DIY: Chalk Painting Your Front Door

Published on 1 April 2024 at 15:54

By:  Kelly Lowthian

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Your front door is the gateway to your home, setting the tone for what lies beyond its threshold. If your door is looking a little lackluster and in need of a refresh, chalk painting might be just the solution you're looking for.  

I used chalk paint to take my bright red front doors to a dark faux wood color and have been very happy with the result.  I’ll take you through my thought process on color choice, the type of paint and other supplies I used, and the steps involved to complete the transformation. 

I chose to use chalk paint because it is renowned for its ease of use and versatility, thanks to several key specifications:

  1. Adherence to Multiple Surfaces: Chalk paint is formulated to adhere well to a variety of surfaces without the need for extensive priming or sanding. Whether you're painting wood, metal, plastic, or even fabric, chalk paint typically bonds effectively, reducing the amount of prep work required.
  2. Minimal Odor: Unlike traditional paints, chalk paint often has a low odor, making it more pleasant to work with, especially indoors or in enclosed spaces. This characteristic is particularly appealing for those sensitive to strong paint fumes or looking to minimize the impact on indoor air quality.
  3. Ease of Application: Chalk paint has a thick consistency that allows for smooth application with minimal brush marks. Its viscosity also means that it tends to cover surfaces well in fewer coats, saving time and effort during the painting process. Additionally, its forgiving nature makes it ideal for beginners or those looking to achieve a distressed or textured finish.
  4. Quick Drying Time: Chalk paint typically dries relatively quickly, enabling users to complete projects in less time compared to traditional paints. This rapid drying time reduces the likelihood of smudges or accidental smears, allowing for more efficient workflow and faster project completion.
  5. Distressing and Layering Capabilities: One of the standout features of chalk paint is its ability to create unique finishes through distressing and layering techniques. Because of its thick consistency and matte finish, chalk paint lends itself well to distressing or achieving a layered, aged effect by applying multiple colors coats.
  6. Compatibility with Finishing Products: Chalk paint is often compatible with a range of finishing products, such as waxes and sealants, which can further enhance its durability and protect the painted surface from wear and tear. These finishing products can also alter the sheen or texture of the paint, allowing for customization based on individual preferences.
  7. Durability: A chalk painted project is typically sealed with a furniture wax which provides a protective layer over the chalk paint, helping to guard the painted surface against moisture, dirt, and general wear and tear.  It also helps to maintain the integrity of the paint finish and extends the lifespan of the painted furniture. 

Color Choice

Chalk paint can be purchased at any paint store and tinted to the exact color you need. This flexibility means you're not limited to pre-mixed colors and can achieve a custom look tailored to your preferences.

Additionally, the final finished color of chalk paint can be impacted by the type of wax used. While clear furniture wax maintains the matte appearance of chalk paint, tinted waxes can add depth and richness to the color or create unique effects such as antiquing or highlighting texture. Experimenting with different wax finishes can further enhance the overall look and feel of your painted piece, allowing you to customize it to perfection.

Before committing to a color, it's a good idea to test a small area with the chalk paint to see how it looks in your space. Many paint stores offer sample pots or swatches that allow you to try out different colors before making your final decision.

For my doors, I got two quarts of Annie Sloan chalk paint in original color.  I took it to Sherwin Williams and had one quart tinted “Eastlake Gold” and the other quart tinted “Cajun Red”.  I layered these colors and then applied a dark wax on top which deepened the color to the rich brown that I was looking for.  Here are the exact products that I used:

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary materials on hand:

  • Painter's tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth or damp rag
  • Wax or sealant for added protection
  • Chalk paint in your desired color
  • Paintbrushes – chalk paint projects come out best if you use brushes specifically made for this type of paint and wax.  I have included a link to a set from Vintage Tonality which also includes guides on how to properly use the brushes and clean them.  It even comes with their signature brush soap!

Step 2: Prepare Your Door

Start by preparing your front door for painting. Remove any hardware such as handles, locks, and knockers, and set them aside in a safe place. If you are not sure that you’ll complete the project in one day, you can tape over the hardware instead of removing it.  Use painter's tape to protect any areas you don't want to paint, such as windows or hardware that cannot be removed. If your door has existing paint or varnish, lightly sand the surface to create a smooth base for the chalk paint.  This step is not critical as surfaces do not need to be sanded in order for chalk paint to adhere.  I personally hate sanding which is one of the reasons why I love chalk painting projects.  If you do decide to sand, wipe away any dust with a tack cloth or damp rag.

Step 3: Apply the Chalk Paint

Now it's time to apply the chalk paint to your front door. Begin by stirring the paint thoroughly to ensure an even consistency. Using a paintbrush, start painting the door, working in smooth, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain. Depending on the color and desired coverage, you may need to apply multiple coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Be sure to paint the edges of the door as well for a polished finish.  For this project, I used the lighter color of chalk paint “Eastlake Gold” for the first coat.  I waited about an hour for that to dry and then I applied the “Cajun Red.”   I applied it very lightly as I wanted some of the gold color to show through. 

Step 4: Add Texture or Distressing (Optional)

One of the unique qualities of chalk paint is its ability to create a distressed or textured look. If you desire a more rustic or aged appearance, consider using sandpaper to gently distress areas of the door after the paint has dried. Focus on areas that would naturally wear over time, such as corners and edges, for a realistic effect.

Step 5: Seal the Paint

Once the paint is completely dry, apply a clear or tinted wax according to the manufacturer's instructions.   I chose to use Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax using the brush specifically designated for wax application.  I was initially skeptical about how long a chalk paint finish would last on my front doors, considering that they would continuously be exposed to the elements.  Three years after completing the project, there hasn’t been a bit of chipping, scratching, or fading which I attribute to the cured wax finish.

Step 6: Reattach Hardware and Enjoy

Once the paint and sealant have dried thoroughly, reattach any hardware that was removed and step back to admire your handiwork.


Chalk painting your front door is a simple and rewarding DIY project that can breathe new life into your home's exterior. With just a few materials and some creativity, you can achieve stunning results that reflect your personal style and leave a lasting impression on visitors. So why wait? Grab your paintbrushes and get ready to transform your front door into a statement piece that welcomes you home every day.

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