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Rust-Oleum Chalky Spray Paint vs Regular Chalk Paint

Howdy ho and happy Monday to you! How was your weekend? I hope you’re feeling bright eyed and ready to take on the week with vigor and zest. Today I am sooooo excited to be doing a full review and comparison between the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint versus the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint. I’ve had this review on my to-do list for a while now because I was curious about how these two paints would do side by side on an identical piece of furniture. So when I recently found a set of four dining chairs at my local Goodwill for $5 each I knew it was go time. For this review I painted one chair with the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint and another chair with the chalky spray paint. I’m comparing how each one looks after the first coat, then the second coat, and also after I distressed them both with sandpaper. Then to sum it all up I’m sharing which paint I think did a better job. Sounds like a lot, right?! It is. Grab a snack or maybe a caffeinated beverage if you’re into that kind of thing and let’s get to it.

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

All righty, here’s what I’m using–the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint both in the color Linen White. And here are the chairs I scored at my local Goodwill for $5 each.

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

Pretty good find, right?! Since I’m using chalk paint I did nothing to prep the chairs. That’s the big benefit of chalk paint–no sanding. I simply cleaned them up with hot soapy water to get off any dust or junk. Then they were ready to go! Here’s how they looked after the first coat of paint:

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

Thoughts after FIRST Coat of Paint

  • The spray paint went on super quick and it was especially easy to use for the tricky spindles and legs (which are super annoying to paint). It also filled in around the scrolling and details of the chair a lot easier. After one coat there were no streaks, but some noticeable lines that are typical with spray paint. It took one entire can of spray paint to cover the chair.
  • The regular chalk paint took about twice as long to apply and there were noticeable streaks after one coat. It was also much more difficult to get worked into all the little curves and details in the chair.
  • I got more coverage with the regular chalk paint, but it was super streaky as you can see. For the spray painted chair, you can still see the wood grain if you look closely at the seat, but the application otherwise was very even. Both needed a second coat.
  • Even though both paints are in the color Linen White, the chair done with regular paint was a brighter white while the spray paint looked to have more of a gray undertone in person.

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

Thoughts after the SECOND Coat of Paint

  • Again the spray paint went on must faster. It only took about 10 minutes to do the second coat with spray paint, while painting the chair with regular chalk paint took about 25 minutes.
  • The second coat gave significantly more coverage for the chair done with regular chalk paint, while the chair done with spray paint wasn’t quite as heavy (you can still see the wood grain on that chair). It took another full can of spray paint for the second coat, but it probably could have looked even better with a third coat of paint.
  • The regular chalk paint was harder to get into all the scrolling and details of the chair. As you can see I didn’t get them fully covered, but that was ok because I planned to distress the chair anyway. The spray paint worked great to get in all the little curves.
  • The regular chalk paint dried to more of a matte finish, while the spray paint chair dried to a semi-gloss finish.

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

Other tidbits to consider:

Distressing: I was able to distress both chairs with sandpaper. The coverage on the spray painted chair was thinner so it seemed to come off easier.

Wax: I didn’t apply any sealer or wax to the chairs because I just wanted to compare the paint.

Price Comparison: The spray paint is roughly $7 a can at my local hardware store and it took two full cans to do one chair–so total cost in paint was $14 per chair. The regular chalk paint is the more affordable option, as a 30oz can costs $17 and that would easily cover all four large chairs.

side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint

chair done with the regular chalk paint

Final Thoughts: Spray Chalk Paint vs Regular Chalk Paint

Oh boy, this is a super tough choice because I really liked both of them. But if I absolutely had to choose just one, I’d probably go with the regular Rust-Oleum chalk paint because I feel like it will be more durable over time. It provided a heavier coverage compared to the spray paint and I feel like it really soaked into the wood, while the spray paint just kind of sat on top of it. And with dining chairs like this, I think the spray paint could wear off on the seat of the chair as time went on. I also preferred the matte finish of the regular paint–the spray paint was more glossy. However, with that said I was impressed with the spray paint. The application was very smooth and there were no streaks at all. I think it would make a GREAT alternative if you’re working on something small that might not get a ton of daily use. And you can’t deny the fact that it’s super convenient. No washing brushes or any of that fuss, it’s just quick and easy.

Well I hope you enjoyed this little side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint and the regular chalk paint!

Also be sure to check out these other posts on chalk painting:

Get my 10 best chalk painting tips & tricks!

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint vs Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint

Review of the Magnolia Home Chalk Style Paint & Wax


A side-by-side comparison and review of the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint vs the regular chalk paint!

Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • Debra Thompson
    January 29, 2018

    I would consider using both. Use the spray on the difficult things like the spindles and legs and the regular chalk paint on the other parts of the chair. And you could also go over the spray with a few strokes of the brush to tone the gloss down afterwards. I once stained chairs exactly like that. I feel your pain LOL. The chairs look wonderful though. I would love to hear in a few months how each paint held up.

