Sunday, September 23, 2012

Distressing with Candle Wax Tutorial

I always check the "oops" paint rack whenever I go into Lowes. I don't know why, since I'm usually a chalk paint lover, but I can't help myself. I love a good bargain. I ran across this minty green color and loved it enough to buy.  I'm not opposed to painting with latex, it usually is just harder for me to achieve a time-worn look that I love, and takes a little more work.

Today I want to share with you an easy and quick way to achieve an old look. This is by no means a new method, many people write and talk about it and have it perfected. I definitely haven't used it enough to have it "perfected"

  • Candle wax (I used an old tea light I had around the house)
  • Latex paint color of choice
  • Sand paper about 120 grit, less (lower grit) if you want more distressing and a higher grit if you want less distressing
  • Electric sander or sanding block
  • Furniture wax or poly
  • Dark wax if desired
I had a table in my garage I picked up for free that I thought would work nicely for latex paint. It was already sanded and stained and had no protective shiny coating.

If your piece of furniture has a shiny protective coating, you'll have to strip/sand it off first. The paint won't stick to a shiny surface. I don't apply a primer to my pieces when I'm going for a distressed look. I don't want the white primer showing through my distressed areas and I don't mind if the paint eventually chips off in a few places, that's kind of what I'm going for :)

Once your piece is ready, take your candle and rub it on the edges and anywhere the paint would wear off naturally. The candle wax keeps the paint from sticking and can be easily sanded off. It also helps give it a more natural distressed look. Once you have your wax on the piece, go ahead and paint it.  You can just distress it by plain old sanding without the wax first, but I've noticed when working with latex paint it doesn't look as natural, especially when you use an electric sander. If you just use a sanding block it takes a ton of elbow grease to sand down to the wood layer.  I used an electric sander with the candle wax and it worked out great.

(A note of advice I learned the hard way: don't put your wax on outside in the hot sun, it will melt)

I just love the way the dark stained wood shows through. The dark contrast against the minty green kind of reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream, but maybe that's just because it was 97 degrees outside while I was painting it :)

I used some cool tricks to age the top of this table. My younger brother works for a reclaimed wood company and shared some tips with me. I'll be trying them out a few more times before I share it with you all.

P.S. I'll be selling this table in my shop and Etsy page, just contact me using my contact page button and I'll get back to you.



  1. I have not tried the candle wax - seems easier than using the Vaseline method. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have never tried applying wax or vaseline I just paint and distress but I can see that this would look more naturally distressed like the way that milk paint peels. Thanks for sharing I will have to try it!!

  3. Beautifully done, Jenine! I love the color you nabbed for this sweet little table! I've used the candle wax method before and it is very easy to do and distressed pretty easily. Not quite as easy as chalk paint, but works in a pinch! :)

    xoxo laurie

  4. I love this!! I will have to try this on my next piece. I have used vaseline but not wax!!! Thank you for sharing!


  5. Good luck in refinishing this table. And yes, sometimes it is more economical to get discounted items. And yes, wax melts when it gets too hot especially. Enjoy your project!