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Easy Chalk Paint Desk Makeover (Using A DIY Paint Recipe)

One of my favorite things is finding an old piece of furniture that can be upcylced. And there is no easier way than with DIY chalk paint. Come along and see this DIY desk makeover that anyone can do!

blue painted desk with green chair.

The “Before” Desk

tan desk on the side of the road.

When I saw this dresser on the side of the road, I knew it would be the perfect desk project.

Before you decide to upcycle a piece of furniture consider the following:

  • Is it solid wood? Does it have a veneer?
  • Is it sturdy and in good condition?
  • Can you easily move it?
paint brush with blue chalk paint on it.

Why We Love Chalk Paint Makeovers

  • NO PRIMING – By making DIY chalk style paints, you can skip priming your furniture.
  • TIME – You can do this DIY project in a few hours following our simple steps.
  • INEXPENSIVE – This old desk makeover cost us under $25. Find a desk at your thrift store, garage sale, or for free on the side of the road.
  • CUSTOMIZABLE – Making your paint allows you to use any paint colors to match your decor.

Supplies You’ll Need

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy.

  • Plaster Of Paris
  • Plastic Container
  • Water
  • Clear Coat (Poly Acrylic)
  • Latex Paint
  • Optional: Cabinet Pulls
  • Deglosser
  • 220 Sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Paintbrush & Small Foam Roller
  • Gloves
supplies used with labels to make plaster chalk paint on desk.

While we know people swear by Annie Sloan chalk paint, we wanted to go the budget-friendly route and make our own.

How To Make Plaster Chalk Paint

collage of images showing blue chalk paint being made.

Step 1: Mix Plaster and Water Together

Mix the Plaster of Paris thoroughly with water to get a pancake consistency. You do not want any lumps.

Step 2: Slowly Add Paint

Slowly mix in the latex paint of your choice. It can be cheaper to use paint samples to make our chalk paint.

Desk Makeover Tutorial

Step 1: Remove Hinges, Drawers and Doors

In a dedicated space, use a screwdriver or drill to remove hinges, doors and hardware.

two images of desk hardware being removed.
Place all hardware including the screws into a small bag in case you need them again.

You may also need to use wood filler in any imperfections and sand smooth before beginning.

Step 2: Prep Work

We always like to lightly scuff any surface we are painting with 220-grit sandpaper and use a deglosser on a clean cloth.

woman wearing a glove rubbing rag on tan desk.

Note: Using a deglosser will help any kind of paint, primer or chalk paint adhere to the desk top and sides.

Step 3: Begin Painting

Using your favorite paint brush (we just used a 2.5″ brush) and a small roller add your first coat of paint.

small roller adding blue paint to drawer.

The goal is to cover your entire desk. It may not look completely pretty at first.

tan desk with some blue paint on it in a garage.

Step 4: Let Dry & Paint Second Coat

Once the first coat is dry to the touch you can repeat the same process. Our first layer was dry by the time we finished painting the entire piece.

woman using small paint roller to add blue paint to desk.

Cover your entire desk completely with 2 or 3 layers of paint.

Step 5: Let Your Paint Completely Dry

close-up of blue painted desk drawer.

One of the biggest cons of DIY chalk paint is that you will have some grit still showing. Once you add a clear coat, we don’t think it is nearly as noticeable.

Optional Step: Add Patina

We chose to use a gold glaze to add a little extra shimmer on top of blue chalk paint. Using a dry brush technique, lightly paint the glaze and wipe it off to your desired look.

shiny blue layer on top of paint on desk door.

Step 6: Seal Your Project

Once your project is dry use wipe-on poly acrylic in matte or satin finish on a lint-free cloth or a different clear coat such as clear wax, to protect your painted desk.

blue chalk painted desk without doors or drawers.
  • For our project, we lightly sanded the first layer of wipe-on poly with 220-grit sandpaper before adding a second coat.
  • You may not need to do this for the whole desk, but you will want to consider it for the top of the desk.

Optional Step: Add New Hardware

Once your desk is completely dry, you can add new drawer pulls or knobs. To keep it simple it is best to find hardware that already fits the holes you may have.

large silver pulls on blue desk drawer.

If your desk doesn’t have hardware, then you will need to drill new holes for your chosen handles.


  • It is very important to make sure you have a nice smooth surface on the top of the desk. Using a small roller in thin layers can help achieve this.
  • Work in small sections when painting. Continuously checking for drips.
  • For a more distressed or rustic look, you could lightly sand the edges to have some of the wood show through.

Before and After Painted Desk

before and after images of painted desk makeover.

Tutorial FAQs

Some DIYers swear by chalk-painted kitchen cabinets and more. However, we recommend primer and specific cabinet paint for the most durable finish. You can see our DIY kitchen cabinet painting tutorial here.

Yes, a lot of people who do furniture makeovers will use a variety of waxes. From dark wax to soft wax, you can find a top coat that will fit your project.

We used wipe-on polyacrylic due to already having it in our supplies. Make sure to use polyacrylic and not regular wipe-on poly. Regular polyurethane can yellow over time.

blue chalked painted desk with legos, books and lamp on it.

Follow us on Pinterest, YouTube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

More Furniture Makeovers

Easy Chalk Paint Desk Makeover

Anyone can makeover an old desk by painting it with chalk paint. Learn how to make Plaster of Paris paint to help with your easy desk makeover.
Print Tutorial
blue chalk painted dresser with green chair.


  • Paintbrush
  • Small Roller
  • Rag
  • Gloves
  • Plastic Container


  • Deglosser
  • DIY Chalk Paint latex paint + Plaster or Paris or Store Bought Chalk Paint
  • Wipe-On Polyacrylic waterbased so that it does not yellow
  • Furniture Glaze optional
  • Lint Free T-Shirt
  • Deglosser


Prep the Dresser

  • Remove hardware, hinges, doors and drawers before painting.
  • Fill any imperfections with wood filler.
  • Clean with deglosser.
  • Sand and wipe the dresser.

Make DIY Chalk Paint

  • Mix 1/3 cup plaster with 1/3 cup water.
  • Add 1 cup latex eggshell, flat, or satin paint.

Paint The Desk

  • Use a 2-2.5" paint brush and small roller to cover your desk with one layer.
  • Wait for the paint to dry.
  • Repeat your painting process until you have 2-3 layers of paint.
  • Once dry, use wipe-on poly, polyacrylic, or furniture wax.
  • Reattach or add new hardware.


  • Optional step: Use a patina to add an extra shimmer to paint before adding your top coat.
  • Use thin layers of paint. You can lightly sand in between any layers of dry paint or poly for your desired smoothness.
Author: Erin Nutter
Cost: under $25

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