    • Sarah
      > Debra Thompson
      January 29, 2018

      I think that could totally work! I just wish the colors of the paint matched up a little better. The spray paint was darker than the regular paint, but it doesn’t show up as well in the photos. I will try to share an update in a few months!

      • Kam
        > Sarah
        February 9, 2018

        Wow, always, always, always sand chairs first. I don’t care what type of paint your using. They are built up with years of food, oils, cleaners, plus whatever sealer the original finish used. You will have much better coverage and durability if you sand. What type of brush did you use for the can paint? A good brush such as a Cling On can make all the difference. Chairs always need a good sealer, never waxes. These chairs need more distressing to bring out the detail and character. They look terrible, tbh.

        • Sarah
          > Kam
          February 9, 2018

          Sorry these chairs and my painting process offend you so much Kam.

          • SM
            > Sarah
            May 31, 2018

            They are lovely Ignore her. Ppl like that have a screw loose. They get on the internet to bash people to make up for something lacking in themselves. Bizarre world! Thank for the video. I am going to use points from it. We diyourselfers appreciate your time and efforts. Nice chairs!

          • Sarah
            > SM
            June 3, 2018

            Ah thank you so much for the support! xoxo

          • Joyce
            > Sarah
            February 24, 2020

            Sarah this was very helpful and informative for me. Exactly the information I was looking for. They both look great! Ignore what Kam said. It’s not Kams place to say a word about how they look.
            1. Wasn’t the point and 2. They’re great!

        • Stacy R. Parks Miller
          > Kam
          May 31, 2018

          Wow are you rude and wrong. They are lovely. Who gets on the internet to smash people who take time to make videos to help people? People who are very unhappy with themselves. chalk paint does not require sanding either, that is benefit so you are wrong. Listen to mothers out there, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing.”

        • Kim
          > Kam
          October 25, 2023

          Wow Miss Rudeness. If you didn’t like it you could have scrolled past it Karen!

  • Susan Koehn
    January 29, 2018

    I like the spray paint for 1st coat to get small areas and detail work. Then 2nd coat with regular, for the finish and durability. What do you think?

    • Sarah
      > Susan Koehn
      January 29, 2018

      I thought about that actually! I think it could probably work well and would save you a decent amount of time for the first coat.

      • Ann
        > Sarah
        April 22, 2024

        But like you said if it seemed the spray paint didn’t absorb as well into the chair wouldn’t putting first coat on with spray and then the reg chalk as second coat maybe keep the second coat from absorbing into the chair also….just a thought. thankyou for this. the chairs look great!

    • Bee
      > Susan Koehn
      April 29, 2020

      Thank you for doing this. I put together a wood filling cabinet for my home office and I hate the color (super drab and dark walnut brown) so I’m going to use the spray chalk. I was worried about streaking but this makes me feel better about it!

  • Nikki
    January 29, 2018

    I used the Rust-Oleum chalky spray paint on a couple of small accent tables and I loved the result. I thought it covered so smooth without any runs. It did take a couple of cans per table to get a good coverage though. Great review, Sarah!

    • Sarah
      > Nikki
      January 29, 2018

      I did a small accent table too and I thought it did a good job! I just don’t love the shinier finish. I wish it was more matte!

  • Julie
    January 29, 2018

    Did you end up putting a sealer or wax on the chairs after comparing the look of the paint vs spray?

    • Sarah
      > Julie
      January 29, 2018

      No I didn’t but if I do I’ll probably do the Magnolia Home clear wax.

    • Judy
      > Julie
      June 5, 2019

      They look awesome

  • Terri J
    January 29, 2018

    Great comparison! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Sarah
      > Terri J
      January 29, 2018

      Sure, thanks for stopping by Terri! xo

  • Audrey
    January 29, 2018

    I wonder if you can use the regular chalky paint in a paint sprayer? Best of both worlds? Hmm…might be an experiment in my future!

    • Sarah
      > Audrey
      January 29, 2018

      Maybe worth a shot! We did get one of those sprayers that attached to the spray paint can but it didn’t work very well!

  • Julie
    January 29, 2018

    Hi. I love your blog!! I am going to be chalk painting a bench. Do you always use wax after painting? Is it ever a problem with people sitting on it and having waxed it? Thanks so much!

    • Sarah
      > Julie
      January 29, 2018

      I don’t always use wax, but it does help with the durability and it will give the chair a smooth finish. And no, there’s no problem with sitting on the wax after it cures!

  • Marg S
    January 29, 2018

    Great side by side comparison, very helpful as I have a couple of projects in mind. I love the way your chairs turned out and I do prefer the finish with the regular chalk paint vs the spray paint. Thanks Sarah!

