Quick Tip: Create Instant Heirloom Furniture with Vaseline

The key to distressing any painted furniture may be hiding in your medicine cabinet. Read on for how a little petroleum jelly could help you achieve time-worn style without the thrift store hunt.

By Jill Lawrence O'Hara | Updated Aug 25, 2015 10:12 AM

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How to Distress Painted Wood - Quick Tip

Photo: fotosearch.com

If you find yourself scouring the flea markets for that perfectly imperfect piece of painted furniture that’s distressed in all the right spots, it’s no surprise. The time-worn elegance of shabby chic style is just as popular as ever. Fortunately for you, it’s no longer limited to the secondhand scene. You can add age to any piece of painted wood, be it inherited or built in your home workshop last week. So stop searching and start creating the look you love with one unexpected (and affordable) product: Vaseline.

How to Distress Painted Wood - Painting Wood Furniture

Photo: fotosearch.com

This technique works on everything from frames to dressers, and tables to doors, so don’t stress about the type of furniture to distress. Start by sanding the piece’s surface, clearing the sawdust, and applying a base color. That first coat will be the contrasting color that peaks through from under the top coat. Allow the paint to dry completely. Then spread Vaseline over the corners, beveled edges, and any other area you want to look worn using your finger and a dry cloth—wherever you apply it, the next coat of color should wipe away easily for a weathered, chippy-paint look. Vary the Vaseline thicker in some places and thinner in others for extra authenticity. When you brush a second coat of paint over the whole piece, use a towel to rub through the top layer before it dries completely, concentrating on the areas covered in Vaseline. Wipe until you’re satisfied with how much bottom layer is revealed, and let the furniture finish drying for an instantly vintage look without decades’ worth of wait.