Whad’ya know, the so-called fairy tale turned out to be a true story. Dear reader, does the thought of distressing make you a little nervous?
Googling the answers to your questions and more time painting and distressing. That said, if you’re interested in more of a smooth, modern finish to your painting project, this post will be your guide. Choose your next victim furniture piece. For a while now, we’ve wanted to brighten them up a bit to better match our rustic nautical style.
Paint® projects; but in a pinch, you can apply the wax with a soft, lint-free rag. Remove any removable elements like hardware, shelves, drawers. Even if your furniture piece appears to be clean, it will still be covered in oils from hands. Edge off any sections that won’t be painted using painter’s tape (like the inside of drawers). So, we experimented with a variety of aging techniques to distress our table’s surface in a 15 minute “attack the tabletop” party.
You can grab any tool or metal object from your workbench and hammer it down to create different grooves and divots in the surface.
Here is a great resource to check out for even more aging techniques. A word of caution: be careful not to accidentally “distress” your fingers while banging around the metal tools. If you find the paint to be thicker than your liking, you can dilute it with some water.
I prefer to work straight from the can rather than wasting paint by transferring it to and from a container. When you’re working on covering a section, feel free to paint against the grain or in a figure 8 pattern. Goin’ against the grain for a more textured finish. As your first coat dries, don’t panic if you the base coat or wood peers through or looks extra streaky. My first coat dried in under thirty minutes. But trust me, it’s worth the five minutes it takes to run your brushes through some warm, soapy water.
I still have half a quart of paint left after two coats on our table and six chairs!
There are two different schools of thought of whether to wax before distressing (and after) or to distress first, then wax. Sloan herself recommends applying at least one layer of wax first before distressing because the paint is very chalky and can produce a lot of dust when sanding. While it did indeed produce more dust, it required way less elbow grease.
I had to work up a sweat applying heavy force to actually get through the wax layer and two paint layers to reveal the paint and wood underneath.
I used a variety of 100 – 220 grit sandpaper to do my distressing, and it helped to have a hand sander or sanding sponge to wrap the sandpaper around. A little sand here, a little sand there…here a sand, there a sand, everywhere a sand-sand!
If you do have a layer of paint underneath, you can achieve this really neat two-tone distress…or tri-tone in the case of our chairs. Though this is really just the tip of the iceberg where distressing is concerned. Be sure to dust off your sandy pieces with a dry brush or rag before moving on to the next step. You’ll wonder what you were so afraid of.
I simply used my knife to smear a chunk of wax onto a paper plate.
I would massage the wax into a small section (like a ninth of the tabletop or one surface of one table leg), using a combination of circular and side-sweeping motions, always ending with a sweep in the direction of the grain. Too much wax will cause problems with tackiness. One layer of wax should be sufficient for most pieces, but for a table where you’ll be getting extra wear on the tabletop, it’s recommended to do two or three layers of wax.
3 Ways to Whitewash Furniture
If using a brush to apply your wax, you’ll want to clean it out well.
I used odorless mineral spirits with success.
I rinsed it out with warm soapy water, and my brush is soft again!
If you like the look of your finish as is, great – – you’re done!
Or if you want a glossier finish to your piece, just take take a clean, soft cloth and rub circles across your piece to bring out the shine!
And now, are you ready to see our aged and distressed table and chairs all gussied up and in their new glory?
I feel like this table and chairs actually match our style. Oh, and those ho-hum tan cushions got their own makeover to complete the upgrade. Do let me know what questions or concerns you have in the comments below.
You inspired me so much with your recent table transformation.
I love this new look for your dining room table and chairs. The candle shows off the sheen which shows how important the waxing is!
Can’t wait for you to sit at this table with us next month!
Your step by step tutorial has helped me alot.
I have to go but the paint and other tools for the project. Just wanted to say hi, and thainks so much!!
Not sure where you saw the small painted table.
I owe my obsession with this paint to you and your example. You’ll have no trouble at all using one can on an old dresser with plenty left over for future projects.
The Beginner's Guide to Distressing Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan
I have to wax it or can it keep its finish just with the chalk paint?
Thanks for a great tutorial and your table turned out beautiful!
Thank you ever so much for this beginners guide.
I really think you can’t screw these projects up, (unless you encounter paint/humidity/rotting wood, etc. It’s my childhood dresser that is currently painted white. Basically, if you want a dark color to come through and your wood is blonde, you’ll need to stain the wood or do a layer of brown / black paint first. But keep in mind, to cover that dark, you’ll probably need at least 2, maybe 3 coats of the white atop that. Thank you for taking the time to put it together for the rest of the world. Heavier sanding like we did on the edges went all the way down to the blonde wood.
