Chalk Paint And Vaseline Method

Posted in Techniques

In this tutorial we are going to show you how we distressed a tall dresser we had in our house with chalk paint and vaseline.  The dresser is about 55 years old, had some deep gouges in the side but was in still pretty good shape.

We had an idea that this would make a good distressed furniture piece.

We decided to go with a barn-type red that we already had around the house that would work well in the room we were going to use it in.   I apologize that I can’t tell you the exact color on this one.  We had it a while and just aren’t sure of the exact color.

Anyway here we go!


distressing supplies

  • Chalk Paint – You can buy this from Annie Sloan or you can make your own with our VERY simple recipe here:  How To Make Chalk Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Steel Wool Pads and/or medium grade sandpaper
  • 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
  • Rags
  • Vaseline or Candle Wax – on this piece we used vaseline



Here is the dresser before we began.  Very simple with a light stain.

dresser before


You don’t normally need to do any sanding prep with chalk paint but this piece had some deep gouges on the side that we needed to sand out.  You can see them on the side in the below picture.

Of course we could have left the gouges in tact to keep a little character on the dresser but they were accidental deep scratches and not very appealing to us so we got rid of them, but you decide what you want on your piece.

dresser before



We went with a two color distressing technique where we have a different color than the color of the wood stain to show under the top coat so we used a Williamsburg blue on the bottom coat to cover any areas that would become exposed by the distressing.

We did not use chalk paint on this bottom coat, just a standard latex interior flat.

adding blue undercoat  blue undercoat


After the blue had dried we began applying vaseline anywhere on the piece that we wanted to show under the topcoat later on.

The vaseline makes the top coat of paint practically fall off with ease so apply it wherever you want to distress the piece later.  You can almost wipe it off with a rag so you have to be careful where you put it.

Don’t overdo it though.  The vaseline smears easliy and can leave you with larger exposed areas after distressing that you may not want.   If you want larger areas exposed then apply the vaseline accordingly.

Focus on corners, edges, raised areas and around high traffic areas such as handles and knobs.

adding vaseline  vaseline on the edges

Again, always feel free to make the piece you are working with your own.  Wherever you want the piece to show signs of distressing is where you should put them.


Next we began painting the dresser with the top coat of red chalk paint.  It took two coats to cover but that’s pretty typical with reds.

applying the red  top piece painted red



After your paint has dried you are ready to begin distressing.  We used a medium grade sandpaper and #3 steel wool.   You can use what works for you.  You can use sanding blocks, etc.   We focused on the top of the dresser for a heavier distressing than we did on the bottom piece.  We applied lots of simulated paint peeling, scratches and scrapes.

Begin on the places you applied vaseline.  The paint in these areas will easily peel off.  Add other distress marks as desired.  Remember to focus on corners, edges, high ridges, raised areas and high traffic areas such as knobs and handles.

Just use your eyes and your instinct.  When you see something that looks good you will know it.  Just trust your instinct but always go slow.  You can always distress more if need be.


Use a cheese cloth or damp cloth to clean the sand and dust caused by the distressing off of the piece.  Now you are ready to finish.   We used natural color MinWax Furniture Finishing Paste on this piece.  Apply with a clean, soft rag in circular motions.  Use a wax brush to get in between any small crevices or design work if needed.

After 10-15 minutes of drying buff the piece with a clean, soft rag.  The more you buff the more shine you get.

Applying Wax




Well, here it is.  This piece looks amazing and much better in person than in the pictures.  We hope they do the piece a little justice.

Finished Red Dresser

Finished Top

Final Bottom


Well, thanks for stopping by.  We are always available to answer any questions you may have.  Just leave a comment.


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  1. I really like this look and I have a question. I am trying to re-do some medium brown wooden chairs for my dining room table. I have been trying to achieve that distressed white farmhouse look. I sanded them down and applied one coat of just normal paint. (I found your website after!) Alot of the wood was still showing through so I applied a second coat. I feel like now they look too perfect, even with some buffing and sanding to make them look inperfect they just don’t look right. Do you have any suggestions on how to correct them, or am I past the point of no return, as I did not use chalk paint. Any assistance you can offer I appreciate.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Lauren,
      Thanks for your question. I think there are a couple of things you could do. If you like the way the chairs look except that they look “too perfect”, meaning the paint looks too new, you could try applying a dark stain over the paint. Let it sit for a second or two after applying it to the paint and then wipe it off good with a clean cloth. This will age the white paint and make it look like a much older paint job

      If you don’t want to do the stain, you could also apply a dark wax such as Annie Sloan’s dark wax or you can get our free dark wax recipe at this link if you wanted to try to make some yourself. This will also age the paint.

      If what you do not like about it is the overall look, and you don’t specifically mean the paint just looks too new, you may want to just start over.

      You could do a two color distressing like we did in this tutorial. You wouldn’t need to sand down any, just leave the paint on the chairs as it is. Mix chalk paint in two colors – one darker color for the undercoat and then your white top coat. Apply the dark undercoat to the areas you want to distress down to (or you can paint each chair completely in that color), wait for it to dry then apply the topcoat of white chalk paint. Then you can distress it as desired.

      I think this is what we would do depending on what it is you do not like about it.

      If you have any other questions let us know. Thanks and good luck!

  2. I am going to be distressing 3 pieces of furniture soon, one of them is already painted the color I want to show through,I don’t need to do the under coat on it do I? And also all 3 of these pieces have been shellacked, do I need to sand them any for the paint to adhere better?

    • Hi Meri,
      Sorry so long in responding. If your piece is already painted the color that you want to show through, then you are correct – you do not need to paint an undercoat color. We have done this on many pieces, so when it works out that way it saves you some time.

      I’m not 100% sure about the need for sanding on that particular finish. I would bet there would be no need for sanding and that chalk paint would stick perfectly right on the top like it does on pretty much every other surface.

      I recommend testing in a small inconspicuous area of the piece. If it doesn’t stick (which I highly doubt) then you will know you have to sand and you can sand that area off as well. Good luck.

  3. Planning on painting and distressing a credenza. Picked a red color but want black undertones. Lots of carvings on this piece. Do I paint with black first then the red? Can I just paint red and then use a dark wax and get same effect? Saw a piece in a picture and trying to get that look but not sure how? Any suggestions

    • Send me a picture of the piece that you like to and I will let you know. Thanks!

  4. So I was just wonder if I really need to use the check paint? or can I just use regular paint?

    • Hi Shelby,
      It is not entirely essential that you use chalk paint, but the advantages are 1) For distressed furniture it distresses really easily, 2) it sticks to most surfaces without priming and sanding, 3) It gives a really nice patina.

      Regular paint will still work but the chalk paint makes everything so much easier. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!