How to Paint and Distress Furniture Perfectly!

How to Paint and Distress Furniture Perfectly!

Getting the perfect distressing on furniture doesn’t have to be hard work. A little Vaseline can make it so easy!

I used to work so hard sanding down furniture to try to get the perfect amount of distressing in all the right places. But, the sanding would go on and on sometimes, like on my Farmhouse Coffee Table Makeover from last year. And I’d  accidentally over-sand or sand spots I didn’t mean too. But now I know the secret ingredient for how to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time!

It’s Vaseline, guys! Yep, just plain old Vaseline Jelly that’s been around for ages. In that same jar that grandma always had! This is why I love using Vaseline to distress. Using just your finger, you can place the Vaseline in the exact spots you want to look worn and chippy. And, you can also place it on flat surfaces that may be harder to distress with just sandpaper. The Vaseline prevents the paint from sinking into the furniture in those spots. So, the paint is easily sanded away with light effort. Yea!

Make sure to only apply a light wipe of Vaseline. Gloppy bits of Vaseline may spread to other areas when you apply the paint. Watch my example video below to see how much I apply. Let me know if you have any questions about how to paint and distress furniture with Vaseline. You can always comment below or contact me on Facebook or through Instagram DM. I’d love to hear from you!

Distressed look on an Office Chair. Get the DIY Steps and my secret to How to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time. #Distressing #FurnitureMakeover #ChippyFurniture
I love that distressing with the desk?

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Materials for How to Paint and Distress Furniture

You can follow along with this video to see how to paint and distress furniture. This is my DIY Vintage Beer Caddy.

Close up of paint distressing on my DIY Beer Caddy. Get the DIY Steps and my secret to How to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time. #Distressing #FurnitureMakeover #ChippyFurniture
A close look at how this DIY Vintage Beer Caddy look after I finished Vaseline Distressing. I used stain as the base color on some pieces and a blue acrylic as the base on others. The Beer Caddy is sitting on my DIY L-Shaped Backyard Bench in this picture.

Steps for How to Paint and Distress Furniture

Remember, the key with Vaseline is to put it wherever you want the paint or stain beneath to peek through. Vaseline lets you easily decide beforehand which spots will get distressed. I typically go with any edges, corners, and raised areas. And then add a few spots that would get extra wear and tear from use or would just look pretty distressed. Have fun, go with your gut and the look you like. You can always start again or redo spots.  🙂

  1. Use a wood cleaner to remove any dirt, grime, and oils on old furniture or wood. Skip this step on new builds and wood. Lightly scrub every surface and allow to dry.
  2. If necessary, strip or chip off old varnish or paint.
  3. Then, sand every surface, as smooth as you’d like, with 120-grit sandpaper. Wipe clean.
  4. If you want a different base color, apply that now. This works with stain and paints. Use as many coats as necessary to get the look you want. I prefer foam brushes and chalk paint for the smoothest  finish.
  5. If you did apply a base coat, sand with a fine grit sandpaper or sanding block and wipe clean again.
  6. Apply Vaseline on edges and raised areas that would naturally get chipped or worn with use. I just use my finger to apply, Vaseline distressing isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s supposed to look natural. So, I think using your finger will result in imperfect lines and a more natural look than a paint brush.

    Using Vaseline to distress furniture. Get the DIY Steps and my secret to How to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time. #Distressing #FurnitureMakeover #ChippyFurniture
    Vaseline shining on the edges and curves of this Office Chair I rescued from someone’s garbage. You can see the cobweb and dirt covered before pictures and full office chair makeover here.

  7. Paint over all wood with 3-4 layers of chalk paint to get a fully covered finish. Allow proper drying between layers.

    Paint going over Vaseline. Get the DIY Steps and my secret to How to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time. #Distressing #FurnitureMakeover #ChippyFurniture
    First coat of chalk paint going on.

  8. Distress the areas you put Vaseline on with a sanding block or sandpaper.

    A close up of paint distressing on chair arm. Get the DIY Steps and my secret to How to paint and distress furniture perfectly, every time. #Distressing #FurnitureMakeover #ChippyFurniture
    Close up of distressing. I used this Magnolia Home Fabric for this Makeover. I love ordering fabric by the yard from Amazon. Makes everything so much easier! Check out more beautiful and trendy fabric finds here.

  9. Once you have the type of distressed look you prefer, protect all of the wood with 2-3 coats of polyurethane. I love the Matte finish and extra smooth feel of this fast-drying Matte Urethane.

Easy peasy, right?! I love how quick and easy distressing is with Vaseline! Now that you know how to paint and distress furniture with Vaseline, what are you going to try it on? 🙂

A close look at 3 examples of distressing furniture this way. Get the steps for How to Paint and Distress Furniture Perfectly, every time. And the secret ingredient that makes it so easy. #distressing #furnituremakeovers #Painttips
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Looking for more cute and crafty decor with fun paint details? Have a look at my DIY Scrap Wood Wall Art.

Build your own custom DIY Scrap Wood Wall Art. Works for Barn Quilt, Tribal Art, Boho, Mosaic, geometric wood designs and more. Includes DIY Wood Wall Art Tutorial steps and how-to video!

Or for a quick and simple DIY, try this Easy Wood Slice Wall Hook DIY.

Add the wood slice trend to your decor with this simple wood slice idea. This is how to Make a Simple DIY Wood Slice Wall Hook. An easy wood slice decor idea. #woodslice #DIYWallHook #DIYWoodSlice #WoodSliceDecor


Feeling inspired? Now that you know how to paint and distress furniture, get out there and try it! Follow the links above to get the things you’ll need. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

12 thoughts on “How to Paint and Distress Furniture Perfectly!

  1. Fabulous job. I love the final outcome, beautiful .

  2. I always love a good furniture makeover. It turned out terrific.

  3. Looks great and I loved the video tut to go along with it. It really does help to visualize all the pics and the instructions. Brings it together nicely. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this! My husband and I moved from Southern California to Texas and we’re trying to transition our decor to a more distressed, farmhouse style and this is the exact tip i needed to get started! Thanks for sharing! #ArtsyFartsy

  5. amberlyonferguson2017

    Great post! Thanks for linking up at Thursday Favorite Things!
    https://followtheyellowbrickhome.com/vintage-valentine-vignettes/

  6. Looks beautiful! I’ve been doing the Vaseline trick for years, love it. Thanks for linking up to #HomeMattersParty

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