I didn’t really try for one look or another, but allowed both to come through as was natural in the distressing process. Are you working with a similarly painted piece?
I decided my first project would be my grandparents old buffet.
I painted in white and used dark wax on it.
I wouldn’t mind it being a tad bit darker/aged looking would another coat of dark wax make it darker?
As for your question about the yellowish spots, that is likely the old stain coming through (a typical problem with older furniture). And when you seal it next time, really ensure that coat is super thin and buffed out!
Your tutorials have really helped me and the details are the best!!
So see if you can get your hands on even a sample size of white to achieve a lighter blue that you’re going for. Your tutorial here is very well put together though and is making me want to venture into the world of chalk paint. One question however…does chalk paint allow the wood grain to show through, or is it heavy and thick like latex paints?
I would like to have the raise of the wood grain still show through.
I don’t want the cabinets to look like laminate, or plastic looking, when finished.
You can sand away to reveal a different color underneath, or do a dry brushing technique to layer a new color atop a base. Either one will look distressed and super cool!
Everything you need to know about bullet journaling in one comprehensive step-by-step guide.
I would also appreciate a comment letting me know. Under no circumstances, should the text of this blog or multiple photos be copied and re-posted elsewhere unless you have permission from me to do so. Please refer to my policies page for more information. They were super easy and cheap to make, and it added a ton of texture and dimension to that blank wall space. Vaseline and apply it with my finger, but you can also use a cotton swab if you want.
Apply a little more in some areas and a little less in others to give it that natural aged-over-time look!
The paint should wipe away easily, exposing the layer underneath the paint.
I have a million fun ideas for decorating my new white, bright shutters, but for now this simple, minimalist look will do the trick.
I never would have thought of using vaseline as a way to distress wood!
You’ll have to let me know how it turns out for you.
I can’t wait to try this easy method out!
Trying to sand the faux wood probably won’t work out very well!
If you rub some sandpaper or a sanding block on the edges and corners (or anywhere you want to add some distressing), the paint will start to sand away, letting the original finish underneath show through.
I think you’re going to really like this technique, especially with an entire staircase to do. Vaseline would be perfect for keeping those lines visible. Best of luck, and let me know how it goes!
I started with raw wood, so no sanding was necessary. But if you’re starting with a finished piece of furniture, it’s a good idea to sand it down first before painting. Can you achieve that look with the vaseline as well?
The vaseline basically doesn’t allow the paint to stick to the surface below, so painting a fun turquoise color over stained wood would be awesome!
Remember that rental house you had w/the brown/orange cabinets.
I was dreading the refinish work this beast would require….but alas….you saved the day!
Will try to send a pic of the finished product!
Thank you for all your tips, tricks and hardwork!
How to Distress Paint Vaseline
Have you ever tried using a dark wax instead of the stain?
I was wondering if any color will get the same look/affect.?
I haven’t tried it myself, spray paint should work as well. Vaseline just basically prevents the paint from sticking to the surface you’re painting, so it should work like a charm!
In my experience, the vaseline sort of “soaks” into the wood after a few days, so you would probably get the best results by letting the piece sit and “dry” for a few days and try the poly after that. If you try to do it right away, the vaseline will most likely affect the finish. You’ll have to let me know how it turns out!
Vaseline basically just creates a barrier so the paint can’t adhere to the surface you’re painting, so it should work just fine!
Being a huge fan of anything distressed, this will make my life so much easier!
But when my cabinet door-selling husband came home asking what to do with all the imperfect cabinet doors they have, my creative side kicked in.
I started looking for ideas for repurposing cabinet doors. My first project will be using vaseline to distress!
I would love to find out if you are in my area and if you have any cabinet doors available for sale?
Any way to distress already painted cabinets to scuff it up a bit?
I have no idea thanks a lot if you reply. Do you want your top coat to be a dark brown paint?
I am so impressed with your website, there are so many great tips and ideas!
I hope you and your family are doing great!
My question is this: after using this technique and allowing the paint to dry what would you use to protect the paint on the chairs?
I wasn’t sure if we should do the same on the chairs?
I just have a couple of question: how will this turn out on a wooden photo frame?
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Dry brushing uses ordinary paint to achieve a similar effect, while painting furniture white using more typical methods creates an opaque, even appearance.
Any of these methods can be achieved with a few basic supplies and a few hours of work.
You can use newspapers instead, or any other material to catch the drips. Remove old sealant with a chemical stripper (optional). Cover the whole surface, but manipulate the stripper as little as possible for maximum results. Scrape the dissolved "goop" off the wood. Steel wool is helpful for hard to reach corners. If you use chemical stripper, do not skip washing the wood with vinegar and water. This will neutralize the stripper and make the wood safe to work with and able to hold whitewash. Wash the furniture with vinegar and water. Dilute white vinegar with equal parts water and use it to wash the wood. The vinegar solution is effective at removing stains and dirt which could cause the whitewash to apply unevenly. This removes the dust sanding creates, and results in a clean surface to work with.
