There are an infinite number of ways to distress something. Old is in! Well, we call in “vintage” or “shabby chic” now, but still… We all know the look. We LOVE the look! Whether it’s furniture, picture frames, lamps, or any random decor item–it’s all the rage. And I’m not even dissing it, I love it too! But I have a terrible time finding cool old stuff in my area. I don’t know if I’m just awful at it, have bad luck, or it’s just not available. Who knows. So more often than not, I have to make it myself, and attempt give it the look myself. And I’ve done it before, many times! I’ve pretty much felt like I had most of the concepts down, except for one… And it’s my favorite one! When I see something with that authentic distressed paint look like this, I freak out! But of course, it’s way too expensive, it’s already sold, or my friend doesn’t approve of me stealing her decor right in front of her… I’ve read about a lot of ways to do it. I’ve tried most of them without much luck. So, I was determined. I was going to experiment until I figured it out. I was going to master CHIPPY PAINT! And, guess what?! I did! And I’m so excited about it, this is my version of “shouting it from the rooftops!”
- Rough lumber, pallet wood, or “beat up” new wood (more on this soon, I promise!)
- Weathered Grey by Rustoleum wood stain, or other color of your choice.
- Blue Ocean Breeze latex paint by Krylon, or other latex interior paint of your choice
- Scentsy wax cube, or any other block of hard wax. Doesn’t need to be scented, that’s just what I had on hand
- Trim paint guard, or other tool with blunt edge to lightly scrape with.
- Minwax Polycrylic in Satin
- Fine Steel Wool
- Paint brush
- Rag for stain
“Beat Up” Your Wood
I’m not lucky enough to get my hands on pallets and barnwood very often. Like, pretty much never. So, I start with new wood. Nothing fancy. Just common pine lumber. I then use random objects around my garage and “beat up” the wood. I usually start with a hammer and add some dents, a screwdriver is a nice touch too. I have a weird torture-looking device I made to make “wormholes.” I took a scrap piece of wood and screwed in about 10-15 nails into the wood the same distance, randomly. Then I just tap the board into the wood until I get a random pattern of tiny holes. Keep that one out of reach though, that would not be fun to bump into! My favorite and most effective method is, hands down, my super-fancy pile of rocks. It’s been a permanent fixture in the corner of my garage all winter. No, I don’t have rock landscaping, which would be perfect! And even if I did, it’s cold outside! I like my little rock pile. Toss your piece of wood into the pile of rocks and stand on it. Surf on it! I know it sounds silly, but surf! Then flip it over, and do it again. The rocks are the best way that I have found to add legitimately random nicks, dings, and dents.
Stain Your Wood
Once we chip off some of the paint we are going to put on, you will see wood showing from underneath. I like to stain it grey so it still looks old and weathered. There are a lot of brands, and even recipes, to accomplish this. But for this project I used Weathered Grey Stain by Rustoleum. It’s a beautiful color that works well on pine, which I use often.Wearing gloves, apply the stain with a cotton rag. Follow the instructions on the can in case it differs from mine. I usually wipe it on, leave it for 10-15 mins, then wipe it off. Good to go!
So, here’s the funny part. I’ve read about wax, vaseline, and other things that accomplish this. But I never burn candles anymore. Like many of you, I’ve got my little Scentsy air freshener. I looked! I thought I might have a birthday candle! But no… So I grabbed a block of my scented wax. It was even cupcake scented, which is pretty much awesome anyway.
Once the stain is dry, rub the wax liberally onto the wood. All of it! Not just the edges, the whole thing! Well, everywhere you’re planning to paint anyway. Once its covered with a thin coat of wax, rub off the excess with your hands. Sure, you can use a brush or rag, whatever works! The wax tends to leave little bits and flakes on the wood. Just brush it off so there’s not little loose pieces on it anymore.
Paint Your Wood
This step is easy. Paint it. Nothing special. You don’t even have to worry about how it looks really. Just put a nice thick layer of paint on it. I didn’t do two coats, just one moderate coat is just fine. Remember, it’s going to be chipped off shortly.
Scrape the Paint
Ok, so again, I used what I already had around. I actually have used this thing a lot and never bothered to look at the label and see what it is until I had someone ask me after watching this video. Yes, I made the video before I wrote the actual tutorial up. I’m just kinda weird like that. I get excited! But anyway, I found out that its a paint guard! I was thinking putty knife of some sorts, but nope. Paint guard. I think the main difference between this tool and a putty or mud knife, is this isn’t sharp. Not that a putty knife is that sharp. But this is dull, almost rounded on the edge. I assume, so you don’t scrape the walls while using it to paint. But it’s handy to have around! I seem to grab it for all kinds of random things.
Before the paint is completely dry, start scraping. Dry to the touch is the goal, but still a little tacky. With your scraper, or whatever it may be, scrape the loose paint off of the wood wherever you’d like. I like to focus on the edges, but randomly add some areas throughout to make it look natural. Like it sat outside for 20 years and the paint is sloughing off everywhere. Once you get the desired look you’re going for, again, use your hands and wipe off any loose pieces left on the wood. I don’t mean the paint you like! Just the little tiny bits and flakes you scraped off, but haven’t fallen off yet. Remember, the paint is a little tacky. So little bits will stick to it. Just brush them off.
Now, isn’t that cool!? Look at that! We recreated an old chippy paint look! When I see paint like this, I think of an old screen door at grandma’s house, or white trim on an old red barn. It’s just the closest thing to an authentic distressed paint look to me. Sure, painted and sanded to distress is cool, and I use if often! But this is just more natural to me.
Ok, now you made this super cool thing! Lets keep it that way. We just covered this wood in wax so that we can make the paint fall off. Now that we have it looking the way we want, we need to stop it from coming off anymore. Now, you’d think it’s destined to keep coming off, no matter what we do. But it doesn’t! I’ve done this. I’ve messed with it. I rubbed and bumped and scratched it, and it stays on. I love Polycrylic. It’s easy! It cleans up well, it doesn’t turn your paint yellow. It’s just good stuff. I use it more often than anything else. You can paint it on if you’d like. But I prefer the spray. It’s obviously easier to apply, and you have less cleanup, but it doesn’t get bubbles and streaks like a paint brush does. Spray on 3 thin coats of the Polycrylic. After each coat dries, including the last, I buff it with “super fine” steel wool. Steel wool is rated with numbers, the “super fine” you want is rated “0000”. Or, as the funny old-timer at Home Depot calls it, “Quad Wool.” I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about this stuff, but when he said that to me, I’m sure I had the most dumb-founded look on my face. Luckily, he translated for me! It’s important to use the “0000” steel wool, so you don’t scratch the finish. You just want to buff out any imperfections and make sure it is buttery smooth before you put on another coat, or finish it. Plus, it removes any shine the finish might have on that last coat. And I think it looks better with a matte finish.
So, there you have it! Pretty fun right? Feel free to comment below and let me know how it works out for you! Or if you have another cool distressing method, please share! I’d love to see what creative things you have come up with.
** Some outside links are affiliate links; by using them, I receive a small % of the purchase price, for no extra money out of your pocket. **