best chalk paint uk

Best Chalk Paint UK- 2021 (Buying Guide & Reviews)

Last Updated on 12 August 2021

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One of the critical tools underpinning the burgeoning fashion for upcycling older furnishings or accessories is chalk paint. Thinner than gloss and more muted than emulsion, chalk paint allows the weave or grain to show through. 

However, not all chalk paints are created equal. Some are suitable for upcycling metal surfaces or objects, while others aren’t. Also, coverage varies from one manufacturer to another, and application methods may or may not extend to rollers. As such, it’s essential to consider the merits of different ranges of chalk paint, especially when there are considerable disparities in colour schemes. 

After many hours of researching and testing the best chalk paints in the UK, we’ll help you navigate this crowded and confusing market. Read on to find out which chalk paint was awarded ‘Best Chalk Paint UK’ in this comprehensive buying guide. 

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for 2021:

Rustins CHAPG500 Chalky Finish 500ml Georgian Grey Chalk Paint, Shabby Chic
  • Water based/quick drying
  • For the 'shabby chic' look
  • Grey, White & Cream
  • Model number: CHAPG500

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It Matt-ers

All three of our shortlisted products deliver a flat matt finish, which offers the best results in allowing the patina of original materials to shine through. Thicker gloss paints might disguise the dimples in sandstone or the knots in timber.

You can easily add a distressed appearance to a matt finish by lightly rubbing each dried application of paint with fine sandpaper or gently abrasing it with steel wool. If you’re covering a large surface (like a bureau or dresser), you might want to invest in a handheld sander – we’ve recently reviewed the various types of sanders on the market.

Brush Strokes

Unlike emulsion paint, which you typically apply with a foam roller, chalk paints require a little more TLC. Two of our shortlisted manufacturers recommend investing in a short pile mohair roller. Also known as a short nap roller, these rollers cost a couple of pounds each online. They deliver a less stippled finish than other rollers.

If you want to use a traditional paintbrush instead, our guide to the nine best paint brushes on sale in the UK is a must-read. You’ll need a brush for corners, edges and recesses, so a variety of brush head sizes is beneficial.

Distress Flair

One of the most popular styles of internal furniture at present is the distressed look. After applying each new coat, our selected paints can support a distressed look by lightly sanding down areas that experience heavier use. It’s important not to overdo this effect – aim for a lightly limed look rather than a dropped-and-damaged aesthetic.

If your ambition exceeds your talent, this in-depth video covers many techniques required to create aged-looking wooden furniture using chalk paint.


Best Chalk Paint UK – Shortlist

These are our picks as the best chalk paints currently on sale, starting with a product that represents exceptional value for money:

1. Rustins CHAPG500 Chalky Finish 500ml Georgian Grey Chalk Paint

Rustins CHAPG500 Chalky Finish 500ml Georgian Grey Chalk Paint, Shabby Chic
  • Water based/quick drying
  • For the 'shabby chic' look
  • Grey, White & Cream
  • Model number: CHAPG500

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Costing less than half as much per litre as its competitors, Rustins’ entry into our shortlist could win purely based on value. 

However, there are many other reasons to recommend this product, which we’ve tested in Georgian (mid) Grey. It’s also available in white and cream, which is the most limited colour palette we tried.

One of the other drawbacks to this range is its unsuitability for metal surfaces. However, it works on materials ranging from brick and cement to hardboard and plaster. It also acts as a topcoat over existing primers and paints, though Rustins say two coats are a minimum on bare substrates.

With coverage of 13 metres per litre, this is in the middle of our shortlisted products. Crucially, it’s the only paint claiming to be touch dry in less than an hour, which means it can be handled and recoated within two hours. That’s ideal if you’re keen to get a job done rather than having to return to it at a later date. It’s also easier if you’re keeping pets or children out while you work.

