Can you use chalk paint for outdoor furniture?

Chalk paint is so popular because of its unquestionable versatility. You can use it to create a distressed, shabby chic look or to bring an old piece of furniture back to life. You can paint wood and laminated furniture, metal, plastic, cladding, brick, stone or glass. It’s one of the easiest paints to use and contains low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which is better for the environment than standard paints that may contain high VOCs.

But how does it hold up on outdoor furniture?

Is chalk paint suitable for outdoors?

You may have upcycled furniture for indoor use, but now you want to upcycle an outdoor bench. Will your chalk paint do the job and how will the paint cope with exposure to the elements over time?

Outdoor chalk paint is water resistant and some brands even contain additives that battle the growth and re-growth of mould, something that’s particularly important if you live in a damp climate like we do in the UK.

Because of its versatility, you can paint anything from plant pots and sheds to back doors and plastic garden furniture. Chalk paint will stick easily to any surface and you shouldn’t need to use a primer beforehand. Just make sure the surface is smooth, dry and clean before you start painting.

If you’re thinking of painting a set of metal furniture, you may have noticed that the current paint has started to flake away. Before you give it a new coat, you should use a steel brush to remove any loose, flaking paint first. Similarly, if you’re painting an old piece of wooden furniture, check for any wood that’s coming away from the surface. If you’ve found lots of splinters, the wood may need priming first.

You should also think about the kind of surface you’re painting. For example, if you’re painting a porch or deck, the paint could make the surface slippery. Do your research and make sure that the paint you choose won’t alter the surface’s grip too much. We’d suggest using sandpaper to slightly scuff up the surface once it’s dry.

The final thing to keep in mind is the sun. We don’t see a lot of it in the UK, however excessive heat conditions or prolonged exposure to the sun could fade the chalk paint. Consider giving your furniture a quick touch up every other year. You could even apply a sealant to the chalk paint to reduce the chance of sun damage, which we’ll be discussing further down.

How to paint outdoor cushions with chalk paint

Chalk paint is so adaptable, you can even use it to paint your old outdoor cushions. Whether you’re just looking for a change or you found some old cushions in a charity shop, chalk paint is a great way to update your cushions without having to buy new covers.

If you’re painting a seat cushion that’s built into the frame of the chair, you should remove it first. Put the cushions on newspaper or a dust sheet to protect your surfaces. If the material is brightly patterned or coloured, you may need to paint on a primer first. Take your primer and add a little bit of water to it. This makes it easier for the cushion to absorb the paint. You could also dampen the surface of the cushion too for the same reason. Add water to your primer a little bit of a time – you can always add more water but once it’s too runny, you can’t remove it. Use a paintbrush to evenly spread the primer onto the cushion.

If you don’t need to prime your cushions, you can do the same steps as above but with your chalk paint instead of your primer.

Allow the first coat to dry. This should only take a couple of hours. Once it’s dry, check for any rough edges or places where the paint has settled and dried. You can sand these down.

Repeat the above steps to give your cushion its second coat of paint. If you applied primer, one coat of primer and one coat of coloured chalk paint should be enough.

When it’s fully dried, find a place where you can show off your cushion in all its newly painted glory! The paint on the cushion shouldn’t crack and once it’s dried, it shouldn’t leave deposits on your clothes either.

How to seal chalk paint for outdoor use

Most chalk paints won’t require sealing before outdoor use, however for peace of mind, you could apply a multi-purpose sealant that will protect your painted item from the rain as well as the sun and UV rays. It works by expanding and contracting with the surface, particularly during hot and cold spells.

You can apply the sealant using a soft bristled brush. Apply liberally to the item you want to protect and wait for it to dry. Don’t administer the sealant to outdoor furniture when it’s raining or if the temperature is below 2 °C or above 40 °C. It will need to dry for 24 hours so double check the temperatures overnight and that the chance of rain is slim.

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