Purchase or create the whitewash mixture.
You can buy this ready made as "wood stain" or "white wash pickling", or make your own by mixing paint and water. When mixing your own, a 2:1 ratio of latex paint and water will create a very thick layer of whitewash, while a 1:1 and 1:2 ratio result in successively thinner mixes. Similarly, you can make your own whitewash by mixing turpentine into an oil-based paint until the desired consistency is reached. For both homemade and store-bought products, stir the mixture thoroughly before using. Any "stain" or "pickling" should work for any type of wood. Purchase a whitewash stain , not a whitewash paint. Use a paint brush, foam roller, or clean rag to apply long strokes to the surface of the furniture. As the mixture will dry more quickly than standard paint, apply the whitewash product in relatively small sections rather than attempting to coat the entire piece. For oak or other wood with large grain and pores, apply the whitewash against the grain to ensure it covers the contour of the wood. For pine and most other woods, apply the whitewash in the direction of the wood grain for best results. Before the whitewash can completely dry, use a clean cloth to wipe any excess from the furniture surface. This helps to make the wood grain more visible through the product. Applying additional layers (and again wiping off the excess) will create a thicker layer that obscures more of the wood grain. This incremental process makes it easy to create the exact combination of color and wood grain that is right for the project. One coat is often enough, especially if you mixed your own whitewash to the desired consistency. If you find yourself adding more than three layers, you may want to use a thicker whitewash. After the whitewashing is completely dried, apply a clear water-based sealant over the surface. This will protect the whitewash job and allow it to look fresh and new for a long time. Most sealants can be applied using a brush or even a lint free sponge.
Oil-based sealants may give your furniture a yellow tinge that detracts from the intended color color. Just as though you were actually whitewashing, you should sand and clean the surface to be brushed. Remember to place the furniture over something that can catch any spilled paint. Since you'll be applying paint instead of stain, you do not need to thoroughly remove old finish (sealant) unless it is flaking off. The goal is to barely have enough paint on the brush to spread. Wipe it off on a rag if you get too much paint on it. If you pause during the painting or make the initial contact between brush and wood too heavy, you will get uneven blotches of paint.
It's easy to slow down while trying to reach the edge of the surface, but that will cause an uneven paint layer. One or two coats of a water-based sealant will preserve your furniture without altering its color. Wait for the paint to dry completely before applying. Use this process for metal or wooden furniture. Unlike using a whitewash stain, you're trying to (largely) obscure the wood grain and make the furniture completely white. Let this coat dry as well before continuing.
Use a clean brush to apply the paint, and allow each coat to dry before applying the next. For detailed or curving metal work, use a small craft brush from an art supply store. Stix will not cover grain, and only partially covers stain color. What is the best way to light to the max without losing the old wood character of the planks?
When you say "water-based sealer" are you referring to a sealer that is between the whitewash and the topcoat or are you referring to just a topcoat?
Applying two layers of whitewash in different colors can create the effect of one color "peeking through" under the thin overcoat. People who tend to have a reaction to chemicals or paints should wear protective gloves while engaged in the whitewashing. Next, wipe the surface down with vinegar and water to remove dirt and sanding dust. Purchase or make your own whitewash mixture by combining white latex paint and water, then apply it to the surface with a paint brush or foam roller using long, even strokes. Wipe the whitewashed area with a rag to remove excess from the surface and let it dry completely!
Saw a piece of furniture using this method and decided to find out how to do it myself. Luckily, distressing painted furniture is very easy no matter which method you choose to use. Before being brought to me, this dresser had been hanging out in a garage for a good amount of time leaving a layer of dirt and grime on the piece.
We are keeping the original hardware, but like the dresser, the hardware needs a good cleaning.
How to Distress Painted Furniture for a Beautiful Worn Look
This distressed painted dresser will be getting a very subtle glaze for a worn and antiqued finish. The antiquing glaze, over white sometimes adds a slightly grungy aged feeling. Squirt your glaze on a paper plate and apply with the yellow detailer sponge.
I love the detail on this one and how you made it pop.
I bet your client was tickled pink with it!
I love how it turned out and the distressting was just right!
The finish on ours is a really light wood that is not my taste.
I really enjoyed seeing a similar piece done in white!
This video is a complete demonstration on how to distress painted furniture. If you have a piece of furniture you want painted. It suited the times, born of a pre-recession zeitgeist, where everyone and his dog were investing in property, wealth was king and money seemed to flow like water. So how, exactly, do you shabby chic furniture and other wooden objects and achieve ‘the look’?