Updated: Mar 22, 2022
As a furniture artist I spend a lot of time engaging on social media. I get regular private messages from my followers inquiring on which products I use or recommend. So what is the best paint to use on furniture? I see this question asked daily in one of the many online groups devoted to painting furniture. There are always plenty of responses and opinions on which paints are the best on the market but the truth is there is no right answer to this question. Every paint on the market is made differently and each one has properties uniquely its own.
Finding the paint that is best for YOU is not an answer you can find online. Every furniture artist has their own painting style and some products are better suited to creating certain looks. Availability and price in your area will also play a huge factor in the paints that you choose. I am all for ordering paint online and I do it on a regular basis but there is nothing worse than running out of a colour mid-project and having to wait a week to replenish your stash! I also have to take into consideration that I live in an area with harsh winter climates where shipping paint in the mail may not be an option four or more months out of the year. I have experienced the devastation of receiving hundreds of dollars' worth of mail-ordered product, completely frozen and unusable. Lesson learned!
So which paints do I use?
When I first started out, Annie Sloan was my go to chalk paint and the only paint I used. Originally created in 1990 and available in 60 countries, Annie Sloan is the “OG” chalk paint. I still love Annie Sloan paint – it's thick and offers great coverage as well as the ability to create loads of texture. This paint sands smooth and distresses with ease. If I am looking to create textured old world charm than the consistency and colour palette of Annie Sloan paint is perfect. However, if I wanted to create a classic, smooth finish I probably wouldn't reach for Annie Sloan as my first choice. Recently the local retailer in my area closed so I no longer have easy access to Annie’s paint unless I order online incurring shipping costs and limiting my winter purchase ability therefore I am no longer using Annie Sloan paint.
The DIY Paint Co. line is an all-natural clay and chalk based paint known for being highly
pigmented. Similar to Annie Sloan, this paint is thick with amazing coverage and is well suited to creating layered, textured finishes. The DIY Paint line also offers neutral, muted colours suited to creating those old world finishes but additionally carries many bright,
beautiful colours to choose from. Unlike Annie Sloan chalk paint, DIY paint is heavily pigmented allowing you to add copious amounts of water to it without diluting the vibrancy in the colours. DIY Paint Co. is my go to paint when I am looking to create vibrant colour washes and layered, textured finishes. I love this paint for my bohemian style art furniture pieces.
Dixie Belle is known for its blending abilities—creating beautifully seamless colour transitions—for furniture art with depth and dimension. Dixie Belle is also self-levelling making it easy to create flawless finishes with minimal brushstrokes. Dixie Belle offers a huge line of complimentary products that can be layered in ways many other brands cannot. For example, Dixie Belle best dang wax is WATER based so you can use it to accentuate your finish prior to adding your sealer. This simple feature creates the ability to experiment with waxes without the worry of being unable to paint over them if you're unhappy with the look you've created. The ability to mix and match metallics, patinas and crackle mediums—just to name a few—gives a furniture artist the ability to create layer upon layer of texture and depth for truly unique, one of a kind pieces of furniture. The Dixie Belle line is my go to when I am looking to experiment creatively or create seamless colour blends. I love that I can create so much dimension with this paint and still maintain the flawless look of a fine finish.
Miss Mustard Seed and Homestead House milk paints are actually manufactured by the same company however each has its own colour line and therefore some local retailers may carry both brands. Milk paints are sold in powder form, are relatively inexpensive per ounce and only require you to mix up what you plan to use right away. These qualities give milk paint a long shelf life. Milk paint naturally chips when applied over some finishes resulting in an authentic look reminiscent of a timeworn piece of furniture. Bonding agents may also be added to prevent chipping and create more traditionally painted finishes. Milk paint has an almost translucent appearance and can create unique finishes where the original wood almost peeks through as though the paint has worn and thinned over a hundred years. To achieve solid, opaque coverage milk paint will require multiple coats and may not be the most economical choice in terms of time and cost. If I am looking for an authentic chippy or timeworn farmhouse finish than milk paint is my best choice and is readily available in most areas. Due to the powdered nature of milk paint it is also a mail-order friendly paint - it will not freeze in the winter months and it is not heavy or bulky for transport and therefore typically ships cheaper than many other products.
General Finishes Milk Paint is a premium self-sealing mineral based paint. Although it is not a true “milk” based paint it’s named so for its low-luster sheen. This paint is extremely durable, self-levelling and good for indoor and outdoor use. General Finishes is my go to paint when I am looking for a highly durable finish with a clean and classic look. This paint can easily be applied with a brush as it is self-levelling and will even out brush strokes however I love to use this paint in my sprayer for smooth, flawless finishes especially when I am painting chairs. General Finishes has several award winning top coats as well; I use their products to seal the large majority of my projects. Keep in mind that mixing and matching brands is entirely possible but you should always test a sample board first to ensure product compatibility as there are products out there that just don’t play well together!
Country Chic Paint is a clay mineral paint with soft, muted colour tones. When Country Chic first came onto the market I loved their paint and used it regularly, it was similar to other chalk style paints in terms of texture, coverage and ease of distressing. They have since updated their formula to include a built-in primer and top coat and I’ll be honest in saying I just don’t love it the way I used to. My painting style requires longer working times and the ability to use water to “reactivate” drying paint so I can smooth it out, blend, distress etc. My personal preference is to use paints that do not include a built-in top coat. I still use Country Chic for some pieces with a simpler finish as their colour line truly is gorgeous but it is no longer one of my go to paint lines.
Fusion Mineral Paint is arguably one of the most popular paints in my area. Fusion paint is very durable and is easy to use. Like Country Chic Paint, Fusion Mineral has a built-in top coat and is considered to be an all-in-one paint so for that same reason it is not one of my go to paint choices. I currently have Fusion Mineral Paint on my front door, unsealed, and it has held up beautifully. I personally find the ultra-matte finish often looks scuffed. A quick wipe with a damp cloth removes the scuffy look however in the future I would seal my Fusion Mineral projects with a slightly higher sheen for a cleaner look.
Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint is great because it’s inexpensive and easily accessible as it can be purchased at most hardware stores like Home Depot. Although it is less expensive per ounce than most boutique brands I do find that it requires an extra coat for full coverage as it is slightly thinner in consistency; this is most noticeable in lighter colours. I often use Rust-Oleum Chalked for creating home décor projects and signs but it’s not one of my favourites for painting furniture. That being said, I would highly recommend trying this paint if you’re new and experimenting because it is one of the most affordable brands on the market.
The table below summarizes 25 popular paint brands currently being used on furniture. Spend a little time finding out what's available in your area; most paint brands have a “Find a Retailer” feature on their website. Pick a brand, watch a few how-to videos online, buy 2-3 colours and start painting. Next time you purchase paint, consider trying another brand. Experimenting with different brands and finishes is fun and the best part of painting furniture is finding what works for you and having fun!
Have you tried another brand not mentioned here? I'd love to hear about your experience with it!
DISCLAIMER: This is not sponsored content. This is a personal review and the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed herein are strictly my own. I did not receive financial compensation from any of the brands mentioned in this post.