DIY Chalk Paint Tables on a Budget

I’ll just be blunt, I have the ugliest coffee and end tables. We got them from Facebook Marketplace soon after moving to Knoxville last year. They are just plain Jane, a little scratched up and have no character.

But, I  cannot stomach draining all of our savings on new furniture. It’s just unrealistic for us at this point in our lives. Besides, we have found some REALLY good deals on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace with 75% of our furniture. This coffee and end table set was 30 bucks!

I’ve always been a huge DIY fan. My entire wedding was practically DIY. I decided once we moved to North Carolina that I would refinish my ugly tables. After researching a little about painting furniture and frequently came across chalk paint.

I love the rustic, matte finish chalk paint creates. I’m also loving the popular distressed, vintage look with furniture right now, and you can easily achieve this with chalk paint.

It’s also a minimum prep work type of paint that isn’t supposed to require any sanding. I was excited to try this out, but I was not excited about the price of chalk paint! A can of chalk paint can cost you up to $30 a can!

So, I decided to make my own DIY chalk paint for half the price of the brands sold in stores. I was pretty pleased with the result so I thought I would share it with all you other DIY mamas on a budget.

Keep reading to find out how I made painted these DIY chalk paint tables on a budget!

DIY chalk paint


I’ll start with listing the materials I used. I got everything from Home Depot.

  • Paint: I used a cheap brand of white exterior paint. I chose exterior thinking it might hold up better? It was about $18.
  • Plaster of Paris: this is what you will use to create the chalk paint. Costs $6
  • Water: to mix with the Plaster of Paris
  • Paint brush: any will do
  • Sand paper or sponge: I used an 80 grit sandpaper sponge
  • Mixing cup: I used an old plastic cup. An old coffee can would work too
  • Paint stirrer: usually comes with the paint when you buy a can at Home Depot
  • Wax: I read a lot about finishing the paint with wax. This was the most expensive part of the process. The brand was BEHR and cost $16 for a small can. You might be able to make due without this, but I liked the look it gave the paint, and it helps the paint last longer.
  • An old t-shirt or rag: this is to apply the wax. You can tear an old t-shirt but make sure it is white! I started using my husbands black t-shirt and little specs got on the table. I ended up using an old (clean) cloth diaper/burp rag.
DIY chalk paint


  • Create the chalk paint:
    • Mix 6 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris with 6 tablespoons of water. Stir until creamy
    • Mix 2 cups of paint with the PoP mixture until smooth – this was exactly enough for 2 end tables and a coffee table
  • Sand and/or wipe down furniture:
    • I chose not to sand before painting, but you can definitely still do this
    • I used a damp rag to wipe my pieces to ensure paint went on smoothly
  • Put on your first coat of paint:
    • I noticed my first coat wasn’t as thick as I wanted, so I decided to do 2. It won’t look completely smooth with a brush (especially with 1 coat). I didn’t mind because I thought it made it look more rustic
  • Put on your second coat of paint:
    • Chalk paint dries pretty fast if it is at a decent temperature. I made sure I painted my pieces in the sun so everything would dry quickly. I waited about an hour or two to put on my second coat
  • Sand after 24 hours:
    • I sanded lightly on the tops of the tables to get it smooth and then took a rag and wiped it down
    • I then sanded more aggressively on the corners of the tables and the edges of the legs to make the table have a “worn” feel
  • Put on wax after 24 hours:
    • To apply the wax you want to take your old t-shirt piece or rag and dip it into the wax and apply to your table in a circular motion
    • I waited 2 hours and decided to put on another layer for good luck
  • Wait another 24 hours before using tables after wax is applied
DIY chalk paint

That’t it! So simple. I personally think they look a lot better. It’s crazy what a little paint can do! Hope you guys enjoyed this little tutorial. If you have any other tips for painting with chalk paint I would love some!

DIY chalk paint

I hope you enjoyed these DIY chalk paint tables! What are your tips on using DIY chalk paint?!

Other posts you may also enjoy:

DIY Hanging Planters


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