DIY Desk Makeover

My daughter has had a hand-me-down desk for a while now, and I decided that I would refinish it for her.  There are so many cool products and colors out there to choose from, so we took a little trip to the store so she could pick out something she liked.

She decided on Rustoleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in “aged grey”, which I thought was a great choice.  The color is light and versatile, and fits into her room theme of turquoise, black, and grey.  This paint dries with a matte, chalky finish.

Rustoleum Chalked Paint

Rust-Oleum® Chalked Ultra Matte Paint creates an ultra matte finish with superior adhesion and coverage in an easy-to-use spray formula.  It rejuvenates furniture and home décor with timeless elegance.  It can be painted or distressed, giving any project a one of a kind look with a vintage feel. (

Keep in mind that I haven’t done a project like this before, but we had no problems.  I have used polyurethane and stains on wood, but have not done something like this desk redo before – but as you’ll see, it came out great, no problems!

Materials needed:

  • Sandpaper
  • Rustolem Chalked Paint Spray
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape

You may also likely want new hardware like drawer pulls.  Another option would be to spray paint them a new color.


We started by removing the handles/hardware, and then sanding the desk. The surfaces were a fake wood finish over particle-board. I would go with 100-200 grit sandpaper like this one I used on a coffee table project to scuff up the paint – not something too coarse.

We made sure the surfaces were sanded for good adhesion, and also so that we could smooth out any imperfections.

Desk Sanded

There were a few spots that I covered with painter’s tape, like the tracks of the drawers.

Desk Taped

Before using the Rustoleum “Chalked” paint, we used some primer/filler spray that we had leftover from other projects.  We figure that the desk will get a lot of use, and it would be nice to provide a durable surface especially on the top.


Once the surfaces were sanded and primed, I wiped down the desk with a dry rag, and we started using the Rustoleum “Chalked” spray paint.

The instructions recommend: “Lightly scuff high gloss surfaces with sand paper or a sanding sponge. Apply 1-3 even coats within an hour or after 48 hours.”

I highly recommend following all of the instructions on the paint can.  We painted in an open, ventilated area in optimal temperature conditions, and spaced out the coats of paint.  Be sure to give the paint adequate time to dry in between different coats.


The finished product came out amazing!  After several layers of paint, the desk had nice coverage and looks great!


I won’t lie – this project took more time than I would have liked, between the sanding and letting the desk dry between coats of paint.

We also went through more cans of paint than I originally anticipated, but that seems to be a rule of thumb when it comes to painting.  Each 12 oz can ran about $6.48 at Walmart (which seemed to be cheaper than most other places), but we ended up going through multiple cans, so the cost added up.  However, we love the final product and it looks great in my daughter’s room.

If you wanted to use a cheaper spray paint, you can find other spray paints for under $4 a can, like Rustoleum 2x, which I use often on furniture.  I believe this is around $3.97 at Home Depot, and it comes in different colors and finishes.