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Chalk Paint vs Acrylic: Which One is Best for Your Next DIY Project?

Chalk Paint vs Acrylic

When embarking on a painting project, selecting the right type of paint can be daunting. With so many options available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, two types of paint that have gained popularity over time are chalk paint and acrylic paint.

While both have advantages and disadvantages, understanding their differences can make all the difference in your final product.

Chalk paint may be more expensive and require more maintenance, but it creates a distinctive rustic texture that’s perfect for vintage or shabby chic looks. On the other hand, acrylic paint is more versatile, affordable, and durable, making it a great choice for various projects.

From the composition and finishing to the cost, recommended uses, maintenance and durability, appearance, resistance to water and heat, and cleaning, we’ll leave no stone unturned in our quest to help you choose the perfect paint for your project. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey.

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Comparing Chalk Paint Vs Acrylic Paint: Differences Between Them

Both types of paint have their own unique characteristics that can affect the outcome of your project.

We will explore the differences between chalk paint and acrylic paint in terms of their composition, finishing, cost, recommended uses, maintenance and durability, appearance, resistance to water and heat, and cleaning. Once you’ve done this, you’ll know what type of paint is best for you.


Chalk paint is typically made from a mixture of calcium carbonate, water, and pigment. Calcium carbonate, also known as chalk, gives the paint its signature matte and chalky finish. 

It is also low in odor and VOC-free, making it a safer option for indoor use. Additionally, chalk paint dries quickly, which is an advantage for those who want to complete their projects in a short time.

On the other hand, acrylic paint contains an acrylic polymer as a binder. The acrylic polymer allows the paint to adhere to surfaces effectively and provides durability. However, acrylic paint typically has a higher VOC content, which can be harmful to the environment and health. 

Acrylic paint also dries slower than chalk paint, which may be a disadvantage for those who want a quick-drying option. Nonetheless, acrylic paint offers a wider range of colors, finishes, and textures, making it a more versatile option for various projects.


Chalk paint has a matte, rustic-looking texture that is popular for achieving a vintage or shabby-chic appearance. However, it requires sealing with wax or varnish to protect the paint and ensure longevity. 

The sealing process adds an extra step to the finishing process, but it also provides an opportunity to add depth and dimension to the paint by selectively highlighting areas with more wax or varnish.

Finishing: Chalk Paint vs Acrylic

On the other hand, acrylic paint has a shiny finish available in various finishes, including matte and gloss. Unlike chalk paint, it does not require sealing. Acrylic paint is versatile and can be used for various finishes, depending on the desired look. 

High gloss finishes can create a polished and modern appearance, while matte finishes can achieve a more subtle and muted effect. The advantage of using acrylic paint is that it provides a durable and long-lasting finish that is resistant to fading, chipping, and peeling.


Chalk paint is generally more expensive than acrylic paint. This is because it typically contains more high-quality ingredients, such as natural pigments and minerals.

Additionally, chalk paint often requires additional supplies, such as wax or varnish, to achieve the desired finish and protect the painted surface. These additional supplies can add to the overall cost of using chalk paint.

On the other hand, acrylic paint is more affordable than chalk paint. It is often available in bulk quantities for larger projects, which can help to keep the overall cost down. 

Besides that, acrylic paint can be used without any additional supplies, such as wax or varnish, which further reduces the cost.

When comparing the costs of the two types of paint, it is important to consider the specific project and its requirements. While chalk paint may be more expensive, it may require fewer coats to achieve full coverage. 

This can help reduce the project’s overall cost by minimizing the amount of paint needed. In contrast, acrylic paint is cheaper but may require more coats to achieve full coverage. This can increase the project’s overall cost by requiring more paint to be used.

Recommended Uses

Chalk paint is specifically designed to provide a matte finish and can be used on various surfaces, including wood, metal, and glass. It’s perfect for creating a vintage, shabby chic look and is often used in upcycling projects.

Chalk paint is also great for distressing, and when it dries, it can be sanded or waxed to achieve a more textured finish.

On the other hand, acrylic paint is an incredibly versatile medium that can be used for a range of projects, from fine art to home decor. This type of paint dries quickly and you can use it on various surfaces, including canvas, wood, and ceramics.

Acrylic paint is also suitable for indoor and outdoor use, making it an excellent choice for painting murals, garden ornaments, or outdoor furniture.

While both chalk paint and acrylic paint can be used for furniture refinishing and DIY decor projects, they have some notable differences in uses. While chalk paint is great for creating vintage or shabby chic looks, acrylic paint can be used for everything from fine art to home decor.

Maintenance and Durability

Chalk paint requires wax or varnish for protection, which can be an extra step in the painting process. This protective layer helps prevent chipping or flaking, but it also means that chalk paint may not be suitable for high traffic areas. 

Keeping chalk paint looking its best requires additional maintenance and protection, such as touch-ups over time.

Acrylic paint, on the other hand, dries to a hard, waterproof finish that is much more durable than chalk paint. Acrylic paint can withstand more wear and tear than chalk paint, making it a better choice for high traffic areas. It is less likely to chip or flake off, which means it requires less maintenance overall.


When it comes to appearance, both chalk paint and acrylic paint have distinct characteristics that set them apart. However, some differences in the color range and distressing techniques between the two paints may affect the choice of paint.

Color range:

Chalk paint is available in a wide range of colors, from soft pastels to bright and bold shades. However, the color range is typically more limited than that of acrylic paint, which can be mixed and customized to create a virtually endless range of colors.