    • Sarah
      > Marg S
      January 29, 2018

      Thanks Marg, it was a fun comparison to do!

  • Donna Jones
    January 29, 2018

    Hi Sarah, I have a question. I painted a little vintage oak desk with the Rustoleum brush on paint. All was fine until I applied the Rustoleum sealant. Suddenly brown streaks began to bleed through and it ruined the look of the piece. I contacted rustoleum and they said you cannot use the paint alone IF you are going to seal it because the sealant will always cause the tannin in the oak to bleed through. So, I had to sand all the paint off, seal it with the Zinsser Bin primer and repaint it. I’m afraid to seal it again so I haven’t yet. I wondered if you have had this problem?
    Thanks, Donna

    • Cindy Desilet
      > Donna Jones
      July 5, 2019

      Donna , For future reference, you can apply your coat of primer right over your paint that is bleeding, and then just apply another coat of paint and you should be good . No need to strip all your hard work off. Or you can use spray shellac on the bleeding areas and allow to dry and repaint. Happy painting!!

  • deanne
    January 29, 2018

    thanks for doing that,the chairs turned out so well,and such a good price.I agree with you,I like the outcome of the chalk paint better.

  • Robin B.
    January 29, 2018

    I have those same chairs and table. I used General Finish milk paint. Just wondering if you ever tried milk paint. And painting those spindles on the chairs are a pain…

  • Chels
    January 30, 2018

    This is such an interesting comparison! I think I like the paint vs the can too! Our kitchen table + bar stools are all painted in white chalk paint – I believe the Rust-oleum brand and Josh painted it all by hand – such a job and our chairs have all straight edges, no spindles. But we bought over the summer a spray paint shed with a spray gun and we’ve been painting a lot of our furniture using the gun and it’s been awesome! Easy cleanup, no paint mess everywhere. It does take time to set up and of course you’ve got to get the measurements right for the spray gun, but we’ve got to repaint our chairs because they’ve been through a lot! LOL! So I’m curious to see how chalk paint will work with the spray gun!

    P.s. the distressing looks awesome!

    • Sarah
      > Chels
      January 31, 2018

      I need to get one of those!! I know that would make painting so much easier! And a good investment too if you’re painting furniture to sell it, which I used to do every now and then. Thanks for the tip girl!

  • Phyllis
    January 30, 2018

    Hi Sarah. I really like your blog, and your decorating style. Love this project. Comparing the two paints is very helpful. Great score on the chairs! I have one like these that I paid $25 for about 5 years ago. Wish I had more. Have a pretty gate leg I want to paint. Lack of confidence gets in the way. But your tutorials are always helpful. Thanks!

    • Sarah
      > Phyllis
      January 31, 2018

      Thanks so much Phyllis! Don’t you just love wooden chairs like this?! I have an obsession. Don’t be afraid to paint, you won’t mess it up I promise!

  • Jessica
    January 30, 2018

    Hey Sarah, I bought a paint sprayer for $80 that’s made for these kind of projects and easy to use.

    I use the regular chalk paint (I also prefer the matte) all the time in all the colors and it works so great like magic, and its an even coat and super fast. Just thought I’d let you know if you’re interested.

    Also, I really liked this post and was super curious to see how it turned out. I like that you compared prices as well. Great idea!

    • Sarah
      > Jessica
      January 31, 2018

      Wow I need to get one of those! It would make painting so much faster and good to know it works with chalk paint too. Thanks Jessica!

  • Stephanie
    January 31, 2018

    This post is great! I have been a chalk painting fool lately!!! I use the Rust-Oleum regular chalk paint and love it, thanks to you! I even have used it on black plastic picture frames! Now if I could find chairs at my Goodwill like you found that would be amazing!!

  • Cimmie
    February 2, 2018

    Like the ease of spray painting seems to get smoother finish on tops ie less brush marks. Or perhaps it’s the way I paint. For your Aussie readers, this paint is available at Bunnings. Spray cans $15.90 Paint $42.00.
    Your chairs, both methods, look superb.

  • Lisa
    April 23, 2018

    Thank you for your thoughts, I am wanting to try Rustoleum Chaulked Spray Paint on an old painted dresser my father made for me in the 60’s. My thought is to spray either the white you used or off white Chiffon Cream. I do not care for a yellow hue, I need to make up my mind, lol. After painting and light sand distressing in a few spots my hope is to lay lace over the fronts of the drawers only and spray with a Rustoleum high gloss for a two toned look…Your thoughts to if this will in fact give a two toned look and will it yellow? Thank you kindly

  • Maria
    May 17, 2018

    I loved this comparison! I’m new to distressing but I wanted to try it, but I like simple. I used the Rust-Oleum chalk spray in one of the gray colors on our bifold closet doors and was so excited how they came out! They aren’t used much so I didn’t use a wax but the can said it wasn’t necessary. I’m glad I tried it! The old wood stain was ugly!