ProsCons
Great valueLimited colour choices
Touch dry in just 30 minutesUnsuitable for metal surfaces
Low odour 

2. Shabby Chic Chalky White Chalk Based Furniture Paint

Chalky White Chalk Based Furniture Paint great for creating a shabby chic style. 250ml
  • Chalky White Furniture Paint is a great way to create the Shabby Chic Style furniture
  • Shabby Chic furniture paint is a water-based paint which needs no primer before use
  • Simply paint with a brush or roller straight onto bare wood metal plastic brick stone plaster.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Create a distressed look by applying two coats in contrasting colours then sand or score when dry.

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With packaging reminiscent of the Victorian era whose products it’s often applied to, Shabby Chic’s offering isn’t too shabby. We’ve chosen a 250ml tin for price purposes, though you can purchase a litre with resulting economies-of-scale savings.

One significant advantage of Shabby Chic’s products over the Rustins range is a broader choice of colours, with 35 hues from duck egg to liquorice. There are also metallic shades, which is advantageous when applying paint onto primed metal or grained plastic. It’s also suitable for use across brick, plaster, wood and stone surfaces. The manufacturer says this paint is ideal for rollers, though they recommend a particular roller for this work – short nap mohair, also known as short pile.

It’s worth noting that safety warnings apply to this product, which contains CIT/MIT compounds and may trigger an allergic reaction in some users. It also has the lowest coverage of our three products at just 12 square metres per litre. Drying time of one hour is par for the course but not market-leading.

ProsCons
Extensive colour choiceRelatively poor value
Applies to metalContains known allergens
Suitable for roller application 

3. Rust-Oleum AMZ0042

Rust-Oleum AMZ0042 A Classic, Smooth Touch Flat matt Paint Finish, Dusky Pink, 125 ml (Pack of 1)
  • Water-based with virtually no odour
  • Exceptional coverage in just one coat
  • No priming or sanding necessary on most surfaces
  • Smooth, chalky matt finish
  • Interior use only

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

While Rustins offer three colours and Shabby Chic provide 35, Rust-Oleum’s range of chalk paints comes in 18 shades. Many shades take their name from foodstuffs (pumpkin, salmon) and raw materials (anthracite, graphite). Here, we’ve selected the 125ml Dusky Pink paint, also available in larger 750ml guise.

As with Shabby Chic, Rust-Oleum recommends a short nap mohair roller for applying over larger surfaces, with a paintbrush the main alternative. You can cover 14 square metres per litre of paint, which is the best in our test. Less impressive is a handling time of four hours, though it’s fully hardened by this point and suitable for second coat application. At least the paint is touch dry in one hour. It’s also worth noting that priming and sanding are rarely needed, which could save valuable project time.

The main drawback against this highly-regarded product is its price, considering a larger tin from the same range (containing six times as much paint) costs less than three times more. 

ProsCons
A wide choice of coloursIt takes four hours to dry fully
Excellent coverageExpensive in 125ml guise
Generally doesn’t need priming or sanding 

Final Thoughts

This roundup is one of the closest tests we’ve conducted for some time, and choosing a winner was tricky. 

In the end, the sheer value provided by Rustins’ 500ml tin swung the decision their way. This paint dries in around half an hour is also ideal for people keen to finish one project before starting another. However, the lack of colours in the Rustins range may be a deal-breaker for some, and it’s disappointing that this product doesn’t work on metal in the way its competitors do.

There was little to choose between our other two contenders. Rust-Oleum offers the best coverage by a small margin, while Shabby Chic provides twice as many colours, including metallic shades ideal for metal surfaces. The main drawback to both ranges is cost, though the price differential to Rustins can be closed by investing in larger-volume tins. 

Ultimately, you can feel confident in any of these products, so your preferred colour may be the clincher in any buying decision.


Best Chalk Paint UK – Comparison Table

ModelVolumeColoursCoverageDrying timeSuitable for metal?Rating
Rustins CHAPG500500ml313 m2/l30 minsNo8
Shabby Chic250ml3512 m2/l1 hourYes7
Rust-Oleum125ml1814 m2/l1 hourYes7