Color range of acrylic paint

The availability of different colors can influence the choice of paint for a project. Acrylic paint may be the better option if a specific color is required. However, if a more vintage or distressed look is desired, chalk paint can provide a unique and rustic appearance without acrylic paint.


Distressing is a technique used to create a weathered and worn appearance on furniture or other objects. It involves removing some of the paint or surface layers to reveal the underlying material or a different color layer. This technique is often used in shabby chic or rustic design styles.

Distressing can be achieved with chalk paint by sanding the surface of the painted object with sandpaper or a sanding block. This will remove some of the paint and create a worn and aged appearance. 

The porous texture of chalk paint also makes it easier to distress than acrylic paint, which has a smoother and more even texture.

Resistance to Water and Heat

Regarding water and heat resistance, chalk paint and acrylic paint differ in their properties. Due to its porous nature, chalk paint absorbs moisture and can be easily damaged. It is not suitable for areas with high humidity or moisture levels, such as bathrooms or kitchens. 

The other option is acrylic paint, which can withstand some exposure to water, making it a better option for areas that get wet.

In terms of heat resistance, both chalk paint and acrylic paint can withstand moderate heat, but they may not be suitable for high-heat areas, such as around a fireplace or stove.

When comparing the water and heat resistance of chalk paint and acrylic paint, acrylic paint is the clear winner. In areas that are prone to moisture, acrylic paint is a better option since it’s water-resistant.

In contrast, chalk paint is porous and tends to absorb moisture, making it susceptible to damage in areas with high humidity or moisture levels. Both chalk paint and acrylic paint are heat resistant, but acrylic paint is more heat resistant than chalk paint.


Chalk paint, also known as decorative paint, is known for its matte finish and velvety texture. It is relatively easy to clean, requiring only water and soap. To ensure that the paint adheres well, it is advisable to scuff sand the surface before painting, especially if it is a glossy or smooth surface. 

In some cases, a primer may also be necessary to promote adhesion. After painting, applying a topcoat can help to protect the paint and make it easier to clean in the future.

On the other hand, acrylic paint, which is a water-based paint, can be sensitive to water-based cleaning agents. It is important to be cautious when cleaning surfaces painted with acrylic paint, as using too much water can cause the paint to lift or peel.

Non-polar solvents, such as mineral spirits, may not be effective at removing stains from acrylic paint. Therefore, it is recommended to use a mild cleaning solution, such as water and a gentle soap.

Can I use acrylic paint instead of chalk paint?

You can use acrylic paint as an alternative to chalk paint. Acrylic paint offers a durable and versatile finish that is resistant to cracks and chips, making it suitable for furniture that will be used lightly or moderately.

However, it is important to note that acrylic paint may not provide the same decorative finish as chalk paint, creating a smooth, matte, vintage, shabby chic look. Additionally, chalk paint is water-soluble even after drying, unlike acrylic paint.

Why use chalk paint instead of regular paint?

Chalk paint and regular paint have distinct characteristics, and there are several reasons why one may opt for chalk paint over traditional paint. Chalk paint doesn’t need a primer, which can make the painting process more straightforward and efficient. 

Moreover, its thick consistency allows for even application and reduces the likelihood of drips and runs. Chalk paint also provides a unique matte finish that can give a project a vintage or rustic appearance.

Another reason why one may choose chalk paint is that it is often more resistant to different climates and durable, not flaking, peeling, or weakening easily. This is because chalk paint usually contains lime, clay, and other minerals. 

Additionally, chalk paint is water-based, making it easy to clean up without the use of harsh chemicals or solvents.

How do I turn acrylic paint into chalk paint?

To turn acrylic paint into chalk paint, you can mix it with baking soda in equal parts. First, mix the acrylic paint and baking soda together in a cup or on a paper plate. Let the mixture dry completely before applying a second coat if necessary. 

Keep in mind that the resulting texture may be slightly grittier than traditional chalk paint due to the baking soda. Testing the mixture on a small area before applying it to your entire project is also important to ensure it adheres properly.

Is chalk paint permanent?

Chalk paint is a popular choice for furniture and home decor projects, and the question of its permanence is common. The answer is that chalk paint can be permanent, but it depends on several factors.

To increase the durability and longevity of chalk paint, it is recommended to apply a layer of sealing wax, either clear or dark depending on the desired finish. This wax can be rubbed onto the surface using circular motions after applying the paint and helps to protect the finish over time.

Additionally, when using chalk paint on surfaces like chalkboards, it is important to condition the surface before writing on it with chalk. After erasing the chalk, condition the surface with a stick of white chalk and wipe it away, preventing ghost images from appearing.

Choose the Right Paint for Your Project to Achieve the Desired Result

Choosing the right paint for your project is important to achieve the desired result. Whether you choose chalk paint or acrylic paint, make sure to consider their composition, finishing, cost, recommended uses, maintenance, appearance, and resistance to water and heat.

By understanding the differences between these two types of paint, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs and preferences. Remember, a well-painted surface looks good and adds value to your project. So, take your time, do your research, and choose the best paint for your next project.

In the end, whether it’s chalk paint or acrylic paint, the key is to enjoy the process of creating something beautiful and unique. So, grab your brushes and start painting.

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Chalk Paint vs Acrylic: Which One is Best for Your Next DIY Project?

Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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