How To Get A Smoother Finish With Chalk Paint

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Smoother Finish With Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint Prep For A Smoother Finish

Do you wonder how to get a smoother finish with chalk paint? Here’s the big secret! Sanding your furniture first is the key! But, you might argue that chalk paint doesn’t require much prep. Sanding prep certainly isn’t mandatory, but even a quick sanding job can make a difference in the final finish with chalk paint.

If you are new to furniture makeover with chalk paint you may want to check out Chalk Mineral Paint Basics: Tips and Techniques For Success!

Benefits of Sanding Furniture Before Painting

I know you are thinking that sanding seems like such a daunting task. It is important to keep in mind that there are benefits to sanding furniture before using chalk paint. And just remember that sanding furniture does not have to be a major undertaking. Sanding first before painting does several important things. Firstly, it helps remove scratches, dings and uneven rough patches on the surface. Secondly, it “roughs up” the surface a bit and if it is a slicker surface, sanding gives the paint something to adhere to. This, in turn, helps reduce the chance of chipping or peeling paint. Lastly and most importantly, sanding leads to a smoother finish with your chalk painted furniture.

Table Before Sanding: How To Get A Smoother Finish with Chalk Paint
antique hall console table
Table After Sanding and Painting; Top Stained
Antique Hall Table After Sanding, Chalk Paint, and Stained Top
How to get a smoother finish with Chalk Paint
Vintage table in need of love
Furniture Makeovers Using Chalk Paint
Vintage Table Painted in Dixie Belle Tea Rose with Stained Top Using Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut

Understanding Grit

So lets talk about the basics of sanding. And, to know what type of sand paper to buy, you need to understand grit. Grit means the coarseness of the sand paper, basically its abrasiveness. So higher grit numbers, like 320, are less abrasive and finer. And lower numbers, like 80, are more rough, coarse, and abrasive. Next, let’s cover some simple steps to getting a smoother final finish.

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Sanding Tools – Hand Sanding vs Electric

Let’s Talk Electric Sanders

random orbital sander used to sand for smooth finish

Now, you can certainly chalk paint furniture without having an electric sander, consider it if you do quite a bit of sanding. In my opinion, electric sanders are a “blast” to use and really come in handy for prepping an extremely beat up piece of furniture. Simple electric sanders are available for a pretty low price. If it is in your budget, I’d recommend it! Above all, electric sanders reduce the muscle needed to sand down a piece of furniture because they do the hard work for you!

Check out Home Depot’s post on How To Use an Electric Sander

Types of Sanders: Electric Sanders Versus Hand Sanding

Electric Sanders: Cordless and Corded

Different sizes and types of electric sanders are available. For small jobs, I’d recommend a random orbital sander, a palm sander or a small detail sander. I have an old random orbital sander that does a good job that I got from Walmart – the HyperTough sander for less than $20. I don’t know that it is still available.

My favorite tools are the Ryobi 18Volt One+ Series that all use the same rechargeable batteries. The trick is making sure if the tool you are buying comes with a charger and battery or if you have to buy it separate! I’m a sucker for tools and I do love that Ryobi green color! Here is the Ryobi 18Volt One+ Orbital Sander I plan to get a detail sander, which has a pointed tip to get into corners and tight spaces. Here is an example of a detail sander: the Ryobi Corner Cat 18Volt One+ Sander also from Home Depot

Hand Sanding Products

Mostly, I use hand sanding products, especially for smaller jobs. There are so many choices with hand sanding products that it can be overwhelming. Have you ever gone to a big box hardware store, such as Home Depot and stood in the aisle with all the sanding tools? It is so confusing! I equate it to shopping in the over-the-counter medication aisle at the pharmacy! Have you ever been in that aisle trying to pick out kid’s cough and cold medicine? It is so confusing!

So to keep it simple you only need a few types of hand sanding products to get your job done. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Hand sanding options include foam blocks, refillable tools, flexible thin sanding pads and sanding sheets, among others. A quick tip is that even brown paper bags and Steel Wool provide a great fine sanding or finish sanding option to smooth out your finish.

Sanding For A Smoother Finish
sandpaper sheet wrapped around a used foam sanding block

Sanding Tips And Tricks To Get A Smoother Finish With Chalk Paint

We’ve established that sanding is important if you desire a smoother finish with chalk paint. And we’ve reviewed the basics of grit and types of sanding products available.

Tips For Safety When Sanding For a Smoother Finish With Chalk Paint

  1. It is always best to sand outdoors and not in your living space when possible. Sanding, even hand sanding, will create dust! Reducing dust exposure is important for your health. This is especially true if people in your home have allergies.
  2. Wear eye protection with electric sanding or if you are sanding underneath something. Also wear eye protection if there is risk of particles falling into your eyes. Eyes are so important and protecting them is number one! Goggles for sanding and home projects are super cheap at hardware stores like Home Depot. I also have these anti-fog goggles from Amazon and love them:

3. Always wear a mask if you are sanding with an electric sander. If you have breathing issues, such as allergy or asthma, it is best to wear a mask even with hand sanding and to sand outdoors when possible.

Tips For Getting A Smoother Yet Beautiful Finish

1.. Sand with the grain of the wood. This means sand in the direction that the wood grain goes. Sanding with the grain gives a prettier finish and avoids scratches, especially if you are sanding down to raw wood.

2. Don’t use too much pressure. While you do need a little elbow grease for hand sanding you don’t want to dig. If you are having to work really hard, this likely means you need a coarser grit, so a lower number grit. If you are using an electric sander, let the sander do the work, just move it along gently.

How To Deal With Dust Created By Sanding – A Few Options

After you sand, even by hand, there will be plenty of dust. Some people attach their shop vac to the dust collection chamber of the sander to help reduce the dust going out into the air. Keeping a shop vac handy and/or shop towels with a spray bottle of your furniture cleaner of choice is also helpful. You will need to clean your piece after sanding before you move to the fun part of painting.

Quick Review of Sanding For A Smoother Finish With Chalk Paint

Chalk style paint was originally designed for easy application and little prep. Its’ properties allow it to adhere to surfaces well usually even without sanding. And sanding is always optional with chalk paint! However, if you want a smoother finish or if you plan to add some other elements, like a transfer or stencil, sanding first is best. And sanding reduces brush marks for smoothness in the final finish!

Keeping It Simple!

Most importantly, remember that sanding can simple. I will often just do a very quick hand sanding with a 180 grit or 220 grit sandpaper, and nothing more. This takes only about 5 minutes.

Keeping a few flexible sanding pads or sheets with a 220 grit around will be sufficient if you want to keep it simple, especially if you are a new painter. Before applying a stain to a table top you would usually want to sand a piece down to raw wood. Therefore it would be best to have an inexpensive electric sander, one that is small and easy to use.

Check out this post for Chalk Painting Overview and this post for Beginner Chalk Painting Tips

Let’s Connect On Social!

Thanks for taking the time to check out this post! I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I’d love to see you in there! Also if you have comments or projects to share, I’d love to see them! Please share in the comments below!

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