How to Paint a China Cabinet with Chalk Paint – A Step-by-Step Guide

Bob Thomas


Looking to give your old china cabinet a fresh new look?

Look no further! In this guide, I'll share my expertise as a qualified painter and decorator on how to paint a china cabinet with chalk paint. 

This simple yet effective method will breathe new life into your furniture and add a touch of charm to your home.

Quick Summary

  1. Clean the cabinet thoroughly.
  2. Remove hardware and glass.
  3. Sand the surfaces.
  4. Apply the first coat of chalk paint.
  5. Sand lightly between coats.
  6. Apply the second coat of chalk paint.
  7. Apply a clear wax for protection.
  8. Reassemble the cabinet.

Materials and Tools You'll Need


Warm water and dish soap

Cleaning the cabinet

Medium-grit sandpaper (120-150 grit)

Sanding the surfaces

Fine-grit sandpaper (220-240 grit)

Sanding lightly between coats

Chalk paint

Painting the cabinet

High-quality paintbrush

Applying the chalk paint

Clear wax

Protecting the painted surface

Wax brush or lint-free cloth

Applying the clear wax

Damp cloth

Wiping down surfaces before and after sanding


Removing and reassembling hardware

Clean the Cabinet Thoroughly

Before you start painting, it's essential to clean your china cabinet thoroughly.

Remove any dirt, dust, and grease using a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap.

Don't forget to clean the inside of the cabinet as well. Once you've cleaned the cabinet, let it dry completely.

Remove Hardware and Glass

Take out any shelves, drawers, and glass panes from the cabinet.

Also, remove hardware like handles and knobs. Place these items aside, as you'll need to reassemble them later.

Sand the Surfaces

Using medium-grit sandpaper (120-150 grit), sand the entire surface of the cabinet.

This will help the chalk paint adhere better to the surface.

Be sure to sand all areas, including corners and edges. After sanding, wipe down the cabinet with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

Apply the First Coat of Chalk Paint

Now it's time to start painting! Choose a high-quality chalk paint in the color of your choice.

Using a good quality paintbrush, apply a thin, even coat of paint to the cabinet.

Chalk paint dries quickly, so work in small sections to avoid brush marks.

Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, typically about 1-2 hours.

Sand Lightly Between Coats

Once the first coat is dry, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (220-240 grit).

This will help create a smooth finish and promote better adhesion for the second coat.

Wipe the cabinet with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

Apply the Second Coat of Chalk Paint

Apply a second coat of chalk paint, following the same technique as the first coat.

Be sure to cover any areas that may have been missed or need extra coverage.

Allow the second coat to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Apply a Clear Wax for Protection

To protect your newly painted china cabinet, apply a clear wax using a wax brush or a lint-free cloth.

Work in small sections and rub the wax into the paint. Allow the wax to dry for about 15-20 minutes, then buff with a clean cloth to achieve a smooth, satin finish.

Reassemble the Cabinet

Once the paint and wax are completely dry, carefully reassemble the cabinet.

Reinstall the shelves, drawers, glass panes, and hardware. Now, your beautifully transformed china cabinet is ready to display your cherished items!

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I use any type of paint for my china cabinet makeover?

  A: While you can use various types of paint, chalk paint is recommended for this project due to its easy application, fast drying time, and the unique finish it provides.

It also adheres well to surfaces, reducing the need for a primer.

Q. How do I choose the right color for my china cabinet?

  A: Consider the overall color scheme and style of your room when selecting a paint color.

Lighter shades tend to make a piece appear larger and more prominent, while darker shades create a more subtle look.

You can also mix colors to create a custom shade that perfectly complements your space.

Q. Can I skip the sanding process?

  A: While chalk paint often adheres well without sanding, it's still recommended to lightly sand your cabinet.

This will remove any dirt, grease, or old paint that might prevent the new paint from adhering properly.

Q. Do I need to apply a top coat to protect the painted surface?

  A: Yes, applying a clear wax or other top coat is essential to protect the paint and make it more durable.

It will also give the cabinet a smoother and more polished finish.

Q. How long should I wait between coats of paint?

  A: Allow the chalk paint to dry for at least 1-2 hours between coats. It's important to give each layer enough time to dry before applying another coat to ensure an even, long-lasting finish.

Q. Can I paint the inside of my china cabinet as well?

  A: Yes, you can paint the inside of your cabinet. However, be mindful of the extra time and effort it will take.

Also, consider using a complementary or contrasting color to add visual interest to the interior.

Q. How do I care for my newly painted china cabinet?

  A: Dust your cabinet regularly with a soft cloth and clean any spills or marks with a damp cloth.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they may damage the painted surface.

If the cabinet becomes scratched or chipped over time, touch up the paint as needed to maintain its appearance.


Painting a china cabinet with chalk paint is an easy and cost-effective way to update your furniture.

By following these steps, you can create a stunning piece that will be the focal point of any room.

I remember painting my own china cabinet last year, and the results were truly impressive.

So, grab your paintbrush and let your creativity flow!

Suggested Products:

  1. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: This high-quality chalk paint is perfect for transforming your outdated china cabinet into a charming centerpiece. Available in a variety of colors, it offers excellent coverage and a beautiful matte finish that complements the French farmhouse look.
  2. Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint: This easy-to-use chalk paint creates a smooth, ultra-matte finish on your china cabinet, giving it an authentic vintage appeal. Its exceptional adhesion properties make it an excellent choice for a hassle-free makeover.
  3. Mirka Goldflex Soft Sanding Pads: These flexible sanding pads are ideal for prepping your china cabinet before painting. They conform to the contours of the cabinet, ensuring an even surface for the chalk paint to adhere to.
  4. Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish: Preserve the beauty of your newly painted china cabinet with this durable, crystal-clear topcoat. It offers excellent protection against scratches, stains, and wear, keeping your French farmhouse-inspired piece looking fresh for years to come.
  5. Purdy Paint Brushes: Quality paint brushes are essential for a smooth and professional-looking paint job. Purdy brushes are known for their excellent performance, making them ideal for applying chalk paint to your china cabinet.
  6. Wooster Pro Foam Rollers: Achieve a smooth, even finish on your china cabinet with these high-density foam rollers. They are perfect for applying both chalk paint and topcoats, ensuring a flawless end result.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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