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!