Chalk Paint And Candle Wax Method

Posted in Techniques

In this tutorial we are going to show you what we did with a small coffee table using the candle wax and chalk paint method.


coffee table

The table is a very lightweight piece but has some nice design work and we thought it would make a good distressed furniture piece.  It was originally finished in a dark mahogany stain.




  • Chalk Paint – You can buy the Annie Sloan brand or you can make your own with our VERY simple recipe here:  How To Make Chalk Paint
  • Regular Latex paint for the undercoat that will show after distressing the piece
  • Paint Brushes
  • Steel Wool Pads and/or medium grade sandpaper (use a sanding block if you prefer)
  • Finishing Wax – On this piece we used MinWax Paste Finishing Wax but you can also use Annie Sloan’s waxes made especially for chalk paint or you can finish it with a fast drying polyurethane or some other similar finish
  • Clean, dry cloths or rags
  • Candle Wax



We’ used chalk paint so we didn’t need to do any type of sanding or other prep work.

We decided to do an undercoat in a dark color to show under the topcoat after we distressed the table.  We chose an interior latex paint from Color Place.  The color is called “Coalmine”

You can paint the entire piece in the under coat color if you wish, which is what we did on this table, or you can cover only the areas you are going to distress.  To see how this is done see our Red Dresser tutorial





After the paint dried we took some basic candles and began to apply wax anywhere around the piece where we wanted it to be distressed later on.  The wax makes the top coat of paint peel off with ease, making your job of distressing much more enjoyable!

*TIP: Remember to focus the wax on areas that will naturally distress in an original piece.  This is usually corners, edges, engraved areas, high ridges and similar areas.

applying the wax

applying the wax



For the top coat we decided on a light butter-cream yellow.  We used Valspar Signature interior latex but any good latex paint will do the job

You can do one or two coats.  Whatever you prefer but on this one we only needed one.





Alright, now down to the fun part!  We used the steel wool and sandpaper to begin scuffing the table in the areas in which we had applied the candle wax earlier to begin showing that Coalmine black color underneath the yellow top coat.

We also scuffed and scraped on other areas as well until we got the optimum amount of distressing that we were looking for on this piece.

Ultimately we decided to go with a moderately distressed look.

distressed coffee table

distressed coffee table

distressed coffee table




After the paint had dried thoroughly we went ahead and began applying the finish.  We used the MinWax Furniture Paste again on this one because we didn’t want anything too glossy.  If you want a higher shine finish you can use polyurethane.

Apply the paste per the instructions.  You generally want to apply it on the entire piece with a clean, dry cloth.

waxing the table


NOTE: You may want to additionally use a waxing brush when you have design work such as seen on this table.  It makes it much easier to get the wax in those small grooves.  We didn’t use one on this piece but it does help a lot.

Wait 10-15 minutes for the paste to dry and then begin buffing with a clean cloth.  The more you buff the more shine you will get so adjust your buffing according to the look you wish to achieve on your piece.


Well, here it is!    Not bad for a little bit of supplies and elbow grease.

distressed coffee table

Thanks again for checking another of our easy tutorials on how to distress furniture.  We hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you think and if you have any questions.

Happy Distressing!

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  1. The table turned out great! Thanks for the info on how to do this. I can’t wait to start a project now. 🙂

  2. Thanks Susan!. You’re going to have fun on your project. If you have any questions let us know and send us some pics when you’re done.

  3. Great tutorials! I am going to try to make my own chalk paint. Should the paint be flat, satin or does it matter?? Thanks in advance!

    • Thanks Carrie! It’s very easy to make. It really doesn’t matter if you use flat, satin, etc. It will work with any type but will depend on the project you are working on. We typically use flat because we feel that less gloss on a distressed piece is preferable for an authentic looking patina, but again you may want more depending on the project.
      Good luck. Send us some pictures of your project when you’re done and we may feature them on our social sites.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Was wondering if the undercoat you used on this table was also chalk paint or just latex? Thank you Julie

    • Hi Julie
      You can use either. If you want to distress down to the original wood surface of the piece then it will be easier to do using chalk paint on the base coat
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. So with chalk paint I don’t have to rough up the old finish on my piece? And where do I buy it?

