How to Paint a Triple Layer Distress on Unfinished Wood PLUS My Mistakes (A Cute Wooden Box Project for a Rustic Home Accent)
As I sit here writing this article, I have to tell you: I am in a motel. I've been in a motel for over a week and a half, and this is our last day. You see, Mr V. and I have been waiting impatiently for the new home to close and become ours, then get some needed work done inside so we can move in! So what does an action-oriented person do to while away the time? A project of course!
Here is how I am spending the "waiting" time here by the Clearwater River in Idaho: I am making a distressed box for the new home using chalk paint. Here's how I created this lovely distressed wooden box using chalk paint and some wax.
And if you read all the way to the end, you'll find out the things I would have changed about this box to make it even better. Yes---I made some mistakes--and I'm glad. Mistakes are learning experiences, so when I graduate to larger furniture, I'll be prepared!
A quick note about the chalk paint. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint because that's how I learned to distress wooden furniture. But it's expensive at $40 a quart, and there is no finding that brand for less. However, a very little goes a very long way with this paint, and it covers beautifully. A quart will last a LONG time.
If you want to save money on your chalk paint, I have heard the Rust-o-leum brand is just as good and is about half the price too.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered here and there throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you--Heidi (Full Disclosure Here)
How to Distress a Wooden Box With Three Layers of Chalk Paint
I thought about only using two colors of chalk paint, but then I thought: Why not try three colors? After all, all I have right now is time, right?
Tools You'll Need for This Distressed Box
1) A wooden box.
I got this at Joannes, but you could use any kind of untreated wood object. You could use a crate, too!
2) Chalk paint in your choice of colors.
4) A towel for distressing.
You want one that doesn't have a lot of fuzz. Cotton is good.
5) Clear wax.
Creates a matte, clear finish with a bit of shine--like eggshell.
6) Dark wax.
Creates an "old" or antiqued look.
7) Buffing towel.
A cotton T-shirt will work just fine for this. You want a cloth that won't leave a fuzz.
8) Furniture cleaner.
I used General Finishes Furniture Cleaner because it's clear and watery. This is used to dilute the dark wax
Directions for Distressing Unfinished Wood With Chalk Paint
I love chalk paint. You don't need to prime the project, saving you a step. It's also very durable once you cover it with wax. Here are the instructions for this cute and quick project!
Step 1) Choose your unfinished wood project.
I just used a box I found for about $15 at a craft store.
Step 2) Apply your base color.
This is the Burgundy chalk paint. I didn't want too much red in the final project, so I used it as the first layer.
Step 3) Apply your second color coat.
After the first coat dries completely, go ahead and apply the second color on top. Don't worry if it looks bad at this point. I used the gray chalk paint on top of the Burgundy.
Step 4) Apply the third and top layer of chalk paint.
I used an Old White color for the top layer.
Step 5) Cover it completely with the top coat.
Here it is with all three coats of paint:
Step 6) Now it's time to distress it.
Wet your towel and wring it out good. This is a wet distress I chose to do. You'll need to use some elbow grease (strength) for this part. Scrub it good in the areas you want to distress. Along the edges for sure, and anywhere in the middle you like.
Think about how a real piece of furniture would weather in real life, and scrub those areas well.
You'll find the layers kind of melting away, leaving the colors below. Once you hit your bottom layer, you'll want to stop scrubbing there because you don't want to go all the way to the wood. See the Burgundy starting to pop here and there?
Step 7) Wax the piece.
Apply the clear wax first. You don't need much, just be sure it's all got a nice thin layer on it. Buff it out with the buffing cloth.
Step 8) Dilute the dark wax with some furniture cleaner.
I've tried this technique with plain dark wax before, and it is just too dark. So this time, I diluted the dark wax with a bit of furniture cleaner. I used about 2 tablespoons wax to about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon cleaner and mixed until it was pretty thin.
Step 9) Apply the diluted dark wax.
Go ahead and apply the diluted wax quickly. Try not to let it sit too long because it will be harder to buff out the longer it sets in.
Step 10) Buff the dark wax out.
Buff it good. It will feel smooth, maybe just a little tacky but not too much. It shouldn't feel too sticky. It should look smooth and nice.
The dark wax will give your piece an "old" or antique look, a patina of old dirt, so to speak. That's how you want it to look if you want it to look old.
It takes about a week or so for the furniture to be seasoned and ready to go. You can still use it, but just be careful, as the wax needs a few days to cure.
Enjoy your work! :-)
Final Thoughts on Using Chalk Paint to Create a Distressed Wood Project for Your Home
This was a pretty fun project, and now I have a great little box for our new home. Although I like how it turned out, I would have done a couple of things differently.
I'm just learning this new skill, so bear with me while I make and share my mistakes! Here's what I would have changed:
1) I would have thinned the dark wax even more and buffed it out faster. In some places it just looks a little too "dirty."
2) I wouldn't have used such a dark gray color in the middle. In fact, maybe I would have only used two colors.
3) Mr. V. (who is a painter) pointed out that I should have carried the distressed parts in the middle of the wood areas all the way to the edge of the wood. It would have looked more natural that way.
Anyhow---I think it's a great little piece that can double as storage and also a foot stool. Nice!
Hmm....I'm thinking maybe painting our cabinets is in the near future? We'll see---
Have you distressed your own furniture before? I'm just now discovering the wonders of chalk paint, and I think I have a new addiction! Stay tuned for more projects! :-). And if you have any advice, please leave them in the comments section!
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
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