaser.

  9. I am currently working on an old cabinet and finished the top with the fusion double espresso gel stain. I really like the colour, but I don’t like how you can see the brush strokes. I’ve already done three coats and I’m not sure I want to do more…..I was wondering if I could add some black fusion paint to it, to make it look blended, or should I just remove it? If so how do you suggest I remove it? Mineral spirits?

    1. I’m sorry you’re having problems. I’ve found the best way to apply the Gel Stain is with the Fusion Microfiber Roller. Roll it on, do not roll back and forth over it and let it self level. If you don’t want to try the roller I’d recommend painting over it with Fusion Chocolate since it’s more dark brown. You cannot mix the paint in with the Gel Stain. Gel stain is oil based, paint is water based. In order to remove it at this point would require stripping it with a furniture stripper. Mineral spirits will not remove it. Hope this helps!

  10. I want to paint a couple ceilings in my RV with chalk paint. Since it is a ceiling, would I have to wax it? It would be over paneling type board and/or wallpaper type material. What are the advantages of waxing? Is chalk paint resistant to finger prints and is it washable?

    1. Chalk paint does have to be sealed with wax. Without wax it is not washable. Chalk paint dissolves when water is put on it. I recommend using Fusion Mineral Paint because it does not have to be sealed and is stain-proof and waterproof after it cures.

  11. I didn’t realize I needed to remove the wax first!!! Uuuggg….I just painted my bathroom vanity over annie Sloan paint and wax. I thought since I did it 2 years ago it would be fine. I used fusion mineral paint. It went on beautifully, and now I’m realizing I should’ve removed the wax. Now what?! Help. Thank you!

    1. If the paint went on well and it’s not coming off easily I’d leave it. Possibly the wax had cured or had come off with use over the years and there won’t be an issue. If in the future the paint starts coming off you’ll have to sand off the paint, remove the wax by scrubbing with mineral spirits, clean with a degreaser and repaint.

    1. Primer will not stick to wax. No paint sticks to wax. You’ll have to remove with mineral spirits.

  12. I painted 2 coats of chalk paint over waxed chalk paint but left it I waxed. Now I would like to use latex. Other than sanding and priming, is anything else necessary?

    1. Latex paint will not stick to a waxed surface. Wax has to be removed with Mineral Spirits.

      1. If you’ve painted two coats of AS chalk paint over a previously chalk painted and waxed finish, can you then use latex paint? Or do you have to remove the wax, no matter what?

        1. I’m not an expert on latex paint. I’m sorry. Me personally would never use latex on furniture but that’s me. You can put fusion mineral paint over AS no problem.

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