    • Hi Felecia,
      That is pretty much correct. I would say that on most surfaces you do not have to do any prep work like sanding. I say “most” but we have actually never run across a surface that it wouldn’t stick to. We even put it on a pumpkin last Halloween!

      If you want to buy chalk paint you can go to Annie Sloan’s website and look for the authorized dealer in your area. If you want to do it cheaper than that check out our tutorial on how to make your own chalk paint here
      Let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!

  6. I love your work! I’m going to paint my son’s desk/hutch using your chalk paint-wax method. After I finish with all of the painting and waxing, should I let the piece cure for a period of time before he puts stuff on it?
    Thanks for your advice.

    • Hi Linda. Great question. No, there is no curing time needed when using the wax. After you are finished buffing the wax you are done and ready to add whatever items on top of it.
      When doing our own personal pieces we put our things back on the piece immediately after buffing with no trouble. Have fun!

  7. Hi,
    I just stated painting furniture about a year ago, still learning a lot. I really enjoyed looking at some of your work. Anyways My question is what # grit of sandpaper and steel wool do you use? I have a small end table I was thing about using the candle wax method on. And if you put the candle wax in the groves how do you get it out?

    • Hi! Thanks for your questions. For steel wool something in the 1-5 grit range will work well for distressing. For sandpaper, something in the 100-150 range would be preferable. I would use a Q-tip to clean out excess wax that gets in any grooves. Hope that helps. Good luck!


  8. Hi Chris and Angie,
    Great Job! You saved me a lot of money, and you gave me a lot of ideas! I have researched a lot of websites, but yours is the best by far!

    My question is: What’s the difference between the vaseline method and the candle wax method? Don’t the follow the same principles?
    Also I would to ask you how can I keep the homemade chalk paint for the next day or days? In a ziplock?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Magdalene. Thanks so much for your comment. It makes us very happy to get feedback like this. So to answer your question. The candle wax and vaseline are essentially the same thing and serve the same purpose. The main difference is that you can be much more precise with the candle wax. With the vaseline you have to be careful or you can glob it on too much and make unnatural looking distress marks. With the wax that is less of a problem. That has been our experience, but either works great!

      For storage we use Tupperware type airtight containers, plastic storage tubs and old coffee cans. Anything airtight will keep longer although it is best to try to make as close to what you need at a time. However, we always have leftover and that is what we store them in.

  9. Hi Chris, Great site, it is the best. Thank you for replying so promptly, your recipe is so simple I should’ve thought of it myself!!
    The Minwax brand is not available here in my ‘small’ home town, but there are others that I am sure are similar. The other ingredients are available. I am off to the hardware shop to get my supplies ASAP and some tupperware from the op shop. I have a coffee table just like yours, will keep you op to date on my efforts.
    Once again many thanks,

  10. Is enamel the same as latex?

    • HI Lisa, no enamel is an oil based paint. Latex is water-based. Enamel is more durable than latex. It’s typically used where you need a stronger durability. Enamel also takes longer to dry. That’s the basics. Hope this helps. Thanks!

  11. Hi,
    I was wondering if you needed to do an undercoat or if I could just scrape down to the original surface with one “topcoat”?

    • Hi Kristen,
      Perfectly fine to distress down to the original surface. We do it on many pieces.

  12. Love this and I’m going to start doing several pieces I have but I was wondering if I use the minwax can I still apply a polyurethane finish on top of that? And I have done other things without the chalk paint and applied black paint in the groves to give it an antiqued look, will that work as well and do you think I could just apply black paint on top of the chalk paint and rub off like I did on the other pieces I did? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Love this and I’m going to start doing several pieces I have but I was wondering if I use the minwax can I still apply a polyurethane finish on top of that? And I have done other things without the chalk paint and applied black paint in the groves to give it an antiqued look, will that work as well and do you think I could just apply black paint on top of the chalk paint and rub off like I did on the other pieces I did? Thanks for the recipe!

      Hi Angela, I’m sure if you had luck antiqing the finish with black paint or some other substance in the past it would work here as well. Just remember to test it before you go all out to make sure it will be the result you want.
      Not sure if the poly would sit well on top of the wax but if you do decide to try it report your results back here to help everyone out. Thanks!