Can you put polyurethane over chalk paint?

The simple answer here is yes, yes you can. It’s not even that hard, especially when you know what you are dealing with. Chalk paint has a matte finish style, basically, on its own it will have a distressed look that’s very dull and sad. 

Do you know what chalk paint looks like? Let me give you a scenario. I remember as a kid I’d come across these walls that I’d lick and I’d be left with some color on my tongue. Of Course, now I am older and I know better. I’m sure this childhood experience isn’t mine alone and that paint that you licked off is what I want to talk about today. 

Leaving your chalk paint bare

Now you know there are good ideas out there in the world and then we have bad ideas right? Well, this here is a bad idea. Leaving a chalk painted surface area bare with no topcoat or anything. Though it is the simplest treatment with the least alteration to the matte finish that we all love, are you sure you want to go down that road? 

I mean adding no topcoat to your finish means you are leaving it vulnerable to weather elements, it can easily wear and tear plus let us not forget the natural distress. Now, do you see why topcoats are necessary? Speaking of these coats let’s talk about Polyurethane. Can you use it to paint over chalk paint?

Polyurethane, Can you use it?

Well, the simple answer is yes, and you should but let me just tell you a few things about this Polyurethane. This is a clear oil-based liquid topcoat. You can apply it over your chalk paint finish or any finish using a regular paintbrush. However, if you are lazy to work with painting this coat, you may as well spray it onto the surface you want to coat. 

It will leave the surface looking glossy but not as shiny as other topcoats do. So here is your answer yes you can definitely use polyurethane over the chalk paint. In Fact, doing that will preserve the surface area more. I mean true leaving a surface bare and top coatless will help it maintain the beautiful chalky matte finish. 

You will find that without a coat the whole process of painting over something is very time and budget-friendly as you will not have to take more time and money buying a top coat and using that topcoat as well. However, you will find that with polyurethane you get to choose the type of finish you want from satin ones to glossy ones. 

So you can choose a subtle finish that will still showcase the distressed matte finish of chalk paint. Likewise, you find that with Polyurethane your surface is given the best watertight protection so even if it rains just know that your chalky surface is safe. Polyurethane is widely available and is the least expensive topcoat out there and I am certain if you look it up you will find that it is recommended by the masses. 

Now, why would anyone think that Polyurethane is not the best idea and why would they not want to use it? Well, I am just dishing out facts and this is why you may want to reconsider using Polyurethane as a finish. So as it turns out Polyurethane can yellow over time. That’s because it’s not a timeless liquid. Of Course, with time it will wear and tear down.

So if your wall was white you may start to notice it changing to a cream-based white. Also with Polyurethane you may need multiple coats to get the look you want and depending on the size of the surface you are working with you may find it to be a bit more expensive and time-consuming than just leaving the wall like that. 

If you are unlucky you could leave streak or bubbles while painting over a surface and trust me that just distorts the whole look. Worse of all, like your regular latex paint this Polyurethane will take some time to dry off meaning you need to leave the wall be for some time and not tamper with it. 

Now you see why some people may not like to hear of the word Polyurethane. As you can see it has its ups and downs and it is truly up to you to decide if you will take the good side or you will go for the bad side and never even think of using it. It is all up to you. 


Well like anything in this beautiful earth, nothing is ever the last resort if you feel like a certain thing or process isn’t working for you. You can always move to the next and what we have here are the two most common alternatives to Polyurethane. 


Polycrylic is more like Polyurethane. The only difference is that unlike Polyurethane it is water-based and not oil-based. Unlike Polyurethane its more durable meaning it will last longer and is easier to work with and apply to the surface. However, it’s harder to find and isn’t as widely available as Polyurethane plus you will still need multiple coats


Wax is a semi-solid paste that comes in different colors with different scents. It gives the surface an antique look and finish and will protect against moderate wear and tear. The best part about it is that it repels water meaning it will leave your surface smooth even when it rains. However, you may need to reapply it consistently especially in high traffic areas also the whole process of applying the wax will take time. 

So there you go. You got your answer right. I mean the simple answer was always yes, I just went a tad bit forward to give you the necessary information that you may need to understand exactly what we are talking about. As I said before to use it or to not use it is entirely up to you. Just check the facts and I am certain you will make the right decision. 

Elissa Smith
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