What Is the Difference Between Chalk Paint and Chalkboard Paint?

difference between chalk paint and chalkboard paint

One of the more confusing issues that many people run into when choosing a new chalk paint is the difference between chalk and chalkboard paint.

Both certainly sound quite similar when they are first seen.

And since most people grew up attending schools that used chalk on chalkboard, it may seem like there is little difference at first.

But there are differences between the paints that you should know before choosing the right one for your needs.

The basic difference between chalk paint vs chalkboard paint lies in the usage and finish.

While chalk paint isn’t meant for writing, it can be used on anything to get an antique matte type look.

Chalkboard paint, on the other hand, can be applied and used to write over.

What follows are the descriptions of each type of paint, how they are applied, the important differences between them, and tips on choosing the one for your project.

What is Chalk Paint?

This type of paint has a finish that is matte to the degree that many people think it looks like chalk.

It is mostly used for antique furnishings to help give it that vintage chalky appearance.

The paint can even be used on modern furnishings, walls, and the like to provide that sense of age that is quite attractive.

You can apply chalk paint to most surfaces, even those that have yet to be sanded smooth.

This is because the texture of chalk paint is such that smoothing is not necessary under most circumstances.

This means that you can give new life to older furnishings and other surfaces such as stone, concrete, and even metal for a one-of-a-kind look.

To add a little touch of texture, you can add a glaze or wax to the surface of chalk paint that is already dry.

If the goal is to make the surface look both vintage and hip at the same time, then chalk paint is for you.

How to Apply Chalk Paint?

You start by smoothing the surface to get rid of any loose materials such as old paint or areas that are chipped and have free particles.

You do not need to sand to get the results you want, but it does help.

Once you are through removing all loose particles from the surface, clean it thoroughly with soap and water, rinse, and let it dry.

Add Primer

Primer is not really required unless you are working with bare or unfinished wood or treated wood.

But a primer will help to block bleeds of tannin, so you should add a single coat if necessary.


After two hours of letting primer dry assuming it was needed, you are ready to pain the surface.

Stir, but do not shake the paint.

No water or thinning is needed, just put it on your brush and apply.

A good synthetic brush works best but do avoid nap rollers as they are not that useful.

Also, keep out of direct sunlight if you can and make sure you are painting with humidity levels lower than 85%.

Once the first coat is dry, add a second coat to complete the job.

You can apply a wax or glaze over the now-dry chalk paint for that vintage look.  

What is the Chalkboard Paint?

Chalkboard paint is as the name implies, paint that you can draw on with chalk like a chalkboard.

The best thing that fascinates me about chalkboard paint is it can be used to paint varied surfaces such as glass, wood cabinets, clay pots, and many other accessories around your house.

This type of paint comes in different colors (other than black) and can even be customized for your needs. Like you can get green, blue, clear, or many other color options.

If you want a surface that can be drawn on with chalk, cleaned, and drawn on again, this is the paint for you.

How to Apply Chalkboard Paint?

Before applying the chalkboard paint, you will need to clean and sand the surface until it is smooth.

Then use soap and water, rinse, and let it dry.

Prime the Surface

Add one coat of primer for metal and wood surfaces.

Let it dry for about two hours.

Latex-based primers are recommended for the best results.


You will want to mix the paint thoroughly, but you do not need to thin unless you live in hot, dry conditions.

A good synthetic brush will work, but so will a foam or nap roller.

Apply the paint, let it dry, and then apply a second coat.

Although the chalkboard paint is dry to the touch in about 30 minutes, it may take around 2 to 4 hours to dry completely.

So, it’s best to recoat the surface after about 4 hours.

Once you are done, clean up your brushes, rollers and tray.

Since most chalkboard paints are water-based latex, all you will need is soap and water for cleaning them up.

Condition the Paint

Seasoning or conditioning a newly painted chalkboard is an important step before you can use your surface for writing.

Three days after the second coat has dried, cover the entire surface with chalk and then erase.

After seven days you can clean the chalk, but the surface will have to be reconditioned once more.

Proper conditioning will ensure that the grains of the chalkboard gets filled with chalk dust. This is important to write and erase the write ups (or drawings) easily.

chalkboard paint vs chalk paint

What Is the Difference Between Chalk Paint and Chalkboard Paint?

The main difference between chalk and chalkboard paint is pretty simple and straightforward.

While a chalk paint can be used to paint any item for getting a chalky appearance, chalkboard paint is a kind of paint that is mainly used for making chalkboards (the flat surface to write with chalk).

If you want your walls and furnishings to have that vintage, hip appearance, then use chalk paint.

If you want to write on the paint with chalk, then use chalkboard paint.

Walls of your kid’s room (where your kids can scribble) or on the pantry door (to make grocery list or notes), for example, can be good surfaces to use chalkboard paint.

I remembered when I painted the wall in a cafe with chalkboard paint. The owner of the cafe wanted to display the menu items and prices in a way that grabs the attention of the customer!

Keep in mind that you do not want to write on chalk paint, only chalkboard paint. That is the main difference between the two.

So, you should pick the one that best suits your needs since they are both so different in terms of how they are used.

Other Related Questions

What kind of chalk works best on chalkboard paint?

The basic most old Crayola chalk works best if you want to scribble, doodle write or draw something over the chalkboard paint.

The good thing about this regular chalk is you can easily outline or shade (with darker or lighter tones) by just changing the pressure you apply to the chalk.

What can you write with on chalkboard paint besides chalk?

Not only your standard chalk but you can use variety of products to write on chalkboard paint.

Chalk ink, liquid chalk, chalk pen, paint pen, glass pen along with markers like paint marker, bistro marker, craft marker, poster marker and chalk marker can also be used.

What are the best chalkboard paints available on the market?

Although there are tons of products and brands out there, my favorite and top selling in the market include:

  • Krylon Chalkboard Paint
  • Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint
  • Rainbow Chalk Markers Chalkboard Blackboard Paint

Based on your requirement (whether you want to paint wood, wall, or other craft products) you can check the detailed reviews on them and buy the product that is most likely to suit your needs.

The Bottom Line

In a nut shell, chalk paint and chalkboard paint are not the same – they are different.

When applied properly, both types of paints will last a long time.

However, keep in mind that the constant writing and re-writing will eventually wear down the chalkboard paint a little faster compared to chalk paint which should not be written on.

So if its about durability, we can say that chalk paint is more durable than as compared to chalkboard paint.

But if you want a painted surface to write on, chalkboard paint is your solution.

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