Chalk Paint vs Acrylic Paint: What Are The Differences Between Them?

While we mostly use paint in our art projects or for painting the walls, they have other uses, as well. Paint can also be used on fabrics and furniture, as well as glass, tiles, concrete and metal.

Many artists use their creativity on furniture, to turn them into pieces of art. Whether the furniture is of wood or metal, there are different kinds of paint for such purposes.

The two common, as well as popular by Frontier Spinning, kinds of paint used in restoring and redressing furniture happen to be Chalk Paint and Acrylic Paint – both similar in their use, but very different from each other.

The two types of furniture paints, i.e. chalk paint and acrylic paint, are quite different from the common ones we use in painting walls, paper or canvas.

In fact, these kinds of paints are exclusively used in different types of furniture made from wood, board, metal or even glass. In this article, we’ll learn about the basic differences between these two types of paint.

What is Chalk Paint? 

Chalk Paint is actually an exclusive kind of paint, not available everywhere or even used for purposes other than on furniture.

It is a special kind of decorative paint to give furniture a rustic look that cannot be possible with any other paint. After using chalk paint, furniture surfaces show a special chalky and matte appearance, not just color.

Chalk Paint is only available in a selection of colors and used when you want to give your wooden furniture a distressed and used look. The style achieved with chalk paint can be also called vintage, rustic or shabby-chic, which is a popular look in farmhouses and city homes alike.

What is Acrylic Paint? 

By Acrylic paint, we usually mean the kind of water-based paint that is mostly used in paintings and art projects. However, Acrylic paint for furniture is a special kind of paint that is the most popular option to date.

Acrylic paint is closely related to Latex paint and offers a rich, smooth finish on all kinds of furniture. Applying this paint on almost all surfaces is easy and takes very little time; as drying time is also minimal, it is possible to paint and recoat a lot of furniture in a very short duration.

Cleaning up Acrylic Paint is easy as well, as you only need water and soap. Although Acrylic paint is flexible and has a lot of elasticity. This kind of paint doesn’t chip off or crack easily but should be still used on furniture that will have to withstand light to moderate use.

Chalk paint and Acrylic paint: Basic Differences 

Here, you’ll find the basic differences between the two most popular yet different types of paint for furniture – chalk paint and Acrylic paint.

  • Material

Just like the regular ones, Acrylic Paint is a water-based paint that consists of pigment and a special binder that uses water. This water-based solvent makes it possible to use Acrylic paint on a lot of surfaces that your furniture is made from, including wood and board.

Chalk paint, on the other hand, is more than just paint. In fact, it is possible to make your own Chalk paint by adding some Plaster of Paris or baking soda to your regular latex paint or Acrylic paint, although the result isn’t as flawless as you’ll get from commercially produced Chalk Paint.

It’s actually the special ingredient in paint that makes the texture achieved by Chalk Paint so different from anything else. The material used in making Chalk paint and Acrylic – in fact, any other paint – is the main difference between these two types of paint.

  • Texture 

Chalk paint is celebrated for the matte and rustic-looking texture that it adds to furniture. While other paints are used to add colors to the furniture, including Acrylic paint, Chalk paint is used to add something more.

Because of the special material used in Chalk Paint, the surfaces it is used on gives out a “Shabby”, “distressed”, “rustic” or “Vintage” texture. This particular look isn’t possible with any kind of paint except Chalk Paint.

In designing or painting furniture to make them look used or vintage, only chalk paint should be used to give your tables, chairs, mirrors, vanity, or dresser the desired look.

  • Color Option

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of color options in the commercially produced Chalk Paint that are available everywhere. These kinds of paints are only available in light and matte shades and not in extremely vibrant colors.

Since it is possible to Make Chalk Paint from Acrylic Paint by using Plaster of Paris or baking soda, it is possible to get Chalk paint in any color you want.

However, the chalk paints made at home aren’t usually as good as the ones available commercially, even when they are in the color you want. The truth is, if you want the best look and texture for your furniture, it is better to stick to the limited color options available.

Of course, when it comes to diversity, Acrylic Paint has a much wider pool of color option than Chalk Paint.

  • Application

One of the advantages of Chalk paint is that it can be applied to any surface of any kind of furniture.

Even when there is already a layer of paint present on the surface, it is not required to peel or strip off the previous layer. Chalk paint can simply be applied to already existing layers of paint without any problem. 

You won’t even be able to tell there’s a different shade of color underneath the newly applied Chalk paint on a piece of furniture, even when the layer of Chalk Paint is of a lighter shade than the layer beneath.

On the other hand, for applying Acrylic paint, it is important to strip the previous color of the furniture or at least give it a good sanding.

Other than that, applying Acrylic paint is easy enough. This paint self-levels itself no matter how it is applied and settles down well with each brush stroke.

For the best result, it is recommended that a separate coating of primer is added to the furniture after the Acrylic paint is applied. This is not necessary in case of Chalk Paint.

  • Drying Time 

The drying Time needed for Acrylic paint is quite short, making it easy to finish your projects within a very short time. It takes acrylic paint less than 60 minutes to dry, and the same surface can be recoated less than 3 to 4 hours later.

Fortunately, the drying time for Chalk paint is also quite fast. In fact, one part of the furniture will probably dry up before you’re finished with the rest of the furniture.

  • Durability 

Of course, both Chalk paint and Acrylic paint are durable, but mostly when the furniture is used inside, away from harsh weather.

However, although acrylic paint is resistant to cracks and chips, it is recommended they are used on furniture that will be used lightly or moderately. On the other hand, chalk paint is durable but prone to scratches and marks easily.

  • Price and Availability 

Acrylic paint is affordable and available almost anywhere. In fact, they are available in small cans and containers which is helpful if you are painting smaller household furniture and decorative items like photo frames and mirrors.

Chalk paints are actually harder to find. They aren’t available everywhere but only in some selected stores and cost more than acrylic paint.

Final Verdict

Both Acrylic paint and Chalk paints are perfect for giving your old furniture a new look, or your new furniture a more vintage and distressed look.

The choice between Acrylic and Chalk paint depends on what texture, color and look you want to give your furniture and home decorative items because they are both very different paints from each other in terms of material, texture, application, price, availability and color.

3 thoughts on “Chalk Paint vs Acrylic Paint: What Are The Differences Between Them?”

  1. THANK YOU! I can’t begin to tell you how many sites I’ve looked at trying to find out the difference between these two paints. All they’re doing is plugging their products and telling you how different THEIR product is. Not what I’m looking for!! Every craft site I’ve been watching has been using chalk paint. Even on just simple craft projects. Being that it’s more expensive, I’ll continue to use my acrylics. You can still achieve that shabby chic look with acrylics. It’s just a “pop trend” right now until something else comes along. Great info here! Thank you!!

    1. If you are using chalk paint on furniture, should you put some kind of sealant on it to help from scratches? What kind? Thank you.

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