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:

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! And I hope it’s helpful if you’ve wondered about how these two paints compare. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help! xo

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

Leave a Comment

45 Comments

  1. Debra Thompson wrote:

    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.

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
      • Kam wrote:

        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.

        Posted 2.9.18 Reply
        • Sarah wrote:

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

          Posted 2.9.18 Reply
          • SM wrote:

            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!

            Posted 5.31.18
          • Sarah wrote:

            Ah thank you so much for the support! xoxo

            Posted 6.3.18
        • Stacy R. Parks Miller wrote:

          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.”

          Posted 5.31.18 Reply
  2. Susan Koehn wrote:

    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?

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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.

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  3. Nikki wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  4. Julie wrote:

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

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

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

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  5. Terri J wrote:

    Great comparison! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Sure, thanks for stopping by Terri! xo

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  6. Audrey wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  7. Julie wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  8. Marg S wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Marg, it was a fun comparison to do!

      Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  9. 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

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  10. deanne wrote:

    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.

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  11. Robin B. wrote:

    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…
    Thanks!

    Posted 1.29.18 Reply
  12. Chels wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.30.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.31.18 Reply
  13. Phyllis wrote:

    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!

    Posted 1.30.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.31.18 Reply
  14. Jessica wrote:

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

    https://www.amazon.com/Wagner-0529033-Home-D%C3%A9cor-Sprayer/dp/B01BVEI3X4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517353927&sr=8-1&keywords=home+decor+paint+sprayer

    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!

    Posted 1.30.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      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!

      Posted 1.31.18 Reply
  15. Stephanie wrote:

    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!!

    Posted 1.31.18 Reply
  16. Cimmie wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.2.18 Reply
  17. Lisa wrote:

    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

    Posted 4.23.18 Reply
  18. Maria wrote:

    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!

    Posted 5.17.18 Reply
  19. Stephanie wrote:

    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!

    Posted 6.13.18 Reply
  20. Christine wrote:

    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.

    Posted 7.29.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

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

      Posted 7.29.18 Reply
  21. Adele de Wet wrote:

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

    Posted 8.3.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      I need to do that. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Posted 8.5.18 Reply
  22. Bailey wrote:

    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 ☺️

    Posted 8.25.18 Reply
  23. Candice wrote:

    Hi,
    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!

    Posted 12.3.18 Reply
  24. Jan wrote:

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

    Posted 12.16.18 Reply
  25. Royston Lasrado wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.19 Reply

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