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  • Stephanie
    June 13, 2018

    So.. I have NEVER chalk painted (or milk-painted)…why all the hububover chalk painting? Promise I’m not trying to be a Debby Downer, I really am curious! What makes it more attractive to everyone? Seems like allot of work. Regular paint comes in all different Sheena. I particularly like eggshell and satin. Thanks for your tutorial!

  • Christine
    July 29, 2018

    Thank you so much for this. I just got a solid wood dining table with 6 chairs just like the ones you show here and this gives me a much better game plan. And definitely don’t listen to people being negative.

    • Sarah
      > Christine
      July 29, 2018

      Thank you Christine!! Good luck on your table. xo

  • Adele de Wet
    August 3, 2018

    Please give a quick tutorial on painting or spraying metal? It is stainless steel lampshades over kitchen top

    • Sarah
      > Adele de Wet
      August 5, 2018

      I need to do that. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Bailey
    August 25, 2018

    Omg thank you for this comparison!
    I’m also encouraged by the idea using the spray first and regular after for a better coverage.
    I just used the spray on my daughters small rocking chair and unfortunately the wind kicked up and I got runs 😩
    I’ll be heading to Walmart to pick up the regular once this drys and give the few runs I have a light sanding and cover with the regular paint!
    THANK YOU ☺️

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  • Candice
    December 3, 2018

    Love this blog. I have exactly the same chairs and I’m mid-prodject with spraying the linen white.
    Do you have and tips on distressing or close ups of the finished chairs?
    I was going to use the Rust-Oleum Clear Matte spray as a sealant, I had not heard of wax sealant. Do you know if it makes a difference? Thanks!

  • Jan
    December 16, 2018

    I am using the spray chalk paint and my finish is very matte.
    I wonder why yours is shinier than that?

  • Royston Lasrado
    February 24, 2019

    Lovely write up. Although after reading, I had different experience. My spray can output was brilliant – looked professionally done. My regular paint ain’t so good – brush streaks very apparent up close.

    Ended up getting additional spray cans – for main areas while regular paint for the sides.

  • Jennifer
    April 27, 2019

    Do you think it would work to use the spray paint for the first coat and the regular for the second ?

  • Pam
    August 20, 2019

    This is a first for me and I am painting the exact same chairs!!! Did you use wax to finish?

  • Jasmine
    December 12, 2019

    Thanks for the review!

  • Bee
    April 29, 2020

    Thank you for doing this. I put together a wood filling cabinet for my home office and I hate the color (super drab and dark walnut brown) so I’m going to use the spray chalk. I was worried about streaking but this makes me feel better about it!

  • Kimberley
    August 3, 2020

    Seems like you could use both, spray then brush for superior coverage

  • Benjamin Bevan
    November 7, 2020

    Such A Great Blog. Thank U For Sharing Useful Information About painting.
    This Article Really Amazing And So Much Helpful For Me. Keep It Up.

  • Sarah
    December 27, 2020

    Can I use chalk paint to paint furniture and THEN SPRAY IT with HIGH GLOSS spray paint to achieve a “HIGH GLOSS” finish ?

  • Taffney Blowers
    March 4, 2021

    Thank you. I’ve been thinking, is there a difference? I think I would keep both on hand. I could do the spindles and tough, hard to reach areas in the spray and the brush on for the seat and back😁

  • Libby Murnan
    August 9, 2021

    Hey! Have you ever tried mixing them? Using the linen white chalk spray paint first for the first coat but then using the actual paint from the can for the second coat? I’m thinking about doing this but I don’t want to ruin the piece of furniture I’m working on. It is big… A hutch

  • Kristi
    August 19, 2021

    I’ve just finished my first chalk paint project….a $25. desk I found on marketplace. I wasn’t sure at first, but now I love it! I’ve been painting four years, but chalk paint is a revelation! Just tried to spray a chair, and ended up painting with a brush…..spraying may be quicker, but brushing gives a MUCH better end product!

  • Irene
    December 28, 2021

    Brilliant! This comparison was exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m about to paint an old dresser and was spinning deciding between brushing it on vs spraying. The detail you provided here was a huge help! I had bought the spray but will be bringing it back to go with the regular for this job. Thanks a bunch!

  • Kim Howard
    March 21, 2022

    They are gorgeous! I have a question, if you are painting a coffee table with a smooth finish, should I sand the top? Thank you!

  • Lisa
    August 15, 2023

    I am spray painting a leather chear with chalk paint to see how it will come out lol. Glad I founf your blog!

  • Patricia
    March 31, 2024

    On the top of chair could spray paint be used, chalk paint for the rest? Love the finished dining set. I have exact set. Can’t wait